Created By: GMon on May 18, 2012 Last Edited By: SpiderRider3 on June 22, 2014

Internal Game System

A console/handheld can play games made for another system.

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope
Sending here from the main wiki after a (brief, unanimous) Repair Shop discussion. Up for Grabs.

Needs a Better Name. Now with a crowner for page name!
Some video game systems can play games made for another system. This works without porting the games. It's like a system inside a system.

This feature may provide backwards compatibility, so that a newer system can play games from and older system. A new console or handheld would play not only its launch titles, but also the older games. Another reason is to enjoy handheld games on the big screen, or the other way, to play console games on a handheld.

There are a few ways to make this work:
  • Extend the hardware in a compatible way, like how the Atari 7800 can play Atari 2600 games.
  • Put hardware from the old system in the new system, like the Game Boy Color chips inside the Game Boy Advance.
  • Use an adapter, like the Super Game Boy.
  • Just run an emulator.

Examples:

Atari
  • The Atari 2600 wasn't able to play any other console games nor had the hardware for it. However, A LOT of other consoles of the time had the entire hardware of the 2600 (emulation was still unfeasible):
    • The Atari 7800 uses the same hardware to play both 2600 and 7800 games.
    • The Colecovision had an add-on, the "Expansion Module", allowing the user to play Atari 2600 games.
    • The Intellivision II also had an add-on, and many other, less-known consoles had ways to play Atari 2600 games.

Nintendo
  • First came up the Super Nintendo Entertainment System which, through the Super Game Boy adapter, you were able to use Game Boy cartridges in order to play them on the TV and even enhance them as some games included colour data exclusively for this use.
  • The Game Boy Color stayed compatible with the first Game Boy, and was able to play old games like Tetris. (Or, play Tetris DX in color.)
  • The Game Boy Advance included the entire hardware of the Game Boy Color inside. There's the ARM processor for new games, and the Z80 processor for old ones. This system also allowed to play the games stretched in order to fit the wider GBA screen. Multiplayer worked in old games, if you used the old link cable, not the new GBA link cable.
  • The next adapter was the Game Boy Player for the GameCube. This one was as good as a GBA, playing single-player Game Boy, Game Boy Color and Game Boy Advance games, all on the TV. (Don't confuse it with the Nintendo GameCube-Game Boy Advance link cable.)
  • Keeping up with it's predecessor, the original and lite variants of the Nintendo DS had a GBA cartridge slot as well as most of its hardware. This played single-player GBA games (but not older Game Boy Color games). The GBA slot also enabled other features in specific DS games, mostly Pokémon ones. The slot and hardware of the GBA were removed in the DSi and the DSi XL.
  • The Wii is Nintendo's first home console to be completely backwards compatible with it's older sibling, the GameCube: It had its hardware, controller ports and memory slots. GameCube games can't use Wii remotes or storage, so you did need a GameCube controller and (if you wanted to save) a memory card. Super Smash Bros. Melee is just as great on the Wii as on the GameCube. (The Wii doesn't have the GameCube's High Speed Port, so you can't use the Game Boy Player on the Wii. You also can't use any GameCube network adapters, so the very few GameCube games that go online can't do so from the Wii.)
    • The Wii also introduced Virtual Console, which downloads and emulates games from old consoles. This even included some non-Nintendo consoles. The 3DS and WiiU have their own versions of Virtual Console.
  • The Nintendo 3DS plays DS games (and DSiWare) with no problem.
  • The Wii U keeps Wii compatibility but loses GameCube compatibility. Wii game discs, Wii remotes and so on still work, but you can no longer use GameCube controllers in Wii games.

