• arrow
    LOG IN 
    • Log in using an option below.
         
      Forgot password?
      Login with Facebook
      Sign in with Twitter

  • REGISTER
ABOUT US
Contact Us Who Are We? Hall Of Fame Advertising With PG Games Archive
BEST GAMES
Best games on iPhone Best games on iPad Best games on Android
FREE STUFF
Best free games on iPhone Best free games on iPad Best free games on Android Competitions
GAME SALES
iPhone game sales iPad game sales Android game sales
UPDATED GAMES
Latest iPhone game updates Latest iPad game updates Latest Android game updates
NEW RELEASES
New iPhone games New iPad games New Android games
MORE PG SITES
PG.biz PG FRANCE PG Game Guides PG GameHubs PG Connects 2014
MORE SM SITES
AppSpy Free App Alliance 148 Apps Android Rundown iPhone Quality Index iPad Quality Index Android Quality Index Swipe Magazine Best App Ever Awards
PARTNERS
Metacritic
GameRankings
Pocket Gamer on NewsNow
GamesTracker
dx.net
UK Mobile Pages Directory
Skinflint Price Comparison
 ANDROID FEATURE

[Update] The best Android emulators for PlayStation, SNES, Game Boy, Mega Drive, and more

Pocket Gamer's complete guide to Android emulation (Updated with fixed links)
Product: Emulation
 
Emulation Android, thumbnail 1
Your Android possesses the power to play almost every major video game from the last three or four decades. If you find the right emulator and source a cheeky ROM file, your phone can morph - Transformers-style - into a Game Boy or an NES or a TurboGrafx-16.

To help you get the most out of your blower, we've put together this guide to finding the very best emulator for every games console and classic computer, from the Atari 2600 to the Nintendo DS and from the ZX Spectrum to the Commodore 64.

Download the app, find a ROM, and relive some happy memories.

This guide is an ever-evolving critter, and we will add emulators for arcade systems (like Neo Geo and MAME) and other devices in the future. We'll also keep our ears to the ground in case someone decides Android really needs a Virtual Boy emulator.

Note: Pocket Gamer does not condone piracy, and offers this information for entertainment purposes only. Pocket Gamer also takes no responsibility if you follow this guide and manage to bugger up your phone or tablet in the process.

Nintendo

Emulators for every Nintendo console and handheld, up to the 3DS and GameCube. Sadly, there's no emulator yet on Android for the red headache-inducing Virtual Boy. However will we cope?

NES - Nesoid (free)

android-emulators-nes

To play 8-bit classics from Nintendo's first console, the free and feature-heavy Nesoid will do you well. The 1984 console is no strain on the Android, so practically any phone will run these antique games without effort.

This emulator has save states, fast forward, cheats, and even the ability to play multiplayer over wi-fi or Bluetooth. As for controls, it has virtual buttons and support for hardware controls or Bluetooth devices.

The app even packs support for the most obscure bits of NES history, including Famicom disc system support, and Zapper emulation for shooters like Duck Hunt.

Must-play games: Super Mario Bros, Mega Man 2, Final Fantasy.

SNES - Snesoid (free)

android-emulators-snes

Nintendo's super console follow-up works best with Snesoid. It has great performance (it ran any game we threw at it on Xperia Play), and has options to restrict graphics and sound if your phone isn't fast enough.

It sports cheats, wireless multiplayer, fast forward, completely customisable controls, and even emulation of Nintendo's bazooka-esque Super Scope.

Must-play games: Super Metroid, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, Super Castlevania.

N64 - N64oid ($4.99)

android-emulators-n64

The N64 was Nintendo's first foray into 3D, but most modern Androids should have the necessary grunt to emulate it smoothly. We found Super Mario 64 ran on the Xperia Play without a hitch.

It doesn't have as many features as the other "oid" emulators - just customisable controls and Bluetooth. Also, performance and support will vary on a game-by-game basis.

Must-play games: Super Mario 64, Blast Corps, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.

Game Boy and Game Boy Color - GBCoid (free)

android-emulators-gameboy

This handheld emulator covers both the Game Boy and Game Boy Color. It has cheats, fast forward, save states, and customisation. As you would expect with a 20-year-old portable, Android has no trouble replicating it.

