Whether you want to try retro games or you’re looking to play mobile releases on your desktop, emulators are one way to make it happen. In short, emulation software makes it possible to run games that would otherwise require specific hardware, namely a console or smartphone. This naturally has its benefits and drawbacks. Being aware of the pros and cons that come with using emulators will help you decide whether it’s the right option for you. Let’s start with the advantages.
A key draw with emulators is that they can utilize the processing power of your desktop or laptop to improve the visuals of the games you’re playing. This is especially noticeable among emulators of older consoles that displayed content with an analog video output, as analog signals pale in comparison to the quality of modern digital video standards.
Emulators also bump up the graphics by rendering polygons at higher resolutions than their original hardware could. In doing so, they give early 3D games in particular, such as those on the N64 and first PlayStation, a smoother appearance.
Have you ever made significant progress in a retro game, only to lose it to a power cut or another factor that forced you to start again? With emulators, you don’t have to worry about losing your progress as they allow you to save a snapshot at any point so that you can return to it later. This means you can essentially create your own checkpoints as you go.
Another benefit of using emulators is that you can access a wide variety of games all from a single device. Whether it’s a call of duty emulator or a Mario emulator that you’re interested in, you’re bound to find the right software for the job. There are dozens of emulators available online, most of which are free to use.
This is where mobile game emulators in particular shine. You can use the built-in settings to customize your control scheme however you like, giving you a major competitive advantage over players who use their touchscreen. It’s also possible to ditch your standard peripherals and plug in a retro controller for classic games.
Now for the disadvantages. Since emulators run an approximation of the original hardware the game was intended to be played on, the result isn’t always perfect. Depending on the emulator software and games you choose, there can be optimization issues such as visual glitches and crashes.
Luckily, these issues are usually easy to fix. For example, you might be able to download a fan-made patch or adjust the plugins or game files. A bit of technical know-how can go a long way in improving your experience here.
With all the modern features that emulators bring to the table, playing retro games can feel less authentic. As great as it is to be able to create your own saves, for instance, it can take away from the experience.