Retro Gaming on a Modern-Day Smartphone? Yes, You Can

Retro Gaming on a Modern-Day Smartphone? Yes, You Can

Apr 19, 2018

There are literally hundreds of thousands of games that run on Android smartphones and tablets – yet there are those of us who still feel like something’s missing. It may be the simplicity of the games we played as children, it may be the lack of flashy visuals and the focus on the feeling and the gaming experience as a whole. This is probably why so many games from the past have been revived and given life anew through emulators – pieces of software that allow programs created to run on one device (consoles and retro computers, in our case) to run on another one (a modern-day PC or a smartphone). And with them, you can turn your Android phone into a retro console. Here’s how.

With the right software

Among the long list of Android mobile gaming app options available for download today, there are quite a few that will emulate retro systems on the go. The list includes emulators for a variety of consoles – NES, PSX, PSP, GameBoy, and many others – and computers like Amiga, ZX Spectrum, and Commodore 64. All you need to do is download them, find the game you like, load it, and play – these usually come with an on-screen controller to make actually playing them possible.

But you can go further, and turn your phone into an actual gaming console.


The majority of Android smartphones support a standard called MHL (Mobile High-Definition Link) that allows users to connect their handsets to a large screen. When connected, the large screen will mirror the phone’s display, allowing users to watch videos, play music, and even games – it’s nothing as complex as Samsung’s DeX, it’s about simply mirroring the content of the screen on a larger display. And if you run the right emulator, and have the right peripherals – like Satechi’s $40 Bluetooth game controller – you will be able to use it to play games just like you were playing them on a console.

Et voilá!

Of course, you will need to experiment a bit with this before you succeed. After all, there are so many emulators and games out there, each one with its own approach – some of them might not even support peripherals at all. One of the safest ones to start with is RetroArch, a cross-platform multi-system emulator that has been confirmed to work with a series of peripherals – like the Xbox One S Bluetooth controller, the 8Bitdo N30 Pro, and many others.

Smartphones have already gathered a series of functions – they double as media players, compact cameras, wallets – and now we can also check retro gaming consoles off the list.

This article is sponsored as part of Steel Media Preferred Partners.

Luke Frater
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