Nvidia Shield TV Emulation Guide

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          The Nvidia Shield TV is a pretty solid emulation device. It also has the advantage of not needing to hack anything to unlock its emulation potential. On top of that, it can also emulate far more systems than a Raspberry Pi. While systems like the Super Console X are more plug and playable and cheaper, the Shield tv is more powerful and is better supported. Nvidia has done a great job supporting the shield tv (the original 2015 model is still getting updates to this day). It also doubles as a streaming device just like a Roku or Fire TV.

However, there are few guides out there specifically for this hardware. So, I decided to make this guide showing all the emulators that work on the system, and which ones are recommended. Many of these emulators are in Retroarch, so I will, in cases when there are multiple emulators available, specify what emulators are Retroarch cores. I will also state whether or not a standalone emulator is free or paid. I will also state whether or not a system requires BIOS files (these are what’s needed for some systems to run).

For info on what bios files are required for what Retroarch cores, that info can be found here: https://docs.libretro.com/library/bios/ 

Notes:

1.     The version of Retroarch I’m using is the 64 bit version that’s available from their website. This version should be used over the Google Play Store version, as it has all the features (like the ability to update cores), and it has more cores (Some, like Parallel, are only available in this version). However, if you update the retroarch app, it will turn into the Google Play version. Because of this, you’ll need to disable auto-update from the Play store. This, of course, means that you’ll need to manually update all your other apps, though it’s not a big deal. To update Retroarch itself, you’ll need to download the latest version of the Android release of 64 bit Retroarch from their website.

2.     I’m using the Shield TV Pro, which is $200. I’d recommend using this over the regular Shield TV (The tube model), because it uses 64 bit Android, while the tube model only uses 32 bit Android. This means some emulators, like Dolphin and 64 bit Retroarch, will only work on the Pro model. The pro model also supports USB hard drives, while the tube model only supports SD cards. This also means that this guide also applies to 2015 and 2017 shield tv models, so, if you have either model, this guide will work for that, too.

3. The Shield TV supports all sorts of bluetooth controllers, mice, and keyboards. This means you can use whatever bluetooth devices you have. A recent update added PS5 and Series X controller support. For this guide and for emulation on the Shield TV in general, I’ve been using the Shield controller. I recommend this controller or the 8BitDo S30pro+ because both have analog triggers which are a must for games like Mario Sunshine and Luigi’s Mansion. A bluetooth mouse is required to play most DS games. A bluetooth keyboard will definitely help with computer emulators, but it’s not required.

4. I didn’t try out every single emulator on the Shield TV. Many cores in Retroarch are just forks of other emulators, or they’re emulators that aren’t worth trying. Also, some of these emulators I legit have no clue how they work, especially with obscure computer systems. I’ve used the best cores available for the Retroarch options.

5. I’ve rated the emulation of the systems altogether using a 5 point scale.

6. You’ll need a decent amount of storage (A 500 gb and above hard drive is recommended). Roms, depending on the system, take up a lot of space, ESPECIALLY with systems that use disks. If you’re running low on space,  you should convert disk roms to CHDS. All cores for disk consoles on Retroarch, except for the Saturn Cores and Amiga CD32 via the PUAE core, support CHD files. Unlike the 2015 or 2017 models, the 2019 pro model doesn’t have an sd card slot, so SD cards cannot be used.

7. In order to add roms (whichever way you obtain them) to the hard drive or internal storage (depends on how you formatted the drive), you need to use a third party file manager that has both a phone and Android TV app. I highly recommend File Commander. It has a cloud, which is 5GB, but can be increased to 50GB with an annual subscription, which allows you to send roms and sideloaded emulators to the cloud and then to the Shield TV. For this to work, the cloud account needs to be the same for both the phone app and the Android TV app. After that, it’s a very simple process. 

8. Speaking of sideloading, you can sideload some emulators. Sideloading is when, instead of downloading an app from an app store, you instead download an app from a separate website and add it via a file manager. Some of them, like the Android ports of Phoenix emulators and standalone Duckstation, require sideloading, while other emulators, like Dolphin and PPSSPP, have more recent versions that can be sideloaded. The best version of Retroarch also requires sideloading. Outside of these situations, I do not recommend sideloading other emulators. Other sideloaded emulators won’t be with the other apps, be incredibly clunky to use (you almost always need a mouse just to navigate), and they’ll be unoptimized (Windowed resolution no matter what is changed and poor performance in general). Outside of the aforementioned exceptions, you should use the emulators that are available normally (From Retroarch and Google Play) on the Shield TV. You’ll get far better results that way.

