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Stella 5.0 (32-bit)

Play old Atari 2600 VCS games on your PC or Mac

by Nick Peers

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License: Freeware
Operating Systems: Linux, Mac OS X, Windows 7 (32 bit), Windows 7 (64 bit), Windows 8, Windows Vista (32 bit), Windows Vista (64 bit), Windows XP
Requirements:

OS X 10.5 or later, Ubuntu 14.04 or later

Languages: English
Software Cost: Free
Date Updated: 16 February 2015
Watchlist: Add download to my watchlist
Downloads To Date: 1351
Developer: The Stella Team
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Stella
Not a very long time ago, In a galaxy close to home, people used to love the Atari VCS 2600.

Nostalgia’s a powerful thing, particularly when it comes to gaming. Let us warn you now: Chuckie Egg isn’t as good as you remember it, but nevertheless revisiting old games and platforms is still a wonderful way to embrace (and then move on from) your past.

Stella is, quite simply, an Atari 2600 VCS emulator. You’ll need to provide your own game ROMs, and to avoid breaching copyright you still need to own them, even if they’re buried away in your attic or basement somewhere. Places to download ROMs from include Atari Mania.

Once downloaded, extract the ROM’s .bin file and copy it into your ROM directory – Stella lets you choose this folder the first time you launch it. Then it’s a case of selecting your game, and revisiting your childhood. Most games are stored on files around 5-6KB in size, so expect a rude awakening if you're not played a game for decades.

A complete user guide can be found online, and if you do run into problems with the program, visit its FAQ for some essential troubleshooting tips and tricks to follow.

The emulator works well, with lots of tweakable settings such as switching between colour and black-and-white display (yes, some of us didn’t get colour TV until the mid 80s!) and remapping controls to your personal perfection. It’s just that whole question of how nostalgic and charitable you’re feeling…

Version 4.5:
•The conversion to C++11 has begun :) From this point on, to build Stella you will need a C++11 compatible compiler (Visual Studio 2013, Clang 3.3, gcc 4.9, Xcode 6, etc). Eventually, this will bring more bug-free and (hopefully) faster code.
•Fixed major bug with joysticks, where mapping was being lost on reset, the app would crash when plugging/unplugging certain sticks, etc.
•Fixed major (but rare) crash that could occur when state files were zero'ed or corrupted.
•Added dialog which shows the internal joystick database (all the joysticks that Stella knows about) and the ability to remove (currently unplugged) joysticks from this database.
•Added preliminary support for 'WD' (Wickstead Design) bankswitching scheme, used for a previously unreleased prototype ROM.
•Improved ZIP file handling, so that it now works as a normal filesystem does (it properly shows nested files and directories).
•The debugger 'reset' command now does a complete system reset, instead of simply setting the PC to the reset vector address.
•The 'listdelay' command now accepts a value of zero, indicating that list-skipping (jumping to a line in a list by keypress) is disabled.
•The 'ctrlcombo' command now has a GUI item, allowing it to be changed from within the application.
•Added 'Shift-Alt/Shift-Cmd s' keyboard shortcut, to enable continuous snapshot mode for each frame. This is really only useful if you save snapshots in 1x mode; using it in high-resolution mode is not recommended. Special thanks to SvOlli for the idea and code.
•The minimum supported version for the OSX port is now OSX 10.7. Because of this, the 32-bit version is also discontinued, as 10.7 supports 64-bit Intel only apps.
•Updated internal ROM properties database to ROM-Hunter version 10 (thanks go to RomHunter for his tireless research in this area). Related to this, updated the snapshot collection.
•Updated included PNG library to latest stable version.

Verdict:

If you’re a fan of the old Atari 2600 VCS game console, then Stella is your recommended route to Nostalgia Heaven.

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