Must-play games: Pokemon Blue, Super Mario Land 2, The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening.

Game Boy Advance - GBAoid (free)

android-emulators-gba

Now you're playing with power - 32 bits of it, to be precise. And GBAoid (also called GameBoid) handles these handheld games without breaking a sweat.

It has all the important options: cheats, completely customisable controls, save states, and fast forward. You will, however, need to source your own BIOS file. Find out more in our dedicated tutorial.

Must-play games: Wario Ware: Mega Microgames, Final Fantasy Tactics, Mega Man Zero.

Nintendo DS - nds4droid (free)

android-emulators-ds

Don't get too excited. This emulator is still very much a work in progress, and simply a proof of concept for what might be possible one day. It ran at a pathetically slow framerate on our Xperia Play, with no sound or touchscreen emulation.

If you fancy trying it, make sure you've got a particularly fast phone with the processing horsepower to emulate the console we recently crowned the best handheld of all time.

Sega

Everything up to the Dreamcast has been emulated on Android, including clunky six-battery "portable" the Game Gear. Sadly, there's are no Android emulator for the 32X. If you wanted to play Knuckles Chaotix on the go, you're out of luck, my friend.

Master System - Gearoid (free)

android-emulators-master-system

Gearoid emulates both the Master System and Game Gear in the same app, and accepts ROMs from either console. It also has a fancy Sonic The Hedgehog icon for your app library.

As you've come to expect from the "oid" emulator clan, it has save states, fast forward to zip through boring bits, and intense virtual and physical controller customisation.

Must-play games: Phantasy Star, Wonder Boy in Monster Land, Fantasy Zone.

Game Gear - Gearoid (free)

android-emulators-gamegear

The Game Gear shares an emulator with the Master System. See above for more details.

Must-play games: Columns, Sonic Chaos, Shining Force: Sword of Hayja.

Mega Drive / Genesis - Gensoid (free)

android-emulators-megadrive

Sega does what Nintendon't. Or so the '90s advertising campaign would have us believe. But, in the world of Android emulation, the two consoles are almost exact equals.

Like Snesoid, this Mega Drive emulator has cheats, save states, fast forward, wireless multiplayer, and the ability to tweak the controls to your heart's desire.

Must-play games: Sonic The Hedgehog 3, Gunstar Heroes, Streets of Rage 2.

Sega CD - MD.emu (£3.49)

android-emulators-sega-cd

MD.emu has always been a competent rival to the free Gensoid. It's got high performance and compatibility with most games, and it has support for on-screen controls, physical buttons and all manner of Bluetooth devices (including the Nintendo Wii remote).

But in the latest update, which was released in April 2012, it finally justified that price tag. The app now emulates Sega CD games (in ISO or BIN file format). It's still in beta - so CUE files and CDDA are not yet supported - but it runs a lot of CD games. Even Virtua Racing (thanks to SVP chip support).

Must-play games: Sonic CD, Virtua Racing, Batman Returns

Saturn - Yabause (free)

android-emulators-saturn

Like the Nintendo DS emulator above, this Saturn app is still a work in progress. Sega's penultimate system is notoriously difficult to emulate, so don't expect silky smooth performance any time soon.

Or simple installation, for that matter. This app requires a huge setup process with extra downloads and tweaks. Sorry, guys, we didn't bother to make that tremendous effort. No one needs to play NiGHTS into Dreams THAT much.

Atari

Only one Atari console has had an Android emulator developed for it: the iconic wood-trim 2600. The 5200 and 7800 haven't felt the emulation love yet, and there aren't any emulators available for the Jaguar and Lynx, either. Boooo.

Atari 2600 - Ataroid (free)

android-emulators-atari2600

It's nice when an emulator goes the extra mile to recreate the original console experience. On that note, Ataroid lets you map the 2600's iconic switches to buttons or keys on your phone.

Otherwise, this is a standard emulator. It has lots of audio and video tweaks, customisable controls, (including Xperia Play and Bluetooth devices), and save states.

Must-play games: Space Invaders, Donkey Kong, Pitfall.

