Retro Game Emulators for Android

April 20, 2011, By Christian Cawley

By 2011, there is a good 30+ years of home computer gaming behind us – which means a massive library of games to choose from! While it is fair to argue that the majority of classic gaming titles are pretty shallow, two-dimensional affairs that look as though they could be designed by the kid next door.

On a bad day.

This doesn’t mean that they’re not worth revisiting; rather that there might be some other games you would prefer to play from a more recent period, such as in MS-DOS or perhaps Amiga titles.

But hang on a second – how will you play these titles? Surely the hugely versatile Android platform doesn’t have 8-bit and 16-bit emulators in its vast arsenal of apps?

Of course it does!

Retro gaming emulators for Android

Finding Emulators on the Android Market

In fact a good choice of emulators is available in the Android Market, enabling you to enjoy retro gaming classics on platforms such as the C64, the Sega Game Gear and even the Commodore Amiga.

This is really simple – the trick is finding the games to use with the emulators – an within minutes of running a search for emulators you should find that you have a GameBoy Advance running on your Android phone or tablet!

Whichever emulator you choose will then inform your choice of what ROMs – games – you can play. For instance if you’re looking for something really retro like the old Hobbit text adventure game, use the C64 emulator. On the other hand if you want to play Yoshi’s Island DS, purchase and install nds4droid (yes, really!)

Keep an eye on the reviews of the emulators that you consider – some of them seem to be less than adequate and potentially disreputable. Stick with those with good star ratings and reviews.

Finding and Using ROMs

ROMs are the secret to emulation on any platform. They’re basically files with an image of games and applications designed to run in the system your chosen emulator is based on.

The common method for accessing a game on an emulator is to install the emulator app, then copy the game ROM to your Android’s SD card, which you should be able to detect as a device or inserted cartridge or disc (depending on your choice of emulator).

A few clicks or taps of the screen and you should be ready to enjoy the game.

However it’s a little bit more complicated than that. While there are apps on the Android Market that assist you in tracking down and downloading ROMs, there is the issue of copyright theft and piracy to consider. Some of the titles might have been declared as abandonware by the developers, but a large majority probably haven’t. As such you’re only in a legal position to enjoy emulated games on your Android phone or tablet as long as you own the original version…

Look out for more coverage of this subject in the near future as we look at emulating some popular platforms in Android.

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