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. PS3 and Wii U emulation has gotten better over the years, but they're still far from perfect. Expect to wait a decade. Xbox emulation for desktop computers is still extremely rough, so it's better to get a 360 or a One until a decent emulator comes.
- 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
- Also note: If an emulator is said to work on x86 (32-bit) operating systems, then for x64 (64-bit) users who are
too retardednot tech-savvy, send the emulator to the Program Files (x86) folder, and remember to always open as admin. Read here on how to do so. If it says "Both", then choose the appropriate version for your OS. If you don't know what architecture your OS is, then LOOK IT UP AND DON'T ASK /G/ NOR /TECH/!!
There's another wiki that is better maintained: Emulation General
Desktop / Multi-PlatformEdit
|bsnes||Super Nintendo Entertainment System||Excellent||Windows, macOS, Linux||64-bit||The most accurate SNES emulator out there, though it can be a pain in the ass sometimes. It has much higher system requirements than the others, but can play most, if not all, games perfectly. If your computer isn't cardboard, this is probably your best choice.|
Note: The developer only provides a Windows version, so if you're on macOS or Linux, use RetroArch with the bsnes/higan core.
Is part of the super
|Good||Windows||64-bit||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.|
|Citra||Nintendo 3DS||Okay||Windows, Linux, macOS||64-bit||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.|
|Demul||Sega Dreamcast||Great||Windows||32-bit||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: ).|
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.
|DeSmuME||DS||Decent||Windows, macOS, Linux||Both||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.
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...
|Dolphin||Wii and Gamecube||Excellent||Windows, macOS, Android||64-bit||Notable for being the only emulator out there to play Wii games, which is a godsend for |
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.
|DOSBox||DOS||Let's Get Dangerous.jpg||All computer OSes, numerous forks for consoles||32-bit (some forks allow 64-bit support)||Probably one of the most famous emulators, DOSBox emulates the old IBM PCs of the '80s and early '90s. Plays everything from Duke Nukem to The Oregon Trail. Although made for playing games, it's built around FreeDOS, a DOS clone, so other programs are supported. You can even install Windows!|
HUGE WARNING: This is a complex, dangerous emulator with a fair amount of bugs. Read the instructions, check compatibility, and please, do NOT set your drive to C:\. This does have a chance of fucking up your computer if you're not careful. It's not totally sand-boxed, and can do many things the Command Prompt can. BE FOREWARNED.
Development on the emulator is slow as molasses, with the latest stable version being released eight years after the last one. Fortunately, there's development builds and some forks that are still maintained, so if you ever get your hands on a DOS game through digital distributions, replace the older versions with a newer one instead. Check it.
|FUSE||ZX Spectrum||Excellent||Windows, macOS, Linux||32-bit||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!|
|Genesis Plus GX||Sega Genesis/MegaDrive, Sega CD, Master System, Game Gear, SG-1000||Excellent||Windows, Wii, GameCube||32-bit||SSSSEEEEEEEEGAAAAAAAA!!
Originally a homebrew application for both the Wii and Gamecube that's based on an old DOS emulator, this emulator has surpassed the more famous Kega Fusion in terms of emulation capabilities and compatibility for every game made for SEGA systems that aren't the 32x (Kega Fusion and PicoDrive-libretro are better options for that).
To play on computer, RetroArch is your best option.
|Kega Fusion||Sega Genesis/MegaDrive, Sega 32X, Sega CD, CD32X, Pico, Master System, Game Gear||Great||Windows, macOS, Linux||32-bit||The other SEGA emulator, and the one that more people are familiar with.|
Hasn't been updated since 2010, and its author has moved on with his life, but for SEGA 32x emulation, it's one of the best, and the one you're likely gonna use. Picodrive-libretro is an alternative to Kega since it's still active and can play the CD32x version of Surgical Strike, but it's not a stand-alone emu and require RetroArch, so Kega's more user-friendly.
WARNING: If you happen to be using Windows 8 or 10, Kega will run rather sluggishly. Best to download a patch for it. Check the link above.
|MAME||Countless of systems||Varies||Multi-platform||Both||The legendary emulator itself! Can play almost every arcade game accurately from before 2002, from Pac-Man to Ghosts n' Goblins to Mortal Kombat, and can even play some console games! Requires a front-end to even navigate it. Also, if you're gonna download some arcade games, pay attention to whatever version of sets they're from, as they require some updates every now and then. Some games (Capcom, SNK) run better on FinalBurn Alpha, Playstation/Namco-based hardware runs better on ZiNc. NAOMI and Atomiswave games can be emulated in Demul and/or reicast, with varying compatibility. 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 it's own front-end.
|Mednafen||Multi-system||Varies||Windows and Linux||32-bit||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).
|Mesen||Nintendo Entertainment System||Near Perfect||Windows, Linux||32-bit||Originally reserved for Nestopia, Mesen was born in 2016 with a goal to reach 100% accuracy and succeeded. Excellent emulator, compatible with everything - from your traditional NES titles to Famicom ones, and even the Famicom Disk System games.
