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So, you're looking around the wiki, found some good games to play for the older consoles, but you don't actually have it. And you're not willing to buy a new console just to play it, or as a result of time passing, dem bricks have jacked up their price tags on eBay beyond your budget. So what do you do? Use the emulator. This page has the best emulators for each console, along with it's features.

Note: Emulators aren't perfect. Depending on the game, you might get some glitches. Few of these should be game-breaking, though. Also, some games may flat-out not work, so you may want to check compatibility lists. Emulation of newer systems like PS4 and Switch is still in a very rough stage, buying and modding the system may be your best choice.

There's another wiki that is better maintained: Emulation General

Admin note: Don't link to ROMs or any .exe direct-install links. (This note is just to cover the site's collective ass, and I apologize for the need of it.) - Derpiko

Home ConsolesEdit

Logo Title Emulated system Host system Description
Bsnes icon bsnes SNES Windows The most accurate SNES emulator out there, so it's very demanding. If your machine can't handle it, use Snes9x instead. bsnes is a subset of multi-system emulator higan, although the standalone version has better performance and a different interface. Link

Note: byuu only provides a Windows binary, but if you're on macOS or Linux, you can compile from the source or use the Libretro core.

Cemu icon Cemu Wii U Windows Hey, kid. Wanna play The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild at 1080p resolution and with 60 frames-per-second? This emulator right here should do the trick. Remember to download Cemuhook and get some shader caches here to reduce slowdown. Oh, and while you're at it, grab some graphic packs as well. Needs a high-end PC (NVidia cards are recommended) to run things smoothly.

Public releases

DEmul-Logo Demul Dreamcast Windows One of the best DC emulators. This one may have higher accuracy than NullDC/reicast, but at a performance cost, and it's UI is a bit too cryptic for some, so it isn't recommended for casuals, but there are guides (albeit outdated) for it (ex: [1][2][3]).

It supports Naomi, Hikaru, and Atomiswave arcade games, but it's also the only that support Windows CE, albeit not too well (Makaron is dead, so it doesn't count), hence why it's on the list.

DolphinEmu Dolphin Gamecube
Wii
Windows
Linux
macOS
Android
Notable for being the only emulator out there to play Wii games, which is a godsend for pirates PC gamers. Aside from that, it's a very great emulator, and is updated often. Includes support for the Wiimote, so you don't have to use the mouse for it (you're on your own for a sensor bar though), and allows you to output to even 3D 1080p. Hell, it's also really good for N64 emulation, though that's only assuming the Virtual Console actually supports certain games.

It should be said, that if you're gonna download Dolphin, be sure to download development versions, as stable releases tend to be far behind, resulting in them being outdated in the long run.

Also note that Dolphin has some really steep requirements. If your computer can barely cut it, there's always the Ishiiruka build with its Async shader compilation.

Genesis Plus GX icon Genesis Plus GX MegaDrive
Sega CD
Master System
Game Gear
SG-1000
Windows
Wii
GameCube
Originally a homebrew application for both the Wii and Gamecube, that's based on an old DOS software, this emulator has surpassed the more famous Kega Fusion in terms of emulation capabilities and compatibility for every game made for old Sega systems (except the 32x, Kega Fusion and PicoDrive-libretro are better options for that).
Kega fusion-1- Kega Fusion MegaDrive
Sega CD
32X
Pico
Master System
Game Gear
Windows
Linux
macOS
The other Sega multi-emulator. Hasn't been updated in ages, but it still runs almost everything perfect, supports netplay, and the interface is nice. For the edge cases it can't handle (such as super rare Surgical Strike on the 32X-CD), try the PicoDrive-libretro core instead.

Get it here. (If you're on Windows 8 or 10, be sure to get the framerate fixer as well.)

