Pokémon is one of those legendary media franchises that has managed to stay relevant even today. This franchise is owned by Nintendo and offers anime series, video games, films, soundtracks, manga, trading card games, and whatnot. It’s one of those franchises that has managed to make a huge community and has impacted many people. We know you are one of those as you are here trying to relive the nostalgia of playing Pokémon games on your Windows PC. Since we are always here for retro gaming, we decided to cover some of the best Pokémon emulators.
If this is the first time you’re hearing about emulators, you might want to know about them. So, let’s first talk about what emulators are and how you can use them to play your favorite games!
What Is An Emulator? How Can You Play Pokémon Games On Any Device?
Emulators have been around for quite some time now. If you’re not tech-savvy, then there’s a chance that you might not have heard of it all. Worry not! We’ll go through the fundamentals of emulators in this section.
An emulator is nothing but a piece of software that allows you to do certain things that, in general, are not possible.
One of the classic examples of an emulator is the Android emulator. Using an Android emulator, you can run the Android operating system on your Windows PC. Like this, a Pokémon emulator allows you to play Pokémon games on your Windows device.
Nowadays, emulators are also available for other devices such as Android and Linux. To keep things simple, we’ll keep the scope of this article limited to Windows and Android.
Before you go ahead and try out Pokémon emulators, you need to know about another thing called downloadable ROMs. These are nothing but just ISO files of particular games that the Pokémon emulator can detect. You can easily find ROM files of all the popular Pokémon games by doing a simple, quick search on Google.
Best Pokémon Emulators of 2022
1. Project 64 – N64
- Price: Free
- Platform: Windows, Android, Linux, macOS, FreeBSD
Project 64 – N64 is one of our go-to Pokémon emulators whenever we crave some retro Pokémon titles. As the name suggests, this emulator allows you to play Nintendo 64 and 64DD games on your Windows PC. The emulator claims to offer HD graphics, excellent compatibility, save states, built-in cheat codes, and much more.
The thing that attracts us most to Project 64 – N64 is the simple user interface and experience. Even if you’re new to this software or emulator, you will not face significant difficulty. Everything is nicely laid out, and all the options are self-explanatory.
Another good thing about this emulator is the fantastic retro gaming community behind the emulator. The original developers and contributors keep bringing new things to this emulator.
One thing that separates Project 64 from the rest of the other emulators is the proper implementation of the C button. This enablement comes in very handy while playing Pokémon Stadium and Pokémon Snap.
Download Project64 – N64 from the official website!
- Price: Free
- Platform: Windows, Android, Linux, Haiku, Raspberry Pi
RetroArch is something that we have mentioned plenty of times. It’s one of those emulators that supports not only one but a plethora of consoles. Furthermore, it brings a complete gaming environment with many cool and exciting features to the table.
RetroArch has a concept called ‘Cores.’ Each Core is designed to suit particular needs, ranging from accuracy speed to various use cases. Many cores allow you to play Pokémon games on your Windows PC using RetroArch. You can consider RetroArch as the frontend of the emulators or game engine that leverages Cores’ power (as its backend).
RetroArch brings a plethora of features such as shaders, netplay, rewinding, next-frame response times, run ahead, and much more for advanced users out there. We loved the addition of blind accessibility features, and it was pretty cool of the developers to consider adding these.
The developers keep releasing newer versions of RetroArch along with improvements over the existing cores. If you’re looking for a solution with all the features, you need RetroArch on your system. RetroArch is also cross-platform, which is super helpful if you’re planning to use this emulator on various devices.
Download RetroArch emulator from the official website!
3. DraStic DS Emulator
- Price: Free
- Platform: Android
If you’re searching for a Pokémon emulator for an Android smartphone, this might be worth checking out. DraStic DS Emulator is an Android exclusive Nintendo DS emulator, meaning you can play a plethora of Pokémon games right on your smartphone. For those unaware, Nintendo DS is the company’s one of the most popular console out there; you’re in for a treat.
The developer claims that you can run any game available on Nintendo DS. The gaming performance seems pretty decent, and the on-screen controls appear to work just fine. For the on-the-go gaming experience, DraStic DS Emulator is a pretty solid option, and you should enjoy playing it on your smartphone.
