Retro Virtual Machine
May 18, 2017
As I only use Mac computers nowadays, I went in a search for Spectrum emulators for macOS, mainly to play games and type in some BASIC listings. I first tried Fuse, which is multi-platform and has virtually everything one needs to revive the feeling of using a Spectrum.
However, a few weeks later I came across the Retro Virtual Machine, or RVM for short, by Juan Carlos González Amestoy. RVM has a different spin compared to other emulators as it has a multi-architecture engine, allowing to emulate different machines concurrently. Besides, RVM has some unique features like the Virtual Tape Recorder and Virtual Disk Drives, that provide an immersive experience of loading games from tapes or disks. Oh, and you load tapes and disks by just dragging files onto the virtual devices. The simulation of the tape player and disk driver is nearly perfect. Totally amazing!
Other noteworthy features are analog video simulation, with effects like scanlines, noise and displacement, customizable keyboards, where each machine may have its own keyboard config, and Z80 timing accuracy, that includes bugs like the “snow effect”. And on top of that, RVM is like any other native macOS app, respecting all user interface conventions and providing a natural feeling for Mac users.
The only con I have found so far is that RVM doesn’t have an assembly debugger, preventing it from being used in a developer tool chain. I hope this may change soon, as many people are planning to develop again for the Spectrum, as well as emulation for the new Spectrum Next be included.
In summary, I find RVM really impressive and if you are a Mac user looking for nothing than a great Spectrum emulation with the best user interface out there, go all-in for the Retro Virtual Machine. And if you really enjoy it, make a donation to the developer as an incentive for him to keep improving it.