How to Emulate Old Pokemon Games on Your Android Phone
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Pokemon Go is taking the world HummingBad Infects Android Smartphones, Nintendo Releases Pokemon GO... [Tech News Digest] HummingBad Infects Android Smartphones, Nintendo Releases Pokemon GO... [Tech News Digest] New malware infects 10 million Android devices, Pokemon GO arrives on Android and iOS, Skype Meetings is aimed at small businesses, PlanetSide ends with a meteor shower, and the computer genius who sucks at Tetris. Read More by storm, and for many of us, this new Augmented Reality Augmented vs. Virtual Reality: What's the Difference? Augmented vs. Virtual Reality: What's the Difference? Augmented reality. Virtual reality. Mixed reality. What are all these "realities" and how are they going to impact you over the next few years? Here's everything you need to know. Read More game has a strong nostalgic feel. These are the original 150 creatures from Pokemon Red and Blue  that debuted way back in 1996.

If Pokemon Go has you missing some of the old games, don’t despair! It’s actually super easy to go back and play them on your Android phone or tablet How to Turn an Android Device Into a Retro Gaming Console How to Turn an Android Device Into a Retro Gaming Console Love retro gaming? Here's how to easily turn any Android phone into a retro game console and enjoy your favorite classic titles. Read More . Here’s how.

Which Pokemon Games Are Playable?

Obviously, the newer a console, the more complex and difficult it is to emulate. Currently, everything from the Game Boy Color to the Nintendo DS is able to be emulated on Android. That includes:

  • Game Boy Color (GBC): Red, Green, Blue, and Yellow; Silver, Gold, and Crystal
  • Game Boy Advance (GBA): Ruby, Sapphire, and Emerald; FireRed and LeafGreen
  • Nintendo DS (NDS): Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum; HeartGold and SoulSilver; Black and White; Black and White 2

Unfortunately, this means that 3DS games are unplayable. There’s just simply no way to emulate them on Android yet — so Pokemon X and Y, OmegaRuby and AlphaSapphire, and X and Y can’t be emulated. Obviously, you won’t be playing Sun or Moon either.

How It All Works

As long as you’re coming into this with realistic expectations of what games you can play, this is what you’ll need:

  • An emulator
  • A ROM

An emulator is basically the game system. If you want to play GBC, GBA, and NDS games, you’ll need an emulator for each. Just because the consoles were backwards compatible doesn’t mean the emulators are.

Most emulators supports custom save states and fast-forwarding, both of which are extremely useful for Pokemon games. Custom save states mean you can have multiple save files going at once, and you can save at times you normally couldn’t, like in the middle of a battle.

Fast-forwarding also solves the issue of characters talking way too slowly, and it allows you to run around with speed without being told “this is not the place to ride your bicycle.”

A ROM is essentially the game. If you want to play Pokemon Red and Pokemon HeartGold, you’ll need a Pokemon Red ROM and a Pokemon HeartGold ROM.

Great, now you’re ready to dive in. Let’s find you some emulators and ROMs.

Which Emulator Should You Use?

The answer to this question depends on which console you’re looking to emulate, so let’s look at them separately.

If you don’t see an emulator on this list, it’s probably best to avoid it. Lots of spam emulators have popped up in the Play Store that are just copies of existing emulators with ads jammed into every corner — but we’ve tested these to ensure that they work well.


There’s really only one contendor for emulating this classic handheld console, and that’s My OldBoy! It comes in Free and $3.99 versions, but the Free version could definitely work for most people. It allows for regular in-game saves, fast-forwarding up to 2x speed, entering cheat codes, and customizing the controls.


Upgrading allows you to link up with other users to trade Pokemon, fast-forward faster than 2x, and save at any time. I’d say that’s worth $3.99, but that’s up to you. Either way, both the Free and Paid versions have perfect performance since it’s such an old console — and there are no ads! You can’t go wrong.

Download: My OldBoy! (Free) or ($3.99) on the Play Store


Much like with the GBC, the GBA has really one standout emulator: My Boy! This emulator is almost identical to My OldBoy! except that it plays GBA games instead.


Similar rules apply here: the Free version only allows 2x fast-forward speed and saving in-game. Upgrading to the $4.99 version allows you to save at any time and fast-forward up to 16x speed.

You can even link up to trade with or battle your friends! Though the best part is probably that it doesn’t have any ads, even in the Free version, unlike all the other available emulators.

Note that some older GBA emulators needed a BIOS file to work, but that’s not the case with My Boy!


First off, the free option: nds4droid. This emulator is completely free and open source with no ads. It has customizable controls, so you can put the buttons or D-pad wherever you want. Unfortunately, the performance won’t blow you away, but it’s good enough on most devices.


Like most emulators, it supports custom save states and cheat codes, but there’s no fast-forwarding. For playing games at normal speed, though, it gets the job done.

Download: nds4droid (Free) on the Play Store

On the other hand, if you’re willing to pay $5.99, you should absolutely check out DraStic. It has noticeably better performance, and it supports fast-forwarding.


