For anyone who isn't familiar with emulation, it allows you to revive practically any old console and play games from that console on a variety of devices. Emulation started off being something exclusively done on PC's, but as other devices increased in power, emulation has now became one of the first things that hackers / home brewers try to achieve. In my house alone, I use emulators on my Wii, my PC, my HTC Desire HD, my PSP and my Asus Transformer Prime.
So what are the consoles / gaming systems of yesteryear that are best for emulation on your android device? In my opinion, the following:
- Nintendo Entertainment System (NES)
- Gameboy Color
- Gameboy Advance
- Super Nintendo
- Nintendo 64
- Sega Master System
- Sega Genesis / Megadrive
Reviving any of the above systems on your Android device is a two step process. The first step involves installing an actual Emulator on your phone. Emulators can be purchased from Android Play, or can be downloaded from the net generally as an .APK file (Androids equivalent to an .EXE for Windows). The real challenge for ICS users is finding emulators that work well. To make this process easier, I have included below a list of the Emulators that I find to work well on my Asus Prime (running ICS), and handy links so you can have them up and running in a matter of minutes:
- NES - Nesoid or DroidEmu (not free)
- Super Nintendo - Snes9x EX or DroidEmu (not free)
- Gameboy - GBCoid or DroidEmu (not free)
- Gameboy Color - GBCoid or DroidEmu (not free)
- Gameboy Advance - DroidEmu (full version requires payment)
- N64 - N64oid (not free)
- Sega Master System - MD.Emu (not free) or DroidEmu (not free)
- Sega Genesis / Mega Drive - MD.Emu (not free) or DroidEmu (not free)
As you will see, a number of the options above are not free. If you are looking to buy just one emulator, it is hard to go past DroidEmu which will run pretty much every game you throw at it (except for N64 games). There is a lite version available on Android Play which has some restrictions. The full version can only be purchased from the Droid Emu Website and will set you back $7.99. Considering this puts a SNES, NES, GameBoy Advanced, GameBoy/Color, SEGA GameGear and SEGA Genesis in your pocket - it really isn't a bad investment!
It is possible to emulate other consoles on your device. PSX emulators are becoming quite popular, and for more powerful phones, Nintendo DS emulators are starting to become possible. There is also a range of MAME emulators (arcade systems) if you want to relive some of the coin-guzzling arcade systems of your youth. A quick Google search should point you in the right direction.
Once you have installed your emulators, the next step is to actually download some games. Games are called ROMS and are usually a single file, followed by an extension that usually relates to the console you are emulating (i.e. mario.gbc for mario on the Gameboy Color). The legality of ROMS is another question. One view is, that if you own the original cartridge then it is acceptable to have a copy of the ROM file on your computer. This position would be different in every country though, depending on their particular copyright laws (or lack of).
That aside, with a little bit of effort I have no doubt that you will be able to find plenty of ROMS. Whether you do a google search for "NES ROMS" or "SNES ROMS" or "n64 ROMS", or jump on your favourite torrent site and search the same - there is no shortage of ROMS floating around the net for you to access. Once you have downloaded your ROM files, it is simply a matter of saving them to your phones memory (either internal or on an SD Card). You then load up the Emulator, browse to where the ROM files are located and start playing.
With a little bit of effort you should quickly have 1000's of games on your phone, ready to play whenever you wish. Some devices even allow you to hook up a PS3 or other Bluetooth controller to your phone, or run the games through a TV using a HD out.