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15 best emulators for Android to play old favorites
Older consoles are an endearing and memorable part of a lot of childhoods. From the SNES to the PlayStation, there were a ton of amazing, iconic games. Some of them are still good by today’s standards. Many of those games have mobile releases, like older Final Fantasy games. However, many only exist on those older consoles. There isn’t any other way to play them. With emulators, you can play the originals whenever you want on your devices. Let’s check out the best emulators for Android. Keep in mind that emulators are finicky by nature and will sometimes work flawlessly and other times will not.
We also recommend keeping an eye out for AetherSX2 (Google Play). It’s an up-and-coming PlayStation 2 emulator with a lot of promise. There aren’t a lot of PS2 emulators on Android so of course this one will make the list when it leaves early access.
The best emulators for Android to play old favorites
Price: Free / $4.99
Citra Emulator is the newest emulator on the list. This one is for the Nintendo 3DS console. The app boasts most of the basics, including save and load states, external controllers, and other such things. This one also supports native 3DS features such as the microphone, camera, and motion controls. Those who get the premium version also get some cosmetic features, a dark theme, texture filtering, and some other stuff as well. The emulator works well enough with most games. It boasts compatibility with hundreds of titles, but we’re not sure yet which work best and which doesn’t work at all. Still, it’s your only good 3DS choice on mobile right now.
Price: Free / $5.99
ClassicBoy Gold is the spiritual successor to the original multi-emulator ClassicBoy. This one supports the same consoles, including PlayStation 1, Nintendo 64, NES, a few Game Boy systems, Sega Genesis, Sega CD, Game Gear, Sega Saturn, and others. Additionally, the emulator supports basic features like save and load states, hardware controllers, various audio and video options, and more. The premium version adds gestures, auto-loading, plugins, and some other stuff. The developer is still working through some bugs, but it’s getting better and better as time goes. A lot of the negative reviews are from people who are angry the developer released a new app instead of updating the previous one, which hadn’t seen an update since 2014.
Dolphin is an interesting browser. It was around for a while, left, and it’s back now. The developers promise that it’ll stick around for a while this time. This is the only somewhat decent GameCube and Wii emulator on Android. It lets you play ROMs of games from both systems with relative competence. It’s still in active development, though, so there are bugs. It has most of the common features like save and load states and things like that. You need your own ROMs, of course. The emulator doesn’t provide them on its own. Dolphin Emulator is free at the time of this writing. That may change when the app gets more stability and improvements.
DraStic DS Emulator
DraStic DS Emulator is among the best Nintendo DS emulators. It features basic stuff like save and load states along with virtual controls. It also includes the ability to customize the top and bottom screens of the DS. The emulator also has support for hardware keyboards. The best part of this is the stability. Most game ROMs work perfectly fine with very few flaws. The price has gone down over the years as well. There is no free version to try, though. Make sure you test it out inside of the refund period!
EmuBox is an all-in-one emulator similar to ClassicBoy, but with a different set of supported systems. This one supports Nintendo DS, PSX, SNES, Game Boy Advanced and Color, and NES. It sports Material Design for easy use along with classic emulator features like save and load states, a fast forward function, external controller support, and more. You can also tweak the settings to get more performance. That’s a boon on lower-end devices especially. For now, this one is free with no in-app purchases. It does contain ads, though. We would like a way to buy a premium version to remove ads, but it’s otherwise pretty decent.
Check these out too:
- 10 best Game Boy, Game Boy Advance, and Game Boy Color emulators
- 5 best Nintendo DS emulators for Android
ePSXe is one of two popular PlayStation emulators. This one focuses a bit more on simplicity. The emulator just works most of the time. Simply load your ROM and you are ready to go. It also features very good virtual keyboard customization, hardware controller support, and the usual stuff like save and load states. Those who don’t want to tinker with their settings very should definitely grab this one. It’s $3.75 with no in-app purchases, but no free version to demo.
