QJ How To: What Emulators Exist for Ouya?

OuyaYesterday, the much talked about Ouya console passed the 500 games threshold. As part of that collection, this week's How To will have a special focus on emulators. I'll share some of my personal favorite options, and tell you how well each of them perform!









Yesterday, the much talked about Ouya console passed the 500 games threshold. As part of that collection, this week's How To will have a special focus on emulators. I'll share some of my personal favorite options, and tell you how well each of them perform!



NES - Emuya and NES.emu


When it comes to classic console emulation on Ouya, there are basically two classes of apps: one is more tuned towards folks that already understand what they're doing, while the other has colorful presentation and a rich GUI designed to attract newcomers. Emuya undoubtedly falls into the last category. It boots to a full menu with audio, and features a large scrolling list to select your games. In my opinion, the interface can be cumbersome if you've got a large library, but it functions decently for a handful of games.






In this iteration, the controls map automatically to the Ouya remote which makes customization for other controllers slightly more difficult. Again, if you just plan on using the tools Ouya gives you, this probably won't be a problem. Emuya also features a full ROM store where you can buy brand new NES titles that others have made. In that sense Emuya is a pretty snazzy and unique package.


With regards to Robert Broglia's NES.emu, you'll see a very different philosophy. There are no colorful menus here. Instead, it's just white text based on the file names of your ROMs. For those with a lot of games, this trimming allows you to more easily scroll through long lists by using the controller triggers. There is also a "recent games" menu to get you back into your favorite titles as quickly as possible. Mapping to third-party remotes works well here too. All it takes is navigating through the menus and typing in the keys as you would like them for each of your two remotes.


Both of these emulators perform well, but I prefer NES.emu simply because its interface allows you to start having fun a lot faster. I also felt less boxed in by the default settings too. If you have any prior knowledge of emulators at all, that is the one I would pick.



What about the much-beloved Super Nintendo? Your choices here are somewhat similar, but you can see them next!










SNES: Snes9x EX Plus and SuperGNES



In many ways, the comparisons I made on the last page will apply here as well. Just like Emuya, SuperGNES seems slightly more fit for the noob than the expert. It features a full-fledged GUI, and takes a bit of pride in keeping you tied to its default settings. This is less of a problem with SNES because the standard button mappings were exactly how I wanted them, but it still frustrated me that making any changes at all wasn't very possible. One of the nice (but possibly annoying) attributes of this software is that it has the ability to download full game cover art for every ROM in your collection. When all is said and done it looks great, but be aware that this will take a ton of time if you have hundreds of ROMs that you want to trick out.



Snes9x ouya



The alternative to GNES is Robert Broglia's version of Snes9x. It features the same black background and white text of all his other emulators, bit that works in its favor if you're already familiar with the menus. It does less hand-holding from the beginning, and somewhat expects that you'll be mapping the input controls to your liking. If you don't mind taking the time to do that, the end results will work well. Even more advanced ROMs like Kirby Superstar should perform without a hitch.



Again, because I need less plug and play simplicity, I would personally pick Snes9x. Still, in this case there are plenty of Ouya gamers that favor GNES too. It's more a matter of personal preference between these two worthy products.



What about N64? There's really only one choice you have, so let's discuss it!










N64: Mupen64Plus AE



As far as emulation is concerned, it looks like N64 is where the Ouya hardware maxes out. The current version of this emulator does a pretty great job of playing the most popular titles, but you'd be remiss if you thought it would be able to run any game you throw at it. To get ROMs booted, it's sometimes as simple as going into the plugins menu and seeing which one works best (if at all) for the game you're playing. Once that's been figured out, you can progressively tone down the resolution till you hit a solid framerate. Unfortunately, all of these settings tweaks do not save for each individual game, so switching games often means switching settings too.






If you can get past that annoyance, there's still a lot of fun to be had with Mup. Ocarina of Time runs very well, as does Mario 64, and Super Smash Bros. In that case, it's obvious that care has been taken to support the major library headliners. Still, there are some non-working titles that frustrate me. Mario Party 2, Goldeneye multiplayer, and Mario Tennis are all basically unplayable no matter which settings you try. There also hasn't been a new update in months to fix this either. N64 emulation looks like it could be great in time, but right now it's somewhat mediocre.



In regards to PSOne, the situation gets a little more complicated. I'll explain that if you keep on reading!











PSOne: FPSE and ePSXe (side-loaded)



The PSX emulation debacle gets a little more complex. Mostly because one of the only real options for playing these games in the Ouya Store requires that you pay $3 to unlock it. This isn't a huge deal, but considering there are "free" alternatives, the majority of folks prefer to take that route instead. That being said, the performance of the paid FPSE is actually pretty solid. It maps nicely (and correctly) to your remote and offers a variety of upscaling options to make your games look great on that HDTV. This does negatively impact framerate however, so be careful which of the few options you decide on.



FPSE ouya



The alternative is to find an .apk file of ePSXe and sideload it. I can't point you directly to the file itself, but I do have a full guide on sideloading to help you out. Once installed, this emulator runs well. However, you should note that it will probably require about a half hour of configuration before it's running perfectly. Your controllers must be mapped, and the Android on-screen keyboard removed. I may do a guide for this in the future, but for now check out this thread. The performance may not come with as much visual shine as FPSE, but I think it plays games better overall. ePSXe also has support for more than two controllers as well. It's not a crime to pay for FPSE if you don't want to deal with any extra hassle, but I think ePSXe is probably your best option.


Want an emulator that can play them all? My final page has a brand new (but popular) multi-system beast that just arrived on the store last month!











RetroArch - Multi-system



When I did last week's PS3 emulator FAQ, I said that RetroArch was the king of all emulation projects. On that console it's undoubtedly true, and it might eventually be for Ouya. Just last month, the one and only Libretro released the very first official version of this multi-system haven and it performs quite well according to users. To be honest, I haven't tried this one much because I've been busy, but the previous RetroArch pedigree of greatness makes it worthy of mentioning here.



RetroArch ouya



Where a project like this really seems to gather a lot of its momentum is through the support of systems that don't yet have a stable stand-alone emulator in the Ouya store. Do you enjoy playing MAME arcade games or Sega CD? This is a pretty solid (and basically the only) way to relive those kinds of memories. Bugs are expected in this early build, but they may even be fixed by the time you read this. For those that want to keep a clean home screen, RetroArch does a nice job of getting most emulation tasks done under a single icon.



There are plenty more options out there, but these projects remain among the best. What are your favorite emulators for Ouya? Let me know in the comments section!