A common rule of thumb in the emulator community is that in order to emulate a particular console, you need ten times the original CPU power. This is very generalized, not taking into account things like the GPU or different architectures, but modern computers today definitely have enough computing power to emulate consoles like the GameBoy or the Nintendo 64.
Projects like the RetroPie and Nintendo’s NES Classic Edition show there’s definitely still life in many old games and a desire to continue playing them. Emulators can run on all kinds of devices, including your Android TV. You can download a number of popular emulators, although RetroArch is one of the best.
Unlike other emulators, which are purpose-built for a single console, RetroArch allows users to download many emulators in a central space and play games using one of those.
Note that this app does not distribute ROMs and there are some gray areas about obtaining ROMs.
In the video below, RetroArch is used to play Mario Kart 64 on one of the N64 emulators.
You’ll notice in the video that there is an overlay on the screen. RetroArch was designed for mobile and so does not have the Leanback UI. It also doesn’t assume you have a gamepad and will show buttons onscreen. If you want to turn that off, you can go into the app settings and switch off “Hide Overlay in Menu”.
One thing I could not find was an easy way to exit games once I finished playing. I can go to the homescreen, but I was not able to exit the game and return to RetroArch. Maybe I’m missing something simple. If you know how, let me know in the comments below.
RetroArch does a good job of showing emulators that will work on my device, and the NVIDIA Shield does a great job running these emulators so that every game feels smooth. Although RetroArch could have a nicer TV interface, it’s definitely a good app to download. It’s free on Google Play.