Who says you can't play on Android? Thanks to the emulators in our selection, you will be able to play all your retro and even modern games very easily on your phone in a few extremely simple steps.
An emulator allows you to run another system on your device. In the case of a game console, this means being able to use the machine's games on our Android smartphone or tablet. As you have already understood, it is thus possible to have access to an unlimited game library of very often old titles, but also more recent. You have come to the right place to learn all about Android emulators and enjoy your favorite retro games!
The best emulators for Android
On Android, there are all kinds of applications that can emulate, often wonderfully, the ex-glories of our living rooms, but some much more recent consoles are also supported. And to understand how it all works, we offer you a file to find Mario, Sonic and all the great classics in your pocket.
We will focus on emulators that run natively on the Android system. Today many consoles or computers are thus supported and the use is more or less easy depending on the case. So we will guide you as best as possible to take the necessary steps!
- How to download BIOS
- How to find games
- Download the right emulator for game consoles or computers
- ATARI 800/2600
- ATARI Lynx
- ATARI ST
- Amstrad CPC
- Commodore 64
- Capcom Play System 1 et Capcom Play System 2
- Game Boy et Game Boy Color
- Game Boy Advance
- Nintendo DS
- MSX Computer
- Neo Geo et Neo Geo Pocket Color
- Nintendo NES
- Nintendo 64
- Sega Mega Drive (Genesis)
- Super Nintendo
The prerequisites for painless emulation
- the BIOS machines to emulate.
- of the Roma desired games.
In the first case, the BIOS allows you toinitialize the machine. Without going into details, some emulators of the selection need it in order to remain legal, others exploit alternative routes. that avoid this step.
The ROMS are for their part the games themselves. These come in different file formats, which often determine for which console or PC a title is intended. Thus, a game for Gameboy will have an extension in “.gb”, while a title for the Atari Lynx will have an extension in “.lnx”.
How do I download BIOS?
As nature is well done, there is an application on the Play Store that compiles a good part of these BIOS files. Its name, Every BIOS. By downloading it you should save yourself a lot of hassle. Please note, the use of these files is authorized provided that you are in possession of the initial material, remember.
If by chance you do not find what you are looking for here, then you will have to look on the Internet via Google. We nevertheless offer a site to help you, Loverom, which groups together many BIOSes and other useful little things.
Once the file has been recovered by either method, it usually needs to be move to folder of the emulator. To achieve this, you must therefore use the file explorer provided or one of those available on the Play Store (like I / O File Explorer).
How to find games?
Just like BIOS, note that most of the time, a game's ROM is copyrighted. It is therefore necessary to have the original cartridge to take advantage of said ROM. That said, there are countless sites specialized on the question on the web, we still offer Emulator Games Database on Androids which references a astronomical amount of retro games (Mario, Sonic, Zelda, Pokemon …).
To be in accordance with Google, this application does not give any direct link to ROMS, however, thanks to it, it is easy to use a search engine to find its precious.
In the same vein, and if you prefer to go directly through the PC, we invite you to visit the Loverom site which offers a large amount of dedicated titles vintage computers and old consoles. You should find your happiness there.
Just like the BIOS seen previously, it is then necessary to put the famous ROMS in a specific folder. You might as well create one, either at the root of your Android system, or in the “Download” directory. Regardless, the emulators have a file explorer to fetch the ROMS, this is more of a technical way to “store” them all in the same place :-).
Download the right emulator
This emulator developed by Robert Broglia, an emulator specialist, is particularly stable and has some advantages. First, it incorporates a support Multi-Touch up to 4 fingers, a manual or automatic backup system as well as multiplayer compatibility with a number of controllers.
ROMS in “.a26” and “.bin” are supported, as well as those still compressed in a “.zip” file. To enjoy it all you have to do is buy 2600.emu, put your ROMS on your SD card or internal storage space, then choose your game in the application. This is compatible with Android 2.1 at least, but it is not free and costs € 2,49.
It is an emulator which is OpenGL compatible, but which does not offer no key customization possible. We are therefore far from the tenors presented in this dossier. It is unfortunately the only emulator for the Atari Lynx available on Android.
To use it, you must have the BIOS of the Atari Lynx, named “lynxboot.img”, and that you were going to specify the folder where it is located via the options, in the “Path” tab, and on the “BIOS Path” line via the “set” button. In this same menu, you can configure your default folder for the location of ROMs using the line “Default Rom Path” via the “set” button.
Once your BIOS and ROMS are located, you just have to go back to the main menu, then click on “Load Game” to load the game of your choice. There is a free version (click on the image below) or a paid version at 2,30 €, if you want to support the developer.
