Pressure from companies like Nintendo keep Apple from allowing emulators on the App Store without permission from the companies who made the original consoles and games. However, there have been a few slip-ups, where developers were able to sneak emulators in to the App Store through apps that have other functions. Developers have also released apps to Cydia, a source for apps and tweaks for jailbroken phones, which, like Google Play, contains apps that have faced no review process.
However, thanks to a website, you can now play NES games on your iOS device, without downloading anything, without jailbreaking, and without rushing to download a rogue app. Plus, it’s completely free. You can even create a shortcut to the web based emulator on your home screen. Instructions below.
- First, you’ll want to head over to webNES on your iOS device. You’ll find they already have a few sample games that were made free by their developers.
- If you’d like to play some actual classic games, you’ll have to get roms. I won’t detail exact locations to get them, but you could probably find some by searching for “NES roms” using your favorite search engine.
- If you already have a Dropbox account, skip this step. Otherwise, head to Dropbox.com to sign up for an account. You can download the iOS app for Dropbox as well. If you don’t know, Dropbox is a cloud storage service that’s accessable from nearly every Internet connected device. Think of it like a free USB drive that’s online.
- Now that you have a Dropbox account, I recommend making an “NES roms” folder. This is more for your own organization,and not required.
- Put your roms in Dropbox, it’s as easy as dragging and dropping on a computer, or using the “Open in…” feature in iOS. Remember, these are the roms themselves, not the zip files. If you’ve downloaded zip files, search the App Store. There are many apps for unzipping compressed files. My favorite is Files. You can download it here.
- Now go back to webNES. There’s a plus button on the upper right corner. Tap it, and log into your Dropbox account, then point the app to your NES roms.
- Now you can pay all your NES games on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch. Enjoy!
- Also, if you’d like this to feel like a real app, you can put it on your home screen. From Safari (and while on the webNES page), tap the share button (it looks like a square with an arrow coming out of it). Then just tap add to home screen. A shortcut will now sit on your home screen.
I was lucky enough to download a number of emulators off of the App Store, but this is actually an easier solution than those provide. Most of those require the use of a computer to move the roms into the app’s storage using iTunes. With this, however, you could use nothing but your iOS device and Dropbox to play all your NES games. So, if you’ve been looking for a way to play Super Mario on your iPhone, now you’ve got it. If only Nintendo would realize how much money they’re losing by not doing this themselves.