The Story of NESticle

One of those fans, a programmer from Kansas with an offbeat sense of humor and an unmissable skillset, released a PC emulator for the NES – a reverse-engineered software version of the hardware platform. Called “NESticle”, its Windows icon was, quite literally and indelicately, a pair of testicles.

NESticle, nonetheless, did something amazing: It allowed people to play old Nintendo games on cheap computers made by Packard Bell and other firms, and did so while introducing a number of fundamental new ways to appreciate those games. Divorced from Nintendo’s famously draconian licensing strategy, it introduced new ways of thinking about well-tread video games.

Would we have the retro-friendly gaming culture that we do today without its existence? Maybe, but it’s possible it might not be quite so vibrant.

This is the story of how NESticle helped turn retro gaming into a modern cultural force.

I have a retroarch setup on my PC with support for various systems from my childhood, stocked with the games I played as a kid. Other than such personal use, emulators for classic systems serve a vital function in our culture: they make sure old titles will still be playable long after the last hardware to play them on has perished.


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