- Hataroid (Atari ST Emulator)
Hataroid not only has the good taste of being free but also brings the famous STE compatibility mentioned above. Enthusiasts will appreciate it, especially since it is again a very complete application which suffers only from a somewhat austere interface.
To use it, you just need to collect ROMS in “.img” format, search for them by going to settings, then “system”. You will then have a “Rom” sub-menu, in which you can choose whether it is an ST or STE Rom. You can now enjoy your Atari ST games with Hataroid.
With this free emulator, you will relive the heyday of Amiga titles. Fairly easy to access, it is nonetheless provided with very rich functionalities. This is an excellent program for progressing in the field of Amiga emulation. To try it is to adopt it.
For UAE4Droid, there is no need for BIOS, all you have to do is download your ROMS, place them on your SD card or internal memory, define the location of your games in the UEAE4Droid settings, then return to the main screen to click on “Start Amiga”. You are now ready to enjoy the Amiga 500 via UAE4Droid.
Alternative to the previous emulator, AnUAE4All offers a somewhat different experience with a interface which may be better suited to the most meticulous at this level. Unfortunately, it is not free and it will therefore be necessary to pay 2,49 € to hope to benefit from it.
More, this requires the BIOS of the Amiga 500. Once the latter has been retrieved, place it in a folder, and specify this folder in the application. All you have to do then is download your ROMS, then configure the folder in AnUAE4All. You are now ready to enjoy your Amiga 500 games.
With this emulator, you will find all the excitement of the Amstrad CPC. Everything is perfectly emulated and physical controllers are also supported. To be able to use it, you need download your ROMS in “.dsk”, then place them in “/ sdcard / Kokak / droidcpc / Disks”.
You can add an “.opt” file as a bonus, easily achievable with Wordpad by saving the file with the extension “All files” and adding “.opt”, which must contain the name of the executable. Thus, when you select the “.dsk” the game will be launched automatically. For example, to start “sorceryp.dsk”, the “sorceryp.opt” file will contain “SORCERY.BIN”, which will therefore be the executable.
To start a game manually, you will need use the basic terminal, and type “RUN” executable ”, where “executable” corresponds to the “.bas” or “.bin” file of your game. You can have a preview of the games present in your folder via the “CAT” command, always on the terminal.
Sadly, Droid-CPC costs € 1,79, but that's the price to pay to enjoy the Amstrad CPC on your smartphone or tablet.
The ColecoVision also has its emulator! The legendary console is nicely represented with a program that will meet all your needs in this area. No BIOS is required, so it will suffice to place its various ROMs in a folder on the SD card then launch it via ColEm.
Simple, precise, and fully functional, ColEm has the advantage of being available for free, but with the presence of ads. To remove the latter, but also to take advantage of a better joystick, the possibility of sharing your saves with other users, and to be able to play online, you will have to upgrade to the paid version at € 1,99.
- Frodo C64
With Frodo C64, the pleasure of rediscovering the Commodore 64 in all its splendor is yours. This free emulator is designed to bring this fantastic machine back to life in the palm of your hand. Frodo C64 does not ask for any BIOS, which will therefore greatly facilitate the task.
To play the Commodore 64, you will therefore need place your ROMS in “.d64” format in a folder at the root of your SD card. Thus, when you launch the application, you will only have to do “Load Game” then select your folder where the ROMS are placed, and choose your game.
Particularly appreciated by its users, C64.emu, based on VICE 2.4.5, this emulator is thought to be the definitive program around the flagship computer. However, it will take carry out some operations before being able to benefit from them.
It will therefore be necessary download VICE media files and firmware, here, extract the files, then place the C64.emu folder obtained at the root of your SD card. C64.Emu will automatically launch your ROMs once selected via “Load Game”.
On the ROM format side, C64.emu supports “.bin”, “.crt”, “.d64”, “.g64”, “.p64”, “.x64” and “.t64” files. Bluetooth or USB controllers are also fully supported. It will still cost € 3,49 to acquire C64.emu.
Capcom Play System 1 & Capcom Play System 2
- your CPSE
CPSEmu is the benchmark emulator for Capcom Play System 2 titles. It is basically arcade machines, but it's easy to find related ROMs to use on your PC or Android. However, the Play Store no longer hosts the emulator. So you have to get it here and install it as a regular APK file by following our tutorial available by clicking here.
To use this emulator, you will need create a folder on your phone named “roms” in “sdcard> CPSEmu”, download the ROMS of your games, then launch CPSEmu to select the title of your choice.
