The Best Emulators for Playing Retro Games in any device

You don't need to go beyond big bucks on eBay if you feel nostalgic about early console games. Just load your modern devices with an emulator.
These are the best for the best console systems ever.

Every year, hundreds of video games from the Super NES to PlayStation 1 stop working, which is unplayable as old consoles.
Many older games are available via PlayStation Now and Nintendo Switch Online, but how about not supporting a subscription service or ending games on their servers? If you don't have a copy of a game free from DRM and a way to play it, the dealers and their bottom lines have a lot to do.
Enter emulators to play ROM games on modern platforms. Emulators are available for any retro game console, including multiple systems and a wide range of operating systems. Legal gray areas are around the property While some emulators require complex configurations, ROM files are one of your best options for the old school nostalgia game.
Please read the options for your emulator.

Best DS Emulator: DeSmuME

Platforms: Windows, Linux, Android

Download DeSmuME emulator

Nintendo DS games have several ways to play, but DeSmuME is regarded as the best emulator for overall performance. The command line or graphical program can be used, but the compromise is the lack of a mobile version.

DeSmuMe provides functions as an emulator such as backup, screenshoting, cheats, video and audio recording. The program imitates the real handheld device experience by providing screen filters, microphone support and customizing screen gaps. You can also link or adjust the input and hotkeys of your keyboard to a controller. And if you wondered how a desktop program emulates the DS touch-screen capability, DeSmuMe allows you to click on the cursor to interact.

Download DeSmuME

Best Arcade Games Emulator: MAME

Platforms: Windows, Linux, Mac

Download mame emulator

MAME is the best way to play arcade games, but it isn't user-friendly. The emulator has a naked, but confusing graphical interface. Your best bet is to enable MAME via the command line regardless of how adverse you are to coding or to download a compatible third-party front end.

To understand the installation process and how to use the program, consult the MAME documentation of developers. Basically, extracting the MAME in a folder and then downloading the ROMs and extracting them into the emulator "roms" folder. MAME can then view your ROM and play the game through the user interface or command line.

As an emulator, MAME can play games from a wide range of arcade systems including Capcom, Namco, Neo Geo and Sega plus old home consoles and computers. If you'd rather avoid any legal gray areas, MAME even offers a page with ROMs which are safe to download. Note that not all ROMs are playing perfectly, so developers also offer a FAQ for game-specific issues.

You can instead use the MAME core for arcade games and do much work for you if it feels overly complex, turn it into a multi-system front end like RetroArch (PC) and OpenEmu (Mac).

Download Mame

Best GameCube and Wii Emulator: Dolphin

Platforms: Windows, Linux, Android, Mac

Download dolphin emulator

You'll best bet Dolphin if you're looking for GameCube or Wii games. It has found a way to emulate WII movements, so even if there's no wiimote around you, games like Skyward Sword and Mario Galaxy can still be played that require it. Dolphin emulates Nintendo Wi-Fi connection, so that the games supported can be added for online play.

There are some disadvantages, as big as this sounds. GameCube and Wii games are a little harder than previous systems, so there may be technical restrictions on certain computers. To avoid failures, developers advise using a powerful CPU and GPU.

Dolphin enables cheats to be activated, a memory card path to save files can be set and standard resolution and appearance ratios change. You can also allow overclocking to improve the performance of the game and add anti alias or other improvements in graphics.

Dolphin is default in all input commands to use the keyboard, however you should change it. Dolphin supports wireless controls, peripherals of GameCube (such as DK Bongo), current adapter GameCube controllers, and Bluetooth for Wiimote. For local multiplayer, you can also connect multiple gamepads at a time.

The emulator Dolphin also works on Android devices. Some games may be choppy and the Wii movement controls don't translate well into touch panels, but mobile gaming is a great choice.

Download Dolphin

Best Sega Genesis Emulator: Kega Fusion

Platforms: Windows, Linux, Mac

Download fusion emulator

For many years, Kega Fusion has been Sega Genesis's favorite emulator and can support Sega Gear's, Sega CD and 32X titles such as SG-1000, SC-3000, SF-7000, Master System and Game Gear.

Fusion supports several save slots, cheat codes, screenshots and netplay as an emulator. You can also fully adapt the video and the system's sound with screen filters. For specific consoles, controllers can be configured.

Download Fusion

Best NES Emulator: Mesen

Platforms: Windows, Linux

Download mesen emulator

Look no further than Mesen, which has great results for NES and Famicom if you want an emulator to play the Nintendo entertainment system Rom. Mesen supports Famicom Disk System, VS. System, Dendy and several regional versions as well. Include video and audio, Screenshots, debugging and netplay, as well as rewinding features.

