A blog experiment by Brad Mills.


Super Mario World on the Asus Transformer

Gah... a week of hell. Nothing huge, just a hundred little things needing to be done simultaneously, few of them fun. But now, finally, activity seems to have returned to a more manageable level.

So having a little time to spare, I tried an experiment and was pretty surprised at how well it worked. About ten years ago we went through a lengthy period of having a Super Nintendo connected to the TV upstairs. This is despite there being plenty of more advanced systems available at the time. I'm decidedly old school as far as gaming goes, having discovered pretty early on that being adept at word processing and spreadsheets and writing scripts and programs was immensely more profitable.

The SNES made its way downstairs, and around the same time, I found you could emulate all these old games on a regular PC. So to make this emulation even more complete, I bought a USB game controller which looked and acted exactly like a SNES controller. This worked quite well. I fiddled with this until I got bored with it, the PC eventually died, and getting the same setup working again was never a priority for me (not to mention I'd started using a laptop as my primary machine, which made it a little too clumsy for regular use as well).

For those of you still hanging in there through my techie talk, the good part is coming up.

I now have an Asus Transformer, which is an Android tablet with a detachable keyboard dock. Without the keyboard, the Transformer is just another Android tablet. With the dock, it becomes essentially an Android netbook, complete with a trackpad and some USB ports for copying to and from flash drives. So just for kicks, I tried plugging a regular USB keyboard into one of the ports on the dock. It worked fine. So did a mouse. Interesting.

You've probably figured out where this is going, but I'm going to step through this last little bit anyway. It is entirely possible to load an Android-based Super Nintendo emulator onto a Transformer tablet with USB ports and play old school games with a normal PC game controller (in my case, a Gravis GamePad Pro USB from forever ago). It's extremely straightforward, and the only required tweaking is to teach the emulator software which buttons do what — a procedure which takes thirty seconds or less. No other configuration necessary, everything just works as expected.

Here's a picture of the setup... which is also just what you'd expect.

Super Mario World on Android with a Gravis Gamepad Pro USB

So now if I'm waiting to be seated at a restaurant or something like that, I can just get everything out and play a quick level of Super Mario World or Donkey Kong Country 2... and, after the week I've had, it's a pretty good stress buster.

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