The barrier to entry for emulating classic games on a Mac has always been pretty high, until now. OpenEmu is an amazing retro game emulator for the Mac that has been literally years in the making, and it’s finally available for everyone to download and use for free.
With roots going back seven years to the popular Nestopia NES emulator, OpenEmu has been in development for what seems like forever. I remember reaching out to the project’s team at the beginning of this year, and I’ve had the pleasure of testing the beta since March.
OpenEmu is a one-stop-shop tool designed to work with a host of retro consoles, including Game Boy (Color and Advance), NeoGeo Pocket, NES, Sega Genesis, Super Nintendo, Nintendo DS, and Atari, just to name a few. You can set up physical controllers over USB and wireless, including the Wii Remote and Wii U Pro, Xbox 360 controller, PlayStation Dualshock 3 and Dualshock 4, Sega Saturn, Retrolink SNES and N64, Logitech gamepads, and more.
“We wanted to make emulating your old games as simple, easy and as elegant as possible”
“We wanted to make emulating your old games as simple, easy and as elegant as possible” said the project’s leader, David McLeod. “We found the user experience presented to users via some absolutely amazing emulator projects to be below average at best. We wanted an experience where you simply added the legal ROMs you own, dropped them in, and launched the game. We wanted it to just work.”
Indeed, where OpenEmu really shines is its user-friendly interface that is leagues beyond any other emulator out there. Game ROMs you’ve added are displayed like iTunes album artwork, and navigating through the app is straight forward.
OpenEmu can scan your Mac’s hardrive the first time it’s opened and automatically add any ROMs you’ve already downloaded off the web. The app uses different open-source cores to run games for different consoles, and available cores are displayed in the left sidebar. You can create different collections of games from different consoles (kind of like a music playlist in iTunes).
Adding new ROMs is as simple as dragging and dropping them into the OpenEmu library. Interfacing with hardware controllers is also incredibly easy, as the app lets you manually configure buttons on connected controllers in its preferences. Some controllers require third-party drivers to be installed before they can work on the Mac, so that’s something you’ll have to research on a per controller basis.
The OpenEmu team offers a free starter kit of homebrew game ROMs on its website, and there’s also an experimental build of the app available with extra beta consoles.
If you’ve been looking for a way to play games from your childhood on the Mac, look no further than OpenEmu.