My main reason for not wanting to buy Nokia’s first Symbian 5th Edition touchscreen device, the 5800, was actually the fact that it lacks hardware keys, and thus using my favorite Symbian apps – Vampent’s Nintendo emulators, would not be possible. However, my curiosity for what Symbian 5th Edition (^1) would bring eventually conquered, and I bought the Tube anyway, even though I missed being able to walk around with hundreds of Game Boy, Game Boy Color, Game Boy Advance, Nintendo and Super Nintendo games in my pocket.
When I ditched the 5800 in favor of the hardware QWERTY and D-pad equipped Nokia N97 in early October last year, I was thrilled to find out how vBoy, vNes, vSun and vBagX would perform on my new device. With the N97’s hardware keys and large, hi-res screen, they seemed like a perfect match. There was just one catch before I could reach Nokia N97 Nintendo nirvana, though: Vampent hasn’t released any new versions of their emulators for years, and they currently have no official Symbian 5th Edition/touchscreen support.
Getting the emulators to work on my N97 involved the simulation of the Left soft key that all Symbian 3rd Edition devices have, because it’s the button that brings up the emulator’s configuration menu, from which the keys that control the gameplay can be remapped.
I found a Chinese key mapping application called Virtual Key, that allowed me to simulate a left soft key press by assigning this command to an existing button. The difficulty was, even though Virtual Key was very well laid out, that the utility had a random behaviour at best in combination with the emulators on my N97, and it was a big pain in the ass to get it to function properly.
To make matters worse, the glitches increased for each new N97 firmware update. The first time the process was rather smooth, and I got all the Nintendo emulators running in 15 minutes. On my next attempt, after the 2.0 firmware update for the N97 in late October 2009, it took three hours of fiddling around with the key mapper before I could successfully change the keys. And after the recent v2.1 firmware update, the method of changing the keys in the emulators using Virtual Key 1.0 simply wouldn’t work on my N97 anymore. For some reason, the program still worked great when used with all other software, except for Vampent’s emulators. Its behavior was contradictory and quite bizarre (apps added to the Include list was automatically added to the Exclude list as well, etc), and it was very frustrating to deal with, to put it mildly. Basically, it was about to drive me nuts. Earlier, I had plans to try and locate my QWERTY optimized configuration files and make a backup of them, but my memory card got wiped out.
However, at long last, another Chinese application luckily came to the rescue: Virtual Keyboard. I tried three different betas of the app before the operation was successful. The main problem with this method, besides some betas not working at all, was the simple fact that the application was in Chinese. I had to guess where to press, but I eventually got it right.
Well, enough with the ranting. Here’s how you’ll get beautiful, flawless Nintendo emulation on your Nokia N97, N97 Mini or any other Symbian 5th Edition (^1) device with a hardware QWERTY, using Vampent’s emulators: a fool-proof guide. They cost a few bucks, but Vampent has done a tremendaous job with the emulators and I hope you support the company by buying them. Watch the video below to see what you’ll get in return:
How to Play Nintendo Games on Symbian 5th Edition ^1
…the Nokia N97, N97 Mini or any other Symbian device with a hardware QWERTY.
- Download and Install the Emulators
- Copy the Configuration Files
- The Gaming Keys
- Additional Steps for N97 Mini Users
- First of all, you need to download and install the emulators. Head over to Vampent.com to grab your copies. Download them all, or just the ones who interest you. vBag is my personal favorite. There are trial versions of all the emulators, and you can purchase the full products from the website as well.
- Install the .SIS files, either from your computer by connecting your device to your computer in PC Suite mode, or by copying the installation files to your phone and installing them from there. Install the applications to your memory card.
- ROMs for the various platforms can easily be found on the Internet, just Google it. The ROM files should be placed in the emulator folders located at data\Others on your memory card. It will look like this. The ROMs can either be in ZIP-archives to save space, or uncompressed.
Now it’s time to copy my custom configuration files for the emulators, which are all compatible with hardware QWERTY keyboards (like the one on the Nokia N97). They have also been optimized for the N97’s RAM, processor and large display. Each emulator has its own .CFG-file. If a configuration file already exists, overwrite it.
- All the required .CFG-files can be downloaded here. If your device has the D-pad/navigation keys to the right on the QWERTY keyboard, like the N97 Mini, use these configuration files instead.
- Connect your Symbian^1 device to your computer in Mass storage mode.
- You should place the various configuration files in the Private folder on your memory card, so open your SD card with your computer’s file manager.
- For vNes: Place vNes.cfg in the Private\20010EDB folder.
