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Top Handheld Gaming Emulators Of All Time

In the previous post, we talked about the Top 10 Gaming Best Emulators of All Time, but that was only about non-handheld consoles! In this article, we talk about the Top Handheld Gaming Emulators of All Time. 

Nintendo Game Boy, Game Boy Color, Game Boy Advance/SP

A Picture Of Game Boy Advance SP

Also on ‎BSD, Linux, Mac OS

There are many emulators for the Nintendo Gameboy, Gameboy Color and Gameboy Advance handheld consoles, but the best out of them all is the VisualBoyAdvance. It is very easy to use, has a great compatibility for almost all games, it has perfect Gamepad support, built-in option to record the gameplay in AVI which is uncompressed and can record the sound alone, as well. It also has a feature that puts it superior to other emulators, the ability to fast-forward gameplay. This is VERY useful in games such as The Sims franchise, as they can take over 10 minutes for a single skill to be earned, REAL time. However, using fast forward, it can be done in a few seconds! 

Jet Set Radio running on VisualBoyAdvance

Nintendo DS

Also On Linux, Mac OS, Wii, AmigaOS 4

DeSmuME is the most popular emulator of the Nintendo DS, and it's best point is that the developers are still updating it. It requires a high GPU for full FPS and playing the games bug-free, and it can also run the latest titles of the Nintendo DS, including the 'DSi enhanced' titles such as Prince of Persia: Forgotten Sands. It has different LCD layouts for use, such as side-by-side, top-down, and so on. You can even send the lower screen above and the upper screen below to suit your taste. Overall, it is a great Nintendo DS emulator, but there are some titles that it does not run but NO$GBA does.

DeSmuME running Thor: God of Thunder


NO$GBA is a very good Nintendo DS emulator, which also runs Gameboy Advance games. It has decent compatibility list, but since it has been officially discontinued by the developer, it cannot run some of the latest titles such as Prince of Persia: Forgotten Sands, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, e.t.c. It also supports multiplayer for both the Nintendo Gameboy Advance and DS on the same computer(using different gamepads or keyboard buttons) for upto 2 players, and connects within the games like an actual Gameboy Advance/DS would. There are two versions of this emulator, one is the Debugger version, the other is the free one. The Debugger version is Shareware, and it does source-code level debugging. The debugger version is only useful for developers, because the freeware version has everything a gamer would need to enjoy. It's downsides are that you cannot full-screen the games or even zoom them. You cannot even customize the window-size, or change the screen layout. So, in order to do all the things it can't(mentioned in the downsides), you need an add-on which is called NO$Zoomer, which is officially compatible with the emulator and allows you as much customization options that not even DeSmuME offers. Such as separating the LCDs, swapping top-bottom screens, changing the ratio of the screens, showing only one screen and so on. With the NO$Zoomer, you get many great options, such as turbo mode, plug-ins, filters, and other graphic options. The NO$Zoomer is actually based in Spanish, so in order to use it in English, you must get the English DLL for the NO$Zoomer, which changes the language to English. The emulator works like an actual Nintendo DS, and each game has a different save-type in the DS. So, you must select the actual save-type the game supports. However, with the NO$Zoomer, you get the ability to Save State/Load State anytime and on any game, saving trouble for selecting different save-types for the game. One of another great points of this emulator is that it can run the games even on a bad GPU on 60FPS, even if there's no Pixel-Shader in the GPU. 

Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars running on No$GBA in Side-By-Side Mode, with the NO$Zoomer add-on

Sony PlayStation Portable
JPCSP has been in development for a long time. It is a Java-based emulator, which requires Java installed in your machine to work. Although it has been in development for a long time, it did not have a good compatibility list. However, as of now it has been improved a lot, including the speed. It also has support for many PSN games for the Sony PlayStation Portable. It requires a good GPU in order to get good FPS and less bugs.

Hungry Giraffe (a PSN game) running on JPCSP

Also On OS X, Linux, iOS, Android, BlackBerry 10, Symbian, Meego / Harmattan, Pandora

PPSSPP is not an old emulator, being only around for an year, but ever since it came out, it's compatibility list is on the run. It has about 800 'playable' games, and it can run the games in HD as well. It was started by one of the developers from the Dolphin emulator. It does not require a high-performance PC for good FPS, but it requires a GPU with at least Pixel-Shader 2. The developers have posted on the official website that:
Think PPSSPP is already fast on your PC? Or is it running a little slow in your mobile device? Just wait until the next release. We are currently focusing hard on performance and have already made some really good improvements, for example FF:CC wasn't really playable on Nexus 4 but on current development builds it's pretty smooth! And GTA runs fullspeed on nVidia Shield with only a frameskip of 1. Obviously this doesn't mean that a Galaxy Y will suddenly play God of War, but whatever device you have, there will be improvement. Stay tuned!

Ridge Racer 2 running on PPSSPP

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 02, 2013