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How to Transform Your Android Tablet into an New-school Gaming Console


Published onDecember 31, 2011

With modern games following a one-way road of development, it is sometimes best to think of the past and experience where it all began. With the use of modern-day devices, you can actually build your own mini time machine and play games that brought smiles to people a few decades ago. With your Android tablet, game controllers, and some cables, you can build your own old-school game console. Read on further to know how.

Connecting Your Tablet on Your TV

The first step in making your tablet work as an old-school game console is to find a way to connect your tablet to your TV. This can be possible if you own a tablet that supports HDMI output. Assuming you own a tablet that supports HDMI, you will need to invest in a Micro HDMI to HDMI cable or adapter to connect your TV and your tablet. Now with the tablet hooked to your TV, let’s now talk about how to connect the controllers.

Controlling the Game

Game controllers are the heart and mind of console game players, for they cannot control the game without one. But, before we talk more about controllers, let’s first check if your tablet is capable of USB Host mode. First appearing in Android 3.1, USB Host mode is a neat feature that allows you to plug in USB devices (including game controllers) into your tablet via a USB cable. To check if your tablet is running Android 3.1 and higher, tap the clock on the bottom right of the screen. Then tap on the switches icon, then navigate to Settings > About Tablet.

Assuming that your device is running Android 3.1 or higher, you can now choose which controller to use. Almost all USB controllers work. If you want to go old-school, you can use your old SNES or PlayStation controllers and connect them to your tablet via a USB adapter. You can purchase USB adapters for your game controllers from online or hardware stores. You will also be needing OTG (on-the-go) cables, which turn the Micro USB port on your tablet into a normal-sized USB port. (You won’t need an OTG cable if your tablet already has full-size USB ports.)

If you happen to own an Xbox 360, you can purchase the official Xbox Controller Wireless Receiver. In this way, you can play your games wirelessly, and no one has to trip over wires and cables while you’re playing.

If you have Wii or PS3 controllers and you want to connect them wirelessly to your tablet, you can do so using Bluetooth. For this, you will need the assistance of Android apps such as Sixaxis Controller (for the PS3) or wiimotecontroller (for the Wii). In this scenario, your tablet doesn’t need to be on Android 3.1, nor will you be needing OTG cables, since you’ll be using Bluetooth for connecting.

Choosing your Emulator and ROM Images

Now that you have your tablet hooked to the TV and your controllers ready to go, it’s time to choose your emulator. A gaming emulator is software that duplicates or emulates the environment of a gaming console so that games intended for the gaming console can be played in a new environment. In this case, the gaming emulator will allow you to play your old games on your Android tablet. So, go ahead and download your game console emulator from this link and install the emulator on your tablet.

We’re almost done here and ready to play. The last thing you need to do is to copy your game ROMs into a folder on your tablet. ROM images are files extracted from the read-only memory of your video game cartridges. You can think of them as your virtual game cartridges, while the emulator is the virtual game console. The two are needed for you to be able to play the game. Once you have your ROMs saved to your tablet, simply fire up your emulator app, configure it (e.g., assign buttons on the game pad), and start your trip backwards to the time of old-school games.

Have you tried playing old console games on your tablet in the manner described here? How did it go?