Game Hardware VS Emulation – Is it worth the expense?

Over the last few years, I’ve started to notice the amount of options to play old video games without actually searching out and buying the original console and the physical media has exploded. To the point where even some of the original console manufacturers themselves have given their stamp of approval on remakes using Emulation technology (NES Mini, Genesis Classic just to name a couple quickly).

Well I managed to acquire a Platinum Nintendo GameCube recently as it was a console that was overlooked by me back when it was released as I was more focused on my PS2 at the time. Upon seeing some of the physical media selling 2nd hand for well over £130 (Yes Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance it was you!) it made me start to wonder, is searching out and obtaining the actual consoles and media really worth the time and that sort of monetary investment? When you can just emulate the majority of these things pretty easily on PC’s or Mobile Devices for a much more reasonable price tag.

Small Disclaimer here – In no way do either Thumb Culture or myself endorse game piracy. This article is purely for informational purposes and any recommendations made within to try emulation is under the assumption that it would be purchased legally.

Since this article is Hardware Vs Emulation, I thought it might be nice to do something a little different. Given the Recent Mayweather V McGregor Spectacle was so popular I’m going to divide the article into 3 rounds of hell with the Pro’s for each of our contenders as the ‘haymaker’ punches and the winner being decided on the score cards (unless there is a shock knockout beforehand).










Now I’m from the generation where much of my childhood was spent in game shops and Video Rental places (as the internet didn’t really exist, so we couldn’t just jump on things like Amazon or Netflix – Yes, I’m old!). So I always have that special affinity for physically holding a game in my hand and the enjoyment of talking with the shop owner (or fellow gamer in the case of 2nd hand items) about my new purchase, as well what goodies were coming our way in the near future. So yes, I’m a little bias in this round personally, but I won’t let that affect my judgement.

Something else that I miss personally even with today’s physical media is the removal of such goodies as the instruction manual. Not because I want the controls, but they were always filled wonderful artwork or the lore of the world you were about to explore, reading that while travelling home just added to excitement of finally playing the game. Its these types of things were looking at in this round (Are they actually worth that extra time, effort and hard-earned cash)

As mentioned at the start of this Article, the price tag on some of the retro classics is through the roof now due to the demand for some of the rarer items, so that is going to be something Emulation will be looking to take advantage of in this round.

Hardware –

 Physical Copy (Taking that new purchase home – Just like Christmas morning)

 Connection with People (Chance to meet up with fellow gamers and discuss)

 Possibility of finding other hidden gems (Never know what you might find)

 Extra Items included (such as manuals, artwork etc.)

 Resale Value (These items will only become more valuable with time.


Emulation –

 Availability (No need to worry about demand/stock)

 Ease of purchase (No need to change out of those comfy Lounge pants)

 Varied Media (Games available to play on multiple different platforms)

 Cheaper (More affordable for the average gamer to have a nice collection)

 No Need for Console (Ability to play on multiple devices negated extra cost for consoles or accessories)

Decision:  5-5 Draw. I think this round is fairly even with both sides feeling out the opposition, both have strong cases in their own rights, and will appeal to a different kind of gamer, with Emulation definitely pitching its aim towards the more casual type of gamer.


One of the main set-backs with collecting hardware as you will clearly see if you follow any gamers on YouTube is the storage and space. Let’s be honest, unless you’re a very serious collector or are very wealthy, then you’re not going to have the space to store all the games you would want for your collections, it’s just the harsh reality of it. I have had to limit myself to a maximum of 10-15 games for each of my retro consoles just for that very reason, and even most of those aren’t on display as I would like due to lack of room.

Hardware will be hoping to still be in with a chance after this round, it could be a crucial point heading into the later rounds.

Hardware –

Display (Physical copies look very nice on display)

Low Risk of loss (Digital copies could accidentally be deleted)


Emulation –

Minimal space (No need for large rooms, full collections can be stored in one compact device)

Low Insurance Cost (Lack of physical media means less risk of theft for more valuable items)

Easy to Transport (Due to storage can be easily transported from place to place for gaming needs)

Pick up and Play (No need for storing multiple adapters etc. just to play the games on a TV)

Decision:  4-2 Big round for Emulation. Wow hardware took a bit of a beating there. Can’t argue though when you look at it. this was always going to be a tough round for them to take and it proved to be just a bit too much.





We had to save the most important part of gaming for the final round, and let’s be honest this is where most people will be wondering ‘can Emulation match up to the originals?’ The key here is the comparison to the actual games and not our nostalgic ‘rose tinted glasses’ version that everybody tends to do.

Hardware will be expecting to go for a big round here as it’s the favourite and it is exactly what people are wanting Emulation to match up to.

Hardware –

Familiar Setup (They are the items from years gone by, Nothing Unusual)

Smooth Gameplay (No compatibility issues with your platform)

Visuals (Some are even better now with additional accessories to transform to HD)

Audio (No glitches in the Soundtrack due to codecs not working correctly)


Emulation –

Programmable Controllers (Able to customize setup to use same pad for all consoles)

Game saves (Ability to save game states on consoles that didn’t offer this back in the day – Personal Preference)

Decision: 4-2 Big round for Hardware. As expected, Emulation couldn’t quite hold off the strong fightback from Collecting that we predicted and was left struggling at the end of the round.


Final Decisions – Draw.

Looks like neither side could really finish off the other as they both have very strong and valid arguments for their own cause. The crux of the whole thing is that either is a perfectly good option as long as you know what you’re getting for the money your putting in.

Hardware Collecting is definitely the choice for the hardcore gamer who wants everything in exactly the right way and money is not an issue, has the place the store all the hardware and knows it all inside out.

Emulation is definitely a more than adequate option for the casual gamer looking to recapture some of their youth without spending too much or maybe even the younger gamer looking to try out an older console that they have heard about. The key with Emulation is spending a little time and finding the right tool for the job as a number of them don’t give the experience you would hope for, and if it’s your first time with these games it can tarnish the opinion

Either way I think it’s safe to assume that neither of these options are going away anytime soon and Emulation is definitely becoming a very good more affordable alternative for those that just want to enjoy the game and don’t care about the bells and whistles.

Thanks for Joining us Game Fans, Until the Next Time…





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