For the first time, the 'It just works' philosophy now extends to open source video game emulation on the Mac. With OpenEmu, it is extremely easy to add, browse, organize and with a compatible gamepad, play those favorite games (ROMs) you already own.
We combine some of the best emulation projects together into one beautiful unified application that simply organizes your personal games library. Watch as you drop in backups of your games (ROMs) & they are gracefully added to their appropriate library along with original box art!
As companies move away from older consoles and new operating systems render many games unplayable, it becomes harder to play all your favorite games from the past. Game conservation has never been more important, but the industry as a whole has mostly failed here.
Valiant efforts have been made by the Internet Archive and GOG.com(Opens in a new window) to preserve classic arcade(Opens in a new window), console(Opens in a new window), and computer(Opens in a new window) games, but the major game developers could be doing more. As nice as it is to have subscriptions to Xbox Game Pass, PlayStation Now, or Nintendo Switch Online, those services can be shut off at any time. Nintendo's shuttering of the Wii's Virtual Console in 2019 is proof that these aren't real solutions.
For example, OpenEmu has a built-in library that shows you box art for each of your games, and automatically sorts by platform. It also lets you make custom collections across multiple platforms and universalizes controller schemes for each emulated system. It all comes wrapped in an easy-to-understand and attractive interface.
In theory, OpenEmu is also compatible with some arcade ROMs, but support is experimental and your success getting these games to run may vary. In general, MAME(Opens in a new window) ROMs are the only type that can be played inside OpenEmu. If you come across JAMMA or Neo Geo games in your search, they won't work.
This is important only because you should probably keep an eye on how much you're downloading. While most 8- and 16-bit game ROMs only take up a few kilobytes or megabytes of room, files for more modern system will begin to take up hundreds of megabytes or even several gigabytes. Some PlayStation and GameCube games can even require you to download multiple discs to get the whole game.
One major complication when playing retro games is that some systems require BIOS files to work. If you want to play games for the original PlayStation or Sega Saturn, for instance, you will first need to track down these special ROM files. OpenEmu has a user guide on BIOS files(Opens in a new window), but it's not too complicated that you can't figure it out yourself.
For PlayStation games, you will need several BIOS files, including scph5500.bin, scph5501.bin, and scph5502.bin. If you can't find the last one, but have found scph5552.bin, you can simply rename it to match the necessary file name. Sega Saturn games will require files named sega_101.bin and mpr-17933.bin.
Some console add-ons like the Sega CD, Sega 32X, and the TurboGrafx-CD are supported, but may also be a little finicky. OpenEmu will ask you to read the user guide before you try to add any disc-based games.
If you don't feel like messing with ROMS at all, OpenEmu actually includes a decent number of custom-built games called Homebrews. These titles are built by hobbyists to run on proprietary hardware, resulting in games that look and feel like classic console installments.
Open the program's main menu and select the Homebrew tab to view the list of games available. You'll find fan-made titles like Halo 2600 for the Atari 2600, an SNES remake of the Donkey Kong arcade game called Classic Kong, and a compilation of several Pac-Man titles called Pac-Man Collection for the Atari 7800.
Each action has a field next to it that you can change to your preference. Directional input can be mapped to a modern joystick or to a D-pad. OpenEmu also adds special functions like quick save, mute, pause, and screenshot that you can match to any button. You can also add rewind and fast forward buttons, if you want to make old school games just a little more forgiving.
To get playing, first choose a console from the left side of the OpenEmu library, then double-click on the box art of your game of choice. Despite taking place on your Mac screen, you should find that gameplay is just like you remember it. However, there are also added benefits to using emulators.
One thing you may want to do is add a screen filter, otherwise it's screamingly obvious on a 1080p monitor how low-res all of these games were. Head to OpenEmu > Preferences > Gameplay, and open the Shader drop-down menu. I typically leave it set to Pixellate, but the CRT and VCR settings make games look like you're playing on an old TV screen with scan lines and everything. Play around with what you like best, just make sure to close and reopen the game so new styles can be implemented.
