How to Play Arcade Games on a Computer

Have you always wondered how to play the old-school arcade games like Galaga or Pac-Man or Space Invaders at home, read further. Playing games at home on a PC could never be simpler!


  1. Image titled Play Arcade Games on a Computer Step 1
    Get an arcade emulator software. These are usually free to download and use. The most active and popular ones are:
    • M.A.M.E.(Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator) 2700+ games currently supported on a wide range of hardware. Exists in several flavours, check MAMEWorld for more.
    • kawaks focuses on CAPCOM CPS-1, CPS-2 and SNK NeoGeo hardware.
    • raine focuses on taito, jaleco and capcom games.
    • ZiNC focuses on Capcom, Taito, Konami, Tecmo, and Namco games (ZN-1, ZN-2 and system11 hardware)
    • Modeler focuses on Sega System 32, Sega Model-1 games.
    • nebula focuses on CAPCOM CPS-1, CPS-2, NeoGeo, NeoGeo CD, konami and PGM games.
    • Daphne focuses on Laserdisc games such as dragon's lair or Space ace
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    Try newer emulators. These include GBA for Game Boy, GBC for Game Boy Color, DeSmuME for Nintendo DS, PSX for Play Station, PPSSPP for PSP and PCSX2 for Play Station 2. These emulators are easily available on websites like emuparadise, Coolrom, Rom Hustler, etc.
  3. Image titled Play Arcade Games on a Computer Step 2
    Get the ROM(s). You are on your own to find the games ROMs. These are more often than not protected by intellectual property and you may not have them if you don't own the original game. You can also find these on websites like emuparadise, Coolrom, Rom Hustler, etc.
  4. Image titled Play Arcade Games on a Computer Step 3
    Get a real arcade controller (optional). Although not required it surely improves the gaming experience to use a real arcade controller such as x-arcade or slikstik. Of course you can also play with a keyboard, mouse, gamepad if you wish. If you need to map your gamepad/joystick to keyboard keys, use JoyToKey under windows and QJoyPad, RejoyStick or joy2key under GNU/Linux.


  • To learn more about M.A.M.E. and roms, you might want to check FAQ.
  • You can try to download all roms in one single zip.
  • Manufacturers make stand-up arcade machines that are amazing and fun for the whole family such as the Quasimoto Quasicade.
  • To further improve your arcade experience you can build yourself a cabinet.
  • Some roms could be purchased legally online but the store recently closed.
  • If you just want to use the Konami code, there are still places with Konami games! Common places to play old arcade games are: Bowling alleys, actual arcades, and theme parks
  • Arcade controllers *do* improve the game experience and feel, but can be a bit expensive.
  • There was a hobbyist's rom burning service but it got shut down by MPAA [1].


  • Playing a downloaded game on a computer is illegal even if you own the original copy of the game! However, you may dump the contents of a legal copy (if you are the owner) and play the dumped version legally through an emulator. It is illegal to distribute the dumped copy for others to download.
  • Do not pay for emulators. It's free software and developers won't get any of this money for their dedicated work. if you paid for it, you've been robbed.
  • Do not pay for illegally obtained roms. if you paid for those, not only you've been robbed but you are now an accomplice and can be prosecuted for it.
  • Do not download roms illegally.

Article Info

Categories: Emulators and Roms