Well, let’s admit it. Games like PUBG and Call of Duty Mobile are ruling the gaming charts, with the latter even going on to receive the best Android Game of the Year 2019 Awards by Google. But still, they can’t match that nostalgic aura associated with some of the yesteryear’s classics! Strange as it may sound, you may still find a niche segment of users who are interested in the games like Contra and Super Mario, to name a few. And we can’t blame them.
Although these games come nowhere near the graphics and functionalities that today’s games have to offer, yet the gameplay is hugely impressive and interesting, to say the least. And with Android devices ruling the smartphone industry, we could think of no better cross-over than running these retro games on this open-source platform. Keeping this in mind, we decided to compile a list of some of the best emulator apps for your Android device that you could try out right away. But before you do so, please have a look at the below section.
In this guide, we will be covering different types of emulators. You will be able to try out Play Station, Game Boy, DOS, NES, and other console games on your device. But none of these consoles comes with preloaded games due to legality and licensing issues. As a result, you will have to shell out some bucks from your pocket to purchase and try out the games. However, the emulators themselves are free to download from Play Store with optional paid up-gradation facilities available. With that in mind, here are some of the best Emulators for your Android device.
Best Free Emulators to Use on Android
Here are the Best Gaming Emulator Apps for Android to Play Classic Games on your Smartphone.
1. PPSSPP – PSP Emulator
After months of futile searching, I laid my hands on the PPSSPP emulator and could definitely claim that it is probably the best PSP Emulator available for Android. Apart from supporting a plethora of Play Station games, it manages to provide a more than a decent user interface. Considering the interface that other emulators have to offer, you wouldn’t be left disappointed a bit. Moreover, if you are short on pocket money, then you could even try out some of the demo games from the Homebrew Store, free of cost! The option to do so is incorporated within the app itself.
In the demo run, I tried out the Battleground 3 game on my device and it ran without any stutter. The FPS was also quite impressive. But what managed to impress me the most was the keys and joystick placement. Even if you are a newbie to it, you get easily get your hands on this emulator within a few minutes or so. Definitely worth a try for the PSP lovers. Afterall a 50M+ downloads and 4.3 Ratings (with over a million reviews) on the Play Store won’t lie!
2. John GBA Lite – GBA Emulator
The word Game Boy and John GBA Lite always go hand in hand. If you are a fan of various GBA games, then this emulator won’t disappoint you to the core. Apart from the usual GBA support, the app has tons of extra functionality to complement your gaming experience.
This includes the High-quality rendering support, Virtual On-screen keypad, support for .zip files, customizable keys, turbo buttons and even an added key for taking screenshots. You could even fast-forward or slow down your game, although it is advised not to do so as you may experience frame-drops. But what I loved the most about this emulator is the support for Cheats. And let’s admit it. Games with Cheat support makes it much more interesting.
The app supports every device running Android 4.1+ and above, but some users on Android 10 may face stability issues. With that said, it is among the best GBA emulator available on the Play Store.
Do the games like Super Mario, Contra and Adventure Island ring a bell? Well, these are the games that many of us grew up playing. And if they took you down the memory lane, then look no further and download the Nostalgia.NES emulator right away. It provides the option of adjusting not only the position but also the size of the virtual controller. And it takes the Game Saving feature to an altogether next level.
Apart from providing eight empty slots for saving your game, it also supports an auto-save slot. Furthermore, you could share these save progress via Bluetooth, email, Skype, etc. this is quite astonishing indeed. Other amazing functionality of this emulator includes the Wi-Fi controller mode that claims to support up to eight different types of controllers. With this kind of multiplayer support, games like Contra and Super Mutant Ninja Turtles II really got a fresh new lease of life injected into them.
But what I loved the most about this emulator is the game rewind support. Suppose you get killed in between the game, then rather than going to the main menu and starting from the last saved point, you could directly rewind the game by a few seconds to the point you were up and running and then try your luck again. Moreover, similar to the John GBA Lite, it also supports cheat codes to make these NES games even more interesting. All you have to do is just download the NES game of your choice and place it anywhere on your device. The app will automatically scan for the compatible game throughout the device and will let you know when it’s ready. Just sit back and enjoy these games!
4. Snes9x EX+
Don’t let the name confuse you. This Super Nintendo Entertainment System emulator definitely stands out among the crowds of SNES emulators available in the Play Store. The reasons? Well, there are plenty. To start with, it supports up to five Bluetooth controllers to be able to connect simultaneously. Apart from that, it surprisingly hosts not a single in-app ad.
It is quite surprising to see a free app without any ads but indeed is a welcome move. On top of that, you also get a pre-loaded game, to begin with. Well, what else could one have asked for? It also supports extensions such as .smc and .sfc formats apart from the ZIP, RAR, and 7Z compressions.
On my testing, I faced some occasional lags and frame-drops in between, but count it as a mistake from my mind. I had the Battery Saver turned on, hence some of the features of this emulator weren’t able to function as expected. So make sure to turn off the Battery Saver mode and clear any recent apps that you have kept opened in the background.
