Grab a Master Ball and put on your trademark hat; it’s time to check out the best Pokemon emulators of the year!
Before we go any further, I should probably say that this article isn’t for emulating a little Pokemon into your every day life. Pikachu isn’t suddenly going to appear inside your lunchbox eating your sandwiches, people! We can’t work miracles!
We’ve gone ahead and listed 5 of the best Pokemon emulators for playing all your favourite Pokemon games on your computer or smartphone. Battle, catch, snap, and explore your favourite Pokemon regions at home or on the go without carrying multiple devices.
Come on; we all want to do it. That’s why you’re here, after all!
What you didn’t come here for is a load of waffle from yours truly, so let’s get to it. The following emulators aren’t in any order and cover a variety of Nintendo consoles. Happy searching, and don’t forget to read the important message below before you get started!
**PLEASE READ – Sharing ROMs is very illegal, and we can’t write articles from jail.**
Retro Dodo created this article for you to find out more about the best Pokemon emulators and it should be thought of as a digital myth, a magical grimoire, or a custom-made Pokedex. Retro Dodo does not condone illegal downloading or any other Psyduck shenanigans that might get anyone (namely us) into second-hand prison clothes. Please check the legality of ROM downloading in your region and always follow government guidelines on both internet safety and copyright laws.
1. Project 64 – N64
- Linux, MacOS, FreeBSD, Android, Windows
First up on our list of the best Pokemon emulators is Mupen 64, one of the most versatile N64 emulators on the internet. It’s used as the core program for many other emulators and as the ‘core’ in RetroArch, but we’ll get onto that in a little while.
Mupen64 is on open-source program, meaning that its continually updated by the retro gaming community. The code is also available for people to manipulate to make their own emulators.
And, because this emulator allows people to play the best Pokemon games on multiple operating systems including FreeBSD, it’s helping to keep our favourite games alive and kicking all over the world.
A lot of emulators mess up the C-Button functions, but playing Pokemon Stadium and Pokemon Snap on this program is a dream. Game on the go with the Android emulator or kick back in the office and pretend to fill in those spreadsheets.
Why bag a company bonus when you can catch Pokemon 9-5!
2. TGB Dual – GBC, DMG
Next up on our list of the best Pokemon emulators is TGB Dual. Anyone looking to revisit the best Gameboy Color games and the best Gameboy games should definitely take a look at this one!
TGB Dual is one of the most reliable Gameboy emulators for Windows. It’s quick, it’s no nonsense, and it also plays two games at once.
That’s right; TGB Dual can open two games at the same time, allowing users to swap Pokemon between Red and Blue, Gold and Silver etc. It’s the perfect way to finally complete those Pokedexes people!
Weirdly, it’s also possible for two people to play two games at the same time with an external controller added into the mix. Now, when your partner or mate disagrees with which game to play, there doesn’t have to be an argument!
I’ve saved the best feature till last. If someone else has TGB Dual installed on their controller, then wireless battles on early Gameboy games suddenly become a reality. We’re talking Pokemon Gold action over WiFi!
3. Citra – DS
- Open Source
- Windows, MacOS, Linux, Android
You just stumbled upon the best of the best Nintendo DS emulators of all time; Citra!
Readers looking for the best Pokemon emulators for DS gameplay can take a load off and cancel the rest of their plans. There are other emulators for Nintendo’s dual-screen demon, but Citra wipes the floor with them all.
Remember when we checked out Yuzu, the best Nintendo Switch emulator? Well, Citra is made by the same people! (Notice the heavy orange theme going on here?)
These emulators are the real deal and highly regarded in the retro gaming world. Citra boasts the ability to play games in crystal clear 4K and comes with multiplayer support.
And, it runs smoothly on all of the main operating systems and machines!
I don’t think anyone has truly lived until they’ve played Pokemon Diamond in 4K. It blew my mind the first time, and the multiple layouts function adds to the whole package. It’s like when a waiter adds parmesan to your favourite dish and instantly cranks the flavour up a notch.
With local WiFi support and super-slick playback, Citra kicks every DS game into the present day with a bang!
4. RetroArch – Multiple Consoles
- Open Source
- Windows, MacOS, Linux, Android, iOS, Raspberry Pi
Anyone looking for an emulator that covers every console and every Pokemon game should definitely give RetroArch a try. It’s a one-stop-emulation-shop and one of the smartest programs around.
Regular Retro Dodo readers should know all about RetroArch by now. Instead of just replicating the innards of one console, it uses cores to emulate all of our favourite machines from the VirtualBoy to the 3DS.
Just think how good it would be to play a little Pokemon Yellow before diving straight into Pokemon HeartGold without having to swap systems or carry around all your handhelds.
For the purposes of this section, we’re going to take a look at the GBA. RetroArch has two cores for Nintendo’s Purple Powerhouse; GBSP and mGBA. Both work perfectly and RetroArch emulates all the best Pokemon games for GBA and beyond!
5. Dolphin – GameCube, Wii
- Open Source
- Windows, MacOS, Android
Searching for the best Pokemon emulators to play more modern Pokemon games? Just download Dolphin and direct your energy towards searching for pocket monsters instead!
Dolphin emulates all the best GameCube games and the best Wii games. It’s free to download and works on Windows, OSX, and Android.
Because who doesn’t want to play Pokemon Colosseum on the bus instead of doom scrolling through Reddit?
It’s worth noting now that your PC or smartphone is going to have to be pretty powerful to pull off GameCube and Wii emulation. Large file sizes and 3D games require lots of processing power, and a device that’s not up to scratch will result in lots of annoying lag and games crashing.
‘But what makes Dolphin one of the best Pokemon emulators?’, I hear you screaming at your computer like an angry child. Well, it’s reliable, it has a smooth output on the right machines, and it also boasts a tonne of customisable settings.
Map keys like a pirate maps stars, mess around with resolution, enter cheat codes, view save states; the list is endless.
You name it, and Dolphin can do it. Apart from swim through the ocean; your tech would probably fry!
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Seb Santabarbara has bought every Nintendo console that has ever been released in his 31 years on Planet Earth. His favourite game franchise is Zelda, and he’s patiently waiting for Banjo-Kazooie to come back to the fold. When he’s not playing games, he’s travelling the world in his self-converted camper van.