Released in 1976, the Fairchild Channel F, or Video Entertainment System (VES) as it’s also known, represents a pivotal moment for games consoles with it being the first to utilise a microprocessor and also interchangeable ROM cartridges, as opposed to having a set number of games available on the system, like with early Pong style consoles.
In this guide, I introduce you to the best Fairchild Channel F emulator. I have to admit, it’s slim pickings, but at least a familiar name comes to the rescue!
RetroArch – FreeChaF Core
FreeChaF is a Fairchild Channel F / VES core for RetroArch and is without a doubt, the best way to emulate the Fairchild Channel F, thanks to the familiar and easy-to-use RetroArch front end.
It is available via RetroArch for PC, Mac, Linux & Android, but does require the required Fairchild Channel F BIOS files to be able to boot games.
FreeChaF in RetroArch is an excellent choice to experience this vintage classic, with it providing:
- Accurate emulation of the Fairchild Channel F
- Good level of game compatibility
- Fairchild Channel F paddle controller & light gun emulation
- Control configuration so you can use a modern controller with Channel F games
- All the bells and whistles that RetroArch offers such as shaders & filters can help recreate that nostalgic feeling of a CRT screen
To use the FreeChaf core in RetroArch you will need to do the following:
- Install RetroArch on your device.
- Install the FreeChaF core by selecting the following menu item – ‘Load Core -> Download A Core -> Fairchild ChannelF (FreeChaF).
- Load a Channel F game by selecting ‘Load Content’ from the RetroArch menu and navigating to your Channel F ROMs, then select the game you wish to play.
You’ll now be able to experience the very roots of cartridge-based video game systems! Sure the games are really only a step up from ‘Pong’, but if you’re somebody who enjoys the history of gaming and appreciates how far things have come, the Fairchild Channel F is a system definitely worth experiencing for yourself.
Other Fairchild Channel F Emulators
Whilst I’m recommending RetroArch for Fairchild Channel F emulation, MAME actually does provide support for this system too.
If you are interested in using MAME to play Channel F games, then this post on the Launhbox forum is a helpful place to start.
A lifelong avid gamer and computing enthusiast, Matt has decades of Retro Gaming experience. Now over 40 years old, Matt now even considers himself retro, but fortunately, nobody has developed a Matt emulator (not yet at least!).