Mesen logo Mesen NES
FDS
Windows
Linux
Mesen is a recent NES emulator designed with the goal of perfect accuracy. It supports over 290 mappers, netplay, 4 players, FDS games, mouse for Zapper games, and even custom HD textures. It also includes a debugger, handy if you're coding NES games. Get it here. Also available as a Libretro core.

Note: despite lower accuracy, Nestopia (Undead Edition) and FCEUX (latest dev version) may be better choices in some cases, as both are speedier; the latter also supports even the most obscure bootlegs, and has TAS features and Lua scripting.

Mupen64plus-r1.pnd Mupen64+ Nintendo 64 Windows
Linux
macOS
Android
The best all around N64 emulator; it has high compatibility, can look great, and runs fast, yet it doesn't have a GUI, so if you plan on using this emulator, use this. The downside to this is the audio getting delayed, so for improved audio latency and sync, consider using mupen64plus-libretro through RetroArch.
PCSX2 icon PCSX2 PlayStation 2 Windows
Linux
macOS
A frequently updated PS2 emulator. The compatibility is quite amazing excluding a few problem games. The audio rarely has problems even with speedhacks enabled. It supports hardware and software rendering, deinterlacing, custom resolutions, MSAA, and texture filtering. What else could you want? Well, plenty of games have fairly high requirements, and it's unlikely that certain games will ever become playable.
Do keep in mind that when it comes to multi-platform games (excluding those with PC-ports), Dolphin (the GameCube/Wii emulator) can run GC/Wii versions of certain games better than their PS2 versions via PCSX2, despite the platforms being more powerful than the PS2, so it's advised to run those on Dolphin instead.

The official compatibility list isn't updated too often, so you may have to refer to the forums or wiki on occasion.

Dev Builds Forums Wiki

PCSX Reloaded icon PCSX-Reloaded (PGXP build) PlayStation Windows
Linux
macOS
While not as well known as ePSXe, PCSX-R is a plugin-based emulator that can let you play 3D-based game at a high resolution. It also lets you use the excellent PCSX2 controller plugins, and compatibility surpasses ePSXe.

Since the main branch is effectively dead, the PGXP fork is the recommended option. It adds texture perspective correction, reduced polygon culling, and reduced polygon jitter (more so than mainline PCSX-R's GTE hack). The problem is that it's Windows-only. Grab the shader pack while you're at it. They are intended to be used with Pete's OpenGL2 plugin.

macOS builds and Ubuntu Linux builds exist, but they are based off the dead mainline branch.

Recommended PSX Plugins

Mednafen's PSX core is more ideal for 2D-based games, or for games that glitch on PSCXR, and is readily available on RetroArch. Even so, both of them are better than Sony's official emulator and ePSXe.

Project 64 logo Project64 Nintendo 64 Windows The other best all around N64 emulator; it has high compatibility (even supports 64DD games), can look great, and runs fast, just like Mupen64+. Best if you want something with a GUI, just whatever you do, do NOT even try emulating Resident Evil 2, use Mupen64+ for that.

Recommended N64 Plugins

Reicast Reicast Dreamcast Windows
Linux
Android
Another DC emulator, except it's an open-source emulator based on NullDC (made by the same team too) and has seen some improvements over the years, though compatibility isn't as great as Demul (granted some compatibility lists are outdated as hell), but it isn't a resource hog and can still emulate Naomi and Atomiswave games, so it's a pretty excellent choice overall.

Available on RetroArch in two flavors: Reicast OIT and Reicast regular. Regular for those with mobile devices and mid-tier PCs, OIT (Order-Independent Transparency) for those with GPUs that support OpenGL 4.3 and later.

RPCS3 icon RPCS3 PlayStation 3 Windows
Linux
One of the oldest PS3 emulators out there, and the only one that's still active thanks to Patreon, and because of that, as of September 2018, over 1000 games are playable! It even has Reshade built into it, so that fuckin' cool. It does require a beefy PC to run at full speed.