9. Three particular emulators, Retroarch, PPSSPP, and MAME4DROID, require launching the emulator first. Doing this will create the necessary files. PPSSPP and MAME4DROID require launching first so it can create the folders that you can put your games in. Retroarch requires launching first so the system folders can be created. This is where bios files for Retroarch cores go to.

10. Speaking of that, some cores require putting bios files into separate folders in the system folder. The subfolder files need to be named correctly (it is case sensitive).

Here are those specific cores and the necessary folders that need to be made:

NEOCD (neocd)

Flycast (dc)

NP2KAI (np2kai)

X6800 (keropi)

BLUEMSX (Machines and Databases) (These particular folders, and their contents, can be found by downloading an official full install of BLUEMSX which can be found on the website for that particular emulator.)

11. Finally, this should probably go without saying but still, emulation on the Shield TV isn’t perfect, as no emulation scene is. Most systems play great, but some, like Saturn, Gamecube, and Jaguar, will have struggles. That being said, a lot of games on these systems are playable and play great, but it’s important to keep expectations in check.

More about Retroarch:

Retroarch has some different UI options. The one I use and recommend is the XMB UI. All the UI’s have the same options.

The other thing: Hot Keys are button combinations that serve as shortcuts.

Here are the Hot Key combinations I use and recommend:

To go to the Retroarch menu during a game: L1 + R1 (THIS HOT KEY IS REQUIRED! WITHOUT THIS, YOU WILL NOT BE ABLE TO EASILY EXIT A GAME IN RETROARCH!)

These next ones aren’t required, but they’re are nonetheless very helpful:

Select (or “back): Hotkey enable

Select + left face button: Show FPS

Select + down face button: Reset

Select + R1: Save State

Select + L1: Load State

Select + R2: Fast Forward

You can, of course, set Hot Keys for other functions, but this is a good place to start.

About frontends 

Frontends are apps, in this case, that organize games and emulators in one spot. I myself don’t use frontends, but they can be incredibly helpful. With the exception of one emulator, all emulators here support frontends. The two main frontends available are:

  1. Dig
  2. Reset Collection

whichever frontend you use, both of these options work fine.

Anyway, here we go:

Consoles:

Atari 2600

Available emulators:

Stella/Stella 2014 in Retroarch (Works well. However, some games, like donkey kong, are unplayable because the game restarts when you try to move forward. Stella 2014 has more compatibility issues due to it being an older version.)

2600.emu (paid) (Pretty much the same as Stella)

Recommended: Both are solid options. Avoid Stella 2014.

Emulation rating: 4/5. Atari 2600 emulation is good on this system. However, some games not working keeps this from getting a perfect score.

Atari 5200 (Requires bios)

ATARI800 via Retroarch (Works well, but isn’t the most user friendly. Requires changing the system to 5200 to work. You’ll also need to set the controller to “Atari Joypad” to be able to control the games.)

Emulation rating: 4/5. Most games are playable, but it isn’t super user friendly.

Atari 7800 (bios required)

Prosystem via Retroarch (Works very well. Be aware that the sound on the 7800 itself mostly blows)

Emulation rating 5/5. The majority of games work well and it’s easy to use. If only the system itself had better sound…

Atari Jaguar (requires bios)

Available emulators:

Virtual Jaguar via Retroarch (Not good. Most games don’t run well, and some, like doom, don’t boot at all. Not optimized for the shield tv)

Irata Jaguar (free) (Android version of Phoenix’s jaguar emulator. Much better. Compatibility the same as Phoenix. Doom and Wolfenstein 3d only work on this emulator. However, you will need to change settings to ensure full speed. Also, this emulator is not on the google play store. To use it, you’ll need to download the emulator from the art union website. Link here: http://www.arts-union.ru/node/23 )

Recommended: Irata Jaguar, by a long mile.

Emulation rating: 3/5. Jaguar working on this device is certainly impressive, but it’s definitely flawed. You’ll need to adjust settings to have games run correctly, even in Irata Jaguar.

