Emulating classic and old school games has been difficult for a very long time, both on Windows and Macs. This is a very complicated process that requires a lot of work in order to be optimized up to that point that it can run natively. After that, developers need to work on optimizing speeds and other background processes which could easily consume all available resources, and which usually leads to very slow developments.

A few weeks back a new game emulator appeared, and this one is made for OSX 10.7 and up. It’s called OpenEmu, and the background story for this one is very similar to any other development story. It was several years in the making, with a very lengthy beta test period. Now it’s available for everyone to download and use, completely free of charge.

OpenEmu 1

In case you’ve got classic game ROMs on your hard drive, or if you own legal copies which could be exported to their ROM native formats, OpenEmu is there to open them. The first thing I noticed about this emulator is its nicely designed interface, which is not something you usually see with emulators which tend to be very complex. With OpenEmu, all you need to do is to drag and drop your game ROMs and they’ll be automatically added to the library. It’s very similar to how iTunes works.

OpenEmu is able of working with a very large number or game ROMs which are native to numerous retro consoles like Game Boy (Color and Advance), NES, Sega Genesis, Super Nintendo, Nintendo DS, Atari, and many others. You can also set up physical game controllers over USB and wireless, included retro and modern ones. For example, you’ll be able to use Wii Remote and Wii U Pro, Xbox 360 controller, and PlayStation DualShock 3 and 4. Speaking of retro controllers, you can use Sega Saturn, N64, and similar. Some of these will require additional drivers, but these are not hard to find and download.

The first time you open OpenEmu it will scan your Mac’s hard drive and add any ROMs that might be stored. You’ll be able to download and add new ones any time you like, and you can also download a starter pack of games from the OpenEmu website, simply to get you started until you add your own games.

This application uses different open-source cores in order to emulate different consoles, and you’ll be able to see available cores in the left sidebar. This is also where you can see “playlists” or collection of games that you like playing, which may come from different consoles. Simply double click on a game and it will automatically start. You can also participate in its beta version which comes with additional cores which are being tested at the moment.

What I also need to say is that this emulator provides very good performance for emulated games, much better than I experienced in the past.

In case you’re a fan of classic games, OpenEmu is the best emulator currently available. The best of all is that it’s completely free of charge, so download and start playing right now.

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