5. Magic Dosbox
Remember the days when you rushed home from school just to get your hands on an episode of Wolfenstein 3D or rerun any of the 10 levels of Dangerous Dave? Well, turns out you could bring those nostalgic experience back all over again. Just head over to the Play Store and search for the Magic Dosbox Free app.
Look, before you try out this game, let me tell you this. As compared with other emulators, this probably has the most difficult setup process. Moreover, it is really a pain in placing all the hardware keys and joystick in their correct spot. But mark my words. Just take out a few minutes of your precious time, master the art of this emulator and you wouldn’t turn your back on it ever.
Some of its noticeable features include the possibility to create a game shortcut on the desktop, the possibility of exporting the entire game profile along with the designed layout, numerous different types of on-screen widgets and buttons to compliment your gaming experience. Moreover, it also supports x360 joystick, Nvidia shield controller, and a variety of gestures including long-press, double-tap, and two-point gestures.
As far as the games are concerned, any game with the .iso, .gog, .inst and .cue .ogg are supported. For the tech geeks, it also provides extended support for networking -IPX and serial modem. And if you could shell out some bucks, it’s paid version is definitely worth a try.
6. Classic Boy
An all in one retro games emulator. Huge kudos to the developer for making the lives of ardent game players easy. To begin with, the emulator supports eight different types of emulators including Play Station 1, Nintendo 64, Gameboy Advance, Gameboy Classics, Gameboy Color, NES. Sega Genesis and SNK NeoGeo. But as already mentioned at the beginning of this article, you won’t be getting any preloaded games by default, for any of the eight abovementioned emulators.
Talking about its features, it has support for wireless gesture controller and an accelerometer sensor. This makes it extremely easy in controlling the in-game character. It also supports touchscreen inputs from graphical buttons, the ability to resize and reposition these buttons, external joystick support for up to four different players, the ability to automatically save games at different time intervals and the provision of custom settings of game video size and filter.
Moreover, the user interface of the app is self-explanatory and pretty easy to handle. There is just the right amount of features provided to give your screen a clutter-free look. On the rating side, it has only managed to garner a just decent rating of 3.7 stars and the reason for the same could be attributed to the fact that most of the features are hidden behind a paywall, which ultimately takes out some of the excitement out of the game. Still, the ability to play different emulator games right from within a single app makes it definitely worth a shot.
7. Drastic DS Emulator
Ending the list of the best emulator for Android devices is the DraStic DS Emulator for the Nintendo DS. Even after being a little bit on the costly side it has managed to gather more than a million downloads and an equally impressive 4.7 ratings. It altogether enhances the game’s 3D graphics to a new improved level.>
Apart from that, you could also customize the size and position of DS screens, both for the portrait and landscape mode. Even more impressive is the fact that it supports physical external controllers like Nvidia Shield and Xperia Play. Moreover, it provides the cloud sync feature using which you could even save your progress over to Google Drive. And finally, you could even fast-forward the emulation speeds with the in-app feature.
Agreed, you will have to pay out some cash to try out this app since it only has a paid version, but once you do so, you won’t complain about it. Probably go out and spend your Google Opinions Rewards on this app? Or try out the app within the refund period and get your money back. The options are aplenty, but whatever you do, definitely give it a try.
8. 3DS Citra
The popularity of the console has made way for 3DS emulators. One such popular emulator is the Citra which is very much stable and runs all the popular 3DS games without any issues. But the Citra is a computer emulator which works on Windows, Mac and Linux. I was searching on GitHub, I found a Nintendo 3DS emulator for Android mobiles. Meet the highly experimental Citra for the Android port which could be one of the best 3DS Android Emulator.
It is not a perfect 3DS emulator for Android smartphone as it has its bugs, issues and other native problems but what makes it so impressive is it can run some titles smoothly without any concerns. But the perfect running of the game also depends on the power of your device. If you have a performance-based smartphone then Citra could play the games for you perfectly. The back-end of Citra is ported behind Dolphin Emulator’s front-end giving a smooth UI experience.
9. NDS Emulator
NDS is a DS emulator for Android Mobile. NDS is simple to use and easy to play simulation system which supports NDS files (.nds, .zip ..). You can save game states and resume the play. Customise the control buttons and game screen control which are editable. The game supports Android 6.0+. You can even enjoy the game with external gamepad support. And all these features are absolutely free to try.
NDS is also one of the oldest Nintendo Emulators for Android. You get all the basic functions along with some tweaks to make the ROMs compatible with the emulator. There are ads and they are rather annoying. Though there are few bugs, they are native to certain games. A good smartphone with power pack specs can make the NDS a perfect emulator for your device.
Conclusion: With this, we conclude this tutorial on the best emulator apps for your Android device. It doesn’t matter if you are a fan of SNES, PSP or a DOS game, we have covered it all. Which stood your favourite gaming console in the childhood that you are ultimately going to try it out? Do let us know your opinions down in the comments section below.