NES and FDS (requires bios for FDS games)

Available emulators:

Nestopia UE via Retroarch (Fantastic emulator. It’s cycle accurate and has near perfect compatibility. Requires a special XML file (can be found on Nestopia’s github) for most games to work properly)

Mesen via Retroarch (Also a fantastic emulator. However, it isn’t really made with the shield tv in mind. Cannot change many settings without killing performance.)

Fceumm via Retroarch (Same as NES.emu)

NES.emu (paid) (Solid emulator. High compatibility. Easy interface. Broglia’s best emulator.)

VGBA next (Paid) (Combination emulator. NES emulation seems alright, though certainly not as good as NES.emu or Nestopia UE. Nice interface, though.)

SuperRetro8 (Paid) (Don’t even bother with this one. Emulation is inaccurate. Avoid like the plague.)

Recommended: Nestopia UE and NES.emu are both solid options.

Emulation rating: 5/5.

SNES

Available emulator:

SNES9x via Retroarch (Solid emulator. Works well with this hardware. 99% of games are playable.)

Bsnes via Retroarch (Great emulator, but, just like mesen, you can’t change much settings without killing performance. Best used for games that have issues in SNES9X, like Air Strike Patrol and Mecarobot Golf.)

SNES9X EX+ (free) (Basically the same as SNES9X, but, since it’s based on an older version, compatibility is weaker compared to the retroarch core)

SuperRetro16 (“free”) (Again, like with the NES one, don’t bother with this one. About as accurate as ZSNES, if not even worse.)

Recommended: SNES9X (the Retroarch core) is definitely the way to go. Bsnes should be used for those games that have issues in SNES9X.

Emulation rating: 5/5.

Virtual Boy

Beetle VB via Retroarch (Solid emulator. 100% compatibility. Makes the Virtual Boy actually tolerable.)

Emulation rating: 5/5. You’re better off playing Virtual Boy games on here than on the real hardware. Less headaches that way.

N64

Notes: Mupen64plus FZ has several plugins included. The default plugin, glideN64-very accurate, works really well for most games. If you have issues with performance for a specific game though, changing the plugin for that game to glideN64-accurate should help. Also, I recommend upscaling all the games to 1080p because it makes the games look fantastic.

Available emulators:

Mupen64plus FZ (free/paid) (Great emulator. All plugins are included. You can even change settings for individual games. Able to use transfer pak, which really helps games like Pokemon Stadium. Some games, like Battletanx Global Assault, require using pal versions to work. Paid version adds Google Drive support and netplay.)

Parallel via Retroarch (Alright, but not as good as FZ. Highly accurate on compatible games, extremely broken on incompatible. Does not support the transfer pak.)

Recommended: FZ is definitely the way to go. 

Emulation rating: 4/5. N64 emulation will probably never be perfect, but the Shield TV does an impressive job nonetheless.

Gamecube

Dolphin (Free) (Solid emulator. Requires work to make games run better. PAL versions should be used. Clock speed will need to be set to either 60% or 40% depending on the game. Mixed compatibility. Retroarch core should not be used as it’s outdated.)

Emulator rating: 3/5. When the first Shield TV was released, it was the only android device that could even run Dolphin. Now, there’s phones that can run Dolphin better, but the shield tv is still a decent option all things considered. A lot of games work and work well. If you have a Wii or Wii U, however, you might be better off modding it and using Nintendont instead. Ultimately, it’s up to you.

SG1000

Available emulators:

Genesis plus GX via Retroarch (Fantastic emulator. 100% compatibility. Can play other systems.)

BLUEMSX via Retroarch (Decent, but not super user friendly. Not better than GX.)

Gearsystem via Retroarch (Roughly the same as BLUEMSX.)

Mastergear (Paid) (Solid emulator. Can also play SC 3000 and SF 7000 games.)

Recommended: GX is the way to go. Mastergear is a great supplement if you want to play SC 3000 and SF 7000 games.

Emulation rating: 5/5.

Master System:

Available emulators:

Genesis plus GX via Retroarch (Same as its SG 1000 emulation. Basically flawless.)

Picodrive via Retroarch (Mediocre performance. Prioritizes speed over accuracy which isn’t necessary for this device.)

Gearsystem via Retroarch (In between Picodrive and GX in terms of performance.)

Mastergear (paid) (Better than Gearsystem, but not as good as GX.)