Other consoles

There are a few heavy hitters here, including the Neo Geo Pocket Color and the trusty PSone. If you were hoping to play 3DO or Philips CD-I games on the go, then (a) what is wrong with you?, and (b) sorry, no dice.

WonderSwan - WonderDroid (free)

android-emulators-wonderswan

We couldn't get WonderDroid - an emulator for Bandai's Japan-only handheld - to work. Which is a shame, because we wanted to try Rockman & Forte: Mirai Kara no Chousensha.

It completely crashed our Xperia Play, causing the phone to cruelly kill the app. Your mileage may vary, though: the app's free, so no harm in trying.

TurboGrafx-16 or PC Engine - PCE.emu (£2.99)

android-emulators-tg16

We all have fond memories of the TurboGrafx-16, right? Good old Bonk and Keith Courage and other, erm, memorable characters.

If you have a soft spot for this console, PCE.emu should do you right. We haven't tested it, but its Google Play blurb states save states, customisable controls (including Bluetooth devices and Xperia Play), and support for both .pce and .sgx ROM files are present. And possibly correct.

Must-play games: Bonk's Adventure, Devil's Crush, Galaga '90.

Neo Geo Pocket Color - NGP.emu (£3.49)

android-emulators-ngpc

SNK's clicky-stick handheld didn't do well at retail, and calling its software library "slim" would be the understatement of the year. But, it did carry some truly great fighters and cut-down arcade games in its short life.

NGP.emu (untested) has save states, support for Bluetooth controllers and hardware buttons, and PSG sound support. Sadly, it doesn't replicate the NGPC's built-in horoscope reader.

Must-play games: Metal Slug: First Mission, Sonic Pocket Adventure, Capcom vs SNK: Card Fighters Clash.

PSone - FPse for Android (£2.52)

android-emulators-playstation

The PSone may be a good 17 years old, but it's still a 3D system. Just don't expect every game to work perfectly - especially on older Androids. If you've got a modern 'droid phone, though, read on.

FPse requires a little setup, but the extra effort gives you lots of options for customisation, force feedback, analog sticks, and even Guncon emulation. It supports the Xperia Play and Bluetooth devices, too.

The app supports .img, .iso, .bin, .cue, .nrg , .mdf, and .Z disc image formats.

Psx4droid is supposed to be a good alternative, but it seems like it has been abandoned. Unfortunately, we couldn't find a reputable place to download it.

Must-play games: Final Fantasy VII, WipEout 3, Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2.

Computers

Want to play games from classic computers like the ZX Spectrum or the Amiga 500 on your Android? Search through Google Play and you'll find various apps that emulate retro operating systems and game engines.

DOS - aDosBox (free)

android-emulators-comps-dos

DosBox is the go-to emulator for playing antique PC games from the days before Windows. Luckily for us, it's available on Android in a number of different incarnations.

Freebie app aDosBox works fine. It has a huge number of options for changing the controls, so you can pull up an on-screen keyboard, use the buttons and keys on your device, or hook up a Bluetooth keyboard.

You can also emulate a mouse on the touchscreen, and map hotkeys to the different buttons on your device.

DosBox isn't as simple as most emulators. Instead of being supplied with a list of games, you'll be provided with the Dos terminal. Furthermore, you will have to navigate to the right drive and directory with keyboard commands. Luckily, you can find a good tutorial right here.

Atari ST - SToid (£1.44)

android-emulators-comps-atarist

Like every other emulator in the 'oid' pantheon, SToid is easy to use, filled with options, and compatible with just about any game you'd want to play.

It has save states, and support for ROMs in the .st, .msa, and .stt formats. You can customise the controls to your heart's content, and it even works with Hacker's Keyboard - a mod for the Android's on-screen keyboard with number keys and the like - for the complete ST experience.

MSX - MSX.Emu (£5.49)

android-emulators-comps-msx

The MSX was a family of computers made by ASCII and Microsoft that was supposed to establish a single standard in PCs. It didn't really take off globally, but it was a big hit in Japan and was the first home to many games: including the Metal Gear series.

This pricey emulator is compatible with lots of different types of ROM, including .rom, .mx1, .mx2, and .col file types. Plus, it will load floppy disk images.

