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Getting My Android Retro Game Emulation Right- w/Controller

Posted: Sun Jun 16, 2019 7:26 pm
by Jagosaurus
I've been looking into getting a new emu setup rolling. I've dug into Retro Pi, Nvidia Shield TV, & Odroid. I then went 180 degrees and decided to get from 2600 up through N64 running on my phone (with controller!) I carry with me everywhere already. I hope to add some more systems (& retro computers) to the list but this is the core group I wanted running. Overall, I'm very pleased with the gameplay experience and ease of setup. I will also work with a USB OTG to HDMI in time for TV setup, but my main goal here was play these on the go or in bed at night. I wanted to share with the RB community.

Thoughts? Anyone else rocking or interested in a similar setup?

My Setup in Action:


My set up:
- Samsung S9 Plus (6.2" Screen) running Android 9 (Pie)
- Moko Phone/Table Stand
- Beboncool Controller, Bluetooth with Phone Clip - older version of this (since upgraded below to XB1)
- Complete with nerdy stylus which I use daily & is completely unnecessary :lol:
- RetroArch for Android application

I bought this controller 2 years ago. There have been big jumps since with the 8bit Duo and Steel line ups. I will be upgrading this at some point, but this works for now.

Update 1/10/2020 - I've since got my XB1 Controller going. I actually really like the dpad.


Consoles I have running currently - gameplay screenshots:
Atari 2600

Atari 7800


Sega Master System

Sega Genesis

Sega CD

Sega 32X
Note - 32X is the only system on this list that I couldn't get to run in RetroArch. I had to use Retro Game Station.

TurboGrafx 16 / PC-Engine




N64 results will vary based on device specs, settings, & emu compatibility in general. Expect to tinker with some compatibility issues.

Keep in mind, RetroArch has a screen capture feature within the emulator. I didn't bother to use this here due to laziness. Sure the images would've been a bit better, but I also wanted to show how the 4:3 jail-bars really look in practive. Crash Bandicoot is the only game where I used screen capture within the emulator itself. I was simply using my phone's native screen capture for others. You can see the "down arrow" in upper right which brings up the menu. You can adjust where this arrow sits and the transparency, so it is off gameplay screen and unobtrusive.

Handhelds I have running currently - gameplay screenshots:
Sega Game Gear


Gameboy Color


Atari Lynx

I will eventually mess with DS and PSP which have their own dedicated emulators.

New Add! - 9/4/19
DOOM - Running prDOOM in RetroArch


Re: Getting My Android Retro Game Emulation Right- w/Control

Posted: Sun Jun 16, 2019 8:07 pm
by Ziggy587
Nice! Pretty slick looking. How well do the emulators run?

Re: Getting My Android Retro Game Emulation Right- w/Control

Posted: Sun Jun 16, 2019 9:25 pm
by Jagosaurus
Ziggy587 wrote:Nice! Pretty slick looking. How well do the emulators run?

I've been very impressed overall. Gameplay is responsive & solid. Save states are present on all cores & a welcome addition for on the go gaming in bite sized chunks.

My controller well for everything except Mario 64. Oddly enough, it works just fine on other 64 games I've tested, but the thumbstick is slightly too loose for the tight platforming on Mario. On my list to toy with controller sensitivity settings. I'm also researching controller upgrades now. The third party controller technology for emu has really progressed in the past couple years.

The visuals look amazing & really pop on a small (well, relatively compared to TV), high resolution screen.

With the PicoDrive core for Genesis, the audio isn't quite there. It just doesn't quiet hit that Genesis bass tone. It's serviceable here & the casual fan will be just fine. I'm just really spoiled with KEGA/Fusion on PC.

As with any handheld (3DS included), I recommend a pair of good headphones vs using phone or portable device built in speakers.

There is a paid Genesis emulator, MD.emu that is reportedly amazing. I'll eventually invest the $5. Good time to mention every app & core shown in OP was free.

As mentioned, also on my list to try:

DraStic DS emu for $5

Both the PSP & DS look to run great. The apps have 4.3 & 4.6 star ratings respectively (out of 5).

Re: Getting My Android Retro Game Emulation Right- w/Control

Posted: Sun Jun 16, 2019 10:23 pm
by prfsnl_gmr
Nice! I intend to get an old Android tablet I have sitting around running DOSBox and MAME. Do you have experience with either of those on Android?

Re: Getting My Android Retro Game Emulation Right- w/Control

Posted: Mon Jun 17, 2019 12:12 am
by Jagosaurus
prfsnl_gmr wrote:Nice! I intend to get an old Android tablet I have sitting around running DOSBox and MAME. Do you have experience with either of those on Android?

I'm seeing 7 MAME cores & 4 Final Burn Alpha cores in Android RetroArch. For MAME I currently still break out the oXbox setup 8) like an OG.

RetroArch does have 3 cores for DOSbox also. I haven't tested them yet. I'm expecting some tinkering with drive mounting, etc. Also, I don't have a bluetooth KB/M setup. I break out the laptop now for DOS but would like to get it running here soon, along with...