MD.emu (paid) (Pretty much the same as Mastergear)

Gearmasterplayer (free) (Android port of Phoenix’s Master system and Game gear Emulator. Very close to GX when it comes to compatibility, but poor sound emulation kills it. Like with the other Android ports of Phoenix, it must be downloaded from the Art union website. Link here: http://www.arts-union.ru/node/23 )

Recommended: GX, once again, is the way to go, though Mastergear/MD.emu is a good option, too.

Emulation Rating: 5/5.

Genesis

Available emulators:

Genesis plus GX via Retroarch (Once again, pretty much flawless.)

Picodrive via Retroarch (This is what Picodrive is best at, besides 32x emulation, but there’s still no reason to use it for Genesis emulation over GX.)

MD.emu (paid) (Broglia’s second best emulator. High compatibility. Nice interface, as expected.)

Recommended: GX, yet again, is the choice of champions. MD.emu is a good alternative.

Emulation rating: 5/5.

Sega CD (requires bios)

Available emulators:

Genesis plus GX via Retroarch (Pretty much flawless, once again.)

Picodrive via Retroarch (Alright, but GX is definitely better.)

MD.emu (paid) (CD emulation is incredibly limited due to it still being in beta. Don’t bother with it.)

Recommended: GX for the win!

Emulation rating: 5/5.

Sega 32x

Picodrive via Retroarch (Picodrive is your only option here, but thankfully, its 32x emulation is good. Incompatibility list can be found on the Libretro docs site.)

Emulation rating: 4/5.

Sega Saturn (requires bios for best compatibility)

Yaba sanshiro (free/paid) (Decent emulator. Limited compatibility. Picky with file types (bin/cue files seem to have the best results). Current version is called Yaba Sanshiro 2.)

Emulation rating: 3/5. The Saturn, due to its convoluted hardware, isn’t easy to emulate. The Shield TV can emulate some Saturn games quite well, and that is impressive. Just keep expectations in check.

Dreamcast (bios required for Flycast, optional for redream)

Available emulators:

Redream (free/paid) (Fantastic emulator. Can play most dreamcast games (Wince support will be added soon). Paying for it adds HD rendering which looks great. Only emulator on shield tv to have rumble support).

Flycast via Retroarch (Good, but not as good as Redream. Best used for games that aren’t playable in Redream. Can also play Naomi and Atomiswave games.)

Recommended: Using both will yield the best results.

Emulation rating: 5/5.

PS1 (bios required, use the PSXONPSP bios rather than the standard bios as it helps improve performance. This bios does not work for Beetle PSX, however.)

Available emulators:

Swanstation via Retroarch (Formally known as Duckstation. Pretty solid emulator. Majority of games are playable. Can render games in HD without major performance hits (For better performance, change hardware renderer to Vulkan).)

Beetle PSX via Retroarch (Iffy. Emulator itself is good, but not many games run well on the Shield TV due to its demanding requirements.)

PCSX REARMED via Retroarch (OK emulator, but not recommended as it’s made with far weaker hardware in mind.)

EPSXE (paid) (Decent emulator, but it’s basically abandonware now. There are better options.)

FPSE64 (paid) (About on par with EPSXE.)

Duckstation (free) (Same as Swanstation but better. Works really well. Requires sideloading to use. To launch the emulator, either launch the app through the apps section in the options menu or remap the Netflix button to launch Duckstation instead via a button mapper. )

Recommended: Swanstation or standalone Duckstation is the way to go.

Emulation rating: 5/5.

Turbografx 16 & CD (bios required for CD)

Available emulators:

Beetle PCE via Retroarch (Solid emulator. Very accurate and has fantastic compatibility. Can play TG16, CD, and Supergrafx games.)

Beetle PCE FAST via Retroarch (Same as regular Beetle, but worse compatibility. Can’t play Supergrafx games.)

PCE.emu (paid) (Based on outdated version of Mednafen. Even worse compatibility than Beetle PCE Fast.)

Recommended: Beetle PCE is the way to go.

Emulation rating: 5/5.

Supergrafx

Available emulators:

Beetle supergrafx via Retroarch (Not bad. All games seem to be playable from what I’ve tested.)

Beetle PCE via Retroarch (see the TG16 section.)

Recommended: Both are good, but since Beetle PCE can emulate more systems, it’s probably more convenient to use it instead.