Improve the gameplay with filters, sound and video adaptation and overclocking. More details... You can upload texture substitute packages to improve the graphics if you find the original graphics difficult to enjoy. The designers also supplied documentation to help you get it all right.

Download Mesen

Best PS1 and Sega Saturn Emulator: Mednafen

Platforms: Windows, Linux

Download mednafen emulator

Mednafen is a multi-system packet that emulates the PlayStation, Sega Saturn and TurboGrafx-16/PC Engine. The Game Boy Advance, Neo Geo Pocket, NES, Sega Genesis, Super NES and other systems are also used for a variety of successful purposes.

Mednafen does not have a graphical interface, so setting up items is not the easiest way to use them. Basisically, the Mednafen.exe file has to be installed and the correct BIOS files that can be found on the network acquired. Saturn needs sega 101.bin and mpr-17933.bin; Saturn needs scph5500.bin, scph5501.bin and scph5002.bin. Include these files in Mednafen's "Firmware" section. Then you can download the ROM, uninstall the data, and drag the.cue file to the.exe emulator file, from the ROM folder, to run the game.

The emulator supports many functions despite lack of Interface, including save statements, rewind, screen filters, cheat codes and video recording, hotkey restoration, controller connection and net play. Documentation on the Mednafen website and a wiki with guidance are included for help in software building, multimedia gaming, learning the hotkeys, or accessing all of its functions.

While other autonomous emulators can be used more easily, no results are as reliable as Mednafen. When all this seems to be too difficult, switching instead to RetroArch (PC) or OpenEmu (Mac). For PlayStation emulation, these front ends use the Mednafen center. Their graphical interfaces should make it much easier to play PS1 games although the correct BIOS files are required.

Download Mednafen

Best PlayStation Portable (PSP) Emulator: PPSSPP

Platforms: Windows, iOS, android, Mac, Linux

Download psppp emulator

PPSSPP is the simulator to use on a computer or mobile device to play PlayStation Portable games. It's a free software, but PPSSPP Gold can be bought for developers. The emulator contains a custom gaming library which lists all the titles that were previously uploaded for ease of access, whether on the PC or on the phone. Homebrew games can also be downloaded via the emulator.

You can use a mouse on your PC and touch-screen controls for mobile using different input options. PPSSPP contains basic functions such as save state, screenshots and cheat codes. Audio and video can be recorded and played online with an integrated chat app. To make these games look as good as you can, improve your gaming experience with the use of screen filters, VSync and upscaling.

Download PPSSPP

Best Multi-System Emulator for Mac: OpenEmu

Platforms: Mac

Download openemu emulator

Install an all-in-one front end with several emulator cores built into a user-friendly interface, instead of thinking about which emulator is for which ROM. This allows you to play any game that the platform supports without interacting with complicated emulators or worrying about problems with compatibility.

OpenEmu is an exclusive Mac which is compatible with a long list of systems such as: Atari, DS, Game Boy Advance, GameCube, NES, PS1, PSP, Sega Genesis, Super NES, etc. The game library and a homebrew game set is included in the program. You can also install filters, customize controllers, take screenshots and hold a variety of save states simultaneously.

Download OpenEmu

Best Nintendo 64 (N64) Emulator: Mupen64Plus

Platforms: Windows, android, Mac, Linux

Download mupen64 emulator

If you're interested in playing GoldenEye for the Nintendo 64, don't look beyond Mupen64Plus. This simulator can save states, take screenshots and incorporate cheats. For multiple device functions, keyboard shortcuts are provided. Advanced features such as online play and visual enhancements are also included such as anti-aliasing and VSync.

The GitHub (or Google Play for Android) software can be downloaded and installed and ready for use—no complex operating commands and no interface plug-in required. ROMs will not be saved inside the GUI, so it is a good idea to organize your games for easier access in a centralized location. Up to four controllers, you can connect to all the input on your keyboard by default.

Download Mupen64Plus

Best PlayStation 2 (PS2) Emulator: PCSX2

Platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux

Download psx2 emulator

PCSX2 is your best bet if you want to play old PS2 games. Be mindful, however, that this emulator needs many resources. It takes a lot of memory to run PlayStation 2 games between the software itself, the PS2 BIOS files and the big ROM's. PCSX2 is also very hardware-intensive, so be sure to run the software properly. If there is not enough CPU or GPU power on your machine, games will run so slowly that you cannot even play.

