Android gamers know that emulators for old school DOS games are basically a dime a dozen in the Play Store. Trying to run old Windows 95/98 games based on early DirectX APIs is a different beast entirely, thanks to those API calls and the fact that DirectX games were built for x86-based desktop processors, not the ARM CPUs found in most Android handsets. An enterprising fellow by the name of Dan Aloni hopes to change that with an interesting new app called Winulator.
Winulator is still in the early developmental stages, but Aloni already has a basic version of the classic Caesar III up and running smoothly on his Asus Transformer Eeepad TFT-101 and a Galaxy S, albeit sans in-game sound, as you can see in the video below.
Winulator doesn’t really work like a typical emulator. Instead, a developer would first need to convert the game’s x86-based executables and dynamic link libraries into ARM-friendly equivalents by running a title through a Winulator desktop helper application. That eliminates “the need for Winulator to waste precious ARM cycles for emulation,” Aloni explains.
Aloni plans on releasing a beta version of Winulator to the Play Store once a few more kinks are ironed out. Porting a game over takes some time, and Aloni only has Caesar III running currently, though he says he’ll add more titles if people take an interest in Winulator.
Playing classic titles like Age of Empires on a handset sounds like a dream come true. The biggest potential storm cloud lingering over Winulator is a legal one; even though the titles that could be converted by the program have largely fallen out of mainstream favor, publishers will still likely take a critical eye to unlicensed ports. In an ideal world, Aloni would hook up with a service like GOG to legally bring its massive backlog of classic Windows games over to Android — but then I’d never get any work done.