Emulation rating: 5/5.

PC-FX (bios required)

Beetle PC-FX via Retroarch (Solid emulator. All games I tried worked flawlessly. However, the system’s appeal is heavily limited if you don’t know Japanese, like me. You can play a few games without knowledge of Japanese, though.)

Emulation rating: 5/5.

3DO (bios required)

Available emulators

Opera via Retroarch (Ok, but definitely lacking. Compatibility leaves something to be desired on the Shield TV.)

Real3doplayer (free) (Solid emulator. 100% compatibility. Imperfect, but, considering how obscure this system is, it’s still good, and all games are playable and enjoyable. (NOTE: DO NOT LAUNCH GAMES THROUGH THIS EMULATOR VIA A FRONTEND. DOING SO WILL BRICK THE EMULATOR AND IT WILL NEED TO BE UNINSTALLED AND REINSTALLED TO GET IT WORKING AGAIN.) Like with the other Android ports of Phoenix, you have to download the emulator from the Art Union website. Link here:  http://www.arts-union.ru/node/23 )

Recommended: Real3DOplayer is the way to go, just don’t use a frontend with this emulator.

Emulation ratings: 4/5. Imperfections and frontend issues keep this from getting a perfect score.

Neo Geo CD (bios required)

NEOCD via Retroarch (Solid emulator. Most games seem to be playable. Definitely worth using.)

Emulation rating: 5/5.

Channel F (bios required)

Freechaf via Retroarch (Solid emulation. All games I tried worked great. To enable controls, the games need to be reset using the virtual pad.)

Emulation rating: 5/5.

Odyssey 2 (bios required)

O2EM via Retroarch (Works fine. Controls, though, seem to be inconsistent. As in, some games seem unable to be controlled. It’s definitely annoying.)

Emulation rating: 3/5. When the games can be controlled, it’s a flawless experience. When the controls don’t work, it’s a massive pain in the ass. Expect an inconsistent experience.

Colecovision (bios required for BLUEMSX, MSX.emu, and Numpadplayer.)

Available emulators:

BLUEMSX via Retroarch (Works fine, but there are definitely better options. Compatibility is decent.)

MSX.emu (paid) (Same as BLUEMSX.)

Colem (free/paid) (Fantastic emulator. Majority of games are playable. Great interface, too. Has a virtual numpad, which is nice.)

Numpadplayer (free) (Same as Phoenix’s Colecovision emulator. Works alright, but not as good as Colem. Does not have a virtual numpad so those buttons need to be mapped which is awkward. Like with the other Android ports of Phoenix, you have to download the emulator from the Art Union website. Link here:  http://www.arts-union.ru/node/23 )

Recommended: Colem is the way to go.

Emulation rating: 5/5.

Intellivision (bios required)

FreeINTV via Retroarch (Good emulator. Much like with the Odyssey 2 and Channel F, You’ll need to use the virtual pad to enable controls.)

Emulation rating: 4/5.

Vectrex

Vecx via Retroarch (Good emulator. Spike has missing voice effects, but otherwise the emulator is flawless.)

Emulation rating: 5/5.

Handhelds

Game & Watch

Handheld electronic GW via Retroarch (Not technically an emulator, but rather a simulator. Cool, but a bit of a novelty.)

Emulation rating: 5/5.

Game Boy and GameBoy Color

Available emulators:

Gambatte via Retroarch (Decent emulator. Some games don’t work due to their mappers not being supported. No turbo buttons either. Not much reason to use this over Sameboy or Mgba.)

Sameboy via Retroarch (Excellent emulator. All games are playable. Even rom hacks play great.)

Mgba via Retroarch (Solid combination emulator. Most games play well, but some rom hacks have graphical glitches. Supports turbo buttons.)

GBC.emu (paid) (Same as Gambatte, but with worse compatibility. Avoid this one.)

VGBAnext (paid) (Combination emulator. Better compatibility than GBC.emu, but not as good as Mgba.)

Recommended: Mgba or Sameboy is the way to go. Maybe use both to cover all bases.

Emulation rating: 5/5.

Atari Lynx (Bios required for Handy)

Available emulators:

Handy via Retroarch (Outdated. Don’t bother with it.)

Beetle LYNX via Retroarch (Much better than Handy. Solid Emulator. 100% compatibility.)