Game Boy Color
- VGB - GameBoy (GDC) Emulator
To read all the classic GameBoy cartridges, no hesitation, let's prefer VGB. This is probably the program the most complete on this subject with database for cheat codes and support for many controllers.
The BIOS of the classic GameBoy or the GameBoy Color is not necessary, and you will therefore just have to place your ROMS in “.gb” or “.gbc” format in the folder of your choice, then select them within even from VGB - GameBoy (GDC) Emulator. To benefit from it, it will nevertheless be necessary to invest 3,49 euros.
Game Boy Advance
- My Boy!
Among Nintendo's portable consoles is the inevitable Game Boy Advance. With My Boy! find the same pleasure with another Android device. For My Boy !, it is not necessary to acquire the BIOS of the Game Boy Advance, so use will be very easy. All you have to do is place your ROMS in “.gba” format in the folder of your choice, then select the game of your choice directly in My Boy !.
Be careful though, it is not possible to play GameBoy and GameBoy Color games via this emulator. The free version offered is fully functional, but does not have instant backups, unlike the paid version at 5,36 € available by clicking here.
Before the PS Vita, there was the PSP for PlayStation Portable. Sony's first nomad also has Android honors. There are also several emulators which are intended for it. PPSSPP is probably the most accomplished emulator in emulating Sony's first portable console.
Somewhat to everyone's surprise, PPSSPP does not require obtaining the BIOS from the PSP. It will therefore be necessary put your ROMS in “.iso” or “.cso” format in a folder, then select your game within the app to enjoy it.
Make sure you have a powerful enough smartphone all the same, the developers recommend a high end, even if the Nexus 5 and 6 may be sufficient. Also check that your game is in the long list of compatible titles.
The Nintendo DS is also entitled to its emulators. DraStic is one of the most popular, since everything works, except multiplayer via WiFi, it does absolutely everything you would expect from a DS emulator. So the state backups are there, the interface is super nice and the performance undeniable.
Nintendo DS BIOS is not required, but you can still use one, if you prefer to use a custom one, by placing it in “/ sdcard / drastic / system”. Again you must download your ROMS, in “.nds” format, then place them in the folder of your choice, to finally launch them via DraStic.
DraStic is available for free, but you will only be able to play it for 30 minutes, cheat codes are not supported, as are saves. It will therefore be necessary to pay 5,99 euros to take full advantage of it.
This is a port of MAME 0.139, and is used to emulate over 8 arcade games. Impossible to be exhaustive here, but MAME specializes in supporting many machines and consoles. This is a real Swiss Army knife essential for retro-gaming enthusiasts.
To use it, nothing could be simpler, you download your ROMS, then you put them in “/ sdcard / ROMs / MAME4all / roms” via your phone, or in the ROMs / MAME4all / roms folder of your SD card if you use your computer. Once done, you just have to enjoy the arcade games that punctuated your childhood on your smartphone.
The MSX console-computer may not be very well known in our regions, it enjoys a strong reputation among gamers. Hideo Kojima for example cut his teeth there with a certain Metal Gear first of the name. This emulator does not require any BIOS, so it will be very easy to use.
First you will need download your games in “.rom”, “.dsk” or “.cas” format, then place them in your phone's internal memory, or on your SD card, then launch fMSX. You will then only have to enjoy the MSX games as at the time.
fMSX is available in a free version, available here, which displays advertisements, as well as in a paid version at 2,99 €, available below, which will therefore allow you to enjoy your games without being bothered by banner ads.
Neo Geo et Neo Geo Pocket Color
Rather confidential, the NeoGeo Pocket has a program that allows you to try out adapted SNK games. NGP.emu offers the particularity of being able to switch from Japanese voices to English voices, and conversely, support for “.zip” files, or an automatic backup system.
In order to enjoy the games of the NeoGeo Pocket, just place the ROMS, which you will have previously downloaded, on your SD card, then select the desired game in the application. Note that the Bluetooth and USB controllers are compatible, thus offering you optimal comfort.
NGP.emu is unfortunately not free, and it will cost you € 3,63 to play the NeoGeo Pocket on your smartphone.
- John NES
Did you fail to get the NES Classic Mini? It does not matter, the Nintendo NES is also represented on Android with several emulators all effective. But since we have to choose, we select John NES. Not happy to be compatible with the entire game catalog from the console, it also has Game Genie functions to cheat or modify certain memory states. Instant backups (“save states”) are also part of the game.
To use it, you will need download ROMS in “.nes” format to the SD card or your phone's internal memory, then select your game from the list that appears in front of you, the application automatically scanning your files on startup. John NES is available in a free version, but with ads, which can be removed with the paid version, which costs just € 1,99.