You can find that PCSX2 is a little different from other emulators when you have everything packed. Follow the setup process of the program and extract the BIOS files into the relevant "bios" folder. Select your ISO selector ROM and then select the Boost ISO game option. Interestingly, the software will play ROM files and real game disks on the drive of your machine. The results would be that PCSX2, with all commands and configurations of the emulator and the game player, opens two windows.

Controls for basic features including save statuses, cheat codes, displays and HD video recording are included within the program's settings. PCSX2 also has a debugger and memory card mapping capability. The choice of attaching controllers to a plugin or using the keyboard and mouse is also present.

Download PCSX2

Best Dreamcast Emulator: Redream

Platforms: Windows, Mac, Android, Linux

Download redream emulator

Redream is your best choice for Dreamcast games. The developers announce the compatibility of the emulation with a list of games and how well the software operates. Additionally, Redream does not need any BIOS or controller settings. The simulator enables you to quickly access games to be imported to the program library. You can then change titles in the center of the game, use cheat codes, add a controller and even change buttons.

The base simulator is free of charge, but it is a commercial one and the developers wish to upgrade to the $5 Premium version. If you plan to pay up, you gain access to several slots saved for the same title, and add 1080p and 4K support for high-development gaming. An official Android version is also available.

Download Redream

Best Super Nintendo Emulator: Snes9x

Platforms: Windows, Mac, Android, Linux

Download snes9 emulator

For Super Nintendo and Super Famicom play, Snes9x is the best emulator. Download the software from one of the developers' websites to start on the downloads tab. For Android devices, there is an open source port, known as Snes9x EV+.

Snes9x supports a number of save slots, emulation, cheat codes, and ROM hacks. The simulator also enables you to tweak the image and sound rate, take screenshots, and play video online through built-in netplay.

You can either configure your keyboard or attach a controller when it comes to game input. The original controller Super Nintendo, SuperNES Mouse, Super Scope and other peripherals can be imitated by Snes9x.

Download Snes9x

Best Game Boy and GBA Emulator: VisualBoyAdvance

Platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux

Download vba emulator

VisualBoyAdvance is your destination for the retro handheld devices in Nintendo since it supports Game Boy, Game Boy Color and Game Boy Advance games. The simulator has a remarkably robust feature set including screen shooting and video recording capabilities, cheat code support, controller mapping, import and export for safe states.

Further features such as ROM hacking and debugging, screen filters, GUI skins to make Game Boy an authentic experience. VBA has done so much that you can also simulate a Game Boy Printer Add-on, emulating the features of these Handheld Devices. Dolphin Emulator compatibility lets you like real consoles bind game boy games to GameCube games.

Download VisualBoyAdvance

Best Atari 2600 Emulator: Stella

Platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux

Download stella emulator

Stella is the emulator of choice for all Atari 2600 games, if you want to live (or discover) the Atari experience. The software contains a robust choice of features which encourage the use and adaptation. Whereas from the user interface of Stella anything is possible, support for the command line is available.

All you need to do is download the emulator from your launcher, pick your ROMs, and start playing. Stella supports a wide variety of hot keys to save states, change complexity, screenshots and more. The developers have found a way to effectively replicate joysticks, paddles and other controllers from their original system.

With screen filter, restart button and combos, as well as customizing your gui, Stella helps you to completely adapt your gaming experience. The software also includes a homebrew debugger, support for cheat codes, and time machine mode for automating and improving the saving method.

Download Stella

Best Multi-System Emulator for PC: RetroArch

Platforms: Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Linux

Download retroArch emulator

The holy grail of emulation is RetroArch for PC players. The Freetro API supports the multiple device nodes with a huge range of gameplay elements and video-audio settings in an all-in-one front. However, RetroArch does not have a user friendly configuration scheme which requires you to download and select a particular nucleus before starting a game.

RetroArch supports a wide range of emulators including Atari, DS, Game Boy, GameCube, MAME, NES, Nintendo, 64, PlayStation, SNES, Wii, etc. As a computer emulator. The front end supports basic features including save state, screen filters, screenshots and video recording. Advanced features include netplaying, customer performance, re-wind, rapid and slow motion, customization of user interface and integrated streaming.

You can change refresh rate, monitor resolution, side-ratio, VSync, anti-latency, anti-aliasing and anti-ghosting functions with a graphical environment. RetroArch also gives you complete control over sound and audio settings.

Download RetroArch