FPse is the second of the two popular PlayStation emulators. This one focuses more on deep customization. There are a ton of settings, plug-ins, and other stuff. They can make the graphics look better, adjust the framerates, and improve various other things. It does have the usual stuff as well, including hardware controller support. This is the option you want if you like to tinker with stuff. Much like ePSXe, it’s relatively cheap with no additional in-app purchases. However, there is also no free version, so test it out as soon as possible in case you need a refund! This is the more complex and powerful PlayStation emulator while the ePSXe is the simpler option that just works.
John NESS and John GBAC
Price: Free trial / $4.49 each
John Emulators is a developer on Google Play. He does a couple of really good emulator apps. They include apps for SNES, NES, Game Boy Advance, and Game Boy Color. Each one is considered among the best in its console categories. They’re rock solid with good ROM support, the basic features, and some extra fun stuff like cheat codes and fast forward mode. All of them have free versions with pro version that cost $4.49 each. The developer switched out the classic emulators for newer versions. That angered some people, but the new apps are just as good as the old ones.
M64Plus FZ Emulator
Price: Free / Up to $9.99
Nintendo 64 is a rough console on mobile. There are several emulators but many don’t work or haven’t seen an update in over half a decade. M64Plus FZ is one of the few competent options in this space. It boasts high compatibility, various video plugins (mostly to improve compatibility), and the usual stuff. This is based off of the Mupen open source project and the developer is doing their best. It’s not perfect, but it’s making progress with almost every update.
MyBoy and My OldBoy
Price: Free / $3.99-$4.99 each
MyBoy and My OldBoy are emulators for Game Boy Advance and Game Boy, respectively. They are among the best in their respective categories with tons of features. Some of the features include save/load states, fast forward mode, cheat codes, syncing save files with Google Drive, and more. They also do a really good job at emulating games. The free versions come with some features stripped out. The paid versions have all of the features.
Price: Free / $1.49-$3.99
Nostalgia emulators is a developer on Google Play. They do three popular emulators for Game Boy Color, NES, and Game Gear. All of them feature customizable virtual controllers, save/load states, hardware gamepad support, and various features specific to the various game consoles. There is even a WiFi controller mode if you have an extra phone. They’re also fairly inexpensive. The most expensive is $3.99 for the NES emulator. The others are less than $2 each.
Price: Free / $4.49
PPSSPP is, without question, the best PSP emulator on the market. It features the best stability, best ROM support, and best features of any of the other PSP emulators. Additionally, the emulator includes the usual array of features for an emulator. It is still a work in progress. Some games may not play at full speed, even on the latest devices. However, it’s definitely good enough for most things. You can try it free before buying the pro version.
Price: Free / $5.99
Redream is one of only two competent Dreamcast emulators on the Google Play Store. The other one is Reicast (Google Play link) and it’s also quite good, but Redream seems to be a little bit better. It boasts a high compatibility rate and it rans all of the games we tested at full speed without any issues. Of course, we’re testing on a 2020 flagship so your mileage may vary if you have something on the lower end. People seem to have some better luck with Reicast on older or lower end devices, so you may want to try both to see which one works best for you.
RetroArch is one of the most unique emulators. It has the capacity to emulate a bunch of different consoles. The app itself is the emulator. People download cores that run inside of the app. Each core is a different console. It’s a bit difficult to learn at first. However, most of the emulator cores work extremely well. This is a great option for those who like to emulate multiple consoles without wanting to download a bunch of apps. It’s also completely free, packed with features, and more. Lemuroid (Google Play) is another emulator that works much the same as RetroArch. You can also try it if RetroArch isn’t working for you.
Robert Broglia emulators
Price: Free / $2.99-$7.99 each
Robert Broglia is a developer on Google Play. He has some of the most popular and stable emulators on mobile. The consoles supported are SNES, Game Boy Advance, Game Boy Color, NES, Commodore 64, Sega CD, Master Drive, Neogeo, Atari 2600, MSX, NeoGeo Pocket, TG16, and others. Yes, that’s quite a long list. The Commodore 64 emulator is probably the best in its class and the rest are definitely right up there. Each one has a free version to try with a pro version that unlocks all of the features. They all also have all of the basic features you’d expect in an emulator with some console-specific features as well.
If we missed any of the best emulators for Android, tell us about them in the comments. You can also click here to check out our latest Android app and game lists.
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