It has save state support, controller customisation (touchscreen, Xperia Play, and all manner of Bluetooth devices), and even multiplayer support on the same device.

If the price tag is a little much, there's a free alternative. fMSX doesn't have quite the expansive feature set of its pricier cousin, but it's a capable emulator that will run most games.

BBC Micro - Beebdroid (free)

android-emulators-comps-bbcmicro

There's an intriguing link between the BBC Micro and your Android. Both the retro computer and the ARM processor chip inside your phone were built by British computer outfit Acorn. Enjoy, fact fans.

To celebrate the link, why not emulate the old computer on your brand-new phone?

Freebie emulator Beebdroid is your best bet. It's got great compatibility with a range of games, and if you've got an up-to-date device, you'll often get perfect 50 frames per second performance.

Amiga 500 - UAE4Droid (free)

android-emulators-comps-amiga500

First off, this Amiga emulator has save states. Second off, you can use the touchscreen or one of those little trackball doohickeys as a mouse. It's a pretty barebones emulator, but if you've got an Amiga ROM file (you'll have to source your own) and a powerful phone, it's capable.

Here's a handy tutorial for downloading and configuring the emulator. You'll be playing Turrican in no time.

Don't waste your cash on the £1.99 AnUAE4All. It's unstable, the interface isn't that hot, and the free UAE4Droid is a better port of the open source Amiga emulator.

Amstrad CPC - CPCDroid (free)

android-emulators-comps-amstrad

CPCDroid is an emulator for Alan "You're Fired" Sugar's '80s computer. It's based on the desktop PSPCAP32 emulator, but has been thoroughly optimised to work on your mobile.

To that end, you can map anything on the keyboard or joystick to virtual buttons on the touchscreen. Plus, you can tweak the rendering mode for better performance on older phones.

You can get a guide to downloading and installing the emulator over here.

Scumm Engine - ScummVM (free)

android-emulators-comps-scumm

Scumm is the scripting engine that LucasArts used for its string of classic point-and-click adventures, like Monkey Island and Day of the Tentacle.

Scumm VM is a long-running emulator of that engine, which has ballooned to support hundreds of other adventure games, and to work on just about every console and device under the sun.

Android is no different, and you can grab a mobile-optimised version for your phone on the Google Play Store. It has almost identical compatibility with the desktop version, and you can tweak the touchscreen settings to your liking.

If you still own one of the supported games, you can import them into the emulator. To do that, just head to this page here to find out which data files you need to extract from the CD or floppy disc, and then put them in your ROM folder.

For extra help using Scumm VM, there's a full quick-start guide for the Android version here.

Apple II - cAndy Apple (free)

android-emulators-comps-appleii

It feels a little naughty emulating an Apple system on an Android. But, seeing as the iPhone is closed off to emulators of any kind, Google's smartphone platform will have to do.

This free emulator works with physical keyboards, but if your phone doesn't have one, just draw an 'S' gesture on the main screen to pull up a customisable virtual keyboard. It's a faithful Apple II emulator, and it runs smoothly on most phones.

Commodore 64 - Frodo C64 (free)

android-emulators-comps-c64

Frodo is the best C64 emulator on Google Play. It's compatible with any game you'd want to play, it sports a good interface, and it runs classic games at a good clip.

It works with touchscreen controls; physical buttons and keyboards; and Bluetooth devices.

ZX Spectrum - Marvin (free)

android-emulators-comps-zx

If you've got a modern Android phone, Marvin promises to run 48 and 128k Spectrum games at a full 50 frames per second, with accurate timing and high-quality sound. It supports .z80 and .sna snapshots, and .tap, .tzx, and .zip tape files.

As for controls, you can use (highly customisable) touchscreen buttons, or map the joystick to hardware keys. And as a nice bonus, the virtual keyboard has the Spectrum's iconic rainbow band across it.

Even better, you can access World of Spectrum's comprehensive archive of ROMs from the emulator, and download games straight from the app itself. We were playing Monty on the Run in no time.
 

