It's more fun with friends
Now that you've got things setup and you're having a good time playing those old games, you're probably wondering how you can have others join in. If the people are in the same room with you, no problem, just plug in another USB gamepad and run through the controller configuration. But what if there isn't anyone there? No problem! Most of the emulators support network play!
What? Network play on a SNES or a Genesis when they didn't even know about the internet back then? Yep, that's right, with the right emulator these old school games can be turned into online games.
First thing you're going to need is more than one Mac. I tried a little bit to do a cross-OS network play, but none of the ones I tried were able to talk to their counterparts on Windoze. This sort of surprised me with SNES9x at least, why converting it to another OS made them change the protocol is beyond me. TCP is TCP. Oh well.
If you happen to have all the computers you want to use on a LAN, well then things will be pretty easy. If they're not and you need to connect over the internet, then someone is going to need to learn how their firewall works and how to do port redirection. (You are
firewalled, right?) I also wouldn't try to do network gaming over dialup. It might work, but probably not well. Broadband or better please.
For this example we will demonstrate network play with SNES9x. Someone has to elect to be the server, everyone else will be a client. On the computer that will act as the server, fire up SNES9x load a game, and pause it. Choose Netplay/Server... on the menu. A panel will come up with the server as player 1, and 4 other slots that are empty. It will also list the IP that the server has.
Each client needs to launch SNES9x, but don't load a game yet. Choose Netplay/Client... and type in the server's IP into the (wait for it) Server IP field. Put something in the name field, it will help with figuring out who is player 2, 3, etc. Click the connect button and when it connects to the server an Open panel will pop up and you need to choose the same game that the server has loaded. Make sure you load the exact same game that the server is using, SNES9x won't double check for you and is more than happy to let you load any game you choose.
As clients connect the server will list their IP, their name, and their status. When all clients have connected to the server and each one has a status of Ready, click the Play button on the server. Each client will then get back a list of who is player 1, player 2. Click the Ok button on each client and then the game will start. Once the game is started only the server will be able to stop it. Pausing the game on the server will disconnect all the clients and end the game. There isn't a way to actually pause a network game.
So, who's up for some 4-way Street Racer?