Besides running your games through OpenEmu, the program also offers a few additional features. If you're done playing for the day, save your progress on the Save States page. OpenEmu can even auto-save for you and preserve several different save states, depending on the save method used. If you want to take screenshots while playing, use the Command + T keyboard shortcut (or the button you've assigned to the feature) to save the screen in the Screenshots page of the program.
Software and videogames were once on borrowed time, surviving only as long as the hardware on which they ran. But then systems became powerful enough to successfully mimic those that came before. So began the age of emulation.
In this feature, we explore the current state of emulation on macOS. We begin with how to emulate old Apple hardware such as the Apple II and Macintosh Plus. We then delve into emulating ancient PCs, classic consoles, arcade games, and a few much-loved home computers.
Plenty of modern-day Mac users started out on old PCs. However, running old PC software on modern Macs requires DOSBox, a capable but sometimes fiddly and obtuse emulator (in part due to DOS itself being fiddly and obtuse). A far better bet is Boxer, a version of DOSBox designed specifically for Macs and ease of use.
Having started life as a Pac-Man emulator in 1997, MAME has grown into a project that aims to preserve the entirety of arcade game history of the coin-operated variety. A rather nice side effect is being able to play said games if you install MAME.
Still listed as the highest-selling single computer model of all-time, the C64 was huge in the 1980s, with a wealth of amazing games, many of which still stand up today. On macOS, you can choose between VirtualC64 and VICE, the former being more Mac-like and the latter more flexible.
If you're on a weaker device that stays away from Ubershaders... maybe after these optimizations you might finally be able to make the leap. Raw performance in Dolphin is up across the board thanks to many optimizations to the GPU emulation thread (which is emulated on CPU). Because this optimization affects the very core of Dolphin, pretty much every game should be faster, with a few select games seeing improvements of roughly 50%!
And, for our Android users, a lot of the performance improvements also affect tablets and phones, but we also have a special treat only for you. The Android GUI has also seen a huge overhaul that should make it easier to use and easier on the eyes. And for those having problems with particular games using features Dolphin can't reasonably emulate, we have a few presents from an old friend to patch them up.
You can play retro games on macOS with an emulator. An emulator imitates a console gaming system, allowing you to play console games on your Mac. With the instructions below, you can play retro games on macOS from NES, SNES, Nintendo 64, Game Boy, and a ton more.
The modular emulation program has quickly become the most popular emulation platform for macOS. It can run games from popular systems like NES, SNES, Nintendo 64, PlayStation, Game Boy, and dozens more.
However, ROMs can still be found in the same places you might pirate other copyrighted content. A number of torrent trackers include ROM downloads for a variety of systems, typically packaging hundreds of games together in one torrent.
If you try and double-click on a ROM file to open it, you might find that nothing happens. Some emulators will automatically assign the appropriate file extensions, while others will not. OpenEmu will automatically grab all the common ROM file extensions, so you can simply double-click on ROMs in Finder to launch the associated games.
The best way to play PC games on your Mac is by installing Boot Camp and dual-booting into Windows OS. This ensures that even graphic-intensive games will work smoothly with the hardware on your Intel Mac. You can also use several other tools or apps to play Windows games on Mac.
As I wrap-up this article on the best Windows emulators for Mac, I would like to mention that although people use virtualization and emulation interchangeably today, the above tools are virtualization tools.
That's it. Used Playstation controllers are easy to come by as are used games. This is relatively cheap endevour as there's a good chance you already have a controller and a USB cable to connect it to your Mac and even possible the games.
For the first step, you'll need to download the correct emulator for your Mac. Since Metal is a recent addition to these emulators, we'll want the bleeding edge versions. Intel Mac users will download the nightly build of PCSX2 and Apple Silicon users download the nightly build of AehterSX2.
The user interfaces of AetherSX2 and PCSX2 are nearly identical since AtherSX2 is a port of PCSX2, the biggest visual difference being the color of the menus. Since they are so similar for the remainder of this guide, the instructions are the same regardless of what emulator you are using. 2b1af7f3a8