Gaming is an escape from reality. Though many of us no longer have the time to play for hours, the glorious days of retro arcade and console gaming are very much alive in our memories.
If you miss those games, fret not, because you can play them using emulators. They do not require a beefy computer and an expensive graphics card.
An emulator is a little software that acts as another hardware, which allow the programme to run games originally designed for that machine.
You can play retro arcade and console titles with much better graphical fidelity and a higher resolution with zero costs or upgrades. If you are ready to experience the nostalgia of beating coin-gobbling arcade games without spending a penny, then this is the list you should look into.
Let's start with one of the best free and open-source emulators you can get for your PC.
MAME stands for Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator, and the programme upholds its namesake with blinding efficiency. Currently, MAME can run over 7,000 unique games from the last five decades, supports a number of graphical and audio enhancements, and almost every controller.
Nearly every arcade game ever released can be played using this emulator, which does not only emulate arcade machines, but also retro computers and numerous vintage consoles.
After downloading the emulator, you will need ROMs dumped from arcade machines to play games. It is illegal to download ROMs without owning them, but a quick search on Google will solve your problem.
You can get the entire retro arcade catalogue of NEO GEO and Capcom installed after doing some "research." MAME surpasses emulators such as Kawaks and NEORAGEX by a mile.
If you are aching to play classic gems such as "The King of Fighters," "Samurai Showdown," "Captain Commando," "Cadillacs and Dinosaurs" and "Marvel vs Street Fighter," look no further.
The PlayStation 2 is still the best-selling video game console of all time, with no imminent threat of losing that title. Sony has sold around 159 million PS2 units so far.
Those who want to play some of the PS2 games, but don't have a console lying around the house, the PCSX2 is the answer to their prayers. It is a free and open-source PlayStation 2 emulator with a high level of compatibility-- supporting around 2,000 games in your PC.
The emulator supports a number of improvements over gameplay on a traditional PlayStation 2, such as the ability to use custom resolutions up to 4096×4096, anti-aliasing, and texture filtering.
You can also use any brand of controllers, and virtual memory cards for your saved games.
The PS2 won the hearts and minds of millions with their strong library of games. There are too many to name and recommend. But some of the titles that come to our mind are the "God of War duology," "Persona 4," "Final Fantasy X," "Def Jam: Fight for NY," "Tekken 5" and "Marvel vs Capcom 2: New Age of Heroes."
As the original console is a CD based system, the emulator uses disk images of PS2 games called ISOs to run them. Downloading ISOs without owning the games on disks is illegal, but Google is your best friend for "circumventing" this problem.
This one is for the Pokémon fans of yesteryear. The DeSmuME emulates the Nintendo DS – a great handheld with two screens and touch input developed by Nintendo.
If you missed out on Nintendo titles such as the "New Super Mario Bros," "Pokémon Black and White," "Mario Kart DS," Animal Crossing: Wild World" and "The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks," then we highly recommend that you give this little emulator a try.
DeSmuME offers much better graphics and audio compared to the original console, and has full controller support. As you have known by now, you will need ROM files to play games on the emulator and the touchscreen function will be taken over by the mouse cursor.
The charm of retro Pokémon and Animal Crossing games is not easily broken, and they are as good as you remember them.
Only a few of us were lucky enough to own a PlayStation Portable (PSP) as a kid. Lucky for the rest, the PSP hardware can be fully emulated by an ingenious programme called the PPSSPP.
The emulator can run PSP games in full HD resolution, and supports Android OS. PPSSPP can even upscale textures that would otherwise be too blurry, as they were made for the small screen of the original PSP.
Some of the PSP games that still hold up today pretty well are – "God of War: Ghost of Sparta," "Burnout Dominator," "Dante's Inferno," "The 3rd Birthday" and "Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories."
There are dozens of games available on the PPSSPP, just use a controller to play the games, as those were specifically designed for the PSP controller layout.
You will need the ISO images of the original PSP games to play them, and there are a lot of places in the web to help you out.
The emulators on this list allow you to play games originally designed and released for retro consoles and arcade machines, using a PC. But what about something more recent?
MEmu is a free android emulator. To put it bluntly, MEmu uses the power of your desktop or laptop PC to emulate an android phone or tablet. It is probably the easiest emulator to set up and start playing.
If you are an avid android gamer, MEmu can take a lot of hurdles away from gaming on a phone, provided that you are ready to sacrifice your mobility for more performance.
With MEmu, you will no longer have to worry about remaining battery, device overheating, low storage space and data caps.
The added advantages you will get are keyboard, mouse and controller support, improved graphics on a larger screen and all the functionality of a phone or tablet in your PC, just without a SIM card.
If you play online shooters on mobile phones, an emulator with keyboard and mouse will give you so big an advantage, it is considered cheating by many gamers. But we leave the judgement to you.
There is no shortage of games on the Google Play Store.