The PS2 is the best selling console of all time, so it’s no wonder people want to know about the best PS2 emulators on the internet.
The PlayStation 2 boasted 3800 games, many of which defined our childhoods. Titles such as Final Fantasy shaped the way we game today, and the console gave birth to some of the greatest characters and series that are still going strong on the PS5.
Many PS2 games are available on the PlayStation Store, but what about if we want to play our existing games on PC or through our smartphones?
Until a PS2 mini drops, gamers will continue to flock to emulators for their retro needs. But which are the best programs on the internet? How can you turn your smartphone into a kick-ass handheld?
Let’s check out the best PS2 emulators below and find out!
**PLEASE READ – This article is purely for educational and knowledge-enhancing**
purposes only and should is classed as a highly exciting novel, textbook extract, or legendary scroll. Retro Dodo does not condone illegal downloading or any other dark arts that might get anyone (namely us) into trouble. Please check the legality of ROM downloading in your region and always follow government guidelines on both internet safety and copyright laws.
- Open Source
- Windows, Linux, MacOS
PCSX2 is the best PS2 emulator for PC and laptop gaming. It’s the the go to programme for thousands of users with gameplay and graphics that trump all other emulators.
Anyone looking to recreate their favourite PS2 games from yesteryear should give this program a try. It even has all of the rare PS2 games that many of us never got around to playing!
As well as playing and looking great, PCSX2 brings additional improvements to the PS2 including anti-aliasing, texture filtering, and user-specified resolutions of up to 8192×8192.
In simple terms, this emulator makes all your old games look slicker and much cleaner. Plus, with the built-in HD recorder, you can share PS2 gameplay like never before!
Look no further than PCSX2 for your gaming needs, but check out the rest of the article for smartphone programs and some nice alternatives if you don’t want to follow the crowd.
PCSX2 can function well on Mac’s. This has never been done before but someone has forked a version of PCSX2 on Windows, made it work for Intel/ARM and ported it to macOS and the graphics are at full speed.
You can even use cheats on this emulator too, read our guide: how to use cheat codes on PCSX2 emulator.
AetherSX2 is the latest addition to this article, and as of the start of August the development team has release a wide number of incredible updates, making this PS2 emulator a worthy opponent in this article.
It only works with Android operating systems making it the perfect emulator for some of the best Android handheld games consoles on the market, especially the AYN Odin.
The recent update helps with performance, allowing you to push your device to the limit and get even better frame rates from the games you love. Obviously, it all depends on what device you are using, but with the right device, you’ll get most of the best PS2 games running silky smooth on here.
The update also added a lot of options to change settings, update resolutions, sync up controllers and more.
If you are you looking for the best PS2 emulator for Android devices, this is it.
- Downloadable app with ro variant for better results
Most of the best PS2 emulators are created by members of the retro gaming community, but DamonPS2 breaks the mould. This program is the brainchild of Chinese DamonPlay Technology Co who have created a downloadable product specifically for Android users.
DamonPS2 is heralded by many as being the quickest and most reliable emulator for Android play. It has a game compatibility rate of around 90%, with 20% of those playing perfectly. That’s a big drop, but it still gives users roughly 720 games to play through.
As with most free emulators, ads disrupt the general flow of the program. Still, a Pro version provides ad-free usage with extra features such as more memory slots and widescreen gameplay. It’s well worth it if you’re serious about playing PS2 games on the go.
Scale up frame rate and graphics to make old PS2 games look better than ever, all from the same device you use to text your mum and check the weather. It does have some flaws, but what emulator doesn’t? Playing Final Fantasy on the bus is worth a few glitches here and there.
NSX2, or NeutrinoSX2, is one of the best PS2 emulators for people that like to get a little bit creative.
I’ve already said that the best PS2 emulator of all time is PCSX2, making the other PC and Laptop offerings on this list a little bit redundant. That’s why I’ve included NSX2, as the open-source coding is open and available for users to dive into to create their own emulators.
NSX2 is one of the very first PS2 emulators that arrived on the scene. The code is super clean and well laid out, giving other users all the tools they need to successfully build their own programs or further the work started by the developer.
