The Nintendo Entertainment System, stylized as NES, is one of the most iconic game consoles of the 1990s. It had a lot of popular games with a simple controller and plenty of family-friendly content. The system is obviously no longer active, but there are plenty of great games to explore. At this point, NES emulation on Android is fairly stable and most of the options on this list are rock solid. Here are the best NES emulators for Android.
You can double up on the nostalgia and grab one of these NES-style Bluetooth controllers if you want to. They are surprisingly cheap with good reviews.
Price: Free / Up to $4.49
John NESS is a dual emulator for both the SNES and NES consoles. The developer is very talented and has lots of great emulators on Android for other consoles. It covers all of the bases, including cheats, save and load states, hardware controller support, customizable software controllers, turbo buttons, and even slow-motion support. You also get optional Dropbox syncing with the John DataSync plugin app if you want it. This is a full-featured emulator without any real problems. Most of the negative feedback is from folks who purchased previous John emulators and don’t like buying this one again. In terms of pure functionality, this one is a slam dunk and it’s the one we recommend first.
Lemuroid is a multi-console emulator. It supports dozens of consoles, and that includes the NES. It uses Libretro cores, similar to RetroArch, so you download the cores for the consoles that you want, and emulate your games all in one spot. This has support for your usual stuff, including save states, hardware controller support, and more. It also has more modern features like cloud save support, which is great to see. You can go with either this or RetroArch. They both do mostly the same thing, although this one is a bit easier to use.
NES.emu is an NES emulator from Robert Broglia, developer of several really good emulators. It’s open-source software based on the FCEUX project. The app features save and load states, support for FDS files, and support for peripherals like Zappers and hardware controllers. Additionally, the app works with FCEUX save states from other platforms. That makes it a good solution if you want to switch back and forth between mobile and PC. It’s a solid emulator and an easy inclusion on this list.
Retro8 is one of the newest NES emulators on the list. It’s from the same developers of SuperRetro16, one of the best and most successful SNES emulators. This one looks great on paper. It boasts thousands of cheat codes, support for Bluetooth controllers, in-game guide integration, a turbo mode, and Zapper gun support. There is also cloud syncing for various devices. The game guide integration is new to us, we haven’t seen that feature before. However, this is still quite new and there are some bugs, especially with wireless controllers and some ROMs. It’s also a paid app, and there are already great free options so it can be difficult to justify the purchase.
RetroArch is arguably the most powerful multi-console emulator on Google Play. It can emulate a ton of devices, and, of course, that includes the NES. However, it’s more difficult to set up and use than the other NES emulators on our list. You must download cores, which open up emulation for a specific console. Thus, it doesn’t run any games out of the box and requires some extra setup before you can hop into your favorite retro title. That also means that it works with tons of consoles so it’s not strictly an emulator, but rather a framework for one. The app is also entirely free, open-source, and you can get plenty of other cores for other consoles as well. It’s a solid option if you don’t mind the extra work.