One of the great things about the emulation community is that it allows you to play many great games that were never released in your region. Thanks to the efforts of devoted translation groups, you can even play games that were only produced in Japanese.
This is especially handy in the world of RPGs. To date, the ONLY versions of Final Fantasy III, Dragon Quest V, and Dragon Quest VI that have been released in the west are 3D remakes for the DS. Thanks to the emulator nerds, you can play the original versions wherever you are. Of somewhat more interest are games that are STILL unreleased here, like Seiken Densetsu 3 (the direct sequel to Secret of Mana) or Terranigma (the third chapter in the Soul Blazer trilogy).
There are also tons of ROMs out there for games that were finished but, for one reason or another, never released. These range from unreleased Pac-Man versions for ColecoVision all the way up to full-blown Super NES games. There are currently two games in this category that interest me at the moment. If you’re familiar with the SNES cult hit EarthBound you may may be aware the game’s Japan-only, NES predecessor, Mother. What I didn’t know until recently is that this game was fully translated by Nintendo of America and was set to be named “Earthbound”, like its successor. The game was delayed and delayed until it was cancelled but years later the OFFICIAL, translated ROM leaked onto the internet, available to English-speaking nerds everywhere.
Another awesome entry in this category is the little-known StarFox 2. This game was announced in 1994 for the Super NES and, although nearly completed, was never released to save hype for the later release StarFox 64. Again, years later, the ROM leaked, in Japanese and containing some programming notes. Leave it to the nerds, who actually FINISHED THE DEBUGGING, translated the game, and now it’s out there for all of us!
I’m currently playing the NES Earthbound which is pretty decent so far. I fired up StarFox 2 just to check it out. It’s pretty interesting as it actually contains many of the strategic elements that turned up later in the DS release, StarFox Command.