As it stands, NSX2 can play PS2 games, though the list isn’t very long. This one is for all the people who choose to purchase ‘diy kit’ handhelds as opposed to the full package. I’m in the second category, which means I’m heading straight for PCSX2
5. Golden PS2
- Downloadable app
Android users looking for a reliable emulator should check out the next entry on our list of the best PS2 emulators. Golden PS2 looks and plays beautifully and works with a vast range Android smartphones from a variety of companies.
The graphics look superb, and this app doesn’t require a BIOS file to get it going. What’s more, it allows users to play both PS2 games and the best PSP games, which is fantastic news for PlayStation fans.
Gameplay speeds depend upon how modern your device is. Older Android phones will have a tougher time with some of the bigger PS2 games, but newer phones will undoubtedly cope with any title with ease.
The widescreen 16:9 display turns any phone into a handheld gaming powerhouse, especially when using bigger devices or Android tablets. Again, glitching can occur on older models, but Golden PS2 has a good compatibility rate and is a go-to program for many portable users.
Play! has been in the works for a while now and is continually improving. While most users tend to go straight to PCSX2, Play! is a neat alternative that, while a little glitchy, provides access to lots of exciting games.
Like PCSX2, Play! is one of the best PS2 emulators for multi-platform usage. It works on Android, Windows, Linux, MacOS, Android, and iOS, covering all bases. So, Chromebook or MacBook Pro users shouldn’t have any problems loading up massive titles.
The same goes for newer iPhone and Android smartphones. Frame rate drop and lag occur far more than PCSX2 and loading times span an age. Still, the graphics are good and it doesn’t require a BIOS file to run, so it’s a good alternative if users simply want to switch on and play without any faff.
What Are Emulators?
Fancy playing PS2 games on your laptop, Mac, or phone? Emulators recreate all of the best PS2 games and transport them from the console to many different mediums. There are different programs available on the internet to download, some good, some not so good.
Essentially, emulators play a sort of hypnotic trick on your tech and make devices think that they are a games console. In this way, users temporarily turn their Macs into N64s and their phones into Gameboys without doing any tinkering whatsoever.
Still, an emulator on its own is like having a Blu-Ray player without any discs to play in it. To make emulators work, you’ll need something called a ROM.
ROMs can be described as the brains of games, the digital image of a PS2 title, for instance. Data pulled from PS2 discs can then be uploaded into a downloadable file which in turn can be read by an emulator.
Check out the laws behind installing ROMs before hand, though we should probably say at this point that the general consensus around ROMs is that they’re illegal, so bear in mind that this is all an exercise in learning and not for practical application.
We can’t write articles from jail, so we need to be clear on this one!
Some people say that uploading games that no longer exist in shops isn’t illegal. Others, like Nintendo, strongly disagree. Like many things in life, people’s opinions on the matter vary, especially when it comes to the legality of keeping old games alive for younger generations.
What Are The Benefits Of Using The Best PS2 Emulators?
The best PS2 emulators provide Sony fans with a means of playing their favourite games while away from their PS2. They also gives those without PS2s a chance to experience this iconic retro console,
Having a PS2 on your PC or smartphone sure beats doomscrolling through news channels or endlessly swiping through drivel on Facebook. Imagine pulling out Okãmi or Final Fantasy in the office or knocking out a bit of Silent Hill on the train!
That last one might be a bad idea if you’re prone to wetting your pants.
Are There Downsides To Emulating Games?
The truth is that some ROM files and downloadable emulators are just plain nasty. Finding good programs is the key to a happy playing session, otherwise you might rip off your fingers in a rage and end up feeding them to the ducks.
Good emulators need a good mind behind them, regular updates, and someone/people who know their stuff when it comes to manipulating code. Other emulators that look good on paper end up have zero to few games that actually work for them because the ROM files have been ripped badly.
Then there’s the small trouble of making sure you have a computer that’s fast enough. New models with processors as fast as Usain Bolt can cope with emulating lots of different consoles. We’ve seen some pretty exciting results from the best Nintendo Switch emulator programs and some of the best Xbox emulators too!
How Do I Download The Best PS2 Emulators?
PS2 emulators are available to download from the internet. Unfortunately, we can’t tell you where without falling headfirst into a lawsuit with Sony, so we’ll have to leave that bit up to you.
The searching, that is, not the lawsuit.
What we will say is that there are plenty of search engines on the internet, and typing in the title of this segment may well prove to be informative… in a purely educational way, of course!
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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.