PC
  • Thanks to the enormous processing power of modern computers, emulators for PC exist for all consoles up to the sixth generation, albeit with varying degrees of compatibility and requirements. For more information, see our Emulation page, and Emulation on The Other Wiki.
  • The Apple Macintosh has endured changes requiring backwards compatibility.
    • With the move from 68k to PowerPC processors, Mac OS gained a 68k emulator. PowerPC Macs were able to run 68k programs, and programs that mix 68k and PowerPC code. The emulator was generally faster than a 68k Mac, but 68k code was slower than native PowerPC code.
    • Mac OS X, versions 10.0 through 10.4, used the "Classic" emulator to run Mac OS 9 programs at full speed (though this includes waiting for Mac OS 9 to boot inside Classic). To avoid this emulation, there were also "Carbonized" apps that run in both OS 9 and OS X (without Classic).
    • Intel Macs, running OS X 10.4 through 10.6, use the "Rosetta" emulator to run PowerPC programs. (Sorry, Rosetta didn't run Classic.) OS X Lion 10.7 can't run Rosetta.
    • During the era of Mac OS 7, Apple made a DOS Compatibility Card with a 486. Later, OrangePC made similar cards. These NuBus or PCI cards had a 486 or Pentium and booted DOS or Windows. These cards were so expensive, that a whole PC might be cheaper. Later, emulation became feasible (on faster processors like the PowerPC G3), and emulators like Virtual PC appeared.
  • Windows supports old 16 bit applications on all 32 bit editions. They also support all old 32 bit applications on 64 bit systems. They even include a pile of hacks to mask bugs in old applications. And that's just the support for compiled applications.

Sega
  • The Sega Genesis AKA Mega Drive was an interest example in that it had the Master System's hardware inside but not it's cartridge slot. Thus, the Power Base (a Master System slot and some wires) was made and enabled backwards compatibility.
  • The Sega Game Gear had a so-called Master Gear Converter, allowing its owners to play Master System/Genesis games on their Game Gear.

Sony
  • The early PlayStation 3 had the Emotion Engine (CPU) and the Graphic Synthesizer (GPU) from the PlayStation 2 inside, allowing to play PS2 games on the console. However, as manufacturing costs were too high, the Emotion Engine was eventually removed (2007) and replaced with software for emulation of PS2... which sucked. Eventually, all PS2 compatibility was left out for the 2008 model. PS 1 software emulation is supported across all models.
  • The PlayStation 2 was not only able to play Play Station 1 games (Emulation), but also you were able to use your PS1 memory cards & joysticks.
  • Homebrewed Playstation Portable consoles are able to play PS1 games as well as other, older consoles.

Other
  • Due to Google's quite permissive policies for its online store, the Android OS features several emulators, readily available to play on your smartphone or tablet if your device meet the requirements. GBA, PS 1, NES & SNES, N64, GB, Genesis are all among the emulated consoles.
  • Due to Apple's quite oppressive policies for its online store, the iOS... OS has quite few emulators available if any at all.
  • Do you know Ben Heck?? If you do, you already know what he has done. If you don't, check his website. He has made up tons of custom consoles like an Atari 2600 with a PlayStation 2 inside.
  • In Minecraft, it is entirely possible to build your own working computer. However, such computers are far too primitive and slow to play games from any existing system.
  • The FC3 Plus plays NES, SNES and Sega Genesis games all with the same console.

Community Feedback Replies: 48
  • May 18, 2012
    Kayube
    Nintendo systems often have some form of this. Among consoles, the Super Nintendo Entertainment System has the Super Game Boy, a cartridge with a slot that allows Game Boy games to be played on the TV. The Nintendo Game Cube has the Game Boy Player, an attachment that can play Game Boy, Game Boy Color, and Game Boy Advance games on the TV. The Wii is backwards-compatible with GameCube games, memory cards, and controllers and also includes the Virtual Console which allows many games from previous systems to be downloaded and played on the Wii. The Wii U is backwards-compatible with the Wii, and will also include a Virtual Console, probably including GameCube games.

    For handhelds, the Game Boy Color and Game Boy Advance (except the Game Boy Micro model of GBA) were all backwards-compatible with previous Game Boy-line games. The Nintendo DS was backwards-compatible with the GBA (except for the DSi systems), while the Nintendo 3 DS was backwards-compatible with the DS.

