Introduction: How to Run a Game Emulator

Picture of How to Run a Game Emulator

According to Wikipedia, an emulator in computer sciences duplicates (provides an emulation of) the functions of one system using a different system, so that the second system behaves like (and appears to be) the first system. This focus on exact reproduction of external behavior is in contrast to some other forms of computer simulation, which can concern an abstract model of the system being simulated.

In Layman's terms "I play N64 on my PC"

This instructable is dedicated to the use of game emulators (PSone, NES, Gameboy, ect); by that i mean how to install them, inserting roms into their correct folders, and playing them. 

Step 1: What Console Do You Want to Emulate / Getting an Emulator

Picture of What Console Do You Want to Emulate / Getting an Emulator

This step really depends what you want to play, but whatever it is, go to They have a large selection of emulators, the ones that work the best are rated the highest and are near the top of the list.

I will be using the Gameboy Advance emulator, Visual Boy Advance as an example

Emulators ARE legal. Opposition to this fact will be smacked

Step 2: Installing the Emulator

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Depending on which emulator you decide to download, you will have to do one of two things. either unzip the file using a program called winrar, which is INCREDIBLY EASY to use. You can download a trial here The trial lasts indefinetly, so there is no need to buy an actual copy. Make sure you get the one labeled WinRAR x86 (32 bit) 3.90

Or if your lucky, You will get a .exe file, which will self extract (install itself once it is double clicked). All you need to do is select the folder where you want the emulator to be installed to.

Step 3: How to Use Winrar

Picture of How to Use Winrar

If your following my example and downloaded Visual Boy Advanced, you will have to extract the files from the winrar archive on to your desktop, folder on your desktop, ect. Here are some basic instructions on how to do that.

1. install Winrar if you havent already
2. Create a folder on your desktop for the emulator to be extracted in to (it can be called anything you want, but for this example, ill call it VBA)
3. double click the .rar file.
4. select the first file by clicking it once (the first file is the one below the folder with the two dots next to it, dont click the folder)
5. find the last file, press AND hold shift on your keyboard, and click the mouce while holding shift. This will select all the files in the achive
6. click the extract to icon located at the top of the program
7. choose where you want the file to be extracted to

Depending on the size of the file, extraction will be extremly short, or "take a nap" long

Step 4: Getting Roms

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There is a funny law concerning roms. You have to own the game physically to have a rom legally. If you dont have the game, but have the rom, that is illegal.

but listen to this

Nobody cares

I have thousands upon thousands of roms in my computer. Its like downloading music on the internet, no one cares anymore

A quick google search for "roms" will bring up results

I am NOT liable for if you get caught downloading roms (seriously, you will never get caught, unless you run to nintendo, sony, or microsoft and show them your downloaded roms)

Step 5: Organizing Your Roms

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There are two ways of doing this; the sloppy method, and the neat method

The sloppy method consists of dumping all of your roms into one folder. This makes it easy to find the folder, but harder to find the rom (depending if you have thousands upon thousands).

The neat method is to put all the roms you download in order, by that i mean by system. GBA roms in the GBA roms folder, N64 roms in the N64 roms folder, ect.

If your super neat, you could but the GBA roms in a folder abeled "roms" in the files of the emulator itself. Doing so wont effect preformance.

Step 6: Loading and Playing the Rom

Picture of Loading and Playing the Rom

this step, like almost all of the steps before it, requires almost no thought.
1. Start the emulator. If you havent installed the emulator (idk why your at this step), go to step 2
2. Go to "file", then when the file munu expands, go to "open". This step is the same for almost all emulators
3. Go to the file where you store your roms and select the one you want to play

Step 7: Your Done

Picture of Your Done

If you were able to secuessfully load and play something, Congratulations

If you were not able to load a rom, you obviously did something wrong and should look over the past couple of steps. If you still cant figure out what the problem is, leave a comment, and i will *try* to get back to you

as this is my first instructable, constructive critisizim would be appreciated


RobbieJ9 made it! (author)2017-12-09

sorry for the small pic i dont know how to make it bigger.what do i do now that i downloaded all this stuff?

deedee2017 (author)2017-10-20

hi, instead of winrar i downloaded 7-zip 64-bit x64 should i have chosen the

32-bit x86 instead.

deedee2017 (author)2017-10-20

hi ,with both emulators and roms should i select open with internet explorer default or select file save. Also when it says view and track your downloads it asks do you wish to open or save the file, and also x86 exe file should i press run?Then i get a message saying windows cannot open the file. can you please help?

