FinalBurn X

Ever since the PSP emulator porting binge of 2007-2011, I’ve enjoyed the random challenge of getting an established application to run on a new platform. Being able to do that with something fun is the icing on the cake – as was the case with CocoaMSX when I switched from GNU/Linux to Mac OS X and found nothing Mac-y about the MSX emulators on the platform.

It’s been almost 2 years since CocoaMSX quietly (for this weblog, anyway – I’ve been writing about it steadily on Google+) launched, and it’s finally starting to feel like a complete application. Granted, there’s still quite a bit of work that could be done, but I’m fairly comfortable by both its feature set and its Mac-ness (not really a word).

Like most things I’ve worked on, CocoaMSX arose out of need for a good (and usable) MSX emulator on a platform deserving of one. Feeling like my goal is close to being accomplished, something else has been nagging on me for a while now. And that’s this: I miss FinalBurn.

For those who remember following the Capcom System II (CPS2) encryption soap opera, FinalBurn was one of the first CPS2 emulators for Windows. It was fast, small, and usable – all without the bloat associated with its more popular four-letter behemoth of a friend.

Time passed, and the author (known minimalistically as “Dave”) ceased its development, and released its source code to the public. Another set of developers picked it up, rewrote considerable parts of it, added CPS1, Neo-Geo and (eventually) CPS3 emulation support, rebranded and released it as FinalBurn Alpha. In its heyday, FBA was the non-classic arcade emulator, and certainly the best fighting game emulator ever written.

FBA is still in development, though these days it’s picked up quite a few more games – including emulation of several home consoles. I’ve been chipping away at it since June, and the result is FinalBurn X, a port of FinalBurn to OS X:

FinalBurn X running Aliens vs Predator


My goals for FinalBurn X are a lot more modest – its immediate goal is emulation of CPS1/2/3 and Neo-Geo games. I have no plans to include home console support, but it’s very likely that I will eventually add support for other games, including Pac-Man and the descendant of an MSX classic, Parodius Da!

The emulator is far from finished – in fact, there are currently no downloadable binaries. It is playable, however, and features customizable controls (for each game), as well as the ability to install games by simply dropping them into the main window. Milestones for the first release include:

  • Bug fixes! There aren’t that many, but those that are present are fairly severe
  • Ability to save/restore DIP switch settings
  • ROM installer optimizations

The ultimate goal of this port is to not only have an emulator that is as useful as was the original FinalBurn, but also one that keeps close to spirit of good UI design of Mac OS – usable, intuitive and bloat-free.


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