Do you remember playing those video games in your youth that you really loved? Wouldn’t you love to play those games again but now on a big screen?
You can play many of these games again on modern hardware, be it on PC, X-Box, PlayStation or even the Raspberry Pi amongst others.
Even though the games, in general, won’t really look any crisper than they did in your youth, the games will load up almost instantly and you have the advantage of being able to save games at any point. This is quite useful, especially with some of the more difficult games!
I wrote an article about playing PC games on the big screen TV in your living room that you can read here.
These are a type of software that will allow you to emulate those old video games systems (and old computer systems too).
Often times you would run these on your modern computer, a Raspberry Pi and they can even run on your phone and there are specifically designed pieces of hardware to run these (think of the Super Nintendo Mini).
Below, we’ll give you a rundown on the various ways you can play those older games that you love on modern technology, it may seem a bit daunting initially but you’ll find that it’s generally quite easy to get it up and running.
Non PC Based Emulators
Although this isn’t directly related to playing old games on your computer, I thought it would be worthwhile to let you know about it.
There are a lot of different emulators available on PC, the vast majority of these are free but you may sometimes need to pay for the ROM file that allows the software to emulate the old system which you want to play with.
This is especially true with Commodore Amiga emulators, to make them run in any meaningful way you will need to purchase the Kickstarter ROM file that will allow the emulator to work.
The most convenient place I’ve found this available has been on the Amiga Forever website.
The SNES Mini, or Super Nintendo Entertainment System Mini is a modern incarnation of the classic gaming system.
The price is fairly reasonable and the system comes with 21 classic games installed and with 2 controllers.
The system connects to your TV via a HDMI cable.
The SNES Mini is available in most popular online stores along with quite a few brick & mortar stores.
There are quite a few emulators for mobile / cellular phones, personally I’ve only tested some of these on the Android platform but there are some also available on the iPhone.
As phones become more powerful and advanced, it will not be long before there will be a very easy and standard way to connect them to a big screen.
I’m thinking that this will likely come in the form of a cradle or very small docking station which will allow the user to essentially use the phone as an extremely portable computer.
If this does happen then it will make the process of playing old games via the phone an even more enjoyable experience.
Raspberry Pi – Retro Pi
The Raspberry Pi is an amazingly versatile little device, it’s able to perform very many tasks.
One of these tasks is the ability to run or act as an emulator for many of your old favorite gaming systems.
There is a version of the Raspberry Pi Linux operating system called Retro Pi that is designed specifically for emulating the old games on.
You can download and install this operating system for free, there are many guides on how to do this on the internet. You will need to load the game ROMs on to the system or alternatively you can load them on to a USB key and connect it to the Raspberry Pi.
Once you’ve installed the required files to the Raspberry Pi then you will be able to play your old games on the TV or computer monitor.
The Pi will also allow you to connect USB console controllers, although you may need to install some additional software to make this work. I’ll be posting an article about this in the near future.
Computer Based Emulators
There are a lot of different computer-based emulators out there.
Many of these will allow you to emulate your old game consoles but will also allow you to emulate the old computer systems that you had in your younger days.
Below, I’ll break it down into the more popular emulators that are available for the PC.
There are several Amiga emulators available for the PC, however, probably the most popular are the Win UAE system, Fellow and Amiga Forever.
Win UAE is available for several platforms (PC, Mac, Linux etc.) while WinFellow is only available on the Windows platform.
As mentioned earlier, the Amiga Forever system is very popular and is the main legal way to play the old Amiga games on your computer.
This was an extremely popular computer system back in the 1980s and is fondly remembered by many today.
Two very popular emulators for the C64 are VICE and CCS64, both are free and you can find quite a lot of the game ROMs online easily.
The legality of downloading and playing the ROMs appears to be a bit of a legal grey area, so for that reason I won’t post any links here to ROM stores online.
The same goes for most of the emulation systems listed here.
The Sinclair ZX Spectrum was the very first computer that I got as a kid and I absolutely loved it!
Looking at the games now, they look utterly terrible but the amount of enjoyment I got from them was immense.
One of the most popular ZX Spectrum emulators out there is called Speccy. The games may look very dated but you’ll have a lot of fun with them.
Game Boy / Game Boy Color / GBA
This one is a bit of a hot topic as Nintendo is very active in making sure their old games are not so easily found online.
There are quite a few emulators available, some of them being specific to different versions of the Game Boy (the color and advance versions for example).
RetroArch looks to be one of the more popular emulators out there. However, finding the game ROMs may well prove a challenge.