Compatibility List

Snes9x icon Snes9x SNES Windows
Linux
macOS
PSP
Android
iOS
others
Another excellent SNES emulator. No visual eye-cancer like ZSNES, but you will get more accurate sound with this one (owing the fact that byuu lend their SPC700 emulation tools to the devs), and it plays games even better (though not as accurate as bsnes). There are ports for tons of systems, both official and unofficial, including a GP2X version you can play with an OpenPandora.

Version 1.55 and later support MSU-1 co-processors, so that's cool.

Dev Builds EmuCR Builds

Clubpic-1- SSF Saturn Windows Shockingly compatible Saturn emulator, even though it's still a beta. It took quite some time due to the Saturn's terribly complex setup of processors, but now you can play some (if not most) of your favorite Saturn games on your computer. It doesn't run disc images natively, so you have to either play the originals or burned discs, or mount the images with a virtual CD drive. Shinma, the developer, suggests DaemonTools with DiscJuggler (long-since discontinued) for CD imaging, but fuck that noise!! Instead use Virtual CloneDrive, although for Redump rips, VCD HATES .cue files, therefore it's said that the CUE2CCD executable that comes with Xebra (a Japanese PS1 emu) might help.

You'll need a reasonably mid-tier computer to run games at full speed, and you may also want to use the Saturn BIOS to make the system settings easier to manage, and improve compatibility.

Also note, that every new release breaks compatibility with other games, so read here to find out which game works for certain versions. Also, read this for troubleshooting.

With that said, Mednafen's Saturn core is supposedly a lot more accurate, maybe even better, than SSF, but requires a more beefier computer than what SSF requires.

Stella icon Stella Atari 2600 Multi-Platform Help grandpa relive his first gaming memories! And play with him, because the 2600 actually had a bunch of very fun games. Stella is probably the most accurate 2600 emulator out there and actually worth a damn.

Get it: Dev builds / Stable builds

Handheld ConsolesEdit

Logo Title Emulated system Host system Description
Citra Citra 3DS Windows
Linux
macOS
An experimental 3DS emulator, and the only one that works (for now). Can upscale popular games like Mario, Zelda, and Pokemon at high-resolution, and can let you use gyroscoping features when using Cemuhook. Only downsides are the lack of online capabilities, amiibo support, New 3DS mode, and stereoscopic 3D (if that's your thing). Also, it uses telemetry, so disable that shit.

Latest nightly and bleeding edge builds

Desmume icon DeSmuME DS Windows
macOS
Linux
For better or worse, this is the only real option for DS emulation. Requirements range from fairly low to moderately high. Games may rarely need a stronger CPU than general PS2/Gamecube emulation, though most games should be fine.

However, there's no option to increase resolution and forced stretching to apply filters makes it poor in the graphics department. Not to mention there's no multiplayer support and less we talk about the compatibility with the mainline Pokemon games, the better.

Despite all its problems it's highly compatible and supports microphone, dual-slots, lua scripting, and a fairly large amount of customization. Recently, however, there are alternatives that are still being worked on in an attempt to make DeSmuME obsolete, so be on the look out for years to come.

It's best to download nightly builds as stable builds are years behind, just like the next emulator below...

Mgba-logo mGBA Game Boy
GB Color
GB Advance
Windows
Linux
macOS
3DS
Wii
Switch
PS Vita
This spot was originally reserved for VisualBoy Advance, but in recent years, mGBA came out of the wood-work and blew VBA away with its accuracy, functionality, portability, performance, and higher compatibility (from WarioWare: Twisted!'s rumble and tilt sensor to Boktai's solar sensor). Also included for RetroArch.

Download

Higan's GBA core is also good, but less speedier than mGBA's.

Ppsspp-icon PPSSPP PSP Windows
Linux
macOS
iOS
Android
Blackberry
Symbian
Meego
The BEST PSP emulator out there, no questions asked! It features moderately low requirements, built-in shaders, up to 10x internal resolution (that's 4800x2720), the superb xBRZ texture filter, a fantastic UI with automatic update checks, and large compatibility. Stable releases have become infrequent, though dev builds are released daily.

