What are the best videogame emulators for Windows?

Discussion in 'Computer Programming, Emulation, and Game Modding' started by raxadian, Sep 28, 2019.

  1. raxadian
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    raxadian GBAtemp Maniac

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    What are the best console videogame emulators for Windows? Is 2019 so is about time we get a new topic about this.
     
    Last edited by raxadian, Sep 28, 2019
  2. FAST6191

    FAST6191 Techromancer

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    Best is somewhat subjective.

    Accuracy. My hearing is shot and musical talents are minimal so I can't detect and would not know even if I could most of the things that the likes of the hcs forum or those doing audio plugins for music players spend time discussing. That said accuracy with the original hardware is important to a lot of ROM hackers (though at the same time I saw some rather passionate posts from N64 ROM hackers saying accuracy is no big deal) -- if I make a ROM hack it is going to work on original hardware if I can at all make it do so.
    Nice looking features and TV replication ( http://bogost.com/games/a_television_simulator/ ) type things. Most old consoles are very low resolution, and even those that are not are still benefiting from a bit of a tune up. At the base level you have the likes of the sai and eagle type filters but more recently we have seen trends towards high resolution interpolation and things for those minimal 3d options 16 bit and older consoles have, and for a bit longer higher rendering res/widescreen hacks for a lot more.
    Features, and whether said features might be recreated externally. Features can also be split -- I will sacrifice a lot to have 8 savestate slots in easy reach compared to one, and definitely compared to none.
    Speed. Basic emulators run on just about anything still running today. Some of the higher end ones will see emulation of a machine old enough for the people that played it as kids to reasonably have grandkids of their own today grind a high end modern computer into the ground (never mind if it has to do multiple instances at once for some kind of multiplayer support).
    Debug options/extra hack support. This can be anything from inaccurate hacks being supported to things like high res texture replacement. Beyond that you also have the plugin emulators. Oh and tool assisted speedruns also have their own thing.
    Ease of use. Speaking of plugins there are emulators based around them (espxe being the most famous but there are others). Sometimes this makes things more complex than people care for.
    Support from external tools/community. I will also bundle open source (or open source with a good license) in with this as this matters for some.
    For reasons I have never quite figured out some people like those all in one emulators or emulator frontends.

    All that said you said it is current year but in reality have things changed much since 2010 (possibly even 2005) give or take the systems that were not released or not emulated, and most of those only have the one emulator worth considering (know many Wii emulators that are not Dolphin?)? Assuming you are not one of the strange ones to like those all in one/frontend things anyway.
     
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  3. raxadian
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    raxadian GBAtemp Maniac

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    Well 1964, that was once the best Nintendo 64 emulator around, was discontinued and it seems not much has been done since then besides cloning it. Heck I tried playing paper mario (64) in a few modern emulators and the emulation was so bad I might as well get a Nintendo 64 and the real game, until I switched plugins that's it.

    Turns out Xbox emulators are terrible, only able to play a few games each While Playstation emulation has got quite good.

    There is no Playstation Vita emulator but that must be because 95% of Vita games also exist for other videogame consoles.

    Nestopia and its clones exist for 100% accurate Nes emulation and there are a few close to 100% accurate Sega Genesis emulators. Sega CD emulation is nowadays quite good while good luck finding a 32x emulator.

    Good hardware clones of the Super Nintendo of the Sega Genesis exists and...

    And well, Mame just keeps getting better.
     
    Last edited by raxadian, Sep 29, 2019
  4. Ryccardo

    Ryccardo and his tropane alkaloids

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    Probably more because there's no chance of getting a proper emulator* && decent performance on a today's computer, combined with to-date unknowns about that system (the security coprocessor F00D is still a black box, AFAIK) :)

    * with few exceptions like CEN64 and of course whatever efforts are put in MAME, no newer system than the N64 has an actual low level emulator, which emulates the system - they're generally high level emulators which are more about running software without terrible interest in accuracy, than machine-readable education about the system (as a rule of thumb, if it has "plugins" and/or hardware accelerated graphics, it's at least in part an HLE)

    Anyway, if you want a fairly unbiased list of emulators for a given platform (and general information, and "downloads", ...) go look up the Emulation General Wiki!