Mika - chan (author)2017-06-10

it says there are no file to be xtracted ;;^;;

new_roser (author)2016-11-16

I think there is alot of free software can do that

TroyG11 (author)2015-12-24

I think if you had to pick an emulation example, it was better to choose one of the problematic ones.. like PlayStation/PlayStation2 with their confusing ISOs, or the GameCube.

In such cases other steps are needed (like "converting" the ISO), and even I met difficulty early in my emulation experience.

QuentinM13 (author)TroyG112016-04-02

how did you install the ps2 emulator and the isos, if you dont mind me asking

lightowlerdan (author)2016-02-21

Great instructable I think! You could include using emulators such as Drastic Ds Emulator for Android and NDS4IOS for iPhone and how to use those too! (which is what I do, lot less hassle I think)

bfe003 (author)2015-12-09

i can install all the emulators i want but opening the fille is my problem cuz they are all ZIP FILES! and i cant open those that sucks :( but atleast i can play every non-zip file game! :D

TroyG11 (author)bfe0032015-12-24


some emulators use zip files directly.

For other situations, there are many free programs that unzip files (turn zip files into normal files). You put them in the same folder, and they will work.

DanielG165 (author)2015-11-15

Thank you so much. This really helped, and I love how this guide was written.

MarkP72 (author)2015-10-31

I have Freedo and I cannot seem to get the roms to work. I have downloaded the roms and unzipped them. Do I open the ISO or rom and then do I start the CPU?

MarkB97 (author)2015-09-02

ok, so i heard about getting N64 emulators on an android, so i tried to use emulator-zone, and it keeps saying that safari cant download it

please help

KorayOtsoa (author)2015-08-23

I'm trying to run a psx2 emulator on my windows. I download the the things i needed. Yet, i dont know what i'm doing wrong. I think it had something to do with the compress/decompressing part. Sometimes it extracts on its own or i do it to the game on its own. I try to just do it to another file, instead of one on the desktop because icons wont show up there for some reason. And at times, it says that a piece of the emulator is missing when i download it. Any help would be appriciated.

Graybuck. (author)2015-08-20

Whenever I try to open a rom through the emulator it says "Unsupported File Type". Any help?

RipKonehkaW (author)2015-06-29

Uhh, i have this problem with one game... with Ocarina of Time... uhh, can you play it using keyboard? Because, i am still stuck in menu screen just because i can't name my save-file.. help?

Gregoryjrrq (author)2015-04-29

Hope all this tough talk does not Jinx me and i get monitored for having roms now Lol oh well prison does come with free room and board and free meals

Gregoryjrrq (author)2015-04-29

Hope all this tough talk does not Jinx me and i get monitored for having roms now Lol oh well prison does come with free room and board and free meals

EDGE V. (author)2010-02-01

 How do you get a rom from the game? Is there a program for that or what?

Korbolt (author)EDGE V.2010-02-01

*cough* a quick google search for "roms" should help *cough*

To get the roms in the first place, there is special hardware you can get that copies the rom from a cartridge (N64, GBA, ect) to a PC

EDGE V. (author)Korbolt2010-02-02

 What's the program called?

Korbolt (author)EDGE V.2010-02-02

You dont need to actually copy the rom from the cartridge, chances are it is already on the internet. has the widest selection i have seen in a while
find the console you want to get games for, download, open the .zip file you just downloaded, and there is the rom. Copy paste it to the roms section in your emulator, and your set

If you actually wanted to go through the trouble of copying the rom from the cartridge to your PC, your will have to resort to some homebrew device that you have to make yourself. In a nutshell its like a console that plugs into your PC, giving you access to the rom file.

EDGE V. (author)Korbolt2010-02-02

 I can easily say that, but I just want to know incase of safety precautions with the law.

Korbolt (author)EDGE V.2010-02-02

the law regarding roms is a funny thing.
from what i can make of it, It is legal to have a rom while you physically own the game, while its illegal to own the just the rom. The rom dosent have to be taken from the cartridge to be legal, It can be downloaded.

The possibilities of being caught however are slim to almost none. The only thing you have to worry about are DS roms, Nintendo will hunt your ass down if they find out if you have any.
Everything else is relativley safe

EDGE V. (author)Korbolt2010-02-05

 great. Now nintendo actually does something about roms?

Gregoryjrrq (author)EDGE V.2015-04-29

5 years ago maybe for DS roms cause DS was fairly new but now in this day and age piracy has become so frequent they can't catch 'em all and don't waste time. Besides shouldn't they be after people like Bin laden instead a bunch of kids who's parents pay there respectable taxes or various people as myself who pays his Taxes and out the yin yang for internet service and GB for my devices.Come on people !

Korbolt (author)EDGE V.2010-02-08

only DS roms

arduinoer (author)Korbolt2010-10-09

even if you own them?

