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Emulating Old School Console Games on Android Tablets and Smartphones

Updated on March 24, 2014

What is Android Emulation?

Android emulation is the process of creating a virtual environment on your Android device. This virtual environment mimics old school consoles like the Game Boy Advance, N64 and Sega. What this means is that through Android emulation, you can play old school console games on your Android tablet or smartphone.

You can emulate a variety of consoles on your Android smartphone or tablet. These include the Playstation One, Game Boy, Game Boy Advance, SNES, Sega, N64, NDS and more.

Emulation has actually been around for quite some time now. Back in the day, users would emulate old games on their Windows desktop computers. Some still do this, while others have progressed to emulating on more portable devices, like Android tablets and smartphones.

Thanks to the Android OS and the wide variety of emulation apps now available on the Google Play Store, emulating classic console games is easier than ever before. It is also more fun, more portable and a better overall experience, even without physical keys and the use of a touch screen.

What are ROMS?

This brings us to ROMS. ROMS are like packages that contain the game information. When you have an emulation app, you can load up a game ROM. This will essentially load up the game itself, letting you play that game on your device.

There are a variety of awesome old school games to play when you start emulating. Some of my favourites include the classic Pokémon series. You can easily gain access to a Pokémon ROM to emulate on your Android device. Then, you will be able to play Pokémon on the go without a bulky console. Just do a quick Google search for the name of the game you are looking for, followed by 'ROM download' and you should find what you are looking for. Be sure to only download ROMS for games you already legally own.

Is it legal?

It is not entirely legal to just go downloading all the game ROMS you like. You are supposed to already own whatever games you download. And by own, that means you should have purchased a physical copy of the game. In this day and age, people download ROMS illegally all the time. But does that mean you should? At the end of the day, the decision is yours.

What emulation apps are available?

The Google Play store for Android devices offers a large number of emulation apps. These will let you emulate classic consoles like the Playstation One, Game Boy Advanced and more.

My favourite of the bunch would have to be the MyBoy GBA Emulator. I find this to be a simple and effective emulator that works great for running Game Boy Advanced ROMS.

Check out my original info graphic below, outlining some of the best Android emulation apps currently available from the Google Play store.

Android emulation apps
Android emulation apps | Source

Example Download Process

Say for example, you wanted to play a Pokémon NDS game on your Android smartphone. You would first need to go ahead and download an NDS emulator for your smartphone from the Google Play store. You could choose to use the Drastic DS emulator.

Following this, you will need to download your game ROM. Once you have downloaded the ROM, you need to transfer it to your Android device. This can be done in a number of ways (Bluetooth, DropBox, USB cable), as long as the ROM file is on your smartphone hard drive.

Then, open up the Drastic DS emulator, and load up the ROM on your smartphone hard drive. Then, you can start playing! Happy emulating!

Don't forget, there are also a great range of Android accessories available that work great with emulation. For example, there are Android gaming controllers that connect via Bluetooth or cable to your smart phone, giving you traditional, physical gaming keys like on classic consoles including the Game Boy.


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