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That isn’t to say they actually used them, though, but I don’t see how the source for two games could ever approach even 500MB. However this is mostly only true for Japanese companies, a lot of EU/NA/AUS companies always kept their source. Richard Garriott still has source for Akalabeth and Ultima. Naughty dog still has source for the couple of FMV 3DO games they made along with the original crash bandicoot. Acclaim’s assets included source to games like Smash TV and Mortal Kombat.

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It was the decision of the court that CONNECTIX had the right to emulate the SONY Playstation and that reverse engineering of the Playstation BIOS for such a cause fell under fair usage. As a result of this case CONNECTIX was allowed to release it’s Virtual Gaming Station for the Mac OS.

I’d suspect Nintendo of actually lifting source code from existing Emulators to make theirs. The reason I don’t think this is the case is because their emulators are pretty crappy. The more interesting part is that the ROM files that Nintendo uses are in the community format for that ROM. back when NES emulation was getting started, the Dumps needed extra information so the Emulator knew how to deal with it; such as what Mappers the Cartridge had and so forth. The iNES format was used by the titular named iNES emulator by Marat Fayzullin.

So, in short, it is perfectly legal for you to copy a software package you own, but not for you to give that copy away. The case of SONY V. CONNECTIXfound that unauthorized emulation is perfectly legal.

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You also need to remember that most developers are on strict budgets, and hosting 500GB for source code for 2 games was not economically viable. I mean look at the arcade, how many arcade games from that era have aged well? Considering most companies at the time were making games as kind of "one-off" things, the chances of source code surviving is very slim. I can actually shed some light on this as I watch/read a metric assload of behind the scenes stuff with the games industry.

  • Many emulators, for example SNES9X, make it far easier to load console-based cheats, without requiring potentially expensive proprietary hardware devices such as those used by GameShark and Action Replay.
  • Freeware tools allow codes given by such programs to be converted into code that can be read directly by the emulator’s built-in cheating system, and even allow cheats to be toggled from the menu.
  • From a legal standpoint, it’s hard to defend sites that revolve around unlimited downloads of copyrighted games.
  • This rise in popularity opened the door to foreign video games, and exposed North American gamers to Nintendo’s censorship policies.

The assets for a game would not even approach that amount. the Source code would be infinitesimal in comparison. Also, Backup solutions involving Tapes, CD-Rs, and DVD-Rs have been used in businesses building PC games for quite some time.