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The best PS2 emulators for iOS

App Store rules still make emulation options pretty scarce.

Published onApril 16, 2024

PS2 controller
Hadlee Simons / Android Authority

The PlayStation 2 is arguably one of the greatest consoles of all time, with a library of classic games that’s hard to match. Sony finally discontinued the system in 2013, which means that emulators can be one of the only reliable ways to play some PS2 games in 2023. There are plenty of great PS2 emulators on Android, but iPhones don’t have it so good. With that in mind, here are the best PS2 emulators for iOS.

The best PS2 emulators for iOS

Before we get started in earnest, it’s important to recognize that until very recently, most iOS emulators required a hacked (or jailbroken) device. Apple previously blocked all emulators on the grounds that they can play many games, and every single game has to be approved individually. It’s the same reason Xbox Cloud Gaming didn’t have an iOS app, as well as countless other services.

As of early 2024, Apple has eased back on these restrictions, with the first few emulators already hitting the App Store. Currently there are no PS2 emulators on the iOS store, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have options.

That said, they’re not the easiest options. You will need to sideload both of the emulators below in order to use them, although you may not need to fully jailbreak your iPhone. If Apple continues to remove restrictions on sideloading after pressure from the European Union, it may be easier to install them in the near future.

But for now, you’ll have to follow the instructions linked below.


Marvel vs Capcom 2

One of the better-known PS2 emulators, Play! supports a range of file formats, such as CHD, CUE, ELF, MDS, ISO, and ISZ. You’ll have to sideload, but once you do, the app can scan folders for new game files and categorize them into Recent, Homebrew, and Unsorted lists. Visit the Settings menu before getting started to ensure the best performance.

Also, be sure to check the app’s compatibility list before loading games. As of this writing about 950 titles are marked “playable,” such as Disgaea and Marvel vs. Capcom 2. If something’s not listed as playable, it’s going to break mid-game if it loads at all.

Importantly, the Play! PS2 emulator also works on web browsers. Compatibility is much more limited though, so don’t think of it as a full replacement for a native app.


Ape Escape 3

RetroArch has a few unique qualities compared to other PS2 emulators on iOS, the foremost being that there’s a way to install it without jailbreaking, as long as you have Cydia Impactor and an Apple developer account. Otherwise, you’ll still need a hacked device. There are both text and video instructions for getting it running.

Indeed RetroArch is probably the slickest PS2 emulator available, both in terms of interface and features. There’s even multiplayer support through a component called Netplay. It may, of course, be hard to find other people to play with, but there is a lobby browser, and you could potentially organize sessions with friends.

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