    Many of their systems also have alternate methods of playing games designed for that system, though most of them were only released in Japan: the Famicom Disk System, the Bandai Satellaview-X for the Super Famicom, the Nintendo 64 Disk Drive; only with Wii Ware did gamers around the world have the opportunity to get games for their Nintendo consoles in a different format than the basic disc. On handhelds, things were a bit different; the Game Boy Advance had the ability to run games downloaded from other systems, allowing for multiplayer games using only one cartridge or bonus downloads from the GameCube. The DS had the same Download Play feature. The DSi had DSiWare, and the 3DS continues in the same tradition, having downloadable games designed for it along with its Virtual Console. Starting with New Super Mario Bros 2, in fact, full-size retail games will be available in download form rather than requiring a physical game card.
  • May 18, 2012
    Stratadrake
    Pre-existing term for this: Backwards Compatibility.

    Technically, this is achieved either through the use of truly backwards-compatible hardware (like the Game Boy -> Game Boy Advance or Game Cube -> Wii), or through the use of a software emulation layer. Most examples are of the latter category, but the distinction is mostly invisible to the end user.
  • May 18, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
    ^ That's part of it. The description includes downloading games. So this is a Super Trope for backwards compatibility, and services like Xbox Live Arcade and Virtual Console.
  • May 18, 2012
    billybobfred
    ^^^ BS stands for Broadcast Satellaview; Bandai had nothing to do with it.
  • July 6, 2012
    GMon
    BUMP for more contributions.
  • July 7, 2012
    NateTheGreat
    I think this is two tropes:
    • System A can emulate System B
    • System A has the hardware for System B inside it (you can use the System B cartridge/disk in System A)

  • July 7, 2012
    Stratadrake
    ^ Which is technically separate from the devs simply porting/rereleasing a game from system A to B.
  • July 7, 2012
    LittleLizard
    Nintendo, as the first post says, it's the king of this trope (though it needs more detailing, more of that in a minute BUT, there ARE more examples:

    Sony
    • The early Play Station 3 had the Emotion Engine (CPU) and the Graphic Synthesizer (GPU) from the PS 2 inside, allowing to play PS 2 games on the console. However, as manufacturing costs were too high, the Emotion Engine was eventually removed (2007) and replaced with software for emulation of PS 2... which sucked. Eventually, all PS 2 compatibility was left out for the 2008 model. PS 1 software emulation is supported across all models.
    • The Play Station 2 was not only able to play Play Station 1 games (Emulation), but also you were able to use your PS 1 memory cards & joysticks.
    • Homebrewed Playstation Portable consoles are able to play PS 1 games as well as other, older consoles.

    Nintendo
    • First came up the Super Nintendo which, throughout the Super Game Boy adapter, you were able to use Game Boy cartridges in order to play them on the TV and even enhance them as some games included colour data exclusively for this use.
    • The Game Boy Advance was probably the greatest example of this trope as it included the entire hardware of the Game Boy Color inside. It also allowed to play the games stretched in order to fit the wider GBA screen.
    • Keeping up with it's predecessor, the original and lite variants of the Nintendo DS had a GBA cartridge slot as well as most of its hardware, allowing single player gaming and other features in specific games, mostly Pokemon ones. The slot and hardware of the GBA were removed in the D Si and the D Si XL.
    • The Nintendo Wii is Nintendo's only home console to be completely backwards compatible with it's older sibling, the Game Cube: It had its hardware, controller ports and memory slots.
    • The Nintendo 3 DS plays DS games with no problem, albeit it's through emulation; DS hardware it's not present on the 3DS.

    Sega
    • The Sega Genesis AKA Mega Drive was an interest example in that it had the Master System's hardware inside but not it's cartridge slot. Thus, the Power Base (a Master System slot and some wires) was made and enabled backwards compatibility.

    Atari
    • The kinda father of this trope, the Atari 2600, wasn't able to play any other console games nor had the hardware for it. However, A LOT of other consoles of the time had the entire hardware of the 2600 (emulation was still unfeasable), either within the console itself or as an external addon. Examples are Atari's own 7800, the Colecovision (Addon), the Intellivision II (Addon) as well as many others, less known consoles.

