How Tos

How to emulate classic consoles on your Xperia Play

(or any Android phone)

How to emulate classic consoles on your Xperia Play

With the new Xperia Play packing a fully-functioning PlayStation-esque controller under its Android touchscreen body, there’s more reason than ever to take a look at the wealth of emulators lurking around the Android Market.

But if you’ve never dabbled in the art before it can be a baffling thing to get your head around. So let us illuminate the link to the past (ho ho) with this helpful How To guide.

Please note: Downloading ROMs for games you don’t already own is a big no-no, so we can’t tell you where you’ll find these, other than to say ‘on the Internet somewhere’. In fact, even the act of downloading ROMs of games you do own is a bit of a grey area unless you’ve ripped it yourself (and don’t distribute the file afterwards), so do bear that in mind when reading.

Anyway, now that legal detour is out of the way, let us begin.

Step 1: Download an emulator on to your Xperia Play

xperia-play-emulation-how-to-1There’s a huge range of systems being emulated on the Android Market to pick from, and finding them is often simply a case of typing in the name of the system you want and the word ‘emulator’.

For this guide, I’ve gone for NESoid (see image), but there are other good ones out there, and each essentially follows the same rough guidelines (albeit with a few changes here and there).

Once it’s installed successfully on your phone (check the notification bar at the top for its status) then you can move on to the next step.

Step 2: Find a ROM

An emulator without anything to run is like an Xperia Play without a battery - useless.

So the next step is to dive into Google (preferably on your virus-protected PC) and locate a ROM to download.

As most ROM sites are hives of scum and villainy, don’t be too surprised at the bawdy adverts and countless failed links. I recommend using your PC for this purely because you’re bound to have to keep going back to Google to locate that one mystical site that actually works.

Once you have the ROM file - in our case it ends with a '.nes' - then you’ll need to get it on your phone.

Step 3: Put the ROM onto your phone memory

xperia-play-emulation-how-to-3Just plug your phone into your PC with the USB cable and navigate to the the removable disc either through Start Menu/Computer/Xperia Play (Win 7/Vista) or by clicking on the desktop icon (OSX)

Create a new folder on your phone called ‘Roms’. You can call this whatever you like, really, but it just makes the next step a bit easier.

Copy your (legal) rom over to the directory and safely eject your USB device.

(Please note: You may need a console BIOS on your phone for some of the newer systems. Please follow the specific steps from your chosen emulator for how to properly set this side up. Needless to say, a protected console BIOS that isn't yours is the definition of illegal.)

Step 4: Use the emulator to find the ROM

xperia-play-emulation-how-toNow that the file is on your phone’s drive, open up the emulator application and navigate to where it’s stored (hopefully the Roms directory).

Tap to open and it should start up.

If it runs really badly or just looks like it’s broken then it’s likely that either the emulator can’t handle the game, your phone’s too slow to handle the emulator, or the game’s just too hot to handle (that last suggestion is untrue).

Step 5: Configure the controls

xperia-play-emulation-how-toHowever, you can’t just jump into the game and expect the Xperia Play to be magically recognised (at least, not until the makers update their titles to do this automatically).

Instead you’ll have to open up the menu and find the portion of the emulator dedicated to physical controllers.

Don’t be disheartened if the program initially doesn’t work very well - if you’re using NESoid, for instance, you’ll need to select ‘Use Input Method’ from the ‘Other settings’ menu for the game to pick up the controller, not the manual button configuration (i.e., the more likely sounding option).

Step 6: Play a genuine gaming classic with a proper controller on your phone

xperia-play-emulation-how-toBoom. If you’ve been following the guide you should now be staring at a fully-functioning NES/SNES/Genesis/Master System (you get the picture) on your brand new Xperia Play.

If you’re sat there thinking, "that’s all very well, but with so many emulators on the Market, I can’t decide which one I should get in the first place" then never despair - our guide to the ten best emulators for Android should be appearing on the site very soon.

Will Wilson
Will Wilson
Will's obsession with gaming started off with sketching Laser Squad levels on pads of paper, but recently grew into violently shouting "Tango Down!" at random strangers on the street. He now directs that positive energy into his writing (due in no small part to a binding court order).