6 Of The Best Classic Games Emulators For Linux

Maybe you are a fan of the Atari 2600 with games such as MS PacMan and Dig Dug or perhaps you prefer the Super Nintendo or even the Sega Megadrive,

The items in this list are in no particular order.

of 06


Atari 2600 Dig Dug
Dig Dug On The Atari 2600.

Stella is an emulator for the Atari 2600.

The Atari 2600 was first released in 1977 and it was the first games console I ever played.

My friend Sarah had received one for her birthday and we spent many long summer afternoons playing breakout.

My parents then bought me the Atari 2600 as a Christmas present. The only games I owned for the Atari were MS PacMan, Jungle Hunt, Dig Dug and Kangaroo.

The Atari 2600 has incredibly basic graphics and so the developers had to work very hard on gameplay.

Stella is fairly basic but it emulates the Atari 2600 games flawlessly.

To read more about Stella visit http://stella.sourceforge.net/.

Stella is available in the repositories of all the major distributions. The download page for Stella includes links to RPMs, DEBs, and the source code.

The Stella website has an important links page which includes a link to Atari Mania where you can obtain ROMS.

The Atari ROM files are only a few bytes in size and so you can download the entire back catalog in one small zip file.

It is possible to amend the video settings, audio settings, input settings and controller options within Stella. You can also take snapshots of games and create save states.

of 06


FUSE Spectrum Emulator
FUSE Spectrum Emulator.

The Sinclair Spectrum was a part of the childhood of thousands of kids in the UK during the 1980s.

I received the Sinclair Spectrum +2 as a birthday gift when I was 11.

There were so many things that made the Spectrum so appealing to kids like me. Games were incredibly cheap and could be bought everywhere from high street chemists to local newsagents. The Spectrum also made it possible for users to create their own games and software.

FUSE stands for the Free Unix Spectrum Emulator and is available in the repositories of all major distributions. (Either as a GTK package or SDL).

In addition to installing FUSE, it is a good idea to install the spectrum-roms package as this will enable you to choose the machine type. (i.e 48k, 128k, +2, +2A, +3 etc).

If you are using a modern joystick it is a good idea to install qjoypad and map each direction on the joystick to a key on the keyboard as this prevents your joystick being too sensitive.

To find games visit http://www.worldofspectrum.org/

of 06

Kega Fusion

KEGA Fusion
KEGA Fusion.

Kega Fusion emulates everything Sega from the Master System to the Mega CD which is perfect if you like playing Road Rash, Micro Machines, Sensible Soccer and Night Trap.

It is unlikely that Kega Fusion is available in your distribution's repositories but it can be downloaded from http://www.carpeludum.com/kega-fusion/,

There are other Sega emulators out there such as DGEN and GENS but they don't emulate the Mega CD and they aren't as good as Kega.

The emulation itself works flawlessly with a whole host of games and I am yet to find one that doesn't work.

ROMs for Kega are available from a number of sources but the one I prefer to use is www.coolrom.co.uk

of 06


Nestopia Bubble Bobble 2
Nestopia Bubble Bobble 2.

Nestopia is an emulator for the Nintendo Entertainment System.

As with the other emulators in this list, the emulation of the games is flawless for most games.

There are other NES emulators out there but Nestopia is good because of its simplicity.

It is, of course, possible to adjust video, audio and controller settings and you can save game states and pause games.

Nestopia is available for Arch, Debian, openBSD, Rosa, Slackware and Ubuntu in binary format and the source code is available from the Nestopia website if you need to compile it for other distributions.

of 06

VisualBoy Advance

Manic Miner - Visual Boy Advance
Manic Miner - Visual Boy Advance.

The Gameboy Advance was a great little machine and there were some fantastic games made for it including a remake of the classic Manic Miner.

VisualBoy Advance makes it possible to play Gameboy Advance games within Linux. It is also possible to play standard black and white Gameboy games and Gameboy Color games.

VisualBoy Advance is available in the repositories of all the major distributions and has all the features you would expect including the ability to amend video and sound settings, the speed of emulation and the ability to save states.

Click here for more information about VisualBoy Advance.

of 06

higan NES, SNES, Gameboy and Gameboy Advance emulator

higan SNES Emulator For Linux
higan SNES Emulator For Linux.

In some countries, the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) was called a Famicon and the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) was called the Super Famicon.

A huge number of games were released for Nintendo's early consoles and many of them can be considered truly including the likes of Zelda, Super Mario and Street Fighter.

Higan emulates four Nintendo systems in one and it has a really decent interface.

You are greeted with a tabbed interface for each of the available console types and an extra one called import.

Clicking on a tab shows all of the games ROMS that within your catalog for that particular console.

You can set up gamepads to work with higan and if you follow this guide a Wii controller.

Sound and video work well and you can play in full-screen mode if you so wish.

Legality Of Playing ROMs

Emulators are perfectly legal but the downloading and playing of ROMS is highly questionable within the realms of copyright law. There are hundreds of ROM archive sites on the internet and many of them have been active for a large number of years. If the games publishers were overly bothered presumably there would have been takedown notices by now. Articles across the internet contradict each other with some stating that it is legal to play a ROM as long as you bought the game originally whilst others state that there is no legal way at all to play ROMs on games emulators. Personally, as a retrogame enthusiast, I own a large number of consoles including the Atari 2600, Spectrum 48k, Spectrum +2A, Commodore Amiga, Atari ST, Megadrive, Mega CD, SNES, Gamecube, WII, Playstation, Dreamcast and XBOX 360. Having all of these consoles set up at the same time or attempting to switch between them would be a nightmare and therefore I don't think I am doing a huge disservice to the games developers and publishers by playing the games via emulators instead. Every game I play is one that I still own or have owned in the past. Most of the games for the Atari 2600 and Spectrum are not available in any other format and so it seems a shame to let good work go to waste and forever be consigned to computer game hell. If you choose to use a dedicated ROM site to download games then you will do so at your own risk and you should follow the law of the country in which you reside to the best of your ability although there appears to be a number of gray areas. The terms abandonware and public domain pop up from time to time. Abandonware is software in which the copyright holders are unknown and therefore the software is considered to have been abandoned. Public Domain software includes titles whereby the copyright holder has released their hold over the application and given it away for use by anyone.
Was this page helpful?