I am a huge retro gaming fan and the Android platform is perfect for retro gaming, especially with the ever updating emulators and apps.
I’d like to add a quick thank you to the guys at www.funstockretro.co.uk for helping get me started. They’ve got a great range of Android consoles and great retro merchandise – definitely check them out if you found this guide useful.
I have compiled a list below of the best apps and guides on retro gaming with Android.
First you need to – Enable “unknown sources”
Before you are able to install emulators/files outside of the Google Play Store, you need to enable “unknown sources”.
Go to Settings > Security > Turn on ‘Unknown Sources‘ (This step may vary depending on Android version or device but basically you will need to turn on the option that allows you to install non-market apps)
Once you have enabled unknown sources, you’re free to install everything.
How to Setup ‘GameSome’ Front End
The GameSome Front End is a really cool app which pulls down all of the packaging and game artwork for your retro game collection. It works on your ROM collection stored to your local disk drive, so we recommend using the “drag and drop” method for your ROM’s (and not something like Happy Chick)
- Download the app from Google Play Store: Link
- Install any databases that it prompts to install (on first launch)
- Choose a console by clicking the appropriate console from the menu
- Touch the button (left arrow) in the top left hand corner to pull up the menu
- Set your ROM directory (click the icon) – navigate using the menu options to find your ROM folder on your device with your relevant ROM’s then click “set this folder”
- Set your emulator (click the icon) – select the emulator you have installed (if correctly installed, the emulator will show as highlighted in the list)
- Once you have pulled in your ROM’s and set your emulator you can tap and hold a game of your choice to bring up the game launch menu, then select “launch game” to play it
MAME is the recommended app for playing any old arcade games.
- Download the app from the Google Play Store: Link – take careful note of the version in brackets (0.375b) – this indicates which ROMSET you need to get your games from (i.e you need the version of PacMan from ROMSET 0.375b). We recommend downloading a collection, which makes the whole process a lot easier!
- Use the recommended ROM location
- Drag and drop your ROMs into this location (using your USB cable and computer)
- Press the start button
How to Download and Setup Happy Chick
Happy Chick is an Android retro gamers dream. It allows you to easily search for (and install!) ROMs of your favourite retro games, for FREE!
- Download the latest version from the official site: Link (click the “download” button) and install it to your device
- Either browse the app or use the search function to find your game, then press “download” then select “official download”
- Once the game has downloaded, the button will switch to “start” – press start
- If the game presents a menu option, select “single”
- Once the game is installed, you can go back and view it later, it will appear in the “play” menu at the bottom
How To Change The Storage Location on Happy Chick
I get asked a lot about changing the storage location that Happy Chick uses for games. Here’s how to change it.
- Click “manage” (the little “man” icon, bottom right hand corner)
- Scroll down to and then click “settings”
- Scroll down to “storage directory” and “localgame directory” and click which you want to edit
- Select the “mnt/external_sd” option (Note: I’ve got mine set to the internal storage as I prefer to have my ROM collection on my external disc – you need to select the other option from the picture below)
Good List of Emulators (with download links)
In terms of setting up the emulators, they all tend to follow the same routine:
- Set your ROM directory (navigate to the folder on your device where your ROM’s are stored) and “set the directory”)
- Load the ROM from that directory
To install them to your device, the easiest way is to navigate to this page from your device then click each of the links below and then download them directly to your device. Then click “install”. It should then let you install the file.
Atari 2600 – Atari.emu.apk
CPS1/CPS2/NeoGeo – Final Burn Alpha – AFBA.apk
C64 / Commodore 64 – C64.emu.apk
Gameboy Color – GBCoid.apk
Gameboy / Gameboy Advance – Myboy.apk
NeoGeo – NeoGeo.emu – neoemu.apk
Nintendo 64 – Mupen64 – N64.apk
Nintendo NES – NESEMU – nesemu.apk or nesoid.apk
Nintendo SNES – snesoid – snesoid.apk
Nintendo DS – NDS4Droid – NDS4droid.apk
PlayStation 1 / PS1 – ePSX.emu.apk
PSP – PSP.apk
SEGA Genesis / Mega Drive – Gensoid.apk or MD.emu.apk
Wonderswan Colour – wsc.apk
SEGA Dreamcast – this is a little more complex:
- Download “reicast” from the Google Play Store: Link
- Download the contents of the files from this link here (Link) and then drag them them to your Android device (via USB) – ideally to the root directory
- Open the “reicast” app and point the directory (from the settings menu) to the appropriate bios files
- Additional note: if you are having trouble launching a game file, try changing the REGION from “reicast” to PAL or NTSC. This might help. Especially with PAL games.
Note: these may not be the most up-to date versions of these apps, but at least it’s a starting point.
Bonus – Movies and TV Shows – ‘Showbox’
Watch every TV and Movie ever – for FREE:
- Open the browser and click on the following link to download the ShowBox APK file: Show Box APK Download
Once the file is finished download, open the file to install the app.
That’s it! You will now be able to watch free movies on your Android device!
Update: The latest version of Show Box now lets you download music!
If you are getting the “Unfortunately, Show Box has stopped” error after the new update, go to Settings > General > Apps > Show Box > Force Stop then Clear data & Clear cache and restart or re-install Show Box. If you are still having difficulties using Show Box, you can try Movie HD.
If you are not seeing the “Watch Now” button, change your server option from torrents to a server to stream video instead of download.