Firestorm, the Nintendo Game Boy emulator for Tapwave's Zodiac handheld games console, has gone on sale despite the threat of legal action from the Japanese video game company.
The $20 emulator was posted earlier this week and is available from developer Crimson Fire's web site.
That said, the software is incomplete. Currently, it provides only Game Boy and Game Boy Colour emulation and not the much-vaunted support for Game Boy Advance titles. CF blames the missing feature on "a serious compiler bug".
CF is offering a free version of the Game Boy Advance code that runs on Tapwave's PC-based Zodiac simulator on a PC, necessitated by a change of compiler, it claims. The simulation version will not run on ARM-based handhelds.
CF also admitted that there are other issues, too. For instance, "we have made great progress adding sound support, and it is about 80 per cent done (it 'works' but it's still a bit buggy and noisy)", confessed CF chief Kyle Poole on the company's site.
So why release an incomplete product and still charge for it? To cover the company should Nintendo follow up on its threats. Earlier this month, Nintendo sent CF a cease and desist letter, claiming that the emulator infringes on its intellectual property.
The patent details a "software emulator for emulating a handheld video game platform on a low-capability target platform (eg. a seat-back display for airline or train use, a personal digital assistant, a cell phone)". It goes on to outline "a number of features and optimisations to provide high quality graphics and sound that nearly duplicates the game playing experience on the native platform."
CF has already said it does not believe the Nintendo patent covers applies to its software and is prepared to meet the Japanese giant's challenge. ®