Emulators for iPhone: Play Console Games on iPhone and iPad

emulators for iPhone

Want to play your favorite handheld or console games on iphone and iPad? Yes, certainly! Many of the popular games from console like  GBA, N64, DS, SPS, Sega Genesis, Mega Drive, GBC, NES, SNES and PS One have already been cloned or copied and are available on app store for download. Then why do we still need an Emulator for iPhone ?

The simple answer is that the craving to play the originals never go away and yes there are many more games that are still not ported or copied to iOS and hence not available on app store for download.

The cool thing is to have an option to run the original console and handheld games on iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch. iPhone ecosystem is quite constrained but there are ways to get the emulators for iPhone (iOS devices in general) installed from various sources without having to jailbreak your device.

Some of the popular sources to get emulators for iOS include iEmulators.com, BuildStore, Iosemulatorspot.com and Emu4iOS.net etc.

If you are a developer or tech savvy, then you get even more options to get your hands on iPhone emulators and other apps that do not make it to the app store. There are many emulators for iOS that are open source and the source code of these apps can be downloaded from respective Github repositories. 

You can compile the applications , apply the apple developer certificate and are all set to install emulator on your iPhone or iPad.

If you have your device Jail-broken already, then it becomes even easier and the choices are a lot and a lot simpler too. Cydia for example is an apps ecosystem on its own and lists apps that you may not get on app store, these apps are easy installs on your jail-broken device.

Cydia lets you download apps listed by third party developers on your iPhone, iPad or IPod Touch.The catch here is that jailbreak is the only option to get Cydia on your device, so we will park it for now. 

Some of the popular emulators are as listed below, you can get few of these on iEmulators, BuildStore and other websites, and for rest, the source code can be downloaded from github, which can then be compiled into an installable app.

Popular Emulators for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch - 

...and many more, covered later in this article.

Apple doesn't officially allow console and handheld emulators to be listed on the app store and for that reason you can not download emulators from app store. In the recent past, game lovers have been using jailbreak to get anything and everything on their iOS device including handheld emulators.

In this article, we are going to cover options to get the emulators for iPhone or iPad or iPod Touch installed without the need to jailbreak the device.

How Do I Get Emulator for IPhone, iPad or iPod Touch installed?

Before we continue with various options, a word of caution - since Apple doesn't allow emulators on their devices, so getting emulator on your device in one or the other way may or may not necessarily be a right thing to do. When it comes to legality, even the ROMs of games acquired through internet, torrents etc. are not necessarily legal.

So, the use of various options to play console and handheld games on your iOS devices is a matter of your choice, and of course, millions seems to be already doing it :) and love playing handheld and console games on iPhones.

Let us look at various options to get an emulator for your favorite game console on iOS devices.

iEmulators and BuildStore

iEmulators is a perfect place to find emulators that are not available on the app store and lets you download emulators on your iPhone etc. without the need to jailbreak. That is what we need, isn't it? Some of the popular emulators that you can get on iEmulators and BuildStore include GBA4iOS, Happy Chick, nds4iOS, newGamePad and PPSSPP.

iEmulators.com lists emulators and other apps developed by third party developers and provides you the option to side load the applications on your device. As with all the workaround things, installations from iEmulators may not work perfectly in the first go and a bit of hit and trial is needed.

The applications are prone to crashes at time and the access can get revoked, and when that happens, you might need to upgrade/change the app version and/or set your device to back date to make things work. But since it all is free, we are good with a bit of effort.

iEmulators has also partnered with another service named BuildStore, while iEmulators is free, Buildstore charges a bit of subscription fee. The advantage of using Buildstore is clean installation and not so often access revocation etc.

To download emulators from Buildstore, you need to register your device, you get support, any new emulators, and upgrades as and when required.

Check out iEmulators here at - iEmulators.

Check out Buildstore here at - Buildstore.

A little tech stuff (you can skip past) -

""Talking a bit on how all this works, typically an app is certified by Apple to be listed on the app store. When it comes to Emulators and torrents etc., Apple doesn't not certify those apps and those apps do not make to the app store. Developers, however, get apple certificates to test install their apps on devices and don't need app store to get the apps on their devices. They extend these privately certified apps to you for download via services like iEmulators and BuildStore etc. The access revocation happens, since these certificates come with expiry date and when the date certificates expire, your emulators stop working. The keep it working, either you have to back date your device or get an alternate from the developer with the updated certificate, developers typically get their certificates renewed.""

Iosemulatorspot.com

This is another option for iOS users who do not want to jailbreak their device but yet want to do all the cool stuff. From this website, you can download jail broken apps, emulators and tweaked apps etc. It works for iPod, Apple TV, iPad and iPhone. This website is also similar to iEmulators and lists most of the popular emulators.

Check out Iosemulatorspot.com here.

