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A new era of retro gaming dawns on Apple devices as RetroArch arrives

RetroArch's vast library of supported systems will leave you spoiled for choice.

Published onMay 15, 2024

Delta for iOS emulator with N64 cartridges on table
Hadlee Simons / Android Authority
  • RetroArch, a versatile emulator frontend, has finally launched officially for iPhones, iPads, and Apple TVs.
  • The app offers access to numerous emulation cores, allowing users to play classic titles from various consoles.

Apple’s recent embrace of retro game emulators on its App Store continues to bear fruit. RetroArch, a free, open-source, and cross-platform frontend, has made its debut on Apple devices, bringing a vast library of classic games to iPhones, iPads, and Apple TVs.

While not an emulator itself, RetroArch serves as a versatile platform where users can load various emulation cores, enabling users to play games from a multitude of consoles. The platform supports a plethora of emulators, known as libretro cores, allowing users to revisit beloved titles from over 50 gaming systems spanning generations.

From the Atari 2600 and Commodore 64 to the PlayStation Portable and Nintendo DS, RetroArch’s extensive list of supported systems caters to a wide range of retro gaming enthusiasts. Popular cores include FinalBurn Neo for arcade games, Beetle PSX for PlayStation, and Mupen64Plus-Next for Nintendo 64, etc.

The app also boasts an array of modern features. Netplay enables online multiplayer sessions, and soft patching allows for game modifications. Features like save states, MFi controller support, and key remapping offer customization options, while gyro controls, cheats, and custom overlays further enhance the gaming experience.

However, users should be aware of a few caveats. Transferring game files (ROMs) to RetroArch requires manual steps, and certain emulation cores that are available on RetroArch’s other platform versions are absent in its iOS avatar.

Despite these minor hurdles, RetroArch’s debut on Apple’s ecosystem represents a major victory for retro gaming accessibility. RetroArch is now available for free on the App Store for devices running iOS/iPadOS 14.2 or tvOS 11.0 and later, and also the Vision Pro headset.

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