Have you noticed the 2 new 'more accurate' palettes developed by people over at nesdev? One by Kizul and other by FirebrandX. Both better than any emulator I've used.
I have not, thanks. I will check them out after this post.
I've also confirmed that, yes, loading external palettes is broken in x.xx. It works fine in 0.43 (either by editing NESTICLE.INI or passing the -palfile WHATEVER.PAL switch when invoking the emulator), though!
There were some changes to the sound emulation between 0.43 and x.xx according to the NESticle changelog but listening to Dragoon X Omega II (A hack I composed the score for myself, so I'm intimately familiar with it) I can't tell a difference?
Aside from that, support for the VS arcade games, some timing issue fixes (Magician is explicitly mentioned in the changelog) and support for ancient PC gamepads that probably six people on earth still use there shouldn't be much of a difference going back to that version if palettes are important to you.