One of the perpetual issues surrounding emulation (and now gaming in general) is copyright law. It's not even just piracy: more and more games have rules when streaming and content uploaded to YouTube is constantly harassed by publishers.
Even when I work on Dolphin's YouTube Page, I've constantly find myself cutting out music and footage from Star Wars and Nintendo games because of takedowns and copyright claims.
On a personal level, I absolutely hate this. I can understand companies wanting to stop piracy even if I'm skeptical it actually hurts profits.
But when it comes to showing footage, even snippets from games, I think that this is actively hurting their cause of selling their games. While they gain more control, how many people have found a favorite game or series from watching a Let's Play? Has a Let's Play or speedrun ever changed your opinion on a game you didn't like or care about? For me, the answer is yes on both.
A Musical Epiphany
By far the strangest case for me is when I fell in love with a game I'd have never even seen before. It happened at work a roughly two years ago while listening to an internet radio station.
Now, I've heard music from thousands of games since I started listening to the station in ~2014, from glorious chiptune music of the bygone 8-bit era, all the way up to modern games on the Wii U, PS3 and Xbox 360. While I'd occasionally look up a game based on its music, I never imagined I'd like a game's soundtrack so much that I'd buy into a series with no further knowledge.
Embarking on an Odyssey
When listening to the radio at work, I didn't actually have the ability to see what song was playing for the first two years until their interface updated. This was incredibly frustrating to me.
One song in particular caught my ear one night that was so catchy to me that I was forced to go through the station's play history when I got home from work to try to pinpoint where that song came from.
It actually took months for me to sort out where the song came from. The answer ended up being Battlefield - Those That Slay and Fall but throughout this I ended up hearing some of the other songs from the soundtrack. The battle themes are filled with energy and spunk, making them extremely catchy and easy to remember. Among a playlist with thousands of songs, they manage to stand out. The labyrinth themes with serene piano pieces for outdoor areas and addictive themes for the more dungeon-like areas.
Even now, it remains my favorite soundtrack among the thousands on the station. I even started looking for other songs by the composer, Yuzo Koshiro, only to find out I wasn't alone in my love for the music.
Since then, I've heard and memorized many of the songs from Yuzo Koshiro. While I enjoy a lot of them, Etrian Odyssey III remains my favorite soundtrack from him. It's a soundtrack I enjoyed so much, that I bought into the series!
Putting My Money Where My Mouth Is
Nearly 8 months after I first became enamored with the series, I bought Etrian Odyssey III brand-new when I got the opportunity. When I found used copies of Etrian Odyssey 1 and 2, I also purchased them, figuring it'd be best to tackle the series in order anyway. With Citra becoming a thing (this is early 2016 by that point), I also ended up purchasing Etrian Mystery Dungeon for the 3DS. I ended up using that in a video I produced for Citra.
And that video is one of two times I've played any of these games. Both times I played Etrian Mystery Dungeon was to collect media for Citra, and both times I found out I really didn't have much clue what was going on. To make matters worse, Citra didn't have audio support back then, so I didn't even get to hear if it had a good soundtrack or not.
Combining Passion and Purpose
While I bought the games in late 2015 and early 2016, I still haven't played any of the Nintendo DS Etrian Odyssey games. That's because shortly after I bought them, I learned of a secret project by endrift, author of mGBA. She was toying with the idea of adding DS support to the emulator.
At that point, I told endrift that I planned on playing through the three games, but, I'd rather put the playthroughs to use. I'd wait until DS support was finished for mGBA before playing any of the games. She warned me that it'd likely be years, and I retorted that she doesn't know how stubborn I am. In the end, I won out, as Nintendo DS support for mGBA is here in the form of Medusa and I still haven't played the games.
Going Forward on the Journey
In the coming months, I plan to play through the series using a mixture of different emulators, with a focus on newcomers melonDS and Medusa. I'll be writing issue reports and my thoughts on these games I bought without any other knowledge of them besides their music.
If people are interested, I may throw in the 7th Dragon series as well; as it's another Yuzo Koshiro composed series with a fantastic soundtrack. I actually discovered that on r/emulation. So kudos for them for pointing me toward it.
My greatest hope is that stories like this become more prominent as we go forward. While companies do have the right to protect their IP, sometimes being more open can lead to fans discovering a game in unexpected ways.
Since discovering Etrian Odyssey on the radio, I've since taken interest into other series' I'd never heard of before as well. The Ys series (especially Ys 7 and Ys Origins) has fantastic music and the song Desert of Despair is the song I rated highest overall.
This extra exposure for these smaller games can make all the difference. I'm excited when a new Etrian Odyssey or Ys game is announced now where as before it'd been something that I'd never heard of before! Maybe that's not a big deal for the Marios and Final Fantasies of the world, but for smaller games that haven't had quite the exposure, that can make all the difference in the world for fans looking to fall in love with a series.