Last night, I e-mailed my editors at Macworld excitedly: “NES emulator for iPhone! Approved by Apple! Let me write this up!”
My editors responded quickly. “Lex,” they said, “don’t use so many stinking exclamation points.” But yes, I could cover the story.
Thus empowered, I hurriedly set to work learning everything I could about Nescaline. I discovered that Nescaline cost $5 in the App Store, and could play any valid .NES image file, including so-called “homebrew” games (five of which were included with the app).
Nescaline’s developer had thought of everything: You could tap on objects to simulate firing upon them with the Light Gun; you could use a multitouch virtual controller; you could enter Game Genie cheat codes…I quickly realized that my Nescaline story, like the Nescaline app itself, would prove massively popular.
And then I went to sleep. Forgive me, but I wanted to be well-rested when I wrote this sure-to-be epic story.
Then I woke up. I woke up not just in the literal sense, but also figuratively: I woke up to a world where Apple realized what it had done, and quickly pulled the plug. If you try to look up Nescaline in the App Store now, you’ll only encounter an error message. So while visions of Bullet Bill and Koopas danced in my head, it seemed that lawyers or hardliners had danced as well—on Nescaline’s grave.
According to developer Jonathan Zdziarski’s blog, Apple initially removed the app without explanation. Jonathan claims on his blog that an Apple rep did call him today, indicating that “Nescaline was removed because it was an emulator,” which doesn’t really jibe since a variety of other emulators are sold in the store.
Whether Apple will reinstate Nescaline in the App Store, or whether the company will clarify why it was removed in the first place, is a bigger mystery today than the origins of the Konami Code. In the meantime, folks with jailbroken iPhones can still grab NESv3 from Cydia, as long as they don’t mind incurring the wrath of Steve Jobs.