Sadly, the developer hasn’t created a dedicated page, website, or in-app store for ROM files. As a result, you would have to hunt the internet to find downloadable ROM files of various Pokémon games.
Some of the features of DraStic DS Emulator include a high-resolution gaming experience, screen customization, backup and resume, battery saver mode, and more. There’s also a File Storage Synchronization feature, meaning you will be able to resume your game from the last save. Another interesting thing is fast-forwarding that you can use it to skip through boring segments of the games. Lastly, we’re looking at the support of cheat codes.
One thing to note here is that this emulator is not officially available on Google Play Store. As a result, you need to download this from an APK-hosting website. So, proceed at your own risk.
Download DraStic DS emulator from this website!
4. Dolphin Emulator
- Price: Free
- Platform: Windows, Linux, Mac
Dolphin Emulator is another famous alternative to playing Pokémon games on your Windows PC. The emulator supports Wii and GameCube consoles, which means you can play games of any of the two consoles.
Strictly talking about Pokémon games, we’re looking at Pokémon Puzzle League, Pokémon Battle Revolution, Pokémon Rumble, Pokémon 2: Wonders Beyond, etc. Dolphin Emulator supports a 1080p or Full HD resolution gameplay experience, which is quite decent.
It supports PC controllers, networked multiplayer, turbo speed, and more. The user interface is relatively minimal and straightforward. There are, of course, some caveats that this new emulator comes with. For instance, Dolphin Emulator requires a high-end CPU if you’re looking to play some solid games on it.
The gaming experience is pretty decent, but sadly, most games are capped at 30fps. But Dolphin Emulator comes with many options for customization and settings.
Coming to ISO or ROMs, you would not have difficulty finding your favorite Pokémon games. Getting started with Dolphin Emulator is very easy. Just install the emulator, download your favorite Pokémon game, run the emulator, choose your ISO or ROM file, and you’re good to go.
Download the Dolphin emulator from the official website!
5. Citra Emulator
- Price: Free
- Platform: Windows, Linux, Mac, Android
Another good open-source and multi-platform supported emulator is Citra. This emulator allows you to play all the games that would run on Nintendo DS. The unique selling point of this emulator is that it runs on Android smartphones. The convenience of playing NDS games or Pokémon games on your Android device is unbeatable. If you’re a handheld console user, you will appreciate it.
For those unaware, Citra is developed by the same folks behind the development of Yuzu, a Nintendo Switch emulator. Another good thing about Citra is that it supports 4K gaming allowing you to get the best experience while playing Pokémon titles.
We tried this emulator on all the supported platforms, and we got to say, the gameplay experience was buttery smooth. Citra also supports multiplayer, so you can finally play those classic retro titles with your friends and family.
Coming to the settings and other options, Citra’s got you covered. There are a plethora of options that you can play around with. For those wondering about the experience on Android, it’s unbeatable.
Download Citra emulator from the official website!
6. TGB Dual
- Price: Free
- Platform: Windows
Are you looking for a solid emulator that supports GameBoy Color and GameBoy? Well, it’s TGB Dual. When writing this, TGB Dual is available only on Windows. If you’re on another platform, this emulator is not for you.
TGB Dual is one of those straightforward Pokémon emulators that are very easy to use. You need to install the emulator, download the Pokémon game and just run that game on the emulator. You might find the user interface a bit retro or old, but it does have a particular benefit.
One thing that sets this emulator apart from all the other Gameboy emulators is its dual nature. TGB Dual allows you to play two games at the same time. This duality feature can come in handy, especially when playing Pokémon games. You can swap between Red, Blue, Gold, Silver, and more versions to complete those Pokedex.
Another use of this feature is that you and your friend can pick their controllers and play two games simultaneously. Another good thing about the TGB Dual is the ability to do wireless battles on early Gameboy games. The requirement is that your friend needs to have TGB Dual installed.
An excellent approach to emulators, and we haven’t been able to find any other emulator that can support two games at once i.e., the duality nature.
Download the TGB Dual emulator from this website!
- Price: Free
- Platform: Windows, Mac
Another solid emulator that allows you to play Nintendo DS games on your Windows PC is DeSmuMe. Even though the name is hard to articulate, getting used to this emulator is pretty straightforward.