Recommended: Beetle LYNX by a long mile.

Emulation rating: 5/5.

Watara Supervision

Potator via Retroarch (Works great. All the games I tried ran well. Some graphical issues, but nothing majorly wrong.)

Emulation rating: 4/5.

Game Gear

Available emulators:

Genesis plus GX via Retroarch (Flawless, like with the other systems it emulates.)

Picodrive via Retroarch (A complete joke. Don’t bother with it.)

Gearsystem via Retroarch (Same as its Master System emulation.)

Mastergear (paid) (Same as its Master System emulation.)

Gearmaster Player (free) (Same as its Master System emulation. Like with the other Android ports of Phoenix, you have to download the emulator from the Art Union website. Link here:  http://www.arts-union.ru/node/23 )

Recommended: GX is the choice of champions here.

Emulation rating: 5/5.

Neo Geo Pocket and Color

Available emulators:

Beetle NGP via Retroarch (Fantastic emulator. 100% compatibility.)

Race via Retroarch (Decent. Not super accurate, though. Compatibility isn’t as good as Beetle.)

NGP emu (paid) (Broglia’s worst emulator. Based on Neopop. Serious compatibility problems (Gals Fighters crashes frequently and pocket tennis doesn’t even boot). Definitely avoid this one.)

Recommended: Beetle NGP for the win!

Emulation rating: 5/5.  

Wonderswan

Beetle CYGENE via Retroarch (Solid emulator. Much like the PC-FX, however, you won’t be able to play many games without knowledge of Japanese, though more games can be played than the FX.)

Emulation rating: 5/5.

Game Boy Advance

Available emulators:

Mgba via Retroarch (Fantastic emulator. Majority, if not all, games should be playable. Can even emulate the solar sensor.)

VBA M via Retroarch (Good emulator, but not as good as Mgba. Most games seem to be playable.)

GBA.emu (paid) (Same as VBA M.)

VGBAnext (paid) (Combination emulator. Decent, though not as good as VBA M or Mgba.)

Recommended: Mgba, by a country mile.

Emulation rating: 5/5.

Pokemon Mini 

Pokemini via Retroarch (Good emulator. However, the sound is definitely annoying, so this could limit appeal. 100% compatibility.)

Emulation rating: 4/5. Pokemon MIni works fine here, but this system is definitely a novelty system. You may have some fun with it though, provided you can get past the awful sound.

DS (bios required for Desmume and Melon DS)

Note: A bluetooth mouse is required to play many games properly. You won’t be able to play games that utilize both the stylus and the normal controls heavily.

Available emulators:

Drastic (paid) (Fantastic emulator. Most games play great. Great interface, too.)

Desmume via Retroarch (Outdated and unoptimized. Avoid this one.)

Melon DS via Retroarch (Better than Desmume but not as good as Drastic. Still a work in progress.)

Recommended: Drastic is pretty much your only real option here.

Emulation rating: 4/5.

PSP

PPSSPP (free/paid) (Fantastic emulator. Most games play flawlessly. The sideloaded version is newer, but the Play Store version is more stable. Either way, it’s definitely a solid experience. Like with Dolphin, the Retroarch core shouldn’t be used as it’s outdated.)

Emulation rating: 5/5.

ARCADE

 Note: DO NOT COMPLAIN TO THE MAME DEVS ABOUT PROBLEMS WITH THESE VERSIONS OF MAME.

These versions of MAME are old, and have potential issues. The MAME devs have heavily criticised Retroarch for keeping these cores available, as it leads to a lot of complaints from people having problems using these cores. The MAME team receives these complaints despite not working on these versions anymore. Because of this, you may find that using Final Burn Neo, which is still being updated, or the standalone version of mame 2010 known as MAME4DROID, will provide better results.

General Arcade, CPS 1-3, Neo Geo (bios required for neo geo and some games like DoDonPachi)

Available emulators:

MAME4DROID (free) / MAME 2010 via Retroarch (both use .139) (Great. The VS. arcade games only work here. Can emulate quite a few arcade systems. MAME4DROID, with its nice interface and more customizability, should be used over the mame 2010 core. See note above.)

MAME2003PLUS (.78) (Don’t bother with this. Not super accurate, which makes sense since it’s made for weaker hardware. See note above.)

