10 Emulators To Turn Your Computer Into A Retro Console

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Most of us grew up playing with one video game or another. Super Mario, Tetris, Pacman – whatever floats your boat – are part of our childhood and sometimes we want to revisit that childhood but alas, these games are hard to come by.

An alternative is to play these golden games with an emulator, right on your personal computer. There are a variety of video game emulators that are dedicated to emulating various consoles from the past.

OpenEmu

In this post we will be listing 10 emulators that can help you play your favorite childhood games all over again. Before we begin, it should be noted that while emulation software is legal, downloading the ROM images (a copy of the game in software form) from the internet is not. Emulators are intended to play the games you already own and you will have to dump the ROM images from the cartridges yourself.

1. RetroArch

Available on: Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, mobile devices

RetroArch is an all-in-one emulator that is able to run games from pretty much every retro console out there. On the home console front, you will be able to run Playstation 1 games and older, while for handheld game consoles, it supports Game Boy Advance games and older.

Retroarch

RetroArch is actually based on cores, with each core emulating a console, i.e. GBA will have its own core as well as the NES. This means that as new emulators get created, it is possible to turn them to cores to run on RetroArch. In fact, it is also possible to run it on various modern consoles.

2. OpenEmu

Available on:Mac OS X

OpenEmu is partially based off Retroarch but with the aim of providing a Mac-like experience. It includes a gallery view of games similar to that of iTunes, helping you organize your collection. The default download of the software won’t emulate the same amount of consoles as Retroarch can but there is an experimental version that will, note that it may not be as stable.

OpenEmu

If you have a Mac and a lot of old video games lying around, OpenEmu is most definitely the one to get. With it, you can manage your collection with a beautiful front-end, as OpenEmu can help you name the games and get the box art online automatically.

3. Dolphin

Available on: Windows, Mac OS X, Linux

Dolphin is a GameCube/Wii emulator and is currently the only emulator that can emulate a console of the 7th generation (PS3/XBox 360/Wii) and emulate it well, due to the internals being similar to the GameCube. The emulator boast a high compatibility rating so it is very likely that your favorite games will be able to run on it.

Dolphin

The emulator will also allow you to run your GameCube games on a HD wide screen, even if the game doesn’t support it. It is under constant development, with their latest being able to tap into Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection, so expect continuous improvements and updates.

4. PCSX2

Available on: Windows, Linux

There’s no denying that the Playstation 2 is one of the highest-selling console to date and with PCSX2 you will be able to play its large backlog of games. The one disadvantage is that this emulator requires a fairly powerful computer due to the structure of the PS2 internals but if you’ve got that covered, it can run most of the games available on the platform.

PCSX2

PCSX2 is based on a plug-in system and with the proper configurations, you can upscale your games to HD quality. Note that a Mac version exists but is outdated with no signs of updates.

5. PPSSPP

Available on: Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, mobile devices

Playstation Portable Simulator Suitable For Playing Portably (PPSSPP) is a fairly new emulator with the purpose of running PSP games. It was created by one of the cofounders of Dolphin and just like Dolphin, is easy to set up and can play a large number of PSP games.

PPSSPP

You can even transfer your PSP saves into it and continue where you left off. PPSSPP is still a work in progress with new features and fixes constantly being added.

6. DeSmuME

Available on: Windows, Mac OS X, Linux

Nintendo’s dual screen console can be played on your computer using DeSmuME, with both screens simulated on your computer monitor. Your mouse is used as a stylus for the touch input. It even supports games that require you to play your device sideways.

DeSmuME

It’s been in constant development with the developers improving and adding new features into it to make it run smoothly. And it has been on the scene long, so most games should be able to run on it without problems. Note that the Linux version has to be self-compiled.

7.DOSBox

Available on: Windows, Mac OS X, Linux

DOSBox specializes in emulating an environment where MS-DOS programs can run as intended. So if you have some old DOS games lying around that won’t run on your modern PC, give it a try on DOSBox. It should emulate the game accurately and at native speed.

DOSBox

In fact, it runs so well that game companies use it to repackage their old DOS games so that they can be played on modern computers. As a side note, it is entirely possible to run Windows 9x and DOS-based operating systems on DOSBox if you want to.

8. ScummVM

Available on: Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, various other systems

If you’re a fan of the old style click-and-point adventures, you’re sure to enjoy ScummVM. This program was design to run games that uses the SCUMM scripting language, which was used in many click-and-point games made by LucasArts as well as other companies.

ScummVM

Because of this, it can run games on systems other than the one originally intended. So games that were made for Windows can now run on Mac or Linux. Same as DOSBox, game companies use this emulator to repackage their games to run on moderns systems, so you know it is well worth a look.

9. ePSXe

Available on: Windows, Linux

Considered by many to be the best Playstation 1 emulator for the PC, this program will allow you to run nearly all your PS1 games flawlessly, so long as your machine has the juice and is configured correctly. The emulator uses a plug-in system where nearly everything is handled using plug-ins, so you might want to research on the best way to configure it to your computer.

ePSXe

Same as PCSX2, with the proper plugins and configuration, and assuming a powerful computer, your old PS1 games can run in glorious HD, bringing your nostalgic memory in high resolution.

10. Mupen64plus

Available on: Windows, Mac OS X, Linux

Mupen64plus is an N64 emulator. The program itself doesn’t come with a GUI so downloading a front-end may be required for ease of use, with the developers providing links to some recommended ones. Similar to many programs emulating its generation of consoles, it uses a plug-in system and you would definitely want to try a few to enhance your performance.

Mupen64plus

N64 emulation is a bit hit-or-miss, due to how the console was designed so it might not hurt to have an alternate emulator in case your game doesn’t run on it. But if it does, this is one of the best N64 emulators to get due to the plugin system.

If you know of more emulators that should be on this list, let us know in the comments.

Author:

A sarcastic curmudgeon who is a lifelong fan of tech and all things shiny. Huge Apple cultist but has since decided to live a double life in the House of Google.

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