This blog post is total contradiction to the title of my site, I’m not debating anything and there is nothing to debate but I figured it may be of use to some people so I’m always happy to help! Many of you will already be familiar with emulators and many of you will know exactly how to use them and which run best. I have set-up a small guide so those unfamiliar with them can have a basic understanding of how to use them safely and in line with the law. Emulators are a fairly easy task when you have the right knowledge and you can be experiencing classic gaming moments all over again for absolutely free (hoorah!) in a matter of minutes. You can of course choose to wait until your favorite game of yesteryear is re-leased on to the Play Store if you are worried about potential law breaking.
What you’ll need
This depends on what games you wish to play but firstly you must have an android phone (seriously!). It is also beneficial for you have a PC or Laptop to download the necessary files onto before transferring and unpacking them onto your phone. You must also be aware that although downloading emulators is legal, downloading ROMS is a grey area which generally isn’t.
Where to find the emulators and what to do next
Generally the best emulators are for 2D games, with 16-bit games being able to re-produced to near perfection. I have tried numerous 3D emulators such as those for the PSX and Saturn and found them to be a laggy, unresponsive waste of time. That being said I shall include them on the list for those who are interested as improvements are being made all the time. I shall list my top 5 emulators I found to be flawless and include further links towards the bottom for those which are still in their infancy. I use this site for downloading ROMS but like I said there are question marks about it’s legality.
Nesoid can be found here and is totally free. It is the smoothest of all emulators I tried and easy to install. It works so well because early Nintendo consoles are extremely easy to emulate and therefore give the best results. The reason I previously said to use a PC is that ROMS are usually packed within a zip file which will require a computer to unzip. Once you have downloaded the necessary files from the source above it’s just a matter of transferring the files on to your phone, which is usually done by SD card. Make sure when downloading ROMS you download .nes files as these are the only files compatible and save them in the relevant folder on your phone.
Snesoid is similar to the NES in terms of performance and can be found here. The same instructions should be taken as shown on the Nesoid although the ROMS are in .smc file format. It will play nearly all of your favorite SNES games of all time and I currently have not experienced any issues at all. Please try not to use any other site than the one I have supplied, there are many legitimate sites out there but I learnt the hard way many moons ago that a lot ain’t.
Yes, these names don’t get much better. This obviously emulates Genesis games or Mega Drive games depending on what region you are in. It can be downloaded here and is my personal favorite, not because it does anything better but because I grew up as a SEGA boy. Now I can play Dynamite Headdy again without building me a time machine (yay!). Files are found in either the .bin or .smd format. Standard procedure for installing the emulator and Roms apply here also.
4. N64oid ($4.99)
I told you a lie, these names are getting awesome! Of course this the N64 emulator found here which unfortunately for the tight fisted among us (like me) costs real life pennies! $4.99 to be exact but you get a stable way of playing 3D games on your mobile device for less than what you’d pay for a crap android game from the Play Store. Your phone must be of at least half decent quality to play the games on but I had no problem on a dual core phone, budget phone at the time of purchase. The N64oid is about as good as it get’s in terms of playing ‘recent’ games without problems. Get the ROMS from the link I supplied above and you’re good to go.
5. FPSe for Android ($4.99)
YUCK! What a terrible name for an emulator! Luckily it’s quite good. It’s a PSX emulator which is found here on the Play Store! (shock horror) and is also not free like the 2D ones listed above. Playstation games can be hit or miss when emulated so take this in to consideration is you a thinking about purchasing this app. It also may get pulled down at any point like many before it so grab it whilst you can as it’s probably the best PSX emulator around. It is not as straight forward to set-up as the others but youtube videos listed here will show you how to get the best from the emulator. Again, ROMS are found in the usual place but please watch the youtube videos first before attempting this one.
Atari ST – SToid (currently $0.99) here
Nintendo DS – nds4droid here -WARNING Unstable!
Saturn – Yabause here – Again not very good
Game Boy Advance – GBAoid here – Very Good!
Master System – Gearoid here – Plays Game Gear too