Korbolt (author)arduinoer2010-10-10

im sure they would crack down on it even if you own a hard copy

Gregoryjrrq (author)EDGE V.2015-04-29

Damn,that is how they get roms from the Cartridge?You mean to tell me theres some dude out that there owns every console ever made and every game ever made and sits there and extracts the rom with this "Special" hardware then creates a site for everyone to benefit and recieve joy out of all his tedious work and time consumed!Well then this man deserves a god dang Noble peace prize

Hallmar (author)EDGE V.2011-06-19

Try they have plenty of emulator and roms, including this game!!!

matstermind (author)EDGE V.2010-03-18


EDGE V. (author)matstermind2010-03-18


videogamemaster (author)2011-08-14

*ahem* yes, emulators are completely legal, but ROMS aren't. ROMS aren't legal unless you purchased a physical copy of the game. The physical game can be busted, just as long as you own it. It's just like downloading free music; it's illegal unless the original publisher of the music says "Yes, you can download this for free".(And we all know that Sony, Microsoft, or Nintendo will NOT say that). And you are allowed to rip songs from a CD if you buy it, because you paid for it.

Not to hurt the popularity of this Instructable, but this is a very controversial topic that could either end you up happy and playing games on your PC or angry and regretful in jail (Or paying a fine of several thousand dollars).

Korbolt (author)videogamemaster2011-08-14

This is very much true. I *think* I mentioned something about this later on in the instructions, but I have written it so long ago (and I'm too lazy to look).

But, I think companies are now more concerned about current gen systems, games, etc. I have seen more cases for people bootlegging DS, PSP, XBOX games than I have for people bootlegging N64, Dreamcast, NES, etc. Honestly, I think that video game companies care more about the profit being made on current releases then on rather than games that have come out years ago. For example, Bungie would be pissed if I were to bootleg the Halo re-release, but not as much so as if I were to bootleg a copy of Marathon.

I'm not saying that its ok to go and bootleg whatever is old, I'm just voicing my opinion (which can be subject to change)

Gregoryjrrq (author)Korbolt2015-04-29

Y'all need to quit acting like lil Bit@#'s and just do it! Your missing out on lifes free fun by acting Scary! The day I go Jail for Roms playstion 10 will be released! Ha! I have been doing this since PS one games where still being sold in Walmart all I have to say is Catch me if you can!

trolololthomas (author)2014-09-16

I have simpsons hit and run on my original xbox that got handed to me but I didn't buy the game but I own it. does this mean I can download simpsons hit and run legally?

Stob being Scuurred! and just do it the government gots bigger fish to fry then rom theives lol they monitor mainly in child pornography and system hacking your obselete to them

BlissBoxAdapter (author)2015-01-15

You forgot to talk about controllers, not needed no but makes it much better.

Dont need controllers if you run the right emulator it should have a format.Although if your talking PC then go to an electronic store and purchase a game controller for your PC and config it to your liking its all very simple and accessible just do it!

Gregoryjrrq (author)2015-04-29

I have been doing this years,I am 32 and downloaded my first emulator when i was 15 when i could not afford the hot systems out I would emulate them lol! Now i just recently added playstation on my Android Mobile phone and it works beautiful I can now play FF7 and even render the graphics and play in High resolution.He is right nobody cares Lol! I have been doing this since Nintendo 64 first delivered Mario 64 out at the stores and have never got in trouble, so if your scared go to church!

WinterD (author)2014-11-22

It's you're done not your.

An Villain (author)2010-08-28

Nobody Cares. For some reason I find that really funny, but I agree with you.

Madrias357 (author)2010-04-28

Instead of WinRar, I have a tendancy to use JZip.  It'll open just about anything, including .RAR files.

Just a thought and a preference, and yes, it's free.

Korbolt (author)Madrias3572010-04-28

free is always good

however when you bootleg, everything is free

inventordude14 (author)2010-01-28

 I did Game boy color emulater Super Mario Bros. deluxe rules

killersquirel11 (author)2010-01-23

just thought I'd throw it out there that 7-zip works very well for any archive i've come across (rar, zip, tar.gz, jar, 7z, compressed .exe files, etc...) and is completely free (unless I'm mistaken, the same can't be said about winrar)

Korbolt (author)killersquirel112010-01-24

Winrar is free to an extent. I say that because once the trial runs out. the software proceeds to say that "winrar is not free soft ware and you must remove it from your computer unless you buy it ect, ect". However, it will continue to work once you exit out from that message, revealing a still working copy of winrar.

killersquirel11 (author)Korbolt2010-01-24

all right... I'm mistaken

Korbolt (author)killersquirel112010-01-24

software loopholes FTW

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