    PC
    • Thanks to the enormous processing power of modern computers, emulators for PC exist for all consoles up to the six generation, albeit with varying degrees of compatibility and requirements. For more information, see Emulation on The Other Wiki

    Other
    • Due to Google's quite permissive policies for its online store, the Android OS features several emulators, readily available to play on your smartphone or tablet if your device meet the requirements. GBA, PS 1, NES & SNES, N64, GB, Genesis are all among the emulated consoles.
    • Due to Apple's quite oppressive policies for its online store, the iOS... OS has quite few emulators available if any at all.
    • Do you know Ben Heck?? If you do, you already know what he has done. If you don't, check his website. He has made up tons of custom consoles like an Atari 2600 with a Play Station 2 inside.
  • July 7, 2012
    LittleLizard
    There. I missed something? (Xbox doesn't have anything that features this trope)

    EDIT: I do missed something, now editing.
  • July 9, 2012
    GMon
    Looks nice. Editing the examples in. Could still use a better description, though.
  • July 9, 2012
    LittleLizard
    I'll try and make one later. Is it ok if i edit the YKTTW (it's Up For Grabs after all)?
  • July 10, 2012
    GMon
    Go right ahead. Like you (and I) said, it's Up For Grabs.
  • July 11, 2012
    Stratadrake
    Also needs a better title.

    BTW, I hear that recent models of the Wii don't have GC backwards compatibility anymore.
  • July 11, 2012
    arromdee
    The Game Boy Advance was probably the greatest example of this trope as it included the entire hardware of the Game Boy Color inside.

    While it is an example of the trope, it cannot possibly be the greatest example just because it has the entire hardware inside. Lots of examples have the entire hardware inside, and you even mention it in some cases. The GBA has the entire GBC hardware inside, the PS 2 has the PS 1, the Super Game Boy contains the Gameboy, and the DS contains the GBA.

    Also, the 7800 is *not* a case of containing the entire hardware inside. The 7800 is actually upward compatible with the 2600, and runs 2600 games using the same hardware it uses for 7800 games. Genesis/Master System and Wii/Gamecube are also upward compatible.

    Also, the 3DS is not running DS games through emulation.
  • July 11, 2012
    GMon
    @Stratadrake: I actually don't think the title's a bad one, although of course I'm open to suggestions for better ones. If you (or anyone else, for that matter) can come up with a better title, go ahead and run it by us, although I still think the description needs work more than the title (we could also use a good Laconic entry, FWIW).
  • August 1, 2012
    GMon
    Bumping for more input. Still Needs A Better Description.
  • August 20, 2012
    ccoa
    Bumping this. There is a TRS thread waiting on it and it is Up For Grabs. Someone please get this ready for launch?
  • August 20, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
    Should this also list Virtual Console, and other similar systems on other games?
  • August 22, 2012
    GMon
    Don't see why not. Anyone have a decent write-up for those?
  • November 25, 2012
    CleverPun
    Edited the first sentence since it was hard to understand.

    I think we need to narrow this trope's focus; we already have a page for Emulation, and the virtual console is mentioned on it.

    Also, what was the name of that cable that let you plug a GBA into a gamecube controller slot? Or that thing you stuck on your gamecube and plugged GBA games in?
  • November 25, 2012
    Stratadrake
    There was the GBA-GCN link cable (which only works on certain Game Cube games), and the "Game Boy Player" which was more or less an emulator attachment you added to the console box (and disc used to play it).
  • November 25, 2012
    KarjamP
    • Through a update, the Wii U can be switched into Wii mode, which allows it to run Wii games and Wiiware.
  • November 25, 2012
    DRCEQ
    This is a bizarre example, but I'm fairly certain it fits just due to how innovative the game is capable of being.

    • In Mine Craft, it is entirely possible to build your own working computer. People have demonstrated this by building fully functional Graphing Calculators and even mini versions of Minecraft within itself. The possibilities are certainly there.
  • November 25, 2012
    Stratadrake
    No, don't think so.
  • November 27, 2012
    Kernigh
    I edited the description, sorted the sections, and expanded the Nintendo section to include the Game Boy Player, the Wii U, and some compatibility notes.

    This doesn't look like a trope. I might try to launch it somewhere in UsefulNotes/ namespace. Needs A Better Name than "Internal Game System".
  • November 28, 2012
    SeptimusHeap
    The laconic looks clearly like a trope.
  • December 3, 2012
    Kernigh
    This isn't a trope because it doesn't collect examples from works of fiction that use the trope.
  • December 5, 2012
    rodneyAnonymous
    Sometimes a console/handheld can play games made for another system, but other times People Sit On Chairs.