The downsides are the barely noticeable input delay and inability to play PSOne titles.

Ad-hoc support is in the early stages, but a handful of games work flawlessly. Setup/networking tutorials and general info for ad-hoc can be found here.

Via CWCheats, many games have been given 60fps patches.

Has a Gold version, but it's the same as the regular version, only made to support the dev team by purchase.

Compatibility List Stable Release Latest Dev Builds.

Sameboy Sameboy Game Boy
GB Color
Windows
macOS
Originally Gambatte was the most accurate GB/C emulator, but it hasn't been developed since 2014 (although its libretro core is still in active development), so about a year later Sameboy entered the foray. Years down the line and Sameboy is hands down the most accurate Game Boy and Game Boy Color out there thanks to years worth of extensive hardware tests. It has the essentials that come with every modern emulator such as save states but it doesn't support game linking, as if that matters unless you're actually curious (in that case, use BGB). The UI is a little primitive and takes some getting used to. If you don't like it, it's available on RetroArch.

Even though Sameboy is said to be the best and most accurate, Gambatte is still worth looking at also, living on through RetroArch.
If you happen to have an iPhone or a Raspberry Pi, then have a look at Gearboy. Again, BGB is the only GB/C emulator to support game linking, so you and your bro can have a Pokémon duel, but it's Windows-exclusive.

ComputersEdit

Logo Title Emulated system Host system Description
Dosbox DOSBox DOS Windows
Linux
macOS
Others
For the gray-bearded PC patriarchs, this baby can run pretty much any old MS-DOS program. Oregon Trail? Commander Keen? VisiCalc? You got it!

A very complex and text-only emulator, so be sure to read the wiki - especially the lists of SVNs (for the latest builds) and frontends (for a graphical interface). Tip to Mac users: go with Boxer.

Fuse FUSE ZX Spectrum Windows
Linux
macOS
One of the best ZED-ex emulators out there, and a favorite among British gamers for good reasons; It's accurate and is more user-friendly. It's even on RetroArch!

Downloads

OpenMSX OpenMSX MSX Window
macOS
Android
A Metal Gear MSX emulator to surpass Metal Gear that probably has surpassed blueMSX years later in terms of accuracy and features. BlueMSX is more simpler to use and has a libretro core that's more active than the standalone version, but openMSX can emulate any game and MSX-related hardware you can throw at it, like Pioneer Palcom LaserDisc systems for instance, and can record footage in HD.

Do keep in mind that it may take a while to get used to it, though thankfully its author(s) was kind enough to include documents and guides for it. Just remember to use its Catapult frontend for ease-of-use.

Stable builds Development version

Amiga boing ball UAE Amiga Windows
Linux
macOS
others
This is pretty much the go-to software for Amiga emulation. There's two versions of UAE: WinUAE is for Windows and is more user-friendly, and FS-UAE is best used on Unix systems. Both require some hands-on configuration to emulate some of the more obscure Amiga systems.

Get it: WinUAE / FS-UAE

Vice icon VICE PET
VIC 20
CBM-II
C=64
C=128
C=264
Windows
Linux
macOS
others
The most cycle-accurate emulator of pretty much all Commodore 8-bit computers, it's amazing how it's able to function on legacy software (as of v3.2).

Be sure to use x64sc for higher accuracy. If x64sc is too slow on your machine, x64 is still a very good (but less accurate) option.

XM6 icon XM6 X68000 Windows A really kick-ass X68000 emulator, and definitely the one for those interested in old Japanese gaming computers.

There are two versions that you should take a look at. XM6 Pro-68k is recommended for general usage (it's in English as well), while Type-G is more accurate, has good peripheral/expansion support and will run just about any game you throw at it, though it's not in English and hasn't been active after 2016.

