Like most of the articles I write, it all began with a conversation. Recently, Pixxel Papa picked up a reproduction cart of a Super Famicom game called Umihara Kawase, which, if you haven’t played it, stay tuned to future entries for a sweet review.

And so the question came up; is it better to shell out the cash for an original copy, help a small repro company out by buying a repro, or just emulate the game by downloading a ROM? Now, each of these methods has flaws, (and skirts some legal issues, of which this writer does not condone in case some of you readers are in the legal biz) but they also hold many pros as well. If you’re looking to play a retro title, sometimes that sought after game is quite expensive (case in point, EarthBound still commands a hefty price tag for the cart alone), and in all cases requires a converter or the original console it was released upon in order to play it. This is a costly method, but many retro gaming fans feel it is the best way to go about things, since it gives support to the company that made the game and console (if they’re still in business), as well as creates the original experience in which to play the title and/or console.

With reproductions, it allows a player to enjoy the title on a different region console without having to shell out the many clams it takes to acquire a copy and/or a console to play it on (unless you don’t own the US/PAL console to play it on). Many fans that I have spoken with are still hesitant to play on reproduction carts, either because it isn’t a ‘true original’ or it’s ‘pirated’. Granted, reproductions can sometimes cost the price of a new console title (anywhere between $40 to $80 depending on the game and if you buy it complete in box with reproduced manual), so there is that school of thought as well.

Then, we get to the market’s worst enermy: emulation. It’s the easiest means of playing a title which is otherwise difficult to acquire (given that you spend a half hour searching Google and downloading everything). Japan has been having problems with the R4 card for years (a flash cart created for the Nintendo DS which allows you to load ROMs and play them on the handheld), which in turn effects game software sales and the ability to market titles. A lot of people use this method, and think nothing of it (yours truly included), especially since a lot of gamers use it to play titles that are older and otherwise no longer on the actual market to purchase. It’s usually free, unless you buy devices in order to emulate said ROMs on different consoles (or if you consider the cost of a computer and an internet bill).

So, I guess what my point here is is to raise a question: how do you readers usually acquire your games? I find myself doing all three, either due to of lack of funds or the difficulty it takes to purchase older and more sought after games. Do you think emulating or pirating is wrong? Should we not buy games that are branded ‘Use in Japan Only’? You make the call!