    ---

    As for FAST6191's claim that "emulation hasn't changed much since 2005" how much it's true depends on the point of view - while by that year Nesticle was known as inaccurate it was still noteworthy (same issue not much later for ZSNES and the original VisualBoyAdvance), but it took many years for better replacements to be made and widely appreciated~ - on the other hand huge progress was made (though for the most part evolutionary and not revolutionary)


    ~ the NES scene in particular has had "too many choices" over time, not helped of course by the fact that "NES emulator" in practice means CPU + PPU + 100s of mappers/PCBs + 10s of rather creatively implemented accessories, and SNES isn't too much better;
    looking at the DS, NO$GBA went from an inaccurate and expensive emulator to a free-donations-encouraged piece of software of reasonable quality, and in fact the only somewhat working attempt at DSi emulation; mGBA became an excellent GBA solution still improving to date, etc
     
    Last edited by Ryccardo, Sep 28, 2019
  5. MythicalData

    MythicalData GBAtemp Maniac

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    This is my current list of favorite emulators (I took it from my discord)

    PCSX2 (PS2 Emulator, Developer Builds):
    https://buildbot.orphis.net/pcsx2/

    PPSSPP (PSP Emulator):
    https://www.ppsspp.org/downloads.html

    ePSXe (PSX Emulator):
    http://www.epsxe.com/download.php

    RPCS3 (PS3 Emulator):
    https://rpcs3.net/

    DeSmuME (DS Emulator):
    http://desmume.org/

    Cemu (Wii U Emulator):
    https://cemu.info/

    Dolphin (Gamecube and Wii Emulator):
    https://dolphin-emu.org/

    Nestopia (NES Emulator):
    Nestopia - NES/Famicom Emulator

    Snes9x (SNES Emulator, Snes9x 2010 is preffered version):
    http://www.snes9x.com/

    Project 64 (N64 Emulator):
    https://www.pj64-emu.com/

    VBA-M (GBA Emulator, supports .gba, .gbc, & .gb):
    https://vba-m.com/

    Citra (3DS Emulator):
    https://citra-emu.org/

    Bluestacks (Android Emulator):
    https://www.bluestacks.com/
     
    Last edited by MythicalData, Sep 28, 2019
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  6. raxadian
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    raxadian GBAtemp Maniac

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    One of the Vita selling points is that it was all stock hardware. So give it a decade or two and we will probably be able to emulate the hardware.
     
  7. FAST6191

    FAST6191 Techromancer

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    I was thinking more if I busted out an image of my 2005 era machine do I just update all those emulators to current versions (or current forked version/clear and present successor fork -- stick its name in a search engine and it will be the thing that comes up sort of deal) and call it a day.

    2005 might have been somewhat hyperbolic (FCUEX for instance did not exist, even if the forks it combined to create itself probably did. By 2010 though...), and there was a lot of interesting happenings in the years since (even more if you count the console happenings, phone/tablet happenings, and the likes of the raspberry pi), but looking at what I was using back then I probably would do well enough for most purposes as a few things that stalled out during that time came back and are arguably the best choices again (EPSXE and PJ64 for instance - pSX was pretty good with only epsxe doing better if you could get the 9000 plugins and settings thereof to go together but since it came back I am not really considering pSX any more). If I am interested in the crazy emulator level rather than graphical level upscaling then maybe but generally usable by mortals

    Did the VBA family line fall that much out of fashion? I like mgba and the technical discussions the author made were great reading and all but with the exceptions of the Shrek films and maybe the classic nes stuff (which had patches if you cared) is there all that much in it? The games will play, the main features are there and it is reasonable to use.

    Likewise I don't think I would have known no$gba as expensive and inaccurate -- I have certainly always relied on its accuracy when dealing with edge cases in ROM hacks and the like for the GBA. DS wise then once it surpassed ensata (for others playing along that was the leaked emulator Nintendo made for its SDK, was never more than "get a few screenshots" but was the "leader" for a hot moment) then it was usually pretty neck and neck with desmume for most of my purposes.

    I will give that I might get some odd looks for sticking with kega fusion (don't know if Stevesnake has done much recently) but at the same time I don't know if there is a winner here -- I usually grab one every year or so to make a cheat or hack for someone and it is all a bit meh.
     