None of them are on RetroArch and are Windows exclusive, so if that's a problem, then use px68k-libretro as an alternative.

MultisystemEdit

Logo Title Emulated system Host system Description
Bizhawk icon BizHawk Various Windows Ever tried to use RetroArch and just couldn't wrap your head around the horrible non-PC-like interface? Say no more, BizHawk is what you need! It is just as well a multi-system emulator (or more precisely a frontend to Libretro cores), only this one won't make you want to strangle someone. It also has a bunch of TAS-related features.
MAME icon MAME Various Windows
Linux
macOS
others
MAME is an epic multi-system emulator that can run pretty much any arcade up to the early 2000s. And since the merge with MESS in 2015, it can also emulate dozens of consoles and computers, including some very obscure stuff. Got room for a nearly 500 GB full set?

Note 1: When downloading, pay attention to whatever version of sets they're from, as they require some updates every now and then.

Note 2: Some games are better emulated with specific emulators rather than MAME: CPS and Neo Geo on FinalBurn Neo, Playstation/Namco-based hardware on ZiNc, NAOMI and Atomiswave on Demul or reicast; Nebula also has additional optimization for SNK, Capcom, Konami and PolyGameMaster systems, as well as the Sega Model 2 Emulator, but they haven't been updated in years. For Model 3 games, Supermodel 3 is the only that can do it (for now). For most PC-based arcade games, use Teknoparrot, even though it's more of a compatibility layer than it is an emulator.

As of v.0.202, MAME has its own front-end.

Mednafen icon Mednafen Various Windows
Linux
If you're asking yourself, "What the fuck kind of name is 'mednafen'?", it stands for "My Emulator Doesn't Need A Frickin' Excellent Name".

Anyway, mednafen is a multi-system emulator, comprising of several emulators that were likely modified from older versions. However, its own original emulators for Virtual Boy, Turbografx-16/PC-FX, PlayStation, and Sega Saturn are the ones you should look at, as they have a high degree of accuracy. Of course, there's also cores for the Neo Geo Pocket, Wonderswan, and the Atari Lynx that are forks from abandoned emulators, but they are all improved on, and are also highly recommended to use over every other emulator for those systems, especially the emulators they were based from.

That being said, mednafen is command-only, so try to find some front-ends that suit your taste, or better yet use RetroArch, as plenty of mednafen's cores are available (not sure why the PCE-Accuracy core wasn't included when its PCE-Fast core is).

Phoenixlogo Phoenix 3DO
Jaguar
ColecoVision
Master System
Windows
Linux
macOS
Android
Made in glorious Russia, it was created by a long time FreeDO contributor who was unhappy with the "insignificant" progress of 3DO emulation, therefore he made it his mission to create what is possibly the best 3DO/Jaguar emulator out there. Although you're gonna need a computer that's powerful enough to run it.

Download
Since the emulator's in Russian, you're gonna need an English patch for this (registration required).

Phoenix's cores are separate releases on Android, where they are known as Real3DOPlayer for 3DO, IrataJaguar for Jaguar, NumPadPlayer for ColecoVision, and GearMasterPlayer for Sega Master System.

Retroarch icon RetroArch Various Windows
Linux
macOS
Xbox 360
Playstation 3
Wii
Android
others
A multi-system emulator frontend for open source emulator libraries in format called "libretro". Allows you to play from Atari 2600 to PSP, Arcades, and DOS, using the same settings and interface. It also has extensive support for pixel shaders in both .cg and bSNES XML format, which are similar to the filters in other emulators except they run on the GPU instead of the CPU and allow you to do more complex effects without slowing down the emulator (such as this shader that simulates a CRT TV screen). Guides to using RetroArch can be found here and here, and shader files can be found here (.cgp) and here (.glsl). PC-Engine CD, Playstation, and Saturn require BIOS files to be placed in "system" directory you define in Settings > General.
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