Final Burn Neo via Retroarch (Pretty damn solid emulator. Definitely the best emulator for CPS and Neo Geo. Can emulate many arcade systems.)

NEO.emu (paid) (Only emulates Neo Geo. Very limited compatibility due being based on an outdated emulator. Avoid this one. One of Broglia’s worst.)

Recommended: Using both Final Burn Neo (for neo geo and CPS as well as DoDonPachi) and MAME4DROID (for everything else) will provide the best results.

Emulation rating: 5/5.

Naomi and Atomiswave (bios required for both)

Note: You will need to use MAME roms as they’re the only ones that are supported. More info here: https://github.com/libretro/flycast/issues/136  

Flycast via Retroarch (Both arcade systems seem to work just fine. Performance may struggle with more demanding Atomiswave games, but I haven’t had issues. Solid emulation.)

Emulation rating: 4/5. 

COMPUTERS

 Note: These emulators are not the most user friendly. Most of these require either prior knowledge of these computers, or lots of trial and error. There are other computer emulators on the Shield TV (like for the PC8801 and ZX81), but these are the ones I was able to figure out. A bluetooth keyboard is helpful, but not required.

Atari 800 (bios required)

ATARI800 via Retroarch (Solid emulator. Majority of games are playable. It’s by far the easiest to use computer emulator.)

Emulation rating: 5/5. 

Atari ST (bios required)

Note: This page provides good info about how to use Hatari:

https://docs.libretro.com/library/hatari/

Hatari via Retroarch (Once you get everything set up (an admittedly complicated process), it works fine. All games I tried worked great.)

Emulation rating: 4/5.

ZX Spectrum

Note: I’ve had the most success with z80 files. They seem to load faster.

Available emulators:

Speccy (free) (Works pretty well. Great user interface, All games I tried worked flawlessly.)

Fuse via Retroarch (Decent, but not as nice as Speccy. A lot of games seem to be not controllable, which is a problem.)

Recommended: Speccy is the way to go.

Emulation rating: 4/5.

PC9801 (bios required)

NP2KAI via Retroarch (Great emulator. All the Touhou games (the main reason to use this emulator) work great.)

Emulation rating: 4/5.

Amiga and Amiga CD32 (bios required)

Note: PUAE does not support CHD files for CD32 games. LHA files are recommended for Amiga games.

PUAE via Retroarch (Solid emulator. All the games I tried worked flawlessly. CD32 emulation is solid, too.)

Emulation rating: 5/5.

Commodore 64

Vice via Retroarch (Great emulator. All games I tried ran great, though some of them had anti piracy screens I couldn’t figure out. Overall, though, it was solid. Use the accurate core instead of the fast one.)

C64.emu (paid) (Same as Vice, but compatibility is weaker due to being based on an older version.)

Recommended: Vice is the way to go.

Emulation rating: 5/5.

MSX/MSX2/MSX2+ (bios required for BLUEMSX and MSX.emu)

Available emulators:

BLUEMSX via Retroarch (Fantastic emulator for MSX games. Extremely accurate and compatible.)

FMSX (free/paid)/ FMSX via Retroarch (Alright emulator. Sound emulation has issues (voice effects are almost always missing). Could definitely be better.)

MSX.emu (paid) (Same as BLUEMSX, but compatibility is weaker due to being based on an older version.)

Recommended: BLUEMSX is the way to go.

Emulation rating: 5/5.

DOS

DOSBOX pure via Retroarch (Great emulator. Very easy to use. All the games I tried ran great.)

Emulation rating: 5/5.

Amistrad CPC

Caprice32 via Retroarch (Works pretty well, though, as to be expected for computer emulators, get used to games with confusing anti-piracy screens. Performance itself, though, is solid for games that work.)

Emulation rating: 5/5.

Sharp X68000 (bios required)

PX68K via Retroarch (Fantastic emulator. All the games I tried ran flawlessly. This computer has a damn good port of Bosconian. Definitely worth using.)

Emulation rating: 5/5.

So, that’s just about everything that can be emulated on the shield tv (and shield tv pro). Like I’ve said, I didn’t try every emulator, but I tried as many as I could (Scummvm and other computer emulators like the PC8801 should work just fine). As you can see, there’s a lot of great systems that can be emulated and emulated well. I really hope this guide helped you figure out the best emulation setup on the shield tv.

By Kiki Bagana

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