Note: I've attempted to ask this question several times in the "Arqade" category. Just like with the "History" category, anything I ask there is deleted by their broken bots soon after I post it. And I don't mean "closed", but DELETED. As in, memoryholed. 404 error. That's why I ask here. Not because I think this is the best fitting category, but it's the next best, is about retro computers and it even has an "emulation" tag.
Ever since the late 1990s, I've tried countless video game emulators, everything from the NES to the Nintendo 64. They have all been awful.
I'm not implying that I could do better, of course (I could not even make a crappy emulator), but as a person who grew up with video games of the golden era (1980-2000), I've become increasingly appalled by how the classic games are butchered by people who apparently cannot tell the difference.
Every time I've brought up just how horribly butchered the games look, sound and play through their emulator, they've acted as if I were personally insulting them, their parents, or their kids. If I don't get banned/blocked right away, they become at best very surly, no matter how nicely I put it.
It truly seems as if they cannot tell the difference. I feel like some sort of food snob who tries to convince somebody that their package of moldy fries that they found in a dumpster behind a fast food restaurant is not the same as the food you get at the finest restaurant in town.
I immediately notice that the resolution is completely wrong, that the aspect ratio is stretched to widescreen, that the text and 2D sprites look completely warped and "cut off", that various entire layers are not present or flicker, that the in-game "big screen" object in Mario Kart 64 doesn't display anything at all, that the animations are absurdly off/glitchy, the sound is all warped/sounds wrong, the timing of all kinds of things seems to be nothing like they are on the real hardware, etc.
It seems to me as if they have entirely ceased all emulation development since many years. Every time, 5 years apart, when I try the latest emulators, I notice that they still are lightyears from actually emulating the real hardware. Even for freaking NES, as crazy as that sounds! But especially for SNES, Nintendo 64, PlayStation, Saturn, etc.
Maybe I'm just an idiot who can't find the "real" emulators, but I don't think they exist. I think the people who use them simply don't have the ability to tell how bad they are. I'm not asking for links or names of emulators as I'm pretty sure I know about them all.
I dream of the day when I can finally play all these games that I never got as a child, and which are now too expensive to actually buy second-hand, and which are butchered with current emulators.
With this in mind, what does "cycle-accurate emulation" mean? Are there any such emulators out there? And does that mean that it's 100% impossible to tell them apart from the real hardware in 100% of all cases, if hooked up to a CRT TV and using some sort of adapter to be able to use the real controllers?