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 is still extremely rough, so it's better to get a 360 or a One.
- 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
|bsnes||Super Nintendo Entertainment System||Excellent||Windows, macOS, 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 macOS or Linux, use RetroArch with the bsnes/higan core.
Is part of the super
|Good||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.|
|Citra||Nintendo 3DS||Okay||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.|
|Demul||Sega Dreamcast||Great||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: ).|
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||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.
|Dolphin||Wii and Gamecube||Excellent||Windows, macOS, 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. 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.
|DOSBox||DOS||Let's Get Dangerous.jpg||All computer OSes, numerous forks for consoles||
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!
|FUSE||ZX Spectrum||Excellent||Windows, macOS, Linux||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||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||
The other SEGA emulator, and the one that more people are familiar with.
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||
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.
|Mednafen||Multi-system||Varies||Windows and 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".
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||
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 puNES are also very good choices in case you have a reason why you can't use Mesen, with the former being more speedier
Available on RetroArch.
|mGBA||Game Boy/Game Boy Color, Game Boy Advance||Excellent||Windows, macOS, Linux, 3DS, Wii, Switch and 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, 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, so your mileage may vary.
|Mupen64+||Nintendo 64||Great||Windows, macOS, Linux, 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.|
|OpenMSX||any MSX variant||Excellent||Window, macOS, Android||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.
|Phoenix||3DO, Atari Jaguar, ColecoVision, Sega Master System||Excellent?||Windows, macOS, Linux, Android||
Made in 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||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.
|PCSX-Reload (PGXP build)||PlayStation One||Excellent||Windows, macOS, Linux||While not as well known as ePSXe, PCSXR 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. 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.
"The PGXP fork adds texture perspective correction, reduced polygon culling, and reduced polygon jitter (more so than mainline PCSX-R's GTE hack). Mainline has a major issue where a hack written for WipeOut causes slowdowns in many games. This is fixed by making the hack an option (in CPU settings; off by default), and also adds an option for CPU overclocking. It is recommended to use this fork until mainline fixes this issue." (Quote from the Emulation General wiki)
Mednafen's PSone 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||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||
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 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.
|Reicast||Sega Dreamcast||Great||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.
|RetroArch||Multi-system||Varies||Windows, Linux, macOS, 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 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||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 does require a beefy PC to run at full speed.|
|Sameboy||Game Boy/Game Boy Color||Excellent||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, 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). Also available on RetroArch.|
Despite all of this, Gambatte is still a pretty accurate emulator that's worth looking at, living on through RetroArch.
|SNES9X||Super Nintendo Entertainment System||Great||Windows, macOS, Linux, PSP, Android, iOS, and more||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.
Version 1.55 and later support MSU-1 co-processors, so that's cool.
|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 (Warning). 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||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.|
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||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)||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.
|XM6||Sharp X68000||Superb||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 in a while.
None of them are on RetroArch and are Windows exclusive, so if that's a problem, then that's where px68k-libretro comes in as an alternative.
PlayStation Portable (PSP)
|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.|
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 (be sure to find the latest version).
Fun fact: Using this one on an Android emulator outperforms DeSmuME by miles. How crazy is that?
|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.