5 Ways To Play Retro Games

(The following article is a submission from our friend Tyler O’ Brien over at Crush Reviews. Make sure to check out their site for some of the best product guides on the internet!)

There are many innovative and graphically impressive video games available now, with many more in development. However, there are also plenty of older titles to play which can offer experiences not found in more recent games. In addition to providing unique experiences, retro games require a great deal less processing power to run, and cost far less as well.

For these reasons, retro game machines and emulators are very popular, with many different methods available for gamers interested in playing titles from Nintendo and Sega’s heyday. If you’re interested in playing some of the classics, this guide will show you 5 of the best ways to play older titles in the present day!

#1: Original Consoles

With some searching, you can find many older consoles such as the Super Nintendo, Megadrive, and other classic consoles on various websites online and retro gaming forums.

This is the most authentic way of playing retro games, but it can also be the most expensive. Many online retailers such as eBay and Amazon sell original gaming consoles in decent condition, as well as the original cartridges containing classic titles. In addition, there are many brick and mortar retailers selling classic gaming systems, and chances are high you can find a bundle of older games and systems at a swap meet or thrift store. If you can find a console in decent condition, some dust-free cartridges, and a CRT television, you can experience these classic titles in the way they were meant to be played, no compromises.

#2: Replica Consoles

The Retron 5 is a device sold by FunstockRetro that can run games tons of classic consoles! Click here to pick one up for yourself.

This is a pick best suited for hobbyists, collectors and other hardcore retro game enthusiasts. It can be difficult to find a functional older console to run older games off of, but many third party manufacturers have risen to meet the demand. These manufacturers have created home gaming systems that feature similar internal architecture to the classic consoles, with some even having some additional features. These devices will run cartridges for classic games, such as NES and SNES, and the end result is an experience nearly identical to playing on the original devices!

Another type of replica console available is the Plug and Play variety. These are gaming machines that cut out the capability to play original cartridges, instead having several emulated titles stored on the machine. The benefit to this design choice is that these consoles are much smaller than their counterparts, with many consisting only of a controller and some A/V cables. Furthermore, these smaller machines can contain hundreds or even thousands of classic titles, since storage space is so much cheaper and smaller now than it was when these machines were new, 30 years ago. Nintendo has even gotten on the Plug and Play bandwagon with their NES Mini, a replica of their classic Nintendo Entertainment System with a handful of their greatest hits.

#3: Portable Emulators

Portable gaming devices like the GPD XD are the best method of playing a multitude of different retro games on the go. Click here to have a look at a selections of handhelds on FunstockRetro.

With the progression of technology over time, more and more computing power is possible on smaller and smaller chips. The result of this is that machines have been getting faster while at the same time getting smaller, as can be seen with many smartphones. The result of this innovation is that gaming machines that used to be the size of a toaster can now be emulated on processors the size of a wafer. Because of this, many smaller portable emulating machines have become available, offering the potential to play games from so many different systems, the amount of older devices needed to accomplish the same task would fill up a storage space! Many of these products are available on FunstockRetro, including the BLAZE TAB and GPD XD.

With these machines, you should expect the same level of functionality as a smartphone, since most of them run on an Android-based OS. However, what differentiates these devices from a traditional smartphone is the specialization: being made for the express purpose of retro gaming, they come with larger screens, more powerful gaming hardware, and physical buttons, analog sticks and triggers. With machines like these, essentially every older 8-bit and 16-bit console can be easily emulated, with many also being capable of rendering 3D consoles like the PSX and N64.

#4: Virtual Consoles

Nintendo’s Virtual Console, first launched with the Wii, is a way to play classic Nintendo titles on your modern gaming machines.

This is a form of emulating older games that is handled by the manufacturers. The current generation of gaming consoles sell older titles wrapped in a shell, or virtual machine meant to emulate the original device it was released on. Microsoft’s Xbox One, Sony’s Playstation 4 and Nintendo’s Wii U all sell older games digitally, allowing you to play them on your modern gaming machine. This is the most legal way to play these games, and the money you spend on the titles will be going towards the proper rights holders. However, the amount of titles available this way are limited, and some will run better than others.

Having trouble deciding if console gaming is for you? Check out our Breakdown: Console Gaming Vs. PC Gaming on Crush Reviews!

#5: Smartphone

Smartphones can be easily setup to emulate older consoles, making for great portable gaming machines.

This is the easiest and cheapest way to play retro games: all it requires is your smartphone! Whether you’re using an iPhone or Android, both devices feature many emulators on their respective app stores. Common systems that are easily emulated on smartphones are the NES, SNES, Sega Genesis and Game Boy, although some of the more technologically advanced phones will be capable of emulating older 3D consoles such as the N64 and PSX. One issue you may run into with this method is difficulty with controls; however, there are many peripherals you can purchase cheaply that provide better buttons and sticks, meaning you won’t have to resort to your touchscreen.

For iOS users, iEmulators is a terrific resource to find and install emulators on your device, with or without jailbreaking. For Android users, there are many more choices available for emulators, but a good starting point is ClassicBoy because it offers so many different emulators in one app. Something to keep in mind is that you will need to acquire the ROMs for the games you wish to emulate on your own. There are many resources online to help you find them, but keep in mind that this is considered piracy in some countries. Make sure you know your local laws, since the legality behind some of these methods are questionable.

Did you know you can also install emulators on a PC? You can check out our guide on the Best Gaming PCs under $300 at Crush Reviews for suggestions on dirt-cheap emulation machines.


These are not the only ways to play older games in the present day; gamers and techies every day are finding new ways to emulate classic titles on modern machinery, even devices not originally designed for gaming. However, this guide is meant mainly to show you the easiest and most effective ways to run these older titles, with the minimal amount of hacking necessary. Thanks for reading, and be sure to check out the Gaming section of Crush Reviews for more informative articles like this one, as well as some in-depth product reviews.

Happy gaming!

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