Miss Duck Hunt? Mesen has a mouse function to replace the zapper. Supports over 220 mappers, netplay, 4 players, and even custom HD textures. It also has a debugging tool if that's your thing. Seriously, what more can you ask for?!
Of course, Nestopia (Undead Edition) and FCEUX (latest dev version), with both being speedier and the latter supporting even the most obscure bootlegs and having TAS features and Lua scripting, despite being less accurate.
Available on RetroArch.
|mGBA||Game Boy/Game Boy Color, Game Boy Advance||Excellent||Windows, macOS, Linux, 3DS, Wii, Switch and PS Vita||32-bit (Windows)|
|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.
Higan's GBA core is also good, but less speedier than mGBA's.
|Mupen64+||Nintendo 64||Great||Windows, macOS, Linux, Android||Both||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.|
|OpenMSX||any MSX variant||Excellent||Window, macOS, Android||Both||A |
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.
|Phoenix||3DO, Atari Jaguar, ColecoVision, Sega Master System||Excellent?||Windows, macOS, Linux, Android||Both (macOS version is 64-bit only)||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.|
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.
|PCSX2||Playstation 2||Great||Windows, macOS, Linux||32-bit||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.
|PCSX-Reloaded (PGXP build)||PlayStation||Excellent||Windows, macOS, Linux||32-bit||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.
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.
|Project64||Nintendo 64||Good||Windows||32-bit||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, |
|PPSSPP||PlayStation Portable||Excellent||Windows, macOS, Linux, iOS, Android, Blackberry, Symbian, Meego||Both||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.
|Reicast||Sega Dreamcast||Great||Windows, Linux, Android||Both||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.
|RetroArch||Multi-system||Varies||Windows, Linux, macOS, Xbox 360, Playstation 3, Wii, Android, and more||Both||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.|
|RPCS3||PlayStation 3||Good||Windows and Linux||64-bit||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.|
|Sameboy||Game Boy/Game Boy Color||Excellent||Windows, macOS||64-bit (I guess?)||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.
|SNES9X||Super Nintendo Entertainment System||Great||Windows, macOS, Linux, PSP, Android, iOS, and more||Both||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.
|SSF||Sega Saturn||Decent||Windows||32-bit||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.
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||Atari 2600||Excellent||Multi-Platform||Both (macOS is 64-bit only)||Your dad's/grandpa's first console, now in the form of an emulator. Probably the most accurate 2600 emulator out there and actually worth a damn.|
Remember to use this before you use Stella.
MAME's also got some pretty solid emulation for the system, so that's cool.
|VICE||Commodore 64, the C64DTV, the C128, the VIC20, practically all PET models, the PLUS4 and the CBM-II (aka C610/C510)||Outstanding||Unix, MS-DOS, Windows, macOS, OS/2, BeOS, QNX 4.x, QNX 6.x, Amiga, Syllable||32-bit||The most cycle-accurate emulator of the Commodore family, 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.
|WinUAE/FS-UAE||Amiga||Excellent||Windows (WinUAE), Multi-Platform (FS-UAE)||Both||C'mon, everyone who grew up with an Amiga should know what this is; It's 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.
|XM6||Sharp X68000||Superb||Windows||Both apparently||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.
PlayStation Portable (PSP)Edit
|POPS (PlayStation One Portable Station)||PlayStation One||Great (not all games will work)||An official PS1 emulator and the only option for the system. Some games are available for purchase on the Vita's PSN store while others need to be packaged as an EBOOT via PSX2PSP or Popsloader v4g. If you don't have a Vita, but want PS1 games, your best bet is to pirate them, as the PSP's store closed down in 2016 and it's too old to support WPA2 connection.|
The downside is the lack of the L2/R2 buttons and a right analog stick, but this shouldn't be an issue for some games, as you can just simply map them to either the d-pad or the analog stick.
|NesterJ||Nintendo Entertainment System||Good||A very good NES emulator made basically for PSP. Has neat features like the slow down/speed up buttons (A.K.A. L and R) as well as screenshots and savestates.|
|Snes9xTYLme Mod||Super Nintendo Entertainment System||Meh||SNES emulation isn't that great on PSP unfortunately, but this is the fastest and most compatible one out there (Snes9xtylcm is more suited for the Vita despite better options). Download|
|DaedalusX64||Nintendo 64||Poor||The best N64 emulator for PSP. There's a big problem though: it's a N64 emulator for PSP.|
|Master Boy||Game Boy/Color, Master System, Game Gear||Excellent||Plays your GB/GBC or Master System/Game Gear games on the go.|
|TempGBA4PSP||Game Boy Advanced||Great||A good GBA emulator that pretty much is the one and only for PSP. Has good features and supports most games. Said to work with Golden Sun.|
|Fusion (360)/Fission (XBOne)||Xbox||Decent||
Let's be real honest here; It's been well over a decade and we still don't have a decent Xbox emulator for desktop computers. Many have tried, but only a few remain. Thankfully, Microsoft was kind enough to allow backwards compatibility of OG Xbox games. There's just one problem: It's Micro$oft. It uses emulation, just like the PSP and PS3 could do for PSOne games, so you only have two options: Wait for Xbox emulation to be feasible on desktop, or suck it up and get a 360 or XBOne console.