I was having an interesting conversation about the current state of emulation the other day. How many are there in total? Is any video game machine emulated? Do they perform flawlessly or just mediocrely? Is a PlayStation (PS ) Vita emulator available yet? I thought it would make a good TechJunkie subject, so here we are.
Emulation creates a sandbox-like environment using software or hardware that allows one machine to behave like another, running software that it wouldn’t be able to run normally. For example, you can install software on your PC that simulates a PlayStation 3 (PS3) gaming environment, allowing you to play PS3 games that would otherwise only be available on Sony hardware.
Although easy in principle, creating a working game emulator that allows a once exclusive game to one machine to be played on a completely different system can be extremely difficult.
Since emulators are not officially sanctioned in any way, they depend on volunteer contributors to create and maintain them. Those volunteer developers have made a significant contribution. Despite this, emulators for the majority of game systems are now available. For some of the more common gaming consoles, there are even several emulators available.
PS Vita Emulator
In the world of video game emulation, the PS Vita emulator situation is special. There are currently no PS Vita emulators available, and none are expected in the near future.
The Vita, as good as it was, did not sell in sufficient numbers to make an emulator viable on the market. It also lacked the stability of common games necessary to pique interest in an emulator. Developers have better things to do with their time if there isn’t a market for an emulator, such as producing emulators for consoles where there is a strong demand.
So, what are some of the best video game emulators available? Here are a few examples.
PCSX2 is a PlayStation 2 emulator for Windows. The PlayStation 2 was a huge hit, with tens of millions of units sold. Hundreds of excellent games were also produced for the PS2 and were extremely successful. Because of the PS2’s high popularity and abundance of successful games, demand for PS2 emulators is high, resulting in a thriving emulation scene.
According to the developers of PCSX2, it is compatible with 95% of PS2 games and can run at 60 frames per second on a powerful PC. If that level of power and scope isn’t strong game emulation, I’m not sure what is.
RetroArch is a media center for emulation similar to Kodi. It acts as a forum for various emulators and games, making it easy to manage them all. Normally, you can install an emulator for each device and play games on it separately. RetroArch is a single program that can handle several emulators for various systems as well as the games you play on them.
Individual emulators are known as Cores, and once installed, RetroArch provides you with a library of Cores to download and manage. It makes playing games on different platforms a breeze. However, you will still need access to the ROMs.
For several PlayStation Portable fans, PPSSPP is the emulator of choice. It has a large following and has been around for quite some time. On a PC, it can play PSP games in full HD. The PPSSPP is also compatible with mobile devices.
This emulator supports the entire game library, and the games run smoothly.
Since the PSP was one of the most well-received handhelds ever, there is still a strong desire to play some of those games. The fact that PPSSPP works on mobile devices, allowing you to play PlayStation Portable games on a modern mobile screen, is just too good to pass up.
ZMZ is a well-performing Super Nintendo emulator. It picked up where ZSNES left off and, as far as I can tell, is still being updated. The UI is simple but functional, and the games are shown in their full 32-bit glory.
Despite the fact that I haven’t used it myself, the ZMZ platform seems to work very well.
No$GBA (No-cash GBA) started out as a Gameboy Advance emulator, but it soon moved on to the Nintendo DS. It works for multiplayer on the GBA, but not on the DS. Apart from that, it’s a fantastic Nintendo DS emulator, running quickly, without stuttering, and appearing to be really stable. I only played for around an hour on the No$GBA, but there were no crashes or problems with this emulator.
MAME is a video game emulator that should be included in any list of video game emulators. The Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator allows you to play classic arcade games on your modern PC. The user interface is easy, and you’ll need ROMs, but many of these are available legally via the Internet Archive.
On almost any PC, the simulator runs and performs admirably. MAME is a great game to play if you used to enjoy feeding quarters into machines as a child.
The emulation of video games seems to be in good shape right now. Except for the PS Vita and possibly a couple of others, it appears that there is a high-quality emulator for almost every video console ever made. Those issues aside, there are a plethora of retro gaming options available to you if you enjoy it or want to get into it. The emulators mentioned here are only a few of the many that are available to play.
So, what exactly are you waiting for?