There is a certain charm in playing old school games on your Android.
Power-wise, Android smartphones and tablets are more powerful than PCs from the 90s and even 2000s. So, running old PC games on your Android device wouldn’t be hard right?
Unfortunately not. You have to go through several loops to actually be able to play old PC games on your Android phone.
Thankfully, there are several ways that you can enjoy old titles on your Android device without pulling all your hairs out. Basically, what we are going to do is emulate the games on our beloved platform; as there is no native support to run .exe files on Android, the best we can do is emulate them.
What Do You Need?
One of the biggest issues about playing old PC games on your Android device is the controls. Touchscreen controls are not well suited for games that were designed for keyboard and mouse controls. So, it is a little hard to actually play them on a touchscreen.
We highly recommend that you invest in a Bluetooth controller for your Android device. Surprisingly, mapping the mouse to the right joystick of a controller is way easier than actually using a mouse on your device.
If you have a PlayStation 4 or an Xbox One controller laying around, you can easily connect them with your Android device and use them. This saves you the trouble of purchasing another Bluetooth enabled controller; I personally used both controllers on my Android smartphone and they work flawlessly.
You could also get a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse combination but you’ll need a smartphone or tablet that has dual Bluetooth mode built-in. Otherwise, you can use an OTG USB hub to plug in a keyboard and mouse to your smartphone. Usually OTG cables or adapters are easily available for a couple of dollars.
You also need to supply the games yourself, we highly recommend that you use legal copies but we also understand that older games are no longer being sold. So, the only way to play them is to download them from the Internet, we recommend checking out GOG.com.
Now that we have discussed all the technicalities, let’s see how you can play old PC games on your Android.
Method 1: Find the Port
If you’re looking to play a popular PC game on Android, chances are there is already an official port available on the Google Play Store. From titles such as GTA Vice City to The Bard’s Tale, are available on the Play Store.
Play Half-Life on Your Android Device
The best part about ports is that they are made by the developer officially. So there is a high chance it will work perfectly for your device. Developers usually put in a lot of time porting their games to the Android platform, so any bugs or performance issues should be ironed out.
Of course, with this method, there is a high chance that your favorite game is not the available. And that’s perfectly fine, thankfully, we have a lot of other methods that we can use to play old PC games on Android without any problems.
However, if you’re looking to experience a classic Final Fantasy game on your Android, it would be best if you check the Play Store before trying out other methods.
The ports will work perfectly fine on your device.
They won’t be any bugs and major problems with the game.
Is made by the developers and is an official game.
Not a lot of variety is available as of now.
Many developers of old PC games are defunct, so there is no hope of playing their old games on Android anytime soon.
Method 2: PC Streaming
If you already have a gaming PC, then you can easily stream your old PC games to your Android device without much problem. In order to stream PC games, you’ll need the following:
A PC with Steam installed.
A steam controller.
A good wireless connection.
Steam Link app on your phone.
There are many other streaming apps that allow you to achieve the same effect but Steam is the biggest PC marketplace that has a lot of different games available for you to purchase legally and play.
On the plus side, you’ll have not only old PC games for your Android but also latest games like The Witcher or Assassins Creed Origins to run.
Easy to set up, and needs a few things.
Can work really well if you have a good and stable connectivity.
Brings your hosting library to your Android smartphone.
Can only work at home or video gaming PC.
It is not exactly running old PC games on Android, it is just streaming them.
Method 3: Emulate Using DosBox
DosBox Turbo is an incredible app that emulates Dos on your Android device. It is a paid app but only costs around $2 which is a reasonable price to ask for an app this powerful. It is one of the fastest DOS emulators around as well.
The app is well optimized and runs great on almost any smartphone, even with 1GB of RAM!
One of the best things the developers did was to make a quick start guide for new users. You can find the DOSBox guide here.
It’s a bit of a long process, but here’s how you can pull it off:
Download Dosbox Manager from Google Play as well. It’s a free companion app that will help you make and manage profiles.
Now on a PC, download the game you want to run. We recommend using GOG.com to get legal copies of old classics. I personally suggest that you give Fallout 2 a try, it’s a classical RPG with great character progression.
Connect your smartphone to the PC.
Locate the folder named DOS on internal storage of your smartphone.
Copy the game files to the folder.
Open DosBox Manager and long press on the profile icon.
From there select Copy and type in your preferred profile name.
Now long press on your own profile and select Edit.
In this menu, you can edit the emulator to behave any way you want. This is different for each device but if you know what you are doing, it is fairly easy. We recommend that you crank the RAM as high as you can on newer devices. Generally speaking 256MB will do the job.
Now search for Autoexec option in this menu. Tap on it to edit the autoexec.bat file that will run whenever you tap on this profile.
If you are familiar with DOS commands, this will be easy. All you need to do is give the path to the game file:
Cd <location of game file.exe>
You will also need to adjust the input settings as well as the screen settings in the menu.
This process needs to be repeated for each game.
Now all you need to do is tap once on the profile and DosBox will automatically run.
If everything has gone according to plan, you can now play the game.
Method 4: Emulate Using ExaGear
ExaGear is like DosBox but a little easier to pull off. Here is how you can run it on your Android device:
Download ExaGear RPG or ExaGear Strategies, depending on the type of game you want to play. If you like RPGs, check out our best RPG games for Android list as well.
Download the game you want to play on your PC.
Install the game on the PC.
Attach your smartphone to the PC using a USB cable.
Copy the folder of the game from your PC to the internal storage of your phone.
Now on the phone, open a file manager app. Check out the best file managers for Android list if you need a good one.
Using the file manager, locate the game files you copied.
Cut the folder and move it to ExaGear folder. It is usually in /Storage/Emulated/SDCard.
The game will automatically sync with the app.
Now run the app and see if you can see the .exe file for the game.
If it is there, then you got everything right.
From there you will need to choose the control schemes. There is a trial for those so you can try them out before purchase.
After that, you are ready to play your favorite games.
These were some of the methods that can help you play old PC games on your Android device. We hope you can make your favorite game run and enjoy it on the go.
If you run into any trouble or just want to show your love for old school gaming, feel free to use the comments section. I personally really dig old school RPGs and would love to hear your favorites.