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RetroArch is a cross-platform emulator of several video game consoles and gaming systems.

It can be said that in the world of video games “retro” is out of fashion. Never before has it been so easy to emulate the old video game consoles. Thanks to the power of today's computers, emulate old game consoles is something that is not a problem. In addition, the emulation has ceased to be something exclusive to PC, and now can be used in mobile phones and tablets to play “old school” video games.

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RetroArch emulates various video game systems from different video games companies. We can think of this program as a “Front-end” for different programs of emulation, but with the difference that the program itself includes emulators required to run the games of the supported machines. That is to say, we will not have to install a Super Nintendo or Play Station emulator to make use of this program, but installing RetroArch we will be able to play Super Nintendo and Play Station ROMs without the need to install any other software emulator.

This is a list of the emulated systems and the emulator that is used internally:

  • NeoGeo (FinalBurn Alpha)
  • Arcade (MAME)
  • Atari 2600 (Stella)
  • Cave Story (NXEngine)
  • Dinothawr
  • Doom (PrBoom)
  • TWO (DOSBox)
  • Game Boy / Game Boy Color (Gambatte and TGB-Dual)
  • Game Boy Advance (Mednafen VBA, Meteor and VBA Next)
  • Lynx (Handy)
  • Neo Geo Pocket Color (Mednafen Neopop)
  • NES/Famicom (bNES, FCEUmm, NEStopia, QuickNES)
  • Nintendo 64 (Mupen64p)
  • Nintendo DS (DeSmuME and DeSmuME-future)
  • PC Engine/TurboGrafx-16 (Mednafen PCE Fast)
  • PlayStation 1 (Mednafen PSX)
  • Quake 1 (TyrQuake)
  • ScummVM
  • Sega Master System/Game Gear/Mega Drive/MegaCD/32X (Genesis Plus GX and Picodrive)
  • Super Nintendo/Super Famicom (bSNES, Snes9x)
  • Other (MESS)
  • Virtual Boy (Mednafen VB)
  • WonderSwan Color (Mednafen Cygne)

Therefore the only thing we need to play are video games ROMs we want to play, because software emulators are built into the program itself.

When we launch the program, main screen appears. To navigate through the menu, we will do it with the keyboard:

  • Move through the options = arrow keys
  • OK = X
  • Go back = Z

This program defines emulators as “Cores”, and to load emulators ROMs we have several options. The simplest option is to select the option “Load Content (Detect Core)”, and navigate through system directories until we select the ROM we want to load. Once we've selected the ROM, the program asks wich “Core” (emulator) we want to use. If, for example, we have selected a Mega Drive/Genesis ROM, we will be able to choose between the emulator Genesis Plus GX and Picodrive.

To access the latest ROMs that we have played, we must enter into the option “Load Content (History)”.

Keys setting is done by using text file ”retroarch.cfg”. In the mobile devices, gamepad buttons are displayed on the screen of the game, although there is also the possibility to use a PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360 controller to control emulated games.

As we see, this system is ideal to start playing immediately ROMs of our favorites video consoles. For those who don't want to get embroiled in configure a multitude of emulators, this is a perfect solution. However, for those more advanced users, it may not be the best solution, as the default emulators included may not be the most optimal for the PC on which it is running. However for mobile systems (Android, iPhone, iPad), it's the best multi-system emulator that currently exists.

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