Best Free Linux Video Console Game Emulators

Last Updated on February 12, 2019

Emulation refers to the duplication of functions of one system using a different system. Specifically, an emulator is software specifically written to emulate aspects of the original console or computer, primarily the CPU, I/O and memory system.

This article selects the best free and open source software to emulate classic video consoles, such as the Nintendo Game Boy, Nintendo 64, Nintendo Wii, Sega Mega Drive, Sony PlayStation 2, Sony PlayStation 3, and many others.

We’ve rated all of the emulators featured in this article. Take note that some of the video consoles are much harder to emulate than others. The scores don’t take that factor into account and therefore shouldn’t therefore be used as a comparative measure. Instead, we simply score each emulator on their own merits taking into account things like their accuracy, performance, features, and compatibility.


To provide an insight into the quality of software that is available, we have compiled a list of 21 high quality Linux video console game emulators. Hopefully, there will be something of interest for anyone who wishes to have some fun and reminisce about their misspent youth.

We’ve included RetroArch, it’s an excellent frontend for many emulators. Other frontends are available such as BizHawk and OpenEmu.

Now, let’s explore the 21 emulators at hand. For each title we have compiled its own portal page, providing a screenshot of the emulator in action, a full description with an in-depth analysis of its features, together with links to relevant resources.

Video Console Emulators
Nintendo Consoles
MesenCycle-accurate NES and Famicom emulator
Nestopia UEFork of Nestopia, an NES/Famicom emulator
higanNintendo multi-system emulator: SNES, and Game Boy Advance
Mupen64PlusPlugin-based Nintendo 64 emulator
DolphinNintendo video game consoles: the GameCube and the Wii.
Nintendo Handhelds
SameBoyGame Boy and Game Boy Color emulator
mGBAGame Boy Advance emulator
DeSMuMeNintendo DS emulator that aims to be portable
CitraWork-in-progress Nintendo 3DS emulator
Sony Consoles
PCSX2Plugin-based PlayStation 2 emulator
RPCS3Experimental Sony PlayStation 3 emulator and debugger
PPSSPPFast and portable PSP emulator with good compatibility
Sega Consoles
Genesis Plus GXSega 8/16 bit emulator focused on accuracy and portability
YabauseEmulator for the Sega Saturn
ReicastDreamcast emulator derived from the nullDC codebase
Atari Consoles
StellaMulti-platform Atari 2600 Video Computer System
Atari800Atari 8-bit computer systems and 5200 game console emulator
Multi-system Emulators
RetroArchPolished frontend for emulators, game engines and media players
MAMERecreates the hardware of arcade game systems
AdvanceMAMEPort of the MAME 0.106 and MESS 0.106 emulators
MednafenEmulates GameBoy (Color), GameBoy Advance, and other systems
Best Free and Open Source SoftwareRead our complete collection of recommended free and open source software. Our curated compilation covers all categories of software.

The software collection forms part of our series of informative articles for Linux enthusiasts. There are hundreds of in-depth reviews, open source alternatives to proprietary software from large corporations like Google, Microsoft, Apple, Adobe, IBM, Cisco, Oracle, and Autodesk.

There are also fun things to try, hardware, free programming books and tutorials, and much more.
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