I like playing old games. I missed out on the NDS, Game Boy Color, GBA, and the butt end of the SNES and Genesis. Playing games from those consoles is actually something new for me.
I’ve known about old console emulation on Android phones for a long time. I had an original Droid phone that ran NES games alright. Having to use the touch screen as a controller though makes playing the games frustrating. I’ve played around a bit with using a Wiimote as a controller but then you have to prop up the phone somehow so you can have both hands free to hold the controller, no fun either.
Jump cut to the GameKlip. The GameKlip is a bracket that fits around a PS3 Dual Shock 3 controller and attaches to your Android phone or tablet. You get a real controller to use with your games and you don’t have to try to balance your phone on your lap. The GameKlip is a great idea and I can’t say enough good things about it.
I currently have a Samsung Galaxy S3 running the stock android ROM that came with it. I have attempted to use other ROMs such at CyanogenMod and Slim Bean but they would cause the game emulators to crash after a bit of play. Very cause and effect. Flawless under the stock ROM, reboot into CyanogenMod, load the same quick save up, play for a few minutes, emulator locks up. Bummer.
How well does the Galaxy S3 emulate the different consoles?
PSX: Great! Surprising considering how other emulators perform. Using RetroArch.
N64: It’s hit and miss. Some games wont even load. Speed can be an issue. Mario Kart is sort of playable. Slower paced games like Ogre Battle work ok. I’m currently using MuPen64 Plus AE. I’ve tried several other emulators and its the best all things considered. If you mix and match emulators most anything will at least load. Playability not so much.
SNES: It works well. There can be slow downs in spots with lots of sprites moving around (Contra 3), but nothing that ruins it for you. I’m using SNES9x EX+
Genesis: The same as the SNES.
NDS: Works great. Trying to show both of the DS screens at once on the little S3 screen just makes me wish I had an Android tablet to run the emulators on. Using DrasStic.
GBA: Perfect. No complaints at all. I’m using My Boy!.
GBC/Gameboy: Perfect. I’m using GBC.emu.
NES: Perfect. I’m using John NES Lite.
What about sound lag?
I’ve read a lot about Android emulators having bad sound lag. For instance, you grab a coin in Mario and you don’t hear the sound for it until a second later. Judging from the amount of reports on the Internet I’ve seen it must be a real problem. I already had an Android phone and most of the emulators have free to try versions. I didn’t have any risk involved in trying it out. If I had to buy a phone (or even one of the Android handheld consoles or a tablet) and then hope that emulation works, I wouldn’t have done it. That’s how worrisome all of the lag reports are.
Luckily though I have not had any problems with sound lag in my setup. Is it just my phone? Maybe my combination of emulators, ROM, and Android version is good? Dunno. It just works right for me as is.
What about RetroArch?
Why use all of these other emulators? RetroArch is free and emulates every system!
RetroArch is a good concept. All of the emulators in one place, no questions about licenses, and free. Good times.
RetroArch is hit or miss though. For instance, PSX emulation under it is near perfect. GBC emulation suffers from horrible slow downs and choppy sound. Considering the specs of the two systems you would expect the opposite problem. Using different emulators tailored to a specific system works well for me. I may have spent $15 total for all of them, but I get a lot of value back in return.