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8 Best Arcade Emulators of All Time!

We've all played games on an arcade machine at some point, whether it was a fighter, a shooter, a racer, a puzzler, or a fighter jet simulator, it was always a fun experience(though adding your money wasn't). Many games from the arcades end up getting a console port, or even a PC one. But that doesn't always happen. Some don't make it into any type of home media and disappear from arcades as new games come along(though arcades themselves are disappearing these days). So, if you wanted to play that awesome arcade game, but cannot because it's gone or you just don't feel like leaving home or adding a quarter every time you die? Then you're in luck because of these absolutely awesome emulators! Here is the list of the 8 Best Arcade Emulators of All Time!


Since NAOMI is basically a hardware-upgraded version of the SEGA Dreamcast, which was used commercially for arcade games. NullDC NAOMI is an alternate version of the NullDC Dreamcast emulator we mentioned earlier here, which ran games of the Dreamcast, while NullDC NAOMI runs the games of the arcade NAOMI system. It supports the ROMs through .LTS files, so you'll need a .LTS file placed with every ROM for the emulator to recognize the game and run it. It's specialty is that, while other emulators demand high performance PCs, this one does not demand much and can run at full speed on a low performance PC for most games. 

 Akatsuki Blitzkampf Ausf AchseRunning On NullDC NAOMI

SEGA NAOMI / NAOMI 2 / Atomiwave


DEmul is popular as a SEGA Dreamcast emulator, but it runs SEGA NAOMI, NAOMI 2 and Atomiwave games as well. It's compatibility is not complete, but it still has a rich compatibility list. It demands a high performance PC. Although older versions ran on Direct X 9, as of now the developers have officially ended the support for Direct X 9 and now demands Direct X 10 and 11 to run. 

 DEmul's Interface

SEGA Model 2
Model 2 Emulator

This emulator is built by the team who creates the Nebula emulator. It is an emulator for SEGA Model 2 and has a good compatibility list. It requires a Pixel Shader to run, and if it is not present the games will run in Black & White colors. However, there is a version of it that does not require Pixel Shader and works without it too(yes!). It even has lightgun support for the shooters! Such as Virtua Cop 2 and The House of The Dead.

Dynamate Cop Runing On Model 2 Emulator


MAME is the most popular emulator of arcade games. Whenever the words "arcade" and "games" are mentioned together, the first thing that comes to mind is always MAME. MAME runs hundreds of different kinds of arcade systems' games. It has been in development since 1997 and has been getting new releases ever since, and is still updated to this date. It is capable of running thousands of games of different arcade systems and counting. It supports ROMs of it's type, and for games of less-older arcade systems it require BIOs files too. Some ROMs of arcade systems that although MAME supports but it requires 'parent' ROMs of the games, so you'll have to add these to run specific games. It also supports Compressed Hard Drive(CHD) images, such as Street Fighter III, Killer Instinct 1 & 2 and so on. It does not run too many of full-3D games, but it still runs some popular ones such as the Tekken series up until Tekken Tag Tournament, Killer Instinct 1 & 2, Soul Calibur(glitchy), e.t.c. It also has other features than just running the games, most notabally cheats which are very powerful(exposing secrets hidden within games powerful), supports upto 4 controllers and now even supports the 7zip format so that you can keep your games compressed and save HDD space.

On about just 2.0ghz of a Pentium 4 CPU, it can run nearly all of the 2D games at full speed. While the 3D games vary completely on how much performance demanding the game is, but a Dual Core CPU with a low GPU would work(although you can never be sure). Sometimes, no matter how good your GPU is, a game might end up running slow because there are thousands of games out there, and you cannot emulate all of them perfectly. So some of the games might not be emulated that well and might run slow, or require a bit better specs than what it's worth.

 MAME Running Tekken Tag Tournament

CAPCOM Play System 3

CPS3 Emulator

CPS3 is also from the team that built the Nebula and the above mentioned SEGA Model 2 emulators. The CPS3 system only has 6 games released for it, and luckily, this emulator runs all 6. And all six of the games are popular as well, including the well-acclaimed Street Fighter III: New Generation, 2nd Impact and 3rd Strike. 

 Nebula CPS 3 Emulator's Interface

Namco System 22

Viva Nonno

Viva Nonno is the only emulator for the Namco System 22, and only runs 2 games. The reason this emulator is mentioned is because it is the only emulator that exists for this system, so even those 2 games is an up-point for the Viva Nonno. The games it runs are Rave Racer 1 & 2, which are quite popular games and are still played by fans. 

Rave Racer Running On Viva Nonno



NeoRAGEx is the most popular and commonly used emulator for NEOGEO games. The original emulator was released in 1999, and it's latest release is built by another team from Brazil called SNK-Fighters, which supports all games released for the system. This emulator does not support high resolution, and runs on only one resolution, but it supports many video options for your best experience. It supports recording the sound in WAV format and also takes pictures. Additionally, you can save and load games(including multiple states), and has every option that a good emulator should have. You can even change it between "Arcade" and "Console" modes of the games and you can also change the countries to get the country-differences in the games. It also supports Uni-BIOs. It also supports Game Patches that allow you to play as unplayable characters and also supports some hack-ROMs of games such as the most commonly known "Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon" hack of The King of Fighters 2001, and "The King of Fighters 10th Anniversary" hack of The King of Fighters 2002, and so on.

 The King Of Fighters 2000 Running On NeoRAGEx


Winkawaks is a well-known emulator for NEOGEO, CPS1, and CPS2 arcade systems. It has it's own Romsets, and it does not support Romsets of other emulators such as MAME, NeoRAGEx, e.t.c. It has an almost-complete compatibility list, and runs all games very smoothly. It also supports cheats, Net-Play, save/load states and every other option you can find in a good emulator.

Winkawaks Running Samurai Shodown II

If you've missed our previous articles about the best emulators of consoles, check them out now:

Which emulators do you like the best? Have we missed out a good emulator? Share your experience and suggestions with us!

Muhammad Junaid

Muhammad Junaid is the writer of Entertainment Ghost. He writes articles, reviews, previews and entertainment news about gaming, technology, the media and so on. You can follow him on Twitter @Mr_MJunaid and Facebook MJunaid

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Published On Entertainment Ghost At Monday, December 16, 2013