Retro games emulators you didn’t know you could play on Android phones

Retro games emulators you didn’t know you could play on Android phones

Hadlee Simons / Android Authority

There really is no shortage of retro game emulators to use on your Android smartphone. Some of the big name machines you can emulate on Android include the NES, SNES, Sega Mega Drive, PlayStation 1, PlayStation 2, Nintendo GameCube, Sega Dreamcast, and more. It’s also just the home consoles, with emulators also available for major handhelds like the Game Boy, Game Boy Advance and PlayStation Portable. For more information and all this and more, check out our guide to the best emulators for Android.

But what if you’re looking for more niche machines to emulate? Well, these are some of the lesser known consoles that you can emulate on Android.

NEC TurboGrafx 16

Did you know that Bomberman maker Hudson Soft and Japanese IT firm NEC have teamed up to produce a games console? Yes, the TurboGrafx 16 – known as the PC Engine in Japan – was first released in 1987.

The TurboGrafx 16 essentially landed between the NES and SNES in terms of graphics capabilities, with an 8-bit CPU and 16-bit graphics chip. It made possible some beautiful video games for the time, such as Street Fighter 2, Strider and R-Type.

You can emulate TurboGrafx 16 games on your Android device via the PC.Emu emulator. It is a paid emulator that sells for $4. Alternatively, the TurboGrafx 16 Mini console is also available, albeit for a few hundred dollars these days.

Notable games: Bonk’s Adventure, R-Type, Bomberman ’93, Parasol Stars

Sega Saturn

Hadlee Simons / Android Authority

Sega’s competitor to the PlayStation 1 and Nintendo 64 suffered from high launch prices, eclectic specifications that made game development difficult, and Sega’s scattershot approach to previous hardware. So it’s no wonder the Saturn was a sales disappointment in most regions except Japan.

Sega was also caught slacking off the 3D revolution, with Sony PlayStation and Nintendo offering consoles made specifically with 3D in mind. Nevertheless, the Saturn has earned a reputation as a 2D powerhouse, with 2D titles often working better here than on the PS1.

Fortunately, modern gamers can indeed emulate Sega Saturn games on Android thanks to the Yaba Sanshiro 2 emulator, available via the Play Store. The developer previously told us that the emulator’s minimum requirement was an Amlogic S922X TV box chipset (4x Cortex-A73 and 2x Cortex-A53), but even a Snapdragon 660 device should run almost all games well. Either way, you should probably buy a mobile controller for the best experience.

Notable Games: Nights Into Dreams, Panzer Dragoon Saga, Daytona USA, X-Men vs Street Fighter

Neo Geo pocket color

Hadlee Simons / Android Authority

This device was one of many challengers to Nintendo’s handheld throne in the late 1990s and early 2000s, and it certainly made an interesting proposition compared to other pretenders.

In terms of hardware, the Neo Geo Pocket Color offered a critically priced joystick, as well as a reported 30 to 40 hours of battery life from two AA batteries. By comparison, Nintendo has touted up to 10 hours of discounts on juice for the Game Boy Color.

Perhaps the biggest selling point for the Neo Geo Pocket Color was its library of SNK-developed games. SNK was known for its arcade titles, and indeed the company developed portable entries based on these hits. Some of the more big names in this regard included Metal Slug 1st Mission, SNK vs Capcom and King of Fighters.

Unfortunately, the Neo Geo Pocket Color didn’t make a dent in handheld sales due to the dominance of the Game Boy series. But you can still see what all the fuss was about thanks to the Neo Geo Pocket Color core in the all-in-one Retroarch emulator (seen above) as well as the $5 NGP.emu app.

Notable Games: SNK vs Capcom, Sonic The Hedgehog Pocket Adventure, Puyo Pop, Cool Boarders Pocket

Nintendo virtual boy

Nintendo jumped on board the stereoscopic 3D bandwagon with 1995’s Virtual Boy, years before the 3DS and Avatar were even a thing. Unfortunately, it turned out to be Nintendo’s biggest console flop ever.

The Virtual Boy took the form of a headset mounted on a stand, producing stereoscopic 3D effects with red and black visuals. Yep, no color footage here. Nintendo also warned that the headset could cause nausea and headaches.

Between the strange design, red and black visuals, Nintendo’s own warnings and the pending arrival of the Nintendo 64, it’s no wonder the console doesn’t make an appearance on Nintendo’s own historical sales chart. Nevertheless, the good news is that you can emulate the Virtual Boy on Android via the free Virtual Virtual Boy app, using either Google Cardboard or a pair of anaglyphic 3D glasses.

Notable games: Virtual Boy Wario Land, 3D Tetris, Red Alarm

Nokia N-Gage

Nokia N-Gage

The N-Gage was the first gaming phone on the market, launched back in 2003. Nokia’s handset shipped with the company’s Symbian operating system and the expected physical inputs (namely a D-Pad and physical buttons).

Unfortunately, the N-Gage had a number of flaws that ultimately led to its untimely demise. The dumbest problem was that you had to hold the phone sideways to make a call, which resulted in many memes. Furthermore, switching game cards required you to remove the battery first.

These issues were resolved with the N-Gage QD follow-up (seen above), but it’s fair to say that by this time the Nintendo DS, new Game Boy Advance models and Sony PSP had stolen Nokia’s thunder.

Nevertheless, you can now emulate the N-Gage and other Symbian-powered smartphones via the EKA2L1 emulator in the Play Store. The installation process is quite complicated compared to other emulators, but at least there is an in-app link to a web page with relevant links.

Notable Games: Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, Tomb Raider, Pathway to Glory, The Elder Scrolls Travels: Shadowkey, The Sims Bustin’ Out

Are there any other overlooked retro game emulators you would recommend? Let us know in the comments!


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