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iPhone Console Emulators for Gaming

by: BrileyKenney ; edited by: Simon Hill ; updated: 5/25/2012 • Leave a comment

Want to play your favorite Nintendo, Super Nintendo, PlayStation and Sega Games on your iPhone? This article will inform you how to find and install everything from a NES emulator for iPhone to an iPhone PlayStation emulator!

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    What are Emulators?

    Emulators have become very popular across the board, meaning they have been ported for use on many varying device types. The rise to fame is simply attributed to the fact that they allow users the option to interact with another device they wouldn't normally be able to. For instance, an emulator can be designed to allow users the option to play NES, or SEGA games on a Mac, or even play PlayStation games on an iPod or iPhone.

    Original NES Normally users would not be able to play these games and applications unless they were using the respective console. However, thanks to emulators (which is a software device simulation) users can play a plethora of games and apps from completely different devices on their iPhone or iPod.

    In this article, we are going to show you exactly how to install and play console gaming emulators on your iPhone. If you want a NES emulator for iPhone, a Mega Drive iPhone emulator or an iPhone PlayStation emulator you'll find them all here.

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    Has Your Device Been Incarcerated?

    JailediPhone Before we begin, you must answer one simple question. Has your device been jailbroken? If the answer is "no," then unfortunately you will not be able to continue unless you unlock the device.

    The process is not difficult and will certainly not harm your device in any way, unless of course you have a problem with following instructions (then I would recommend you stay away from this article altogether). You can also revert a jailbreak at any time by simply restoring your device through iTunes or even updating to the latest firmware when it is released (yes updating through iTunes will ALWAYS revert a jailbreak).

    I'm not going to go over the process here in great detail however I will provide several useful links for doing the "Jailbreak".

    Once your device has been jailbroken you may continue.

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    Can You Access Your iPhone or iPod Filesystem?

    iphone-charger-usb You MUST be able to access and browse your iPhone file-system from a browser window; the easiest way to do this is to set up your iDevice as an external hard disc. This method ensures that when your iPhone is plugged into your computer it will show up as a removable disc drive much like a thumb drive or memory card would.

    Windows users are recommended to use DiskAid or iPhone Browser; while Mac users should utilize OpenSSH* or Netatalk** Methods.

    The reason you must be able to access your file-system is because we will be transferring the emulators to the device and we will also need to be able to transfer the ROM files (games) into specific folders. If you cannot access the file-system, you will not be able to transfer the emulators or ROMs to the correct place and thus the application WILL NOT work.

    *OpenSSH can be utilized with SSH clients like FileZilla or Cyberduck. Basically you will need to connect the SSH client to the iPhone device and then transfer files and applications through the client.

    **Netatalk can be downloaded via Cydia, the alternate application store that is installed when your device is jailbroken.

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    Is It Illegal to Download ROMs?

    NoDownloads There are legal ramifications that should be outlined here. In all cases where users do not own the original console or gaming software then it is illegal to download or even keep certain games and their respective ROMs. The reason for this is because all games are compacted into a file called a "ROM" which is simply an image file of the game or program they are wishing to use. The emulator then takes this ROM and correctly runs it as a game or program as if it were being used on the original device. So, basically the emulator is using a full copy of the game; the argument in question is that downloaded ROMs are basically "stolen" copies. Because the user with the ROM did not pay for the file, nor do they own the original game; this is a case of stealing much like the idea of illegal MP3 downloads. This in turn causes game emulation to fall into sort of a grey area when considering "legal" uses.

    So, before continuing I should mention that the actual emulation programs are not illegal, however, the act of downloading and possessing game ROMs, which users have not paid for or don't own original copies of, is illegal.

    Keep this in mind when posting comments; I can link to game emulators and their respective websites, and will also link to sites that have ROMs available; however I WILL NOT condone stealing. If you DO NOT own the original game, do not download the ROM. Comments outlining illegal activities will also NOT be tolerated below.

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    Acquire Working Emulators and ROMs (Games)

    Roms Installation of the emulators is actually quite simple. To install the emulators users must simply navigate to their location in Cydia*. Open Cydia and navigate to the Games section, browse through the Game section or search to find the emulators listed below. Choose the emulator and Cydia will then install the application automatically.

