Have a kickass gaming rig but none of the consoles? Or do you just want to fire up the old school game for nostalgia’s sake? Well you’re in the right place, because most of the older systems now have emulators that will play their games on the PC.
For those living under a rock, an Emulator is a piece of software that tricks a game into believing that it’s running on the hardware it is supposed to run on. So a Playstation emulator would mimic the PSOne, thus making Syphon Filter 3 believe it’s running on the console instead of a PC.
Why emulate? Well, emulators nowadays usually can render the games at a much higher resolution than the original consoles, thus leading to an increase in graphic fidelity. Other features that didn’t appear on the consoles can also be coded into emulators and have been, such as Anti-Aliasing, Save State and Load State functionality, the ability to take screenshots or record playthroughs etc.
The only issue is, there are tons of these emulators available on the internet today, making it a really confusing place for newcomers. But never fear, we’re here to help you out with the Top Five Emulators available today.
Just remember, these emulators might be a pain to setup and get working, but keep grinding and you’ll be rewarded with some glorious emulation at the end. Almost like an RPG, right?
The Ocarina of Time on Project 64
Project64 is a Nintendo 64 emulator that allows third-party plugins, thus enabling developers to create their own plugins for the software. These include D3D and OpenGL plugins for graphics, DirectSound plugins, etc. One key feature of Project64 is the ability to replace textures in the game with those from an external file source, thus enabling higher-quality versions of the game.
You can get Project64 from here.
DeSmuMe is an open-source Nintendo DS emulator for Linux, Mac and Windows. The emulator features save state functionality, gives users the option to increase the size of the screen and also supports plugins that help improve the graphical fidelity.
DeSmuME running AOE
This spot would earlier have gone to No$GBA (when used with No$Zoomer), but ever since the release of version 2.6a, development on the emulator has gone completely cold, making it a dead project and very difficult to recommend, especially when compared to DeSmuME which is an open-source emulator that gets updates very frequently.
Anyway, you can get DeSmuME here.
The follow up to the program that really put emulation on the map (PCSX), ePSXe is a Playstation Emulator for Linux and Windows that included PCSX’s third-party plugin system, thus letting developers develop their own graphics, sound and CDROM plugins. Therefore, it supports upscaling the PSOne games’ resolution, some pretty advanced post-processing and save states.
It's Final Fantasy VIII!
You can get ePSXe from its website here.
Dolphin (Wii and Gamecube)
Yes, there’s a Wii emulator out there, and it’s pretty advanced! It supports Anti-Aliasing and Anisotropic Filtering + Post-processing for graphics, Save States, the usage of an XBOX360 controller and if you a Bluetooth dongle, you can even hook up Wii controllers to the PC so you can use them with Dolphin.
Dolphin was originally a Gamecube emulator anyway, so GC support is also included. Currently the only working emulator for a seventh-generation console (Wii, XBOX360, PS3), it’d be safe to say Dolphin is pretty much a darling of the emulation community.
Super Mario Galaxy looks Super
Dolphin is available for download here.
Arguably the most popular emulator around, PCSX2 is a Playstation 2 emulator that is a sequel to PCSX, a PSOne emulator that featured third-party plugin support. PCSX follows that tradition and thus also features upscaling, anti-aliasing, post-processing and various other D3D, DirectSound and DirectInput features. PCSX2 also supports processor enhancement instruction sets such as MMX, SSE2, SSE3, SSSE3 and SSE4, thus improving performance.
The PS2 has a fantastic library which is currently not playable on any other console (apart from the older PS3s which support backward compatibility), so an emulator that results in improved graphics at good framerate like PCSX2 is bound to have a lot of demand.
An already awesome looking game looks even better now
PCSX2 is available for Windows, Mac and Linux. You can get it here.
So there you have it, our list of Top Five Emulators. Happy gaming!