Media & Entertainment

RIP EmuParadise, a haven for retro gamers for almost two decades

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If you’re a fan of retro games, chances are you have a few emulators installed to let you play Mega Drive or Atari 800 titles. And if you have a few emulators installed, you probably have some ROMs. And if you have some ROMs, it’s likely that sometime since the year 2000 you visited EmuParadise, a stalwart provider of these ambiguously legal files. Well, EmuParadise is no more — at least the site we knew and loved.

The site explained the bad news in a post today, acknowledging the reality that the world of retro gaming has changed irrevocably and a site like EmuParadise simply can’t continue to exist even semi-legally. So they’re removing all ROM downloads.

For those not familiar with this scene, emulators let you play games from classic consoles that might otherwise be difficult, expensive or even impossible to find in the wild. ROMs, which contain the actual game data (and are often remarkably small — NES games are smaller than the image above), are questionably legal and have existed in a sort of grey area for years. But there’s no question that this software has been invaluable to gamers.

“I started EmuParadise 18 years ago because I never got to play many of these amazing retro games while growing up in India and I wanted other people to be able to experience them,” wrote the site’s founder, MasJ. “Through the years I’ve worked tirelessly with the rest of the EmuParadise team to ensure that everyone could get their fix of retro gaming. We’ve received thousands of emails from people telling us how happy they’ve been to rediscover and even share their childhood with the next generations in their families.”

But the games industry is changing; official re-releases of old games and the consequent legal attention that brings to sites hosting original ROMs has created an unambiguously hostile environment for them. Nintendo, it must be said, has been particularly zealous in its efforts to clear the web of ROMs, especially for its first-party games.

EmuParadise and other sites have been the constant target of legal actions, from simple takedown requests to more serious allegations and lawsuits.

“It’s not worth it for us to risk potentially disastrous consequences. I cannot in good conscience risk the futures of our team members who have contributed to the site through the years,” MasJ continued. “We run EmuParadise for the love of retro games and for you to be able to revisit those good times. Unfortunately, it’s not possible right now to do so in a way that makes everyone happy and keeps us out of trouble.

“This is an extremely emotional decision for me after running this site for so many years. But I believe it is the right thing for us at this point of time.”

Alas, they will be unavailable forever now.

I can remember EmuParadise being one of the most reliable sites to get ROMs from back in the day; and in the early 2000s, when emulators were essentially the only way to play many old games — and the web was a bit more wild — it was also one of the few that didn’t attempt to load some kind of virus onto your computer at the same time.

It’s always sad when a homegrown site that single-mindedly pursues a single goal, and in this case one that is arguably a public service, legal or no, is forced to bow out. It’s sad, but they can at least retire knowing that retro gaming is alive and well and finally being embraced by game distributors and makers the way it ought to have been for the last couple decades. Consoles like the NES Classic are outselling modern ones, and love for old games has not abated.

Not only that, but websites like this, while they provide other services, are no longer necessary for the distribution of ROMs. What was practical in 2002 no longer makes sense, and the advent of both legal game stores on PCs and consoles, and of course torrents, mean that even rare games like Radiant Silvergun are just a click or button press away.

And lastly, EmuParadise isn’t just plain dying. They plan to maintain and update their emulator database and keep the community going, and MasJ says there are plans to launch some new things as well. So, out with the old, in with the new.

Thanks to EmuParadise and those running it for all their hard work, and best of luck in the future!

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