[Retro] Emulation on the Caanoo – A Quick Guide

As previously discussed, the quirky but brilliant open source handheld GP2X Caanoo from Game Park Holdings is fantastic as a portable emulation engine, if not so hot as a games platform in general. Here’s a whistlestop guide to some of the best emulators available for the system.

Caanoo-Hugo (NEC PC Engine)

A Cannoo port of the brilliant Hugo emulator for NEC’s PC Engine, the 16 bit console also known as the TruboGrafx 16 in the US. The console never really took off outside its native Japan, meaning fans of oriental RPGs and shmups are well catered for on the PC Engine. Hugo’s emulation is spot on, and full ROM sets will comfortably fit on a 1GB SD Card.

GPSP (Nintendo Gameboy Advance)

Until the Nintendo DS and PSP came along with their fancy hardware and very different takes on the idea of control, the king of the handheld hill was Nintendo’s Gameboy Advance. Essentially a SNES in your pocket it not only saw some high quality Nintendo conversions, but also some great remakes and sequels to some of gaming’s best loved franchises, such as Metroid. You’ll need to drop a BIOS image into the game’s directory on the SD card (Google gba_bios) to make the magic happen. A full ROM set will weigh in at just under 4GB.

CPS2Emu (Capcom Play System 2)

One of the most impressive emulators on the Caanoo, CPS2Emu allows you to play the original arcade boards that ran on Capcom’s CPS2 hardware. That’s the hardware the bridged the gap between the CPS1 of Street Fighter II and the CPS3 of Street Fighter III. What that means is a glut of fantastic, gorgeous fighters like Super Street Fighter II and Marvel vs Capcom right there in your hand. ROMs can be fiddly to install and require conversion to a special cache folder. Fortunately you can skip all that faff by grabbing a full set of ready to play roms and Cache images from this site, which will cost less than a single GB of SD card space.

Dr SMS (Sega Master System and Game Gear)

Sega’s 8-bit NES rival may have spent its life in the shadow of it’s Kyoto-born nemesis, but it still saw some great games, and given that the Game Gear ran on essentially the same hardware, it’s no stretch for this highly competent emulator to run titles released on either platform. Budget around 0.5GB for a full set of ROMs for both systems.

Dr Pocket SNES (Nintendo SNES)

In many eyes the most accomplished machine of the 16-bit era (Neo Geo purists may disagree) the SNES saw some of the greatest games of a generation. Relive Donkey Kong Country, Super Mario World, F-Zero and all those magic Zelda moments with this fast, streamlined emulator, which is the best of a few choices for SNES-related fun on the Caanoo. Full ROM sets will eat around 750MB of card space.

GPFCE (Nintendo NES)

Like the SNES there are a couple of NES emulation options on the Caanoo. GPFCE is one of the best, with a sensible menu system and full speed gaming. A full ROM set is tiny too, weighing in at less than 100MB.

MAME4all (Various Arcade Machines)

The emulation daddy, MAME has been doing its thing for more than 14 years. This version includes support for the Caanoo’s title sensor, and works beautifully with the older 0.37b16 ROM set. That means Neo Geo arcade title and older will run just fine, but don’t expect to be playing Tekken any time soon. With so many games on offer and slow scrolling through them all in alphabetical order you might want to pick and choose the best titles to add to your card, at least until the developers adds filtering options to the games list. Expect to lose around 2GB to a full set of compatible ROMs, which you can download from here.

NeoCD2x (SNK Neo Geo CD)

The Neo Geo AES home console was legendary for many reasons. It offered true arcade gaming by cramming genuine arcade circuit boards into cartridge cases and selling them to punters who’d forked out for the console version of SNK’s arcade system. It was however, ludicrously expensive, with some carts costing upwards of $350 a time. Four years after the AES hit the lounges of the world’s most spoiled kids, SNK realised they could cut the cost of game ownership by flogging a CD-based console. The Neo Geo CD was duly born and in 1994 hit the market, ready to be destroyed by the PlayStation. Still, the console did allow people who weren’t super rich to experience the delights of Metal Slug and King of Fighters at home, and now you can take those great titles on the road with your Caanoo. There are Neo Geo AES emulators for the the Cannoo, but they’re a bitch to set up, and MAME plays the original arcade ROMs from the cabinet systems. Full Neo Geo CD ROM sets are pretty massive, so pick and choose from this, rather conveniently downloadable full set and have fun.

OhBoy (Nintendo GameBoy)

No handheld gaming experience would be complete without a bit of Tetris, and what better way to experience Alexey Pahjitnov’s classic that in the GameBoy monochrome that made it famous? OhBoy does a decent job of emulating GameBoy and GameBoy Color ROMs, of which there are a staggering number. Despite their tiny size, the sheer weight of titles means that even a Color-only set will run to 3GB easily. Also be aware that OhBoy loads the full list of ROMs on startup, and it can take an age to pull up the 10 thousand or so titles in a full set, so best pick and choose which ones you really want, especially as the vast majority are dull shovelware.

PCSX4All (Sony PlayStation)

A brave attempt to bring Sony’s masterpiece to the Caanoo that sadly falls down on the horsepower front. Whilst many games run, most slow to a crawl when the 3D action kicks in. Worth experimenting with if you’re feeling adventurous, but don’t expect to run Wipeout at anything other than a snail’s pace. Also hampered by a lack of L2 and R2 buttons. Full ROM sets are in the tens of GBs at least, so don’t even think about it, and most titles won’t run properly anyway.

PicoDrive (Sega MegaDrive)

The SNES may have been the connoisseur’s choice, but the 16-bit console of the masses was Sega’s MegaDrive/Genesis. PicoDrive does a bang up job of bringing Sonic, Streets of Rage and the like to the Caanoo, and with better controls, more options and that lovely screen, it will quickly make a Blaze or Nomad totally redundant. A full ROM set will run to under 2GB, but you can get it down to below 1GB by eliminating a lot of the duplicates and international variants.

UAE4All (Commodore Amiga)

So new it hasn’t officially been released yet, this port of the Universal Amiga Emulator still manages to run classics like Turrican II, and that’s enough to make most Commodore fanboys happy. The developer is struggling with using the stylus as a mouse in some games, but some titles like Cannon Fodder manage just fine. Be aware that you’ll need a KickStart 1.3 ROM, renamed “kick.rom” to get underway. A full set of ADFs (Amiga Disk Files) will be pretty big (think 3GB or more) so best pick and choose your favourite titles. Keep watching this thread for developments on UAE4All.

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Categories: Retro

2 Comments on “[Retro] Emulation on the Caanoo – A Quick Guide”

  1. hopalong0_3
    May 15, 2011 at 7:20 pm #

    Thanks for this post, my Caanoo will be with me soon so I’m researching at the moment and I’ll definitely be coming back. Childhood in my pocket, can’t wait!

  2. Squidlr
    May 16, 2011 at 4:53 pm #

    Expecting my Caanoo this week after retiring my Dingoo. Caanoo seems to have a good screen in comparison to the Dingoo. It also seems like a good cheap alternative to the pricey Pandora. I hope Caanoo continues to be supported in the name of open handhelds.

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