Reviewer photo
Mark Brown 19 March 2013
Have your say!  
Post a comment - Please log in to leave a comment
Pocket Gamer Biz     PG Login
Login with Facebook Sign in with Twitter
Show: Latest | Oldest
Joined:
Sep 2014
Post count:
1
Ricardo M. | 16:03 - 19 September 2014
You must be kiding......

"No one needs to play Night Into the Dreams that Much".

Saturn have so many good titles that I never saw in no other console.

Also Drastic is the best DS emulator...it can run up to 300X with good graphics configurations.
Joined:
Jan 2014
Post count:
3
Fraught | 12:05 - 15 January 2014
"Don't get too excited. This emulator is still very much a work in progress, and simply a proof of concept for what might be possible one day. It ran at a pathetically slow framerate on our Xperia Play, with no sound or touchscreen emulation."


HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

I can't take this article seriously, especially after it was said that this would be continuously updated and kept up-to-date.

You know what's the solution to the problem described above? Downloading DraStic, a MUCH better DS emulator that runs perfectly on most high and medium-end devices. Probably most lower-end too, I just haven't tried it out myself.

Also, just a PS1 for Sony? I mean, I have a Nexus 7, which can be considered a reasonably high-end device, but PPSSPP is a great PSP emulator that, at least in my case, allows me to play, for example, Dissidia duodecim and Kingdom Hearts Birth By Sleep at full speed.

Also, non-buffered rendering gives the games that support it an enormous bump in graphics quality. It's quite spectacular.

Joined:
Oct 2013
Post count:
1
Dwayne Smith | 20:54 - 10 October 2013
i would love to have the N64 emulator so i can play some of my classic games i use to have specially the most important one i missed playing was "Conkers Bad Fur Day"
Joined:
Aug 2013
Post count:
2
@JaakunaKaze | 18:14 - 12 August 2013
Also, the new Picodrive core emulates 32x. Knuckles' Chaotix runs with barely any difficulties.
Joined:
Aug 2013
Post count:
2
@JaakunaKaze | 18:10 - 12 August 2013
If only RetroArch emulated Dreamcast...
Joined:
Jul 2013
Post count:
2
Chris Overbee | 01:07 - 28 July 2013
*C64, not N64
Joined:
Jul 2013
Post count:
2
Chris Overbee | 01:06 - 28 July 2013
So uh, you posted the emulator that's superior to gensoid for Sega CD?

Huh. Really all -oid emulators at this point, free and not free, are far outdated and most things on the market. Even the free version of MyBoy is basically a far updated Gameboid. Pretty much replace all the -oids with a .Emu (and SNES9x) and you have it for the person who just wants to play games, don't even need to fool around with BIOS outside of CD games, NeoGeo, or N64.

If your device is fairly recent as well you can play RetroArch. It beats every emulator out of the water, and offers some emulation that nothing else does like DOOM and Quake.
Joined:
Apr 2013
Post count:
2
@withche07 | 16:17 - 15 April 2013
Also pre-alpha Dolphin emulator for Gamecube and Wii has come!
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=org.dolphinemu.dolphinemu
Joined:
Apr 2013
Post count:
2
@withche07 | 09:43 - 15 April 2013
There is a new all-in one emulator called "RetroArch" in Play Store. And it has Virtual Boy emulator called "Mednafen VB". Can you please add it to list, too?
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=org.retroarch

It also has lots of free emulators which you mentioned in this article.

@aros mentioned there is also Atari Lynx emulator. Here it is:
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.rock88dev.alynx
and free version:
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.blogspot.rock88dev.alynx_free

And in the end, there is also PSP emulator:
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=org.ppsspp.ppssppgold
free version:
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=org.ppsspp.ppsspp

There is also one more Sega Saturn emulator in here:
http://www.explusalpha.com/
and Dreamcast emulator out there in alpha state which "was" leaked but removed. :)
Joined:
Mar 2013
Post count:
4
@xeonwales | 19:31 - 19 March 2013
"Everything up to the Dreamcast has been emulated on Android"

Did you forget to list & test the Dreamcast emulator :)
JOIN THE DISCUSSION: 26 comments >>
 
POPULAR FEATURES
LATEST COMMENTS LATEST NEWS
LATEST VIDEOS
VIDEO REVIEWS