How to play every classic game on your PC: Emulators 101

When it comes to the amount and variety of games available for any one platform, PC surely has the upper hand.

Thanks to the PC’s open platform approach, you can basically play everything under the sun, well, that’s if it is has been tweaked for it.

I’m talking about emulators and web players that let you play classic 16-bit and 32-bit titles, MS DOS games and much more.

These emulators turn your PC into a Nintendo Wii, PS2, Game Boy, DS; you name it. As long as you have the correct setup, the possibilities are endless. Here are some of the best emulators for you PC.

Internet Archive

Thanks to the Internet Archive, playing classic games built for MS-DOS, Atari 2600, Sega Genesis, Sega Master System and more is completely possible.

All of the games run off your web browser, so there is no need to download any emulator. It’s a fantastic and efficient approach.

PC Emulator - Internet Archive

All you need to do is either search for the game you’re looking for, or click on the system you want to play the game from and browse the thousands of titles it has listed.

Once you’ve found the game, then click on it, and you will be good to go as soon as you click on the green power button.

Keep in mind that you need to disable any ad-blocker extensions on your web browser as that will prevent the games from launching. Some games might take a while as it needs to download the ROM too.

The controls are simple; but in case you need to change them, while in a game just press the “Tab” button and it will open up the built in settings window.

Here you can see what each button is assigned to and change them if you want. You can also optimize the game for your PC, although most of them work without a hitch.

Emulators

Internet Archive basically covers half of the emulators possible on your web browser, but there are more out there that will allow you to run other games like PlayStation 2, PlayStation, Nintendo Wii, GameCube and even Nintendo DS as well as Game Boy Advanced titles.

In case you ever want to run any of these, here are some of the best emulators on the web.

Note: For most of these emulators to work, you will need a BIOS file attached into each of them. For reasons of legality, I cannot list how to get these BIOS files, or even where to get them. The same goes for the ROMS, so how you obtain them is your own issue.

MotionJoy

motioninjoy-004

Before we get started with the emulators, I want to just give you a heads up on a little program that will enable you to use your DualShock 3 controllers on your PC.

It will also enable you to convert your Xbox One and Xbox 360 controller to be picked up as a DualShock 3 controller, or vice-versa. This is so you can map the controller to the emulator.

PlayStation – pSX

PC Emulator - PSX

Seeing as the PlayStation is over 20 years old this year, it comes as no surprise that the pSX emulator is probably the smoothest and most stable emulator out there.

It weighs in at just under 1mb and supports almost every PS One game under the sun. If you have classic PlayStation games still on disc, you can boot from your CD drive and play them too.

PlayStation 2 – PCSX2

PC Emulator - PCSX2

Although the PCSX2 is a mission to get up and running, the result of allowing the sort of plugin variety it does, you’d be surprised by what it can do.

Once you have configured it to run smoothly on your PC, you can get your classic PlayStation 2 games to run at full 1080p and look even better than they originally did on the console.

The upside of the plugin approach is a huge assortment of ways with which to customise and personalise your experience with PCSX2.

Gameboy Advanced – Visual Boy Advanced

PC Emulator - Visual Boy Advance

The Visual Boy Advanced emulator has been around for years. It’s so easy to use and there is even a port available for Android.

It needs very little to run, minus the necessary games (otherwise known as ROMS), and plays practically everything. It’s really rather neat.

Nintendo DS – DeSmuME

PC Emulator - desmume
PC Emulator - desmume

I remember using this back in the day when Pokemon Pearl just released. It was super buggy and the games rarely ran as intended.

Nowadays, it’s a solid DS emulator that supports using the mouse as a stylus on the bottom of the screen. When I mean “Solid” I mean it has improved from back in the day, but it’s not perfect at all.

Nintendo Wii – Dolphin

PC Emulator - Dolphin

PC Emulator - Dolphin

PC Emulator - Dolphin

The highlight of the emulation world is Dolphin. It’s the most stable and capable emulator on the internet.

And it not only plays GameCube titles but Wii games too, and all of this possible in full 1080p at 60fps.

Games that need Wii Motion Plus? Never fear. Thanks to MotionJoy, you can use your DualShock and its analogues as a controller.

Just a heads up, I finished The Legend of Zelda: The Skyward Sword using Dolphin, so if that is possible then anything is.

You can go out and purchase a wireless sensor bar which can be plugged into your PC, and you can even get a Bluetooth adapter and sync your Motion Plus controllers to your PC using WIDCOMM’s Bluetooth stack.

Xbox – Xeon

 PC Emulator - Xeon

I have never personally used Xeon before, but according to online forums, it’s a great Xbox emulator to use.

It has all of the bells and whistles you could ask for, and it runs pretty smoothly apparently.

Nintendo 64 – Project64

PC Emulator - Project 64

I remember the good old days of sitting up till all hours of the morning playing Pokémon Stadium, Pokémon Snap, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and Super Mario 64.

This was all thanks to Project 64. Another stable Nintendo emulator that everyone should have.

So there you have the best ways to play all of your classic childhood games on your PC. Forget all these modern games with their overpriced price tags, Season Passes and expensive DLC offerings.

What would or are you looking to play first? Let us know in the comments and forum.


More recent PC news

Fallout 4 won’t be too hardware intensive

Star Wars Battlefront recommends 16GB of RAM and Skylake CPU

Funniest Shower With Your Dad Simulator 2015 Steam User Reviews

Capcom recommends R3000 plus GPU for Street Fighter V

Forum discussion
Authors
Partners
asus

Join the conversation

  • Lion

    nice read, thank you

  • mark lyons

    Still cannot believe how good Dolphin is.

    For the emulator to perform so well in relatively short amount of time is a miracle!

    I play Mario Kart Wii without a dedicated GPU, only i5 4460 intel hd 4600, runs smooth, although eye candy turned off fully.

    I play Mario Kart 64 on Project 64 every day.Warning though Project 64 2.0 and up includes malware, though you can just say cancel and the program will install, the emu is just not as spot on accurate like Jabo’s updated 1.6 version and 2.1 has many bugs!

    This is the best version and runs like a dream, on windows 10 too:http://www.jabosoft.com/articles/114

  • Fireprufe15

    It works as well as it does because they spent many years developing it for the Gamecube and then when the Wii came out it was basically the same console with motion controls attached and a slight graphical increase, meaning it was a small task to make the GC emu work with Wii games.

  • mark lyons

    True that,but even considering the time frame,N64 emulation is miles behind in true emulation compared to dolphin.Dolphin is truly outstanding.

  • Sanvir Manilal

    Thanks for this article! Added a few bookmarks for later 😀

  • 小杜 (xiao du)

    No MAME?

  • Wurnman

    as if there aren’t enough pc games to choose from.

  • r0j0e

    yeah.. wtfish

  • r0j0e

    yeah, I only have 1 game on dolphin, new super mario bros.. and it also runs pretty well on my 4 year old core i5 laptop

  • r0j0e

    Anybody has retropi installed on their raspberry pi?!
    I loaded over 30gb of roms on an sd card, and never played it after I tested it successfully.. lol

FREE NEWSLETTER
How to play every classic game on your PC: Emulators 101

Related posts

Top