... MANY other retro PCs I want to get up in RetroArch also: Amiga, Commodore, Atari ST, MSX, NEC PC-98, Sharp X6800, Amstrad CPC & ZX Spectrum. All with cores available. All requiring differing levels of research & tinkering from my reading on the subject thus far, whereas the console setups are fairly straight forward.

Re: Getting My Android Retro Game Emulation Right- w/Control

Posted: Mon Jun 17, 2019 11:49 pm
by Jagosaurus
Forgot I have also have Atari Lynx running.

I tested out Ninja Gaiden & thought the emu was running slow... nope. Looking at footage, good to go. The gameplay is slow. :lol:

I'll test more games & update OP handheld section at some point.

Re: Getting My Android Retro Game Emulation Right- w/Control

Posted: Wed Sep 04, 2019 9:04 am
by Jagosaurus
Had fun last night getting DOOM running! Added pics to bottom of original post above.

This is booting from prDOOM core (see below) within RetroArch. I got it working in 3 mins tops. Easy setup. The stock, commercial doom.wad loaded right up. I ran right through E1 M1-M2 with saves, SFX, & music working great. It looked awesome on the small-ish HD screen.

I need to tinker more with customized controls but it mapped to my bluetooth controller just fine. Also, PWAD mods on my radar.

Hm... Quake core next?

Summary of prDOOM:
PrBoom is a version of the classic 3D shoot'em'up game Doom, originally written by id Software.

PrBoom uses the original Doom plus ideas from 6 different Doom projects to make this one game.

PrBoom is a game engine - it provides a program to play Doom levels, but it doesn't include any levels itself. More importantly, you need all the sounds, sprites, and other graphics that make up the Doom environment.

So to play PrBoom, you need one of the main Doom date files from id Software - either doom.wad, doom2.wad, tnt.wad or plutonia.wad from one of the commercial Doom games, or the shareware doom1.wad.

PrBoom also supports playing Doom add-on levels, called "PWADs", which are small extra .wad files which just contain extra levels or other resources. PWADs are ONLY ADD-ONS, you still need the original IWAD that they are designed to work with.

Re: Getting My Android Retro Game Emulation Right- w/Control

Posted: Tue Sep 10, 2019 12:07 pm
by Anapan
I finally got myself an 8bitdo N30 Pro2 for downtime at work (previously used a Steelseries Free - now it's setup as player 2). These with my phone propped up and charging on a large USB battery is how I emulate on the go.
I bought both of the Gameklip models, but never used them (had trouble bluetooth pairing without root, and I prefer to charge while gaming, not OTG) I suppose I could now use a OTG+charge cable, but I didn't know they existed before I comitted to Bluetooth.
I got a Steelseries Stratus XL and a Dolphin Bar for my Nvidia Shield TV & Amazon Fire tablet.

For my Finow Q1 SmartWatch/Phone, I got an 8Bitdo Zero. Really cool to play most games in native resolution (display is 320x320 px), and also GTA Vice City on my wristwatch.
I'd highly recommend it above a PocketSprite because of the optimal resolution, better screen and vastly superior capabilities. I've considered cutting the straps and using the watch as a keychain, but the antennae are in the straps.

Still love that mod where the keys are ripped off a really cheap (old) but capable Android clamshell with a keyboard - Video.

I love all of the paid ports by Robert Broglia (*.emu). I've been using them all for years because they've always had the exact options I wanted - especially the adjustable scanlines combined with bilinear scaling. They're still being updated regularly.

I can't stand Retroarch on Android, even with the new theme/interface options. No matter what, the interface is horrible. All the important options are deeply nested and convoluted. Weird per game/per core options are always resetting, frequent crashes, and lack of a simple decent scanline filter make it painful.. I only keep it on the phone for NXEngine (Cave Story). Since I found the built-in homebrew port of NXEngine on PPSSPP, I might just start a new game on that and be rid of the frustration.

Here's my preferred emulators (I tried free ones before the paid ones listed here, but have replaced most free ones):
2600.emu (Atari 2600)
Dolphin Emulator (GameCube & WII)
DraStic DS Emulator (Nintendo DS)
ePSXe (Playstation)
GBA.emu (Gameboy Advance)
GBC.emu (Gameboy Mono & Color)
J2ME Loader (Old FlipPhone Java games)
Magic DosBox (PC DOS) - Haven't tried it with eXoDOS yet, but it works well for the few games I care to play on my phone.
MAME4droid (0.139u1) (MAME Arcade) Mame from sometime around 2010
MasterGear (Master System & Game Gear)
MD.emu (Sega Genesis)
Mupen64Plus FZ (Nintendo 64)
NEO.emu (Neo Geo MVS & AES)
NES.emu (Nintendo)
NGP.emu (Neo Geo Pocket)
PCE.emu (Turbo Graphics 16 HuCard & CD)
PPSSPP Gold (Playstation Portable)
RetroArch (Multiple) - I only use this for NXEngine
Snes9x EX+ (Super Nintendo)
Yaba Sanshiro (Sega Saturn) - surprisingly capable with some games.

I've listed some ported interpreters for PC game data here.

Re: Getting My Android Retro Game Emulation Right- w/Control

Posted: Thu Sep 19, 2019 3:04 pm
by Jagosaurus
Anapan, wow man. Awesome input. Will dive into researching all of these options!!!