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While we wish it was easier to revisit classic games, it’s usually close to impossible or incredibly expensive to get your hands on an old title you want to play again. That’s where emulation comes in. Sony released the PlayStation Classic in 2018, but it only comes with 20 games and isn’t capable of running anything beyond that selection. What if you want to replay a game that’s not on the list? Emulators give you access to the entire library of PlayStation games, letting you play all the best games the old system had to offer. Most will run on either Android or PC, but a handful also work on Mac and Linux.
The best PS1 emulators
If you do a quick search, you’ll find that there’s plenty of different emulators to choose from. If you’re having a hard time figuring out which one to try, take a look at our list of the five best PS1 emulators and we’re sure you’ll find one that suits you.
ePSXe (PC, Mac, Linux, Android)
One of the most well-known and reliable PlayStation emulators, ePSXe is a one-stop shop for quality PS1 emulation. With customizable controls and controller support on all platforms, you can enjoy original PlayStation games with a PS3 or PS4 controller to get a natural experience. ePSXe has OpenGL enhanced graphics support, along with a split-screen option for local multiplayer games. Like most emulators, it has save and load states so you can pick up right where you left off. It’s free on PC, Mac, and Linux — and can be downloaded from the official ePSXe website — but you’ll need to spend $3.75 on the Google Play Store to use it on Android.
ePSXe used to be updated regularly, but it hasn’t received many improvements since 2016. Despite being mostly stagnant and final at this point, ePSXe is a legacy emulator that still happens to be one of the very best.
Mednafen (previously known as Nintencer) has become a great all-around emulator following its first stable release in April. Not only does it support PSX emulation, but Super Nintendo, Game Boy Advance, Sega Genesis, and many more, including long-forgotten platforms like WonderSwan. PSX is the most “advanced” platform it supports, and it handles the vast library very well. There are a few things you should know before using Mednafen for all of your retro emulation needs. You’ll need to download your own BIOS files to make it work. Mednafen also runs via your CPU’s command line by default. No worries, though, if you aren’t a computer whiz. You can download MedGUI Reborn and MetroMed to create a layout that’s more approachable.
RetroArch (PC, Mac, Linux, Android)
RetroArch isn’t technically an emulator. It’s a “frontend” that allows you to keep a suite of emulators in one easy to use place. For PSX, the emulation cores are from Mednafen, so this is a good one to download if you’re having trouble using Mednafen as a stand-alone product. The coolest thing about RetroArch is that it’s NetPlay compatible, meaning that it can play select games online. Like Mednafen, you’ll have to download BIOS files to play games on it. While we only listed four compatible platforms above, RetroArch is also compatible with most home consoles. That said, you may have to hack your console to use RetroArch, and we don’t recommend doing that. If you’re using RetroArch on Android, you can download it from the Google Play Store. Users on other platforms should head over to the official RetroArch website.
Another emulator that gets its juice from Mednafen, BizHawk is an excellent tool for casual gamers, but its main draw is its speedrunning potential. BizHawk lets speedrunners employ tools to alter gameplay for runs through classic games. BizHawk has numerous pre-loaded assist tools to help users manipulate games to their liking. The pre-loaded tools include features like rewinding (for practice, of course) and recording gadgets. Along with PlayStation support, BizHawk is compatible with dozens of platforms. If you’re interested in speedrunning on your PC, look no further than BizHawk.
An adaptation from the PC PlayStation emulator FPSE, FPse serves a different purpose. With mobile-specific features, FPse works quite well with your Android device. Plus, you can compress ROMs, so you don’t use up too much storage space building your library. FPse supports both touchscreen controls (with a digital controller) and Android-compatible gamepads. FPse has a wide range of customization features. You’ll appreciate the ability to scale the resolution and save and load states. Plus, there’s even a cheat code menu. While it’s not free, its $3.63 cost is a bargain for what you get. Yes, we don’t understand the weird price, either.
Exploring your favorite classic games just got easier thanks to these PS1 emulators. While no solution can genuinely compare to playing on the original PlayStation, emulators come close. Whether you have an Android, PC, or an alternative, our list offers a handful of options to upgrade (or maybe throw back) your gaming experience.
Disclaimer: While downloading and sharing emulators is perfectly legal, downloading ROMs BIOS files is illegal, even if you own a physical copy of the game. This list is meant to be used as a reference. We do not advocate illegally downloading games.