First NES emulator for iPhone approved by Apple but pulled by developer


'Bimmy - NES Emulator' was approved by Apple but pulled by developer
Bimmy - NES Emulator for iPhone came and went very quickly.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

Bimmy, a NES emulator for the iPhone, joined App Store on Tuesday. It was the first retro game emulator approved by Apple and proof that the company really has removed restrictions on this type of software.

However, the developer himself quickly removed the app “out of fear.” That said, more are likely to follow, including Game Boy emulators.

Bimmy was really an NES game emulator for iPhone

For many years, Apple prohibited developers from listing retro game emulators for download on the iPhone App Store. It actively took down any such that slipped through its review process.

But in early April, the company updated the App Store guidelines to allow this type of software. It was part of Apple loosening previous rules forbidding developers from making iOS applications that are bundles of mini-apps.

And Bimmy – NES Emulator was apparently the first app to benefit from the change. The developer, Tom Salvo, called it, “A simple emulator to aid in homebrew game development and testing. Play public domain ROMs and test your own creations!”

The emulator could play games first created for the Nintendo Entertainment System that launched in the United States in 1985 after initially being introduced in Japan as the Famicom. It was the debut of so many greats, including Super Mario Bros., The Legend of Zelda and Metroid.

And it’s already gone

Bimmy was available for only a few hours, which was time enough to generate a lot of attention. There’s a great deal of interest in retro game emulators for iPhone. But then the developer yanked it from the App Store.

“I’m so sorry everyone. I removed the app out of fear. No one reached out to me pressuring me to remove it. But I’d rather not have the risk,” said Salvo in a post on the MacRumors forums.

He didn’t get specific, but despite Salvo’s mention of “public domain ROMs,” it’s likely most Bimmy users would have played the many NES ROMs originally made for the Nintendo console that are now easily available for download on the internet. This is software piracy, and Salvo was likely nervous about making an application that would be involved. He could have attracted the ire of Nintendo and its many lawyers.

That’s undoubtedly one of the reasons Apple previously blocked retro game emulators from the iPhone App Store.

More retro game emulators on the way. Maybe?

Apple’s recent decision to remove its block on this type of app means there will likely be more retro game emulators coming to the App Store soon.

That said, the category is off to a rocky start. Technically, the first of these to be approved was a Game Boy emulator but it was quickly removed because of copyright violations and spam.


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