Emu4iOS.net

Another website that can be used to download emulators like GBA4iOS, GpSPhone, iRec, and more without the need to jailbreak your device. You do not need a computer to get GBA4iOS working on your device.

Check out Emu4iOS.net here.

Popular emulators for iPhone , iPad and other iOS devices

GBA4iOS

It is a Game Boy Advance emulator which was developed by Riley Testut. The key features of this emulator include Save State Support, Auto Save support, Renaming ROMs, landscape view mode, skipping frames and iTunes file sharing.

GBA4iOS 2.1 is the latest version that supports GBA, GBC and GB and includes many more features including  fast forward, Controller Vibration, airplay support, event distribution, in app browser, support for Dropbox and cheat codes to name a few.

You can download the GBA4ios latest version from the official (or unofficial) website gba4iosapp.com/download. There are few instructions to follow before you can start using it, one of those is like setting up your device to back date before installation. You can check all instructions on the download link itself. The catch here is that this app is unofficial and the certificate gets revoked which leaves you to keep renewing the certificate.

You can get the open source code here at - GBA4iOS source code, in case you want to try and build the emulator on your own.

Happy Chick -

Happy chick is another emulator that tries to support many game consoles including arcade (MAME\FBA),GBA, MD, GBC, FC (NES), PSP, SFC (SNES), NDS, N64, PS1 and DC. You get a true all in one gaming experience once you get this one running on your device.

Happy Chick is the creation of xiaoji, you can check out the website here at - http://www.xiaoji001.com/.

PPSSPP

This one is probably the best available emulator for iOS. This one is written in C++ and is capable of running many of the original games with few limitations in terms of speed on non jailbreak devices. There are many versions of PPSSPP that support platforms like Android, Mac, Linux and Windows. iOS version is available for both jailbreak and non-jailbreak devices.

Check PPSSPP out here at - http://iemulators.com/#apps

Check the official website here at - http://www.ppsspp.org/

nds4iOS

nds4iOS is Nintendo DS emulator, powered by threaded ARM interpreter emulation and supports iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. It runs many of the original Nintendo DS games, but depending on the power of your iOS device, the speed might not be that good for all games.

nd4iOS is the creation of infiniDev, you can check out more about this nd4iOS emulator for iOS here at -

Newgamepad

Newgamepad is your option to explore games of nostalgic platforms like MAME, PSP, GBA and NDS. i tis developed by Newgame Interaction Technology Company, and offers support for multiple platfroms including NDS, GBA, PSP, GBC, PS1, N64, and many more.

NewGamepad comes with a streamlined designed lets you download games right from the app and you can start playing their itself, game works without the need to select the console and opens with the desired controller scheme.

Check out Newgamepad emulator for iPhone here at - Newgamepad.

Game Play - Game Boy Color Emulator for iPhone

This one is the JavaScript emulator for iOS to play Game Boy and Game Boy Color games. It is based on the online game boy emulator core. Game Play is built with python script which is custom built and minifies HTML, JavaScript and CSS etc.

You can get the source code here at - Game Play source code.

SNES4iOS

This one again is for developers, you can get the source code from Github repository here at - SNES4iOS source code. You can also get the details to get it working on non jailbreak phones here at - emulator setup instructions.

This emulator works great on iPod Touch, iPad and iPhone devices. Spencer Nielsen is the one behind this success.

Gearsystem

Gearsystem is the creation of Ignacio Sanchez, written in C++ and runs on iOS, Raspberry Pi, Mac, Windows and Linux, it is made to play  Sega Master System / Game Gear games on iPhone. You can grab the source code from github repository - https://github.com/drhelius/Gearsystem.

Given below are instructions to build the emulator on your own using Xcode - 

  • Install XCode on Mac OS X with iOS SDK 8 or above.
  • Get the project build created.
  • Apply the iOS developer certificate to run on real hardware, ensure it compiles, ensure release for optimizations.
  • Jailbreak branch on Github can be used for jail broken devices. 

Conclusion

There are many emulators for iOS out there in the wild and finding one that provides a smooth gaming experience can be a difficult task. Many are free and easy to install and are available on websites like iEmulators.com, others can be obtained by paying some subscription fees to websites like BuildStore.

There are many which are open source code and can be downloaded from the respective source code repositories. For jailbreak phones, Cydia and other parallel app stores can be used to download apps. Do let us know your experience of using emulators for iOS via comments. Cheers!

The views given in this article are of the author, noeticforce.com neither promotes nor recommends using unofficial or illegal ways to obtain apps.

About The Author: noeticsunil

Sunil is the founder and contributing editor at noeticforce.com. He writes about anything and everything that makes modern mobile apps, web apps and websites possible. Passionate about coding in any language including Python, Swift, JavaScript, PHP, Java, Android & iOS dev, not excluding CSS/HTML. 

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