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6 of the Best Pokemon Emulators for PC in 2024

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6 of the Best Pokemon Emulators for PC in 2024

Key Points

  • The article discusses the best Pokemon emulators for PC, including options for Game Boy Advance, DS, 3DS, GameCube and Wii, and Switch games.
  • VBA-M is a highly featured Game Boy Advance emulator that also supports Game Boy and Game Boy Color games.
  • DeSmuMe is the best emulator for Nintendo DS games, but it requires technical expertise to set up.
  • Citra is the only real emulator for 3DS games, allowing players to experience these titles without purchasing the handheld console.
  • Dolphin is a popular emulator for GameCube and Wii games, offering modern features and compatibility.
  • Yuzu is a new and powerful emulator for Switch games, providing access to features like 4K resolution and 60 frames per second.

What are the best Pokemon emulators you can use these days? If you’re looking to play your favorite Pokemon games but are lacking a Nintendo console, then options are slim. Thanks to emulation, you can take your legal Pokemon games and play them on a PC or tablet with some ease.

Today’s guide takes a closer look at the best paths for emulating your favorite Pokemon games. These are the best of the best when it comes to emulating your favorite titles. Some even come with additional features to bring some modern twists to your favorite Pokemon games.

  • Best GBA Emulator: VBA-M
  • Best DS Emulator: DeSmuMe
  • Best DS Runner-Up: No$GBA
  • Best 3DS Emulator: Citra
  • Best GameCube and Wii Emulator: Dolphin
  • Best Switch Emulator: Yuzu

Best GBA Emulator: VBA-M

best pokemon emulators
VBA-M is the best way to play GBA games on your PC.

VBA-M is one of the best featured Game Boy Advance emulators you’ll find in the wild today. This emulator comes with a host of interesting features that help to separate it from its competitors like mGBA. Not only are you getting access to the likes of GBA games, but you can play Game Boy and Game Boy Color games as well.

Modern compatibility is fantastic and it comes with the ability to utilize shaders to give your handheld games a retro flare. VBA-M isn’t perfect by any means, especially when considering wireless adapter use or Link Cable emulation. However, if you can look past that, you’re in for a threat when it comes to playing games on one of the best Pokemon emulators for portable consoles.

ProsCons
It has full-screen support for all Game Boy games.Wireless adapter support can be unstable.
Users can enable Super Game Boy color palettes for older titles.Link cable emulation isn’t available yet.

Best DS Emulator: DeSmuMe

best Pokemon emulators
The DeSmuMe emulator requires a certain degree of technical expertise.

For many players, Pokemon hit its stride with the Nintendo DS. Thankfully, if you want to revisit the magic of the dual-screen console, DeSmuMe has you more than covered. This is one of the absolute best Pokemon emulators when it comes to tackling Nintendo’s dual-screen handheld.

DeSmuMe isn’t for the faint of heart and requires a certain degree of technical expertise. You’ll certainly make the most of it if you’re comfortable with command-line arguments. Despite its somewhat more involved setup, it is the best way to play DS games, especially if you’re looking to revisit a title like HeartGold.

ProsCons
It is available for multiple platforms.Updates are infrequent.
It comes with a wide array of controls for optimizing your DS emulation experience.Mac compatibility isn’t present for Apple Silicon devices.

Best DS Runner-Up: No$GBA

best Pokemon emulators
No$GBA does a great job of running games using lower-powered hardware.

No$GBA takes the guesswork out of DS emulation. If you’re looking for one of the best Pokemon emulators for your portable game needs, then No$GBA is a fine choice. This shouldn’t be your first choice for DS emulation if you can help it, but it does a fair job. Where No$GBA excels is in running on lower-powered hardware.

If you’re looking to play something like Pokemon Black on a Chromebook, No$GBA should handle it just fine. For any other users, however, you’ll want to stick with DeSmuMe. DeSmuMe is an overall more accurate emulator, which translates to better success when it comes to running Pokemon games.

ProsCons
It’s great for weak hardware.It’s not the best in terms of emulation accuracy.
You can play most Pokemon games.Solutions for most games have hacky workarounds.

Best 3DS Emulator: Citra

best pokemon emulators
Using Citra is the only way to play 3DS games on your PC.

Citra is the only real emulator to use when it comes to 3DS emulation. Nintendo’s final true handheld was home to quite a few installments in the franchise. What makes Citra one of the best Pokemon emulators is that it is the only real way you can experience most 3DS titles without purchasing an outdated handheld.