- For vBag: Place vBag.cfg in the Private\20010F59 folder.
- For vSun: Place vSun.cfg in the Private\200115BD folder.
- For vBoy: Place vBoy.cfg in the Private\2001109E folder.
Troubleshooting: If any of these folders for some reason don’t exist in your Private directory, first make sure you’ve actually installed the emulators to your memory card, then simply try creating the folders manually. Here’s another way to handle deviating folder names: start the emulators you want to use, and run a game to make sure the config files will be available. Then search for them with your computer’s file manager (vNes.cfg, vBag.cfg, vSun.cfg, vBoy.cfg) in order to find out where they are located. I want to point out that there probably will be copies of the configuration files in the data\Others folder as well, but the emulators seem to be ignoring those.
That’s it! Just launch the emulators and you’ll be able to play all the classics: 8-bit nostalgia mania! The emulators should be launched in landscape mode with the keyboard out. If you have a device with TV-out, like the Nokia N97, you can even play the games on your television. You start a ROM by selecting it in the list and then pressing either the OK or Enter button. Here are the various keys that control the emulators and the gameplay. You can select your own keys from the configuration menu.
Please note that the Nokia N97 Mini lacks an OK button, so those rocking this device have to take additional steps in order to use Vampent’s configuration menus. If you’ve enjoyed this guide, please spread the word! Thanks.
|Configuration Menu||Backspace / Erase|
|Start||OK (center of D-pad)|
|B-button||. (full stop/comma key)|
|A + B||N|
|AA + BB||M|
|Configuration Menu||Backspace / Erase|
|A + B||Z|
|AA + BB||X|
Since the Nokia N97 Mini lacks an OK button, those using this device have to take additional steps to be able to use Vampent’s configuration menus. This key cannot be remapped from within the emulators. It’s not a big drawback though, besides not being able to save and load gamestates in vBag. All the other emulators have Quick Save/Quick Load keys. But if you want to flex your power user muscles, you can emulate the OK button with a remapping application called Virtual Key. This workaround is apparently not working for all users, so I have provided an alternative fix as well using Virtual Keyboard.
Update: To close vBag or any of the emulators on the N97 Mini, you can always press the hardware Menu button to bring up Symbian’s main menu, then longpress the Menu button to bring up the task manager. Then longpress on the emulator you want to close in the list of running applications, and select Exit from the popup-menu.
Using Virtual Key
- Download Virtual Key, sign the application, then install it to the mass memory.
- If you don’t know how to sign unsigned Symbian applications, check out this guide to learn how.
- Next step is copying a custom keymap for Virtual Key. Download VirtualKey-Custom-PicoDrive-Keymap.rar, and place custom3.keymap in the folder Private/e7d61da9 on your mass memory. If the folder doesn’t exist, create it.
- Launch Virtual Key and tap Options > Load Mode > Custom mode 3. This will load the custom keymap, and it should look something like this:
- Now press the right navigation key on the QWERTY (or tap on the arrow at the top of the display) to go to the Include screen. If the title says “Exclude” instead of “Include”, go to Options > Change mode > Include, to change it to Include mode. vBoy, vBag, vNES and vSun, as well as the Sega emulator PicoDrive (if you have all of them installed) should already be listed here. If not, tap Options > Add from Installed and select the emulators from the list.
- Tap Back to make Virtual Key run in the background.
- Launch the emulator of your choice and you should now be able to use C as an OK button!
- In order to use the menus in the emulators on the Nokia N97 Mini and other Symbian^1 phones without an OK button, you can also use a tiny little application called Virtual Keyboard, that can emulate an OK key press. It can be downloaded here, and the utility must be installed to the phone memory (C:). Since the application is unsigned, you need to sign it first. Follow this tutorial if you don’t already know how to sign apps.
- Once Virtual Keyboard is installed, start it and drag the resulting grey box to the upper-right corner of the screen so it’s not in the way.
- With the keyboard out, launch your Nintendo emulator of choice. You may need to move the grey box again at this point, if it’s blocking the menu. Press the Backspace/Delete button to bring up the menu, and navigate up and down in the menu with the arrow/directional keys on your QWERTY keyboard. To select an option in the menu, press the button in the far left corner of the grey box, as shown in the video. This will let you use the menus, just as if your device have had an OK button.
- If your phone even lacks arrow keys, you can tap the buttons in the upper middle and lower middle of the grey Virtual Keyboard box, to move around in the menu.
- For further information, watch the video and hopefully everything will fall into place.