You can try out the free version first to make sure that it works, but it will only allow for 30 minutes of gameplay before you’ll have to upgrade. Still, if you’ve got a few bucks to spare, it’s so worth it.

Download: DraStic DS Emulator (($5.99) on the Play Store

How Do You Get ROMs?

Sorry, but you’re on your own for this one. Thankfully, ROMs can be found easily with a simple Google search, but you should only download ROMs for games that you currently own. We can, however, give you some tips for downloading ROMs.

Make sure that you get the appropriate version for your region. After most ROM names, there will be a (J), (U), (E), or maybe some other letter depending on the game. J stands for Japan, U stands for United States, E stands for Europe, and so on.

Any of these regions will work with your emulator, but if you don’t speak Japanese and download the Japanese version, it might be a little difficult for you to navigate.

Also, pay attention to the file that is downloaded. ROMs come in ZIP files that don’t need to be unzipped, and some ROMs come as RAR files. If a website downloads an APK or EXE file, delete it. That’s not a ROM; that’s malware Malware on Android: The 5 Types You Really Need to Know About Malware on Android: The 5 Types You Really Need to Know About Malware can affect mobile as well as desktop devices. But don't be afraid: a bit of knowledge and the right precautions can protect you from threats like ransomware and sextortion scams. Read More .

ROM files are also very small. Pokemon Red measures just 370KB, while Black is 106MB.

Which Pokemon Games Are You Playing?

If you’re not on Android, don’t worry, you can also emulate old games on iOS How to Install Emulators & Homebrew on Your iPhone or iPad (No Jailbreak Required) How to Install Emulators & Homebrew on Your iPhone or iPad (No Jailbreak Required) Install emulators and other homebrew on your iOS device, no jailbreak required — it's actually a pretty straightforward process that can be accomplished with free tools and a bit of patience. Read More .

And if these games still don’t satisfy your Pokemon cravings, try out these amazing fan-made games Best Pokemon Fan-Made Games That Are Free Best Pokemon Fan-Made Games That Are Free Want Pokémon fan-made games? This article covers the best, free community-created Pokémon games to play right now. Read More as well. Plus, if you ever move on from Pokemon, there are tons of other great retro games 5 Best Retro Games That You Can Emulate On Android 5 Best Retro Games That You Can Emulate On Android Emulation allows you to play retro games on your PC, but have you tried it on your phone? Here are five fantastic titles to try on your Android device. Read More you could emulate.

Finally, you can emulate your Android apps and games on your PC The Best Android Emulator for Windows 10 The Best Android Emulator for Windows 10 Did you know you can run Android directly on your computer? Here are the best Android emulators for Windows 10. Read More .

Explore more about: Emulation, Free Games, Pokémon, Role-Playing Games.

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  1. James
    September 18, 2017 at 3:40 am

    Dude this was really helpful article. I was bumping my head here and there for these games and everytime getting shitty outcome. I didn't knew emulator concept at all. All I did was to download an apk file which would crash again and again and ultimately I'd uninstall that. Thank you for this bro.

  2. Dawnga
    September 3, 2017 at 4:42 pm

    I can emulate the game on GBA but i can't see anything but whole white in the screen

  3. Sarthak Mathur
    June 19, 2017 at 8:53 am

    I am not able to find Pokémon black version (U) on any of the websites. At some websites, it is showing that the game is unavailable. At some, it is opening some websites showing some pop ups. On some of the websites, they are showing that Nintendo America has removed those rom files due to some copyright issues. Now what should I do to download pokémon black? Please help.

  4. HaleStorm
    May 29, 2017 at 11:12 am

    Nds4droid doesnt work. I tried selecting the file of the game downlaoded I wanted to play, but then the emulator app closes amd says: Unfortunately, nds4droid has stopped. Please help!

  5. HaleStorm
    May 29, 2017 at 11:10 am

    I downloaded pokemon white 2, but when I select the file on nds4droid, it says: Unfortunately, nds4droid has stopped. What can I do make it work? Are there any other ds lite or dsi emulators where I can play white 2? I really wanted to play that specific one and tried the it with pokemon black 2, but to the same result! Help please!

  6. Shelton Methvin
    February 6, 2017 at 9:33 pm

    Thank you. Much appreciated

  7. Hannalore
    July 19, 2016 at 9:04 pm

    how do you move a ROM from the computer to your phone?

    • Sarat Das
      July 26, 2016 at 8:14 am

      You can transfer the file via wi-fi using the free android app "Airdroid" or copy it to a location recognisable by the emulator using the phone's data cable. I mean recognisable as some software recognises only the internal memory while have R/W access on the microSD location too.

  8. Ben Stegner
    July 17, 2016 at 8:23 pm

    Pokemon games are perfect for emulating on phones because the touch controls aren't an issue and you can take your time. It's so much better, in my opinion, to emulate the original (amazing) games than to play the new pay-to-win games that are popular nowadays.