Compatibility isn’t 100% for the handheld yet, but if you rip system files you have better odds at running titles. Performance isn’t up to snuff when compared to the likes of DeSmuMe or Dolphin, but Citra is still relatively new. It might not be an ideal solution, but Citra does allow for running 3DS games at higher resolutions than the native screens allow.

ProsCons
It’s one of the only viable 3DS emulators available.It uses HLE emulation.
Citra is stable enough for most games.Some games may not run well.

Best GameCube and Wii Emulator: Dolphin

Dolphin website download page
Dolphin can easily run Pokemon games on GameCube and Wii.

If you have an ear on the pulse of emulation, you’ve heard of Dolphin. When it comes to fifth and sixth-generation consoles, Dolphin is one of the best. This is one of the best Pokemon emulators you’ll find, at least if you’re looking to run older GameCube and Wii titles in the Pokemon franchise.

The Wii and GameCube weren’t particularly renowned for their Pokemon entries. That said, Dolphin can run them with absolute ease. You’ve got access to a full suite of modern features provided you have the hardware to match it. If you don’t mind running things at native resolution, Dolphin will run on just about any computer from the last 15 years.

ProsCons
One of the easiest emulators to use.If you don’t want to run at native resolution, you’ll need powerful hardware to run all the bells and whistles.
Multiple configuration options for getting the best performance out of your older Pokemon games.Ripping system files from your GameCube or Wii might be difficult for the average user.

Best Switch Emulator: Yuzu

best pokemon emulators
Players looking to emulate Switch titles will want to stick with Yuzu for their emulation needs.

Yuzu is the new kid on the block, and it has come out swinging. If you’re looking to emulate the latest and greatest Pokemon releases on the Switch, Yuzu has you handled. This is one of the best Pokemon emulators you’ll find for the newest entries in the franchise. You do need to rip games yourself that you have legally purchased.

However, once that is taken care of, you’ve got access to the likes of 4K resolution, 60 frames per second, and other features that Nintendo’s flagship console can’t muster even while docked. Yuzu is in constant development, so current titles might not run at their absolute best. However, it is one of the easiest ways to play the latest Mystery Dungeon and mainline titles.

ProsCons
It is one of the few viable options for Switch emulation.Yuzu uses hacky workarounds for compatibility.
The emulator allows you to enjoy Pokemon games at 4K resolution.It requires powerful hardware to function effectively.

How to Pick the Best Pokemon Emulators: Step by Step

Since most emulation avenues on PC are free, there isn’t much to keep in mind when selecting one. There are a few considerations you should keep in mind when looking around for an emulator, however.

Consoles

Which console you’re seeking to emulate is going to be one of the biggest determining factors in the emulator you choose. Emulators exist to mimic the function and compatibility of certain game consoles. As such, if you’re looking to play something like Pokemon Red, Yuzu isn’t going to do you much good. Make sure you read over the description of the emulator thoroughly before making a decision.

Level of Expertise

Your level of technical prowess is also going to play a major role in your choice of emulator. Some emulators require a certain level of technological familiarity, like using the command line or ripping system files from a console. If you aren’t comfortable with these sorts of processes, then you might want to look at alternative options.

What to Know Before Picking the Best Pokemon Emulators

Picking the best Pokemon emulator is going to come down to just what game you’re looking to emulate. It isn’t super complicated, thankfully, you just need to think about the title and find the corresponding emulator you would need. Do keep in mind that you’ll want to use legally obtained system images to play your games.

Using the Best Pokemon Emulators: What It’s Like

Using an emulator on your computer is like playing old games on native hardware for the most part. You have the option of configuring your gamepad or input method as needed. Some emulators come with the ability to scale or render the image at higher resolution. Pixel art isn’t afforded this sort of feature, but 3D models are easily modified. This results in experiencing some of your favorite games in a new light.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is emulation legal?

Yes, provided you are using legally obtained system images and game files for your emulation needs.

Is Dolphin easy to use?

Dolphin is one of the fastest emulators to get up and running of any console.

Is Yuzu under active development?

Yes, Yuzu is under regular development and has nightly releases.

Is the original hardware the best way to play some of these games?

It could be, but that is purely from a collector’s perspective. In terms of system stability, a modern PC is going to handle the latest Pokemon games with ease.

Is a hacky workaround usable?

Yes, but it also reflects that the quality of the emulation isn’t 100% perfect. That might not mean much for most users. However, it could result in larger issues with games if an error occurs.

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