So, you're looking around the wiki, find 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. PS3/360 emulation is in bare infancy. Expect to wait a decade for those. Xbox emulation is still extremely rough.
- 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
There's another wiki that is better maintained: Emulation General
|DeSmuME||DS||Decent||Windows, OS X, 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. No option to increase resolution and forced stretching to apply filters makes it poor in the graphics department.
Despite all its problems it's highly compatible and supports microphone, dual-slots, lua scripting, and a fairly large amount of customization.
|Dolphin||Wii and Gamecube||Good||Windows, OS X, Android||Notable for being the only emulator out there to play Wii games, which is a godsend for pirates. 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.|
|DOSBox||DOS||Let's Get Dangerous.jpg||All computer OSes, numerous forks for consoles||Probably the most famous emulator, 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 compatability, 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 sandboxed, and can do many things the Command Prompt can. BE WARNED.|
|PPSSPP||PlayStation Portable||Great||Windows, OS X, Linux, iOS, Android, Blackberry, Symbian, Meego||
Vastly superior to JPCSP, so forget about that. 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 PSN 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.
|SNES9X||Super Nintendo Entertainment System||Great||Windows, OS X, Linux, PSP, Android, iOS||Another excellent SNES emulator. No visual eye-cancer like ZSNES, but you will get more accurate sound with this one, and it plays games even better. There are ports for tons of systems, both official and unofficial, including a GP2X version you can play with an OpenPandora.|
|bsnes||Super Nintendo Entertainment System||Excellent||Windows, OS X, Linux||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 OS X or Linux, use RetroArch with the bsnes core. Now part of the super |
|SSF||Sega Saturn||Decent||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 something like DaemonTools. You'll need a reasonably strong 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.|
|Visual Boy Advance-M||Game Boy/Game Boy Color, Game Boy Advance||Great||Windows, OS X, Linux, BeOS, Wii and more||One of the best Game Boy, Game Boy Color and Game Boy Advance emulators out there. It does pretty much everything a GBA can do, with the possible exceptions of the motion controls for WarioWare Twisted and Kirby Tilt 'n Tumble, and force feedback with the cartridges that had Rumble Paks. Some extra features included over the original VBA: higher compatibility, filter plugins, and GameCube linking feature via Dolphin (requires a GBA rom file).|
|Gambatte||Game Boy/Game Boy Color||Excellent||Windows, OS X, Linux||This 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. Go get it.|
|Kega Fusion||Sega Genesis/MegaDrive, Sega 32X, Sega CD, CD32X, Pico, Master System, Game Gear||Great||Windows, OS X, Linux||
SSSSEEEEEEEEGAAAAAAAA!! If it has SEGA on it's name and it has been created before 1996 this emu WILL play it. Compatible with pretty much anything ever released for all the consoles listed.
Supports netplay for bro times in games like Sunset Riders.
|NullDC||Sega Dreamcast||Good||Windows||A good DC emulator that plays a lot of DC games, but has some bad effects on them. Some like Street Fighter III Double Impact just goes dead flat after the select screen. But even at that, when you burnedthe game onto a CD-R, it may run perfectly on your Dreamcast, so if you don't know what games work/wonk out on here and use this as a emulator tester, just use those errors as signs the ROM is good and works well on any other Emulator such as Chankast. Not the best DC emulator, but a good one if any, and it runs the games stabily.|
|Demul||Sega Dreamcast||Okay||Windows||Another DC emulator. This one may have higher accuracy than NullDC, but at a performance cost.|
|Nestopia||Nintendo Entertainment System||Excellent||Windows, OS X||Excellent emulator, compatible with everything - from your traditional NES titles to Famicom ones, and even the Famicom Disk System games.
Miss Duck Hunt? Nestopia has a mouse function to replace the zapper. Supports netplay, 4 players, and even an audio "console" to change the volume of every channel separately. Hasn't been updated for five years but it is still one of the best.
The original Nestopia hasn't been updated since 2008, so someone else has taken up the mantle and forked Nestopia to fix bugs and add features. You can get Nestopia UE (Undead Edition) here.
|FCEUX||Nintendo Entertainment System||Excellent||Windows, OS X, Linux||A combination of all of the forks of FCE Ultra plus itself into one package. Basically compatible with all NES and Famicom disk games and comes with a shitton of tools such as Lua scripting, network play, and re-recording.|
|Mupen64+||Nintendo 64||Good||Windows, OS X, Linux, Android||The best all around N64 emulator; it has high compatibility, can look great, and runs fast.|
|Project64||Nintendo 64||Good||Windows, OS X, Linux||The other best all around N64 emulator; it has high compatibility, 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.|
|ePSXe||Playstation||Excellent||Windows, Android||The most well-known PSX emulator for Windows, ePSXe is a plugin-based emulator with lots of customization. It even includes some hacks required by a few games such as Metal Gear Solid and Valkyrie Profile. After a long hiatus, this one has thankfully been updated, meaning it's again the best emulator out there for Windows.
If you're having trouble playing multitrack ISOs (ISOs which come with various ".ape" files) check this tutorial here!
|RetroArch||Multi-system||Varies||Windows, Linux, OS X, Xbox 360, Playstation 3, Wii, Android, and more||A multi-system emulator frontend for open source emulator libraries in format called "libretro". Allows you to play NES, SNES, GB/GBC, GBA, Arcade, Atari 2600, PC-Engine/TurboGrafx16, Playstation, and more, 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. PC-Engine CD and Playstation require BIOS files to be placed in "system" directory you define in Settings>General.|
|PCSX2||Playstation 2||Great||Windows||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.
The official compatibility list isn't updated too often, so you may have to refer to the forums or wiki on occasion.
|MEKA||Master System / Game Gear / SG-1000 / ColecoVision||Excellent||Windows||MEKA is everything a emulator should be. It is compatible with all games and is fully customizable, plus it even has many easter eggs to be found!|
|PCSX-Reloaded||Playstation||Great||Windows, Linux||A fork of the old PCSX emulator, this version is constantly being updated by its developers. Like ePSXe, it uses the plugin system for the graphics, sound, and disc drive. However, it also lets you use the excellent PCSX2 controller plugins, and compatibility surpasses ePSXe. Be sure to get the latest SVN from emuCR, as the current stable build is quite old. Grab the shader pack while you're there. They are intended to be used with Pete's OpenGL2 plugin.
There was a Windows version, but God knows why they don't work on it anymore, and so it is very obsolete.
PlayStation Portable (PSP)Edit
|NesterJ||Nintendo Entertainment System||Excellent||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.|
|Snes9x Euphoria R5 Beta3 NoME 0.2||Super Nintendo Entertainment System||Decent||SNES emulation isn't that great on PSP unfortunately, but this is the fastest and most compatible one out there.|
|Daedalus 64||Nintendo 64||Poor||The best N64 emulator for PSP. There's a big problem though: it's a N64 emulator for PSP. Check here for the few games that do work.|
|Master Boy||Game Boy/Color||Excellent||Plays your GB/GBC games in a perfect quality as well as like Nester J, has savestates as well as a turbo button. But this one is a different button combo. So now you can beat Pokémon in 2 hours!|
|GbSP Kai||Game Boy Advanced||Excellent||A good GBA emulator that pretty much is the one and only for PSP. has good features and supports most games.|
The fastest DS emulator currently available for Android. Will run most games at good speed and audio on most modern devices (Snapdragon 800+). Performs alright on older chips. However it comes at a very steep price, so just pirate it. Here.