    Not A Trope. I like the Useful Notes idea though. Name suggestion: Sideways Compatibility?
  • December 5, 2012
    Kernigh
    Update:
    • I have added a few sentences, especially: "This works without porting the games."

    Note that the description has drifted. The old description (before I started editting it) was:
    A feature for video game systems that allows you to play games other than those for which it was designed. They may be a different type of game designed for the console, downloadable games (see WiiWare and DSiWare), a cable to plug two systems together, or games for a different console (in which case an emulator is required).

    The "downloadable games" disappeared, because I think that Wii Ware is just more Wii games, and not a different system. The "cable to plug two systems" also disappeared.

    I would like to add some Apple Macintosh examples (68k emulation, DOS Compatibility Card, Classic) but I don't have time now.
  • December 6, 2012
    Surenity
    The FC3 Plus plays NES, SNES and Sega Genesis games all with the same console.
  • December 6, 2012
    AvraMint
    As far as a title goes, maybe going with the 'universal translator' theme (e.g., Universal Emulator) would be a bit snazzier than Internal Game System, and certainly less ambiguous.
  • December 6, 2012
    Stratadrake
    @Kernigh: You're correct that downloadable games like Wii Ware don't (and shouldn't) count because they're virtually their own platform. Virtual Console downloads do, though, since they at least preserve the original look/feel of the game's original platform.
  • December 6, 2012
    m8e
    But it is often neither universal or an emulator.
  • December 6, 2012
    Chernoskill
    The Colecovision's "Expansion Module" allowed the user to play Atari 2600 games on the console.
  • December 9, 2012
    Kernigh
    Update, in response to above comments:
    • Deleted "greatest example" from Game Boy Advance.
    • Squeezed in Minecraft, but I added a caveat.
    • Added FC 3 Plus.
    • Added my several lines about the Apple Macintosh.
  • December 10, 2012
    Kernigh
    Update: I created a crowner for page name.

    The current choices are "Internal Game System", "System In System" and "Backwards Compatibility". I am not sure whether "System In System" or "Backwards Compatiblity" is better. Perhaps someone will add a better choice to the crowner.
  • December 10, 2012
    EarlOfSandvich
    "Backwards Compatibility" is easily the best of the three in my opinion. Also, for the Minecraft example, it should be written as VideoGame/{{Minecraft}}, as it's all one word.
  • December 10, 2012
    rodneyAnonymous
    "Backwards Compatibility" means it plays games for an older model of a similar system, like a Wii can play GameCube games or the first-gen PS 3 can play PS 2 games. This isn't just broader than that, it is potentially entirely different.
  • December 11, 2012
    Kernigh
    Tiny update:
    • Changed "backward compatibility" to "backwards compatibility" in the second paragraph.
    • Fixed Minecraft.
  • December 12, 2012
    henke37
    More on pcs: Windows supports old 16 bit applications on all 32 bit editions. They also support all old 32 bit applications on 64 bit systems. They even include a pile of hacks to mask bugs in old applications. And that's just the support for compiled applications.
  • December 12, 2012
    LordMelchior
    Added the Master Gear Converter for the Game Gear.
  • December 12, 2012
    shimaspawn
  • December 31, 2012
    Kernigh
    The crowner is still open, and still allows to "Add New" titles.
  • January 1, 2013
    dvorak
    I vote for Backwards Compatibility. "Internal Game System" sounds like "the free games the system comes with," like Mine Sweeper.
  • January 1, 2013
    lakingsif
    • Averted in that some earlier Nintendo DS Lite games cannot be played on any later handheld.
      • Some DS Lite games, though, can still be played on the 3DS which has a different size and shape cartridge slot.
    • The DS Lite itself had a Game Boy Advance cartridge slot on the bottom to play these games, but no later DS does.
  • January 1, 2013
    lakingsif
    ^ Didn't notice you already had that last one.
  • January 1, 2013
    Stratadrake
    Since 'Backwards Compatibility' (though not inaccurate) is a bit broad, how about Backwards Compatible Gaming or something?
  • June 22, 2014
    SpiderRider3
    Fixed the namespace in a pothole
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=uwq911pdkc8tcbyf9wmh63kd