- Mupen64 +
Who has never dreamed of finding their classic N64s on their Android smartphone? Mario Kart 64, Ocarina of Time, Mario 64, so many wonders that now run on Android devices thanks to Mupen64 +. If the emulator has not experienced an update for almost a year, there is still a reference in the field.
You don't need to have the console BIOS to use the emulator, so it will be a snap, if you have a device powerful enough to run Nintendo 64 games well. understood. It suffices to move your ROMS in “.n64”, “.v64”, “.z64”, or “zip” format to your SD card or your phone's internal memory, then select the folder in the application, and play.
Mupen64 + is available for free, but if you appreciate the work of the developers, know that it is possible to buy a version at 0,74 €, which really only serves to pay the people behind the emulator.
FPSE is the best PlayStation 1 emulator for Android right now. The application is very powerful, and is compatible with smartphones running Android 2.1 and above. However, you will need a high-end phone to enjoy games in a pleasant way.
To use it, you will need recover the bios of the PS1, named “scph1001.bin”, then place it in the FPSE folder. Then you just have to download a ROM in the format “.iso”, “.bin”, “.nrg”, “.img”, “.mdf”, “.pbp”, “.bz”, or “.Z”, then place it on your SD card, to finally select it in the application, and play.
To enjoy PlayStation 1 games on your Android smartphone, you will have to pay € 2,79, since FPSE is only available in the paid version.
Slightly less well-known than its counterpart above, ePSXe remains a solid alternative, delivering honorable performance on Sony's main console hits. Again, you will first need recover the BIOS of the PlayStation 1, named ”scph1001.bin”, in order to place it on the SD card, the application will automatically search for the file during the first launch.
You will then need recover a ROM in “.iso” or “.bin” in order to place it on your SD card, then launch it using “Run game”. ePSXe automatically scanning your SD card on startup, all your games should appear automatically. Unfortunately, here again, you have to open the wallet, since the software is offered at € 2,99.
Sega Mega Drive (Genesis)
The Mega Drive, also known as Genesis in the USA, is also entitled to its emulator, in a free version, but also in a paid version. Right here, no special handling to do, all you have to do is download your Mega Drive ROMS, then move them to your SD card or your smartphone's internal memory.
- See also: Android controllers for smartphones and tablets, everything you need to know
You just have to launch a game from the application, taking care to specify where your ROMS are located. AndroGens therefore exists in a paid version at 1,55 €, but also in a free version, with advertisements. Everyone is free to choose the option that suits them best!
- Snes9x EX +
Based on the Super Nintendo Snes9x 1.53 emulator, this smartphone emulator has the advantage of being completely free and above all compatible with a very large majority of titles. Finally, it is often updated which shows a certain follow-up on the part of the developer.
To play Super Nintendo on your Android phone, you simply need download a ROM in “.smc” or “.sfc” format, then place it on your SD card or the phone's internal memory. You just have to choose your game via the application. While waiting for the Super NES Classic Mini at the end of 2021.
Finally, we saved the best for last: RetroArch, this emulator is a bit special because it includes almost all console emulators, it is not limited to a single console!
Here is the complete list of emulators available to date on RetroArch:
- PlayStation 1 (emulator: PCSX ReARMed)
- Super Nintendo (emulator: SNES9x Next)
- Nintendo Entertainment System (emulator: FCEUmm / NEStopia)
- GameBoy / GameBoy Color (emulator: Gambatte)
- GameBoy Advance (emulator: VBA Next)
- Arcade (emulator: Final Burn Alpha)
- Neo Geo Pocket Color (emulator: Mednafen NGP)
- Virtual Boy (emulator: Mednafen VB)
- Sega Genesis / Mega Drive (emulator: Genesis Plus GX)
- Sega Master System/Sega Game Gear (emulator: Genesis Plus GX)
- Sega CD / Mega CD (emulator: Genesis Plus GX)
- PC Engine / PC Engine CD (emulator: Mednafen PCE Fast)
- WonderSwan Color / Crystal (emulator: Mednafen Wonderswan)
- Cave Story (game engine: NX Engine)
- Doom 1 / Doom 2 / Ultimate Doom / Final Doom (game engine: prBoom)
Its other advantage is that there is no need to have a BIOS, just to find the ROM of the game you want (of course you have to have the original version of the game!). RetroArch Android is by far the most complete emulator available on the web. There is no other application with the potential to play so many games on an Android terminal.
Here is normally with all that you are ready to relive the best retro games on your smartphone!
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