Choosing the right retro games emulator for you can seem like a daunting task at first. With so many consoles to choose from and each emulator claiming to do it better than the last one, it can seem impossible to find the right emulator for you and your mobile gaming controller.
Each console had its own crazy button configuration, sometimes they had only one analog stick or even none at all, and some even had 6 action buttons instead of 4. At the end of the day, it all comes down to which system you want to play on the most and which type of controller your plan to use.
I am a huge fan of mobile gaming controllers and, over the years, I have played on many retro emulators myself. We’ve spoken about what exactly they are in previous posts and so today, we’re going to take a look at which retro emulator your should pick to get the most out of your mobile gaming experience.
Meeting The Criteria
Ultimately, this will all come down to personal preference, but we’re going to mention those that are a good place to start. Since Android devices are the most welcoming when it comes to using retro emulators, we’re mainly going to be looking at ones that are available on the Google Play Store.
Here are some basic categories to look out for:
- Multi-Platform: Emulators that are capable of running many console systems
- Stand Alone: Emulators that are dedicated to emulating only one kind of console system
- Paid/Free: Many retro emulators are free to download and also offer a paid version with added features
- High End/Low End: Some emulators will require a smartphone with good performance
Once you know more or less what you’re looking for in a retro emulator it can make the decision process a lot easier. And, it goes without saying, you can always pick more than one. So let’s take a look at some of our best picks starting with the low-end and working our way up.
Retro Arch by far is the best multi-platform emulator you can get for an Android device and it works great as a one-stop-shop for all the various console systems that are out there.
Performance varies with each device but I would still recommend it if your plan on running mostly low-end consoles such as the MAME arcade system or even the Super Nintendo.
It does lack in the “user-friendly” department and can be a bit complicated to set up but once your get it all figured out, you should have no problem running this emulator and enjoying it with your mobile gamepad. Most on offer can adapt to any unique controller setup.
Now, RetroArch may be a good all-rounder that lets your play on many systems, but when it comes to dedicated Gameboy emulators, there is only one that has remained the people’s champion for years. The My Boy! may be a paid app but it has a small asking price and is definitely well worth it if you’re as big a fan of Gameboy games as I am.
Since it is a standalone emulator, you won’t have any performance issues, even on low-end devices and once you had a mobile gaming controller in the mix, you’ll be able to experience your favorite titles like Pokémon FireRed in a way the developers didn’t even think would be possible.
Trust me, that isn’t a spelling mistake. The PPSSPP is a standalone PlayStation Portable (PSP) emulator and is, by far, the best PSP emulator your can get your hands on. It favours more high-end devices and its been free since the day it was first created, which is awesome, but you can buy a premium “gold” version if you would like.
There’s no difference between the paid version and the free version so it’s basically a small donation that you’re making to the original creator and I personally don’t see why not since this emulator is just that good. And the best part is, most mobile gamepads that are on the market have an identical button layout to the PSP and can seamlessly integrate into your mobile experience.
The menus are easy to understand and I would personally recommend this as a great place to start since the graphic quality isn’t too far behind modern machines and is more appealing to the eye.
Nowadays, most people are all about the console wars between Xbox and PlayStation but many of us remember the there was once a third console vying for the top spot. That, of course, was the GameCube released by Nintendo, and Dolphin Emulator has the distinct privilege of being the only emulator available to run it.
Since this is the most modern console system on offer through emulation, its best to play it on a more high-end mobile device and synchronizes well with many mobile controllers. The original GameCube controller design was a bit weird and looked a bit daunting to understand but the button layouts are easy to get a grasp on with your mobile gaming controller.
Don’t Hesitate to Emulate
The list of console systems that have been created since the dawn of gaming is astounding and the list of emulators is even longer. It’s now entirely possible for mobile gamers to take advantage of that old tech and enjoy in the modern age thanks to smartphone technology and, of course, a trusty mobile gaming controller.
You can even take it one step further and match your favorite console system with a mobile gamepad that looks identical to the original except for the wonderful addition of Bluetooth and wireless connectivity.
So take your gaming experience to the next level with a great retro games emulator and your favorite mobile gaming controller!
We definitely didn’t mention them all so feel free to let us know which is your favorite emulator in the comments section below.
DISCLAIMER: MobileGamerTech is not affiliated with Google Play, Android or any of the Emulators mentioned