Emulation is a popular pass time for many PC gamers, and in recent year there has been a big increase in GPU horsepower in the mobile market, allowing us to enjoy many classic games on the go, not just on our desktops. The Nvidia Shield is one of the most powerful mobile gaming devices on the market, and this is especially thanks to its Nvidia Tegra 4 GPU/CPU, which is not only capable of running many older games such as those from the Super Nintendo and Mega Drive, but also a lot more advanced 3D titles from consoles such as the Nintendo 64, Sega Dreamcast and more. What I hope to find out today is whether or not these games work well enough to justify using the Nvidia Shield as a dedicated emulation device.
Obviously there are some grey area legal issues when it comes to emulation, most of which focus around the piracy of compatible roms, so I feel obligated to mention that I do not condone anyone downloading games, but that there are also many other ways to obtain these games. There are tools and apps out there which let you rip games you own, and this applies to both cartridge based games as well as disc based games. Fortunately I’ve been collecting games for many years now and can use games I already own and have at my disposal, but keep in mind that you’re responsible for sourcing your own titles how you see fit, as we here at eTeknix take no responsibility for this, nor will be providing sources to where or how you can obtain the games. Boring stuff out of the way, let us get back to the action!
Getting roms configured on your Nvidia Shield, or to be honest any powerful mobile device can be a little tricky. Generally the more powerful your device, the better chances you’ll have of getting your games to run, as the task of emulating hardware can be quite demanding, especially when it comes to more modern titles such as those from the Sega Dreamcast. So while I am focusing this article on the Nvidia Shield, there is no reason why you can’t try this out on your mobile phone or tablet, so long as you think it’s powerful enough to do so.
The Nvidia Shield has a few extra tricks that make it a great choice for emulation, firstly because it has a controller built directly into it, as well as a high quality touch-screen display. You can use USB OTG to connect wired controllers such as the Xbox 360 controller, a mini-HDMI to HDMI cable to put the device into console mode and play on your big screen and more, so you’re not going to be limited to only playing this as a handheld, but virtually anywhere you want, on whichever screen you want (so long as it has Miracast or HDMI).
Today I’ll be taking a look at the Super Nintendo, Sega Megadrive, PlayStation 1, PlayStation Portable (PSP), Dreamcast and Nintendo 64. There are plenty more emulators and formats out there, but I feel the ones I have chosen cast a wide net over what is possible on mobile device emulation. Even older or less powerful systems such as Gameboy, MAME, NES and Master System generally all work from the same emulators I’ll be testing and already have widespread, proven compatibility with most mobile devices, so feel free to experiment with them at your own leisure.