5 all-in-one emulators to play retro and arcade games on PC


Tashreef Shareef
by Tashreef Shareef
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all-in-one emulators

Here at WindowsReport, we have shared a ton of resources for the Windows and other platform users to play old retro and new Android games on their computer. To play Android games on PC, you can try one of the many Android emulators like BlueStacks, Nox Player, Memu Play, LD Player, and Genymotion etc.

Likewise, we have also shared some resources to play your favorite Nintendo GameBoy and DS games on PC and iOS devices. While these emulators are good and perform the core task more often than not, having to install a new emulator every time to emulate a new platform is not only a daunting task but also time-consuming.

This is where the all-in-one emulator for Windows comes into play. All-in-one emulators are nothing but multi-platform emulators that can emulate and run games from different platforms from a single source. Consider them as your swiss knife for playing old retro games.

Now if you are of the generation that played old retro Mario and Legend of Zelda on GameBoy or DOS games like Alien Carnage on PC, you are probably looking for a way to play those old retro games on your modern, powerful Windows machines as well.

As I mentioned earlier, you can play old retro games from multiple platforms using an all-in-one emulator.

So, today, in this article, we take a look at the best all-in-one emulators for Windows PC to play your favorite retro game that will bring on pure nostalgia.

What are the best all-in-one emulators for Windows?

1

Bizhawk

Bizhawk

  • Price – Free

Bizhawk is an ultimate all-in-one emulator designed by developers at TASVideos. It is free to use and works on Windows OS running computers. The core functionality of Bizhawk is to offer accuracy and power users tool without making the working process complicated.

Bizhawk can emulate and run Neo Geo Pocket, Nintendo DS, Sega 32X, PlayStation, Sega Saturn, Sega Master System, Virtual Boy, Uzebox and ZX Spectrum ROMs on your Windows PC. You can check the full list of compatible ROMs on the official website.

Bizghawk supports full recording and Lua scripting. In addition, it also comes with features like full-screen support, controller and hotkey mapping support, gamepad support for game controls and auto rapid-fire controls function.

For pro users, it comes with basic re-recording and bulletproof recording support, input display, auto hold, RAM watching and poking tools, Lua scripting, Rewind, and Frame lag and rerecording counters.

The installation of is Bizhwak requires more than a few clicks on the next and accept button. You may need to move some files around to get Bizhawk installed and to run the game ROMs on it. Check the YouTube video below for the installation procedure.

Download Bizhawk 

2

RetroArch

Retroarch

  • Price – Free

RetroArch is a bit a different than Bizhawk. It is a frontend for emulators, game engines and media player and allows you to play games from multiple platforms on your Windows computer.

Being an all-in-one emulator, RetroArch can run video game ROMs from Nintendo, Super Nintendo, NES, Nintendo 64 and more. If you don’t have a Windows PC, RetroArch is compatible with Mac OS, Linux, Android, iOS, gaming consoles, and other devices as well.

The user interface is super slick, and you can browse the game collection through the menu. However, the emulator itself is not the easiest to use.

The installation and setup procedure of RetroArch does take some effort and time. But, once you do, the emulator makes up for the effort by allowing you to play retro games from multiple platforms from a single framework. You can follow this video to setup RetroArch for your Windows, Mac or Linux computers.

The system is highly customizable and allows the users to tweak most of the settings for the emulator and the games.  In addition, it also gets gamepad support and mapping, Shaders graphical filters to enhance the rendering of the game, achievement tabs, Netplay to host or join the online gaming community and an ever-expanding library.

RetroArch uses RertoCores to emulate the games from other platforms. Some of the cores supported by the emulator include Dolphin to emulate Wii and GameCube ROMs, Citra for Nintendo 3DS, Redream to emulate Sega Dreamcast, Open Lara, a Tomb Rider game engine, melonDS, Sameboy and more.

Download Retroarch 

3

Mednafen

Mednafin

  • Price – Free

Mednafen is a multi-system emulator for Windows computer. It is a portable emulator that uses OpenGL and SDL to render games. Originally Mednafen was introduced as a command-line driven multi-system emulator; however, developers have created a GUI tool to make it user-friendly for everyone.

While RetroArch and Bizhawk offer great support for hand-held retro game emulation, Mednafen is preferable for those looking for a PlayStation 1 emulator along with support for Nintendo and SNES emulators.

Some of the platform supported by Mednafen include Apple 11/11+, PlayStation One, Sega Genesis, Master System, and Game Gear, Super Nintendo, GameBoy Advanced Neo Geo Pocket, WonderSwam and more.

Similar to RetroArch, Mednafen does not offer a direct installer. You need to move around some files and folders to get it working. But unlike RetroArch, Mednafen is much easier to install.

Watch the video linked below to understand the working and installation process of Mednafen.

Other features supported Mednafen include the ability to take screenshots, keymapping, support for both Gamepad and keyboard controls and the ability to record audiovisuals movies in the QuickTime file format.

The support for ISO files and the ability to emulate TurboGrafx 16-CD / PC Engine CD is what makes Mednafen an excellent choice for playing CD games on your PC.  For the frontend GUI, you can use Mednaffe or MedGui.

Download Madden 

4

FinalBurn Alpha

FinalBurn Alpha

  • Price – Free

FB Alpha (popularly known as FinalBurn Alpha) is a multi-system open source emulator for Windows users. The purpose of the emulator is to emulate the popular Arcade game system, although, now it has more than just Arcade game support.

The latest stable release for the Windows PC was released in April 2018 which makes it a relatively upto date emulator. The emulator supports all versions of Windows since Vista for both 32-bit and 64-bit editions.

Some of the popular platforms supported by FB Alpha include Capcom CPS-1-3, cave, Irem M62 and above, Konami, Kaneko 16, Neo-Geo, NMK16, Pacman based hardware, PGM, Sega System 1 & 16 Toaplan 1-2 and more. You can read the full list of compatibility on the official website. If you want to run FB Alpha on your PSP,  you can follow this YouTube video for the step by step workaround guide.

To install FinalBurn Alpha on PC, follow the steps in the following YouTube video.

Download FinalBurn Alpha 

5

LaunchBox

LaunchBox

  • Price – Free / Premium $20

LunchBox is not an all-in-one emulator but a front end for emulation, DOSBox, Arcade cabinets, portable games launcher and database. It was initially released as an attractive front-end for DOSBox, but currently, the software works with modern games and retro emulation. It can show games from your PC, Steam and compatible with all-in-one emulators like RertoArch.

LaunchBox makes the frontend looks aesthetically pleasing by automatically downloading images and other information combined with its stunning UI. Adding any ROMs to the LaunchBox is not a difficult task either. You can run any Emulation by simply loading the executable files and telling it to run the games via an emulator or DOSBox.

LaunchBox comes in two versions. The free version works flawlessly without hampering the gaming experience. However, the premium version known as BigBox can get you more features like full-screen support, custom fonts, color themes, additional filters, gamepad support, and more.

LaunchBox developers have plenty of resources demonstrating the working of the software on YouTube.

LaunchBox requires you to set up each emulator once, but it also allows you to operate your game library irrespective of the platform from one interface.

Download LaunchBox

It is time to travel back in time!

All of these all-in-one emulators are entirely free to use, and I have tried only to recommend the emulators that are consistently receiving updates from the developers.

If you want to play all your favorite games from your childhood, these all-in-one emulators offer the support to run Nintendo GB Advance, Arcade, SNES and more emulators on PC.

What’s your pick? Have you tried any of these emulators before? Do you know a better alternative to these emulators that we probably missed in our research? Do let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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