How to Transform your Smartphone into a Retro Gaming Console

Apr 6, 2018 by

Smartphones are taking over the world of gaming – at least when it comes to the number of players and the revenue generated. According to the numbers published yearly by gaming and eSports intelligence specialist Newzoo, the share of revenue generated by mobile devices is continuously growing, with smartphone gaming alone (without tablets) overtaking both PC games and consoles in 2017. And now let’s look at a way to help smartphones and tablets take things even further by turning them into a retro gaming console. Here’s how.


Your smartphone is not only capable of showing you the news, playing music, and running the top online games for PC and mobile gaming. It’s also capable of emulating other computers and even gaming consoles, provided it has the right amount of processing power. As a general rule, a smartphone from a few years ago will be able to handle simpler emulators like an NES or a Spectrum/C64, and a flagship-type phone – with eight CPU cores, a decent GPU, and 2 or 3 GB of RAM – will probably handle more serious ones like PSP and even PSX relatively well.

While most mobile-first emulators have on-screen controls, it always helps if the smartphone has USB-OTG support – but you can also use a Bluetooth game controller. If it also has Mobile High-Definition Link (MHL) support, you can even connect it to a big screen to play like you always wanted to. For more information on MHL and how to use it, click here.


There is a wide variety of emulators you can choose from, both on Android and iOS – some of them emulate individual gaming consoles or retro computers like Commodore 64, Amiga, and Spectrum, while others handle more than one. One of the more advanced ones, available on pretty much any hardware and software from Android to OSX, iOS, and even Raspberry Pi, is RetroArch. It is not as much an emulator in itself but a software frontend that makes it easy to load and run its emulator “cores” and the images containing the software. The list of systems RetroArch is capable of emulating is very impressive: it handles PSOne, Super Nintendo, NES, GameBoy (plus GameBoy Color and GBA), Sega’s Genesis, Master System, and Sega CD consoles, Spectrum, C64, Nintendo 64, and many more.

And when it comes to games, the internet is filled with sources to get them from. One of the first to come to mind is Emuparadise, where you can find a vast variety of ROMs and ISOs for a vast range of systems ranging from Nintendo and Sega machines to Sony, Neo Geo, Apple ][, Atari, and many, many more.

About Kanji Prearms

Kanji Prearms
Kanji has been holding a controller since he could walk, and loves nothing more than talking about his latest conquest with friends.

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