It’s easy to get started thanks to the straightforward user interface with options nicely laid out. The good thing about this emulator is that it runs on both Windows and Mac. Very few solid emulators work perfectly on macOS, and DeSmuMe is one of those.
We tried playing multiple Pokémon games available on Nintendo DS on both the supported platform. The overall gaming experience was pretty solid, and we enjoyed playing those retro titles on this emulator. If you compare Windows and Mac’s performance, the former offers a better gameplay experience. One thing that we loved was the fact that the emulator supports a plethora of customization.
If you’re facing frame drops, you can easily change the graphics settings according to your system’s needs. Other features like the cheat code manager, save slot option, and more are available. It is worth noting that DeSmuMe is an open-source project, but the development seems to have paused for quite some time now. Ignoring that, DeSmuMe is a pretty solid Nintendo DS emulator out there.
Download the DeSmuMe emulator from the official website!
- Price: Free
- Platform: Windows, Linux
Nintendo Switch is the company’s latest iteration of handheld consoles. The Switch is already quite popular and has some of the best-selling titles in its store. Of course, most of them are Pokémon-based titles.
If you’re looking to enjoy those titles without purchasing a Switch, then a Switch emulator is the right bet, and YuZu is the best one. It’s an experimental open-source emulator, and the developers keep bringing new iterations to the internet. One recent addition is Resolution Scaler which allows you to customize your gaming experience.
YuZu supports many Switch games, and the list is pretty extensive. Most of the games in the list fall under the Perfect and Great category, with a good number in the Bad and Intro categories. Of course, that will change as the emulator’s development moves forward.
Other features are multiple UI themes, multi-user account support, online and local multiplayer gameplay, etc. You can also switch between Vulkan and OpenGL as graphics mode.
To top things off, Yuzu is also available on Linux operating system apart from Windows. Finding games for Yuzu Emulator is a charm as you can do that from its official website. The user interface is pretty sorted, and you would not face any hard time exploring the emulator.
Download the YuZu emulator from the official website!
- Price: Free
- Platform: Windows, Mac, Ubuntu (Linux)
mGBA, as the name suggests, is an emulator designed specifically for GameBoy Advance. Kickstarted in 2013, mGBA has been around on the internet for quite some time now.
After years of development, mGBA quickly delivers the best GameBoy Advance emulation on your PC. Of course, there are still a few bugs, but that’s how development works. mGBA also supports Game Boy Color, and the emulation level is pretty good. The developer has also started implementing Nintendo DS support, but it’s currently in the early stage.
The user interface and controls are pretty simple, and you would not get that modern user experience if you were expecting that. It’s just a no-frills emulator that allows you to play GBA games directly without any extra steps.
If you already have ROM files, you don’t need to do much to get started. Of course, mGBA supports various controllers such as PS4’s DualShock, Xbox controllers, and some third-party ones as well.
The emulator supports both full-screen and windowed mode. There are a plethora of hotkeys to easily do things without having to dig down in settings options. mGBA also comes with save states but with up to 9 slots per game. You can also load saved files from other emulators. Just make sure that the extension is .sav, and even if it is not, a simple rename to .sav will do the job.
With that said, mGBA is a pretty solid emulator, and if you’re looking to play GBA, it should be your first choice.
Download the mGBA emulator from the official website!
The article features all the popular emulators to play Pokémon games on your computer or smartphone, so I am hoping that you now know which emulator you want to use to play your favorite games.
When it comes to Pokémon games, emulator hunting gets tricky as Nintendo has a plethora of consoles under its belt. We have tried to cover all the consoles in this listicle, so you don’t have difficulty finding the perfect emulator.
For Nintendo Switch, YuZu is simply the best emulator out there. Period. For GC and Wii, the Dolphin emulator seems to be doing a lovely job. The Citra emulator is the best emulator for all your 3DS console needs. DeSmuMe, on the other hand, should be more than enough for your Nintendo DS console games. And, mGBA is a solid option for GameBoy Advance and GameBoy Advance Color.
With that said, I hope that you enjoyed reading our list of the best Pokémon emulators of 2022, and if you liked what you read, make sure to spread the word by sharing the article with your friends!