No old consoles or last-gen platforms to play your favorite games of the past? If you’re tired of playing current-gen games or just want to go back to memory lane when times were simpler and game devs were more passionate about their work, we’ve got just the solution for you. And yes, these work 100%. No arcade machine, Nintendo 64, Sega Genesis, Playstation 1 to 3 or even the Commodore 64? No problem; just read through this handy guide to find out how to play your favorite old games without needing their original platforms.

Current Platforms Offer Classic Games

Worry not, dear old-school gamer. Current-gen consoles like the PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and the PC all offer the games of yesteryear…well, only by a select few, that is. They come in either physical or digital copies, but either way, it’s always nice to see that some game devs still care about old titles. You can hop into any digital store like the Playstation Store, Microsoft Store, Nintendo Store, Steam and GOG, and you’ll find a plethora of available classic games.

Most of the time, these re-released games come as remasters and/or HD editions to make them more appealing to the modern crowd.

For example, Capcom released a Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Edition for the PS4 and PC. This includes all Street Fighter games from 1987 to 1998. Another example from them is the Devil May Cry HD Collection, which contains all 4 DMC games and is available to play on PS4, Xbox One, Switch and PC. For PC, there’s a store called GOG (Good Old Games) that lets you purchase digital copies of original old-school PC games like Age of Empires, Tomb Raider III and Duke Nukem 3D in their vanilla glory.

However, the biggest problem here is the old SEGA games. While the ’90s Sonic the Hedgehog games can be found in the digital stores, some of the more obscure yet brilliant games like Zombies Ate My Neighbors, Pitfall, and Robocop are very hard to find for current-gen consoles. However if you’re a PC gamer, you’ll have a lot of luck and ease finding even the most underrated retro games. And that brings us to our next solution.

PC Gamers and Digital Copies

Aside from Steam and GOG, the PC houses numerous programs called emulators. Basically, an emulator acts as a platform for you to play games that run on a specific console. For example, you can play any Gamecube games using the Dolphin Emulator – a program that acts as a Gamecube device. Another is a program called PPSSPP and PCSXE which performs as the PSP and PS1 respectively. Need to go back to your childhood arcade times where you fight against random strangers on a 1v1 match in a fighting game? An app called Fightcade lets you relive those glory days, allowing you to play whatever arcade fighting game you like as long as they were in a M.A.M.E. format. Oh, and it even includes custom controls for arcade sticks if you have one.

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Of course, there’s a drawback here. Since these old games are running on open-source programs, they’re not exactly built with PC optimization. Frankly speaking, you’re going to need a decent PC with a good internal hard drive, processor, and GPU. Additionally, these programs also eat up lots of resources, requiring you to have an internal coolant to maintain your PC’s internal temperature. Emulating is also a legal gray area — while unaccessible retro games are often ignored, if you’re emulating new games, you could get into a lot of trouble for piracy.

Second, while it is possible to run retro games on an emulator, they’re don’t always work correctly. Some games may be buggy with missing textures and audio, while others just simply don’t run at all. Because of this, you’ll just have to rely on luck to get your game working. That, or check the internet for tips and tricks on how to get a specific game to run properly.

It’s better to buy them on Steam or GoG. If you buy through either of these services, the game has been tested and is gurinteed to run. You also don’t have to worry about whether or not this game is one that publishers care about.

Mobile Platforms Now Have Retro Game Access

Retro Games on phone

If you’re having doubts about emulators, the mobile app stores have classic games, too. Both the Google Play Store and Apple App Store have classics like Marvel vs Capcom 2, The King of Fighters ’97, Sonic the Hedgehog, Crazy Taxi, and Final Fight in the store. However, they don’t come for free. The good news is they won’t cost you a lot.

As for the drawbacks, it’s just really hard to play such games like Metal Slug or any technical fighting game on a touch screen. Unless you have a MOGA controller or a PS4/Xbox controller connected to your mobile game, it’s difficult to enjoy them. This is why a lot of mobile games are over-simplified and casual – because controls are very limited on the touchscreen.

Purchasing Modern “Retro” Consoles

Modern "retro console"
via. The Verge

For some weird reason, companies such as Sony and Nintendo have made “revamped” versions of the first PlayStation and the SNES called PlayStation Classic and SNES Classic respectively.

On the surface, they’re pretty cool. They are significantly smaller and lighter compared to their ancestors, and they have online features too. Controllers for both consoles feel as authentic as the originals. They bring you back to your childhood days…that is, until you realize that not everything is quite as nostalgic as you think.

Playstation classic a modern "retro console"

The most significant offense these companies committed is that they do not ever get to run your physical copies. For example, if you have the original Metal Gear Solid PS1 game, you can’t use it on the PlayStation Classic. The tray is just for show and is too small to read any PS1 disc. It’s the same with the SNES Classic too — you can’t use your old SNES cartridges. Why they didn’t let us use our physical copies is still a big question mark to this day.

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As a result, these “remade” versions didn’t sell well. Sure, they have 20+ pre-built copies of their greatest hits, but they force you to buy the rest of the timeless classics in their digital stores. A wasted potential indeed.

But hey, we won’t stop you if you want to get these consoles. After all, the controllers’ feel and touch are enough to make you feel young again. Oh, and also the classic Sony intro as you boot up the console. That’s always the best part.

Why Do Players Go Back to Retro Games?

A pile of Retro Games

These days, many triple-A modern games are a bummer. When you’ve got publishers like EA, Activision, Ubisoft, Bethesda and Konami ruling well-known game series and buying the developers we love so much, it becomes clear. It’s hard to see these big publishers destroy everything about what made us into gamers. Gone are the days of unlockables, passionate game design, and cheat codes. These days, all we see are micro transactions and loot boxes everywhere.

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Before shareholders and investors tried to capitalize on the video game industry, gaming at its core was all about love. Love from both the fans and the developers. Heck, even gaming journalists were well-respected back in the days. Remember GamePro, Electronic Gaming Monthly, and Game Masters? Yeah, even writers during those days were all about the game.

Gaming back then was highly obscure from society – before the esports craze and all the sponsored hype, gaming was about discovery and the general joy of entertainment.

Nowadays, you can hardly find any compassionate game devs and publishers outside of the indie realm. Devolver, CD Projekt Red, Nintendo (for the most part), PlatinumGames, FromSoftware, Naughty Dog and a bunch of indie studios still make great games, which still give us gamers a glimmer of hope for what we love.

Going back to the games of yesteryear, we can temporarily forget the sins of present gaming. The graphics may be obsolete, the sounds may be monotonous, and the controls may feel clunky, but at least you can experience how far we’ve come as a community. And perhaps, you can recapture a bit of the joy you felt gaming as a kid.

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Written by Brian Stone
Brian Stone has always been around computers since he was 8. After discovering he had a burning interest in computers, he aims to help the entire community of gamers by dedicating his time and life to help gamers and computer enthusiasts alike. Through his work, he wishes to help readers choose the best products and make the smartest investments.