  8. Ryccardo

    Ryccardo and his tropane alkaloids

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    I only really used the original, but I remember VBA-M being inferior in ram editing/vram viewer features around the turn of the decade (as did every non-Windows version of the original VBA, which completely lacked them) so I didn't give it much attention back then, some years later we got nearly perfect hardware virtualization on 3DS, and by the time I started looking back into GBA-on-PC then mGBA was the new entry with great focus on accuracy and emulation of novelty accessories but also most of VBA's features (and a proper installer), so I went with it and never looked back :)
     
  9. raxadian
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    raxadian GBAtemp Maniac

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    This one?

    https://mgba.io/
     
  10. Ryccardo

    Ryccardo and his tropane alkaloids

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    That's the official website of mGBA, yep
     
  11. LiveLatios

    LiveLatios Profesionnal Scalie

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    why
    people would lose their fuck seeing others suggesting desmume tbh, but, i'm not one of those people

    here's a custom build of desmume that has upscaling and AA, better than the recent builds of desmume with upscaling because you can have both screens at a different size, so games with a minimap can have a smaller screen than the main screen
    most recent build is from 2015 though so it's outdated as shit, maybe there's a source code somewhere that someone can port to more recent builds
    http://shikaver01.webcrow.jp/desmume_x432r/index.html
     
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  12. raxadian
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    raxadian GBAtemp Maniac

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  13. MythicalData

    MythicalData GBAtemp Maniac

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    I use the build with upscaling myself, but what other ds emulator for windows is the one people recommend?
     
  14. raxadian
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    raxadian GBAtemp Maniac

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    What's the current best Sega Genesis emulator that can run on a PC? Picodrive is not for windows or Linux and the Gens clones aren't 100% accurate.
     
  15. MythicalData

    MythicalData GBAtemp Maniac

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    There's the Blast Em Emulator
    https://www.retrodev.com/blastem/
     
  16. the_randomizer

    the_randomizer The Temp's official fox whisperer

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    May I ask why the 2010 version is preferred? It's based off an old core and is not as accurate/fast as the base 1.60 version. Unless your hardware is weak, there's no reason to use it, like Android or the Wii/Wii U sure.

    Blast 'Em is nice, and the only emulator to run the Titan Mega Overdrive 2 demo perfectly.
     
    Last edited by the_randomizer, Nov 7, 2019
  17. LiveLatios

    LiveLatios Profesionnal Scalie

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    why
    you quoted the entire post but never said which one was "the 2010" version

    edit: nevermind i'm dumb, i had to re-read op like 8 times to notice what "the 2010 version" was


    to add something more competent to the mix, there's bizhawk that's kind of a mostly all in one emulator, sorta like what retroarch wants to be but without having to download 786 different cores
     
    Last edited by LiveLatios, Nov 7, 2019
  18. raxadian
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    raxadian GBAtemp Maniac

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    This is a topic about the best emulators. Any emulator that tries to emulate many different machines doesn't end being that accurate. Mame is one of the few exemptions but the way it does it means you have to keep getting new versions of most of the roms.

    Anyone has tested what's the best Sega CD emulator?

    32x... is a mess to emulate, even worse the games that are CD 32X that need both the Sega CD and the 32x.

    Thinking about it, if Sega had forced all those Sega CD games, 32x games and CD 32x games to be re-released on the Sega Saturn the console would actually have done well outside Japan.

    The fact the idiots never did that with Sonic CD, instead porting a mediocre game like Sonic 3D Blast. Worse, the result was a game that looked better but played worse than the Sega Genesis version, what a shame.

    I have to admit it, the 32x was the worst idea Sega of America ever had.

    Edit: Early on the Playstation games had load times that made the SEGA CD look fast and while it had better graphics and could do 3D, the first two years it did not do that well. Funny considering Sony was also behind the Sega CD.

    The main problem the SEGA CD had with games looking horrible is programers making the PC Dos version together with the Sega CD version and then forgetting the Sega CD used the Sega Genesis as the graphic card.
     
    Last edited by raxadian, Nov 7, 2019
  19. the_randomizer

    the_randomizer The Temp's official fox whisperer

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    Snes9x 2002/2010, etc are really only designed for older/weak machines and really don't need to be used. Snes9x 1.60 vanilla isn't even that demanding. You don't have to download all the cores for RetroArch, you can download what you want.
     
  20. MythicalData

    MythicalData GBAtemp Maniac

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    Just what I use, tbh I don't remember the exact reason but it's never let me down
     
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