    Users will also need to download the game ROMs (or compressed game images), without the ROMs you will not be able to play any games.

    Again, DO NOT download ROM images for games you DO NOT already own.

    Here are several respected sites where you may find links to download games images or ROMs.

    In some cases the user will also need to download the BIOS image for the emulator in use. A BIOS image is simply a compressed image (like ROMs) of the console BIOS network. Basically it allows the emulator to boot (start-up) the ROMs you have installed. A simple Google search on the BIOS will garner plenty of download links. Unfortunately I can not link to BIOS download locations so users are on their own finding the BIOS images.

    *The Cydia application will not appear unless your device has already been jailbroken.

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    Finally, the Emulators!

    On the next page I will go over each emulator available for download through Cydia as well as how (and where) to install ROM files. This is the good part!

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    Sega Genesis Emulator for iPhone

    Sega Genesis Emulator Screenshot Genesis4iPhone is the name of the Sega Genesis (MegaDrive) Emulator for the iPhone. If you don't happen across Genesis4iPhone while browsing through CYDIA than you may do a simple search to find it.

    Genesis4iPhone is a port of the infamous PicoDrive emulator which has been designed to play Sega Genesis games on a PC; it has also been ported to many other devices such as the PSP or NintendoDS.

    Once the Emulator has been installed through Cydia users must open their iPhone file-system and navigate to the location below (this is the file-system we discussed earlier):

    "/var/mobile/Media/ROMs/GENESIS/ "

    This is where the ROM images will be transferred. Once you've have added some ROMs you may then start-up the application on your device. You should be playing your favorite SEGA games in no time!

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    Nintendo (NES) Emulator for iPhone

    iphoneNES Screenshot iphoneNES is the name of the original Nintendo Entertainment System emulator for the iPhone. It has been distributed publicly under the GNU v2 license. Users looking for even more information can visit the official site iphonenes site.

    In order to install the NES emulator for iPhone you must simply locate it under the games menu of Cydia and select it for download. Cydia will automatically download and install the emulator to the correct location.

    All ROM files must be transferred to the "/var/root/Media/ROMs/NES" directory.

    Like the Sega Emulator above, the ROM files will be recognized by the emulator and you may begin playing as soon as the ROM's are in the proper directory.

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    Super Nintendo (SNES) Emulator for iPhone

    Snes4iphone Screenshot snes4iphone is the name of the Super Nintendo Entertainment System emulator which has been re-designed and ported for the iPhone. The SNES emulator for iPhone can be installed like the others listed above, by locating it within the Cydia application store and selecting it for download.

    The snes4iphone emulator is a port of the original Dr. PocketSNES which has also been implemented with additional C/C++ code to maximize iPhone compatibility.

    All Rom files must be placed in this directory (after install):

    "/var/mobile/Media/ROMs/SNES"

    Once the ROM files have been transferred to the proper directory the emulator will automatically recognize them.

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    Game Boy Advance (GBA) Emulator for iPhone

    GBA Emulator Screenshot gpSPhone is the name of the Game Boy Advance system emulator for the iPhone. This particular emulator is a port of the gpSP project, and has been recoded and designed for use on the iPhone.

    All Rom files must be placed in this directory (after install):

    "/var/mobile/Media/ROMs/GBA/"

    Once the ROM files have been transferred to the proper directory the GBA emulator for iPhone will automatically recognize them.

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    Sony Playstation (PSX) Emulator for iPhone

    Psx4iphone Screenshot psx4iPhone is the name of the original Playstation system emulator for the iPhone. This emulator is not a port but is part of the psx4all project which includes several varying developers and support for additional platforms.

    All Rom files must be placed in this directory (after install):

    "/var/mobile/Media/ROMs/PSX/ "

    Once the ROM files have been transferred to the proper directory the iPhone PlayStation emulator will automatically recognize them.

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    Additional Emulator Programs for iPhone

    There are of course additional emulator programs available for the iPhone through Cydia, such as the ScummVM and MAME emulators. But they are simply installed and played in the same way as the emulators listed above. The above emulators are certainly more popular.

    There is no need to list out installation options for these additional emulators as they can be found elsewhere, in fact- users who navigate to any one of the emulator specific Wiki pages can also browse to find additional emulator information.