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play retro games on PC

How to Play Retro Games on PC – A Sneaky Guide

Buying a retro game console can cost you hundreds of dollars. But can you play retro games on PC & avoid spending all that? Sure, you can: the only way to run retro games on your computer is by using an emulator. 

The top pick for retro game emulators is Dolphin. But how fun is that? We’ll see that too. Since playing retro games on the computer is nowhere near playing on a game console – oops, spoiler – we’ve also listed some cheap retro consoles in the guide.

That aside, let’s dive in.

Can You Play Retro Games on PC?

Although retro games weren’t developed to be played on personal computers, you can still enjoy them on your desktop. All you will need is an emulator and ROM. The emulator will work as software to instruct your computer hardware for running retro games – while ROM refers to the copy of the retro game compatible with the emulator you’re using. 

If you’re able to find the copy for the classic game you want to play and have installed a suitable emulator too, more likely, you can enjoy the retro gaming on your computer without spending a single buck. But since that retro game was not specialized for your system, the gaming experience may not be satisfactory – let me explain:

Benefits and Downsides of Playing Retro Games on Computer

Below are the key features of running retro games on PC:

  • Cheap option as you don’t have to purchase the retro game system 
  • You also save money by not having to purchase game CDs
  • The ability and flexibility to customize hotkeys

That said, here are the downsides this budget-friendly option comes with:

  • Mediocre gaming experience due to incompatibility of retro games with computer
  • Not a good practice to not pay for games you play

But, if you still want to give retro gaming on PC a shot, here’s how to do that:

How to Play Retro Games on PC 

The #1 step towards running a retro game is getting its copy for the emulator. If you already have it, kudos to you – if not, here’s what to do.

Firstly, head over to an online retro games store. A trustable option is GOG, formally known as getting Good Games. The store offers an extensive catalog of retro games to run on your computer. The best part is, that the games are often on a discount – not making a big hole in your pocket. 

Once you’ve bought your dream retro game, it’s time to get an emulator installed. But which one will work best for you? Let’s find out.

Best Emulator for Nintendo GameCube and Wii – Dolphin

If you intend to run the classic games compatible with GameCube or Wii, the Dolphin emulator will work best for you. You can download it from the company’s official site but let me tell you the truth right away – the gaming experience won’t be entirely flawless unless you have a speedy processor and powerful GPU in place. 

Must read: 6 best hardware emulation consoles to run classic games.

Best Emulator for NES – Mesen

Don’t look for an option other than Mesen if NES games are what you love. Just like the Dolphin emulator, Mesen works well only on powerful hardware. Also, even if you have the most powerful components, the experience will not be as smooth as on the NES itself. Just like Dolphin, you can download Mesen emulator from the company’s site.

But if you’ve changed your mind and want to consider a proper retro console for the smoothest gaming experience, the following are the best retro game consoles to look into. 

Best Consoles for Retro Gaming 

Following are our short reviews on the best retro consoles you can buy right now.

Nintendo Super Entertainment System (NES)

We won’t believe it if someone associated with retro gaming hasn’t heard of the Nintendo Super Entertainment System. The console comes from a popular retro gaming brand – Nintendo. The best part is, that Nintendo is a developer itself, and all its retro games are properly specialized for NES. But before you finalize the NES for purchase, make sure to check the latest price.

Nintendo Wii

Nintendo Wii is another popular yet affordable console for retro gaming. Whether it’s the Legend of Zelda series you want to play, Mario Bros, or anything similar, Nintendo Wii will work best for you. The best part about it is the cheap pricing

FAQs – How To Play Retro Games On PC

Still, got questions? Following are the comprehensive answers to frequently searched queries on playing retro games on PC.

How can I play Nintendo games on my PC?

The most effective way to play Nintendo games on your computer is by using the Dolphin emulator. It works best with Nintendo games, but your gaming experience may get ruined if your computer isn’t powerful  – it doesn’t have a speedy processor, enough Ram, and a powerful GPU.

Can I play retro games online?

You can play retro games online. But since they’re not specialized for online browsers during development, no browser can ensure a smooth retro gaming experience. More precisely, you’ll have to bear glitches during the play. However, Play Retro Games is a considerable option to play retro games online. 

Is playing retro games on the computer illegal?

Using an emulator to play a certain game on some device is completely legal. But where the issue arises is where you got the game ROM from. If you’ve downloaded a pirated version or got it from some other illegal means, it’s surely against the laws. Therefore, we recommend buying the game you want to play.

Where can I get retro games online?

There are multiple classic stores that offer retro games online. We also offer retro games at Retro vGames. All the games we offer come at competitive rates. Other features of our service include the fearless 24/7 customer support, 90-day warranty, and free shipping.

How much do retro games cost?

The pricing of a retro game depends upon its demand. Suppose it’s rare and still well-demanded; the pricing is going to be the highest and vice versa. Nevertheless, the cost generally falls somewhere between $20-30. You can buy retro games at competitive rates at the Retro vGames store.
Whether it’s the Legend of Zelda, you’re looking for, or apart from the Mario Bros series, we’ve got you covered. 


If you’re into retro games and invest in dedicated game consoles, having these games running on your computer can be the way around. But, how do you do it?

We’ve laid down the most effective ways of playing retro games on your PC in this guide. However, we’ve also explained playing retro games on the computer will ruin the gaming experience and hence, presented the best consoles as alternatives, too. 

We hope the guide helped you in the long run. Happy retro gaming!

To play retro games on the go, check out these amazing handheld games!

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