When one thinks of emulation on an iDevice, the first thing that comes to mind is a jailbreak BUT that’s not exactly correct. Thanks to Apple’s 7-day signing concession for free accounts, you can install emulators even on your un-jailbroken iPhone/iPad albeit with one little drawback.
What consoles can I emulate?
Mario Kart DS running on an un-jailbroken iPad Air running iOS 12 Beta 12!
By going on a little trip to a website called iOSNinja, we can find a variety of emulators available for iDevices in IPA format. Among the consoles that you can emulate, we find:
Nintendo DS – iNDS, NDS4iOS and GamePad
This works very well on iPhones/iPads since the Nintendo DS has many games that use the touch screen. It must be noted that for a good experience, you need an Apple A8/9 or newer to emulate the DS!
PSP – PPSSPP
NES, SNES, Nintendo 64, GameBoy and GameBoy Advance
Many other systems like arcade systems with MAME, MS-DOS and apparently the PS2 (Play! emulator) but don’t expect great performance on this one!
How do I actually install these emulators and get games on them?
Installing the emulators is pretty straightforward. This is what you have to do:
Get on a computer as this requires a PC
Download the IPA (it’s like a VPK or APK) file for the emulator you want by following this link
Connect your iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch to your PC via a Lightning or 30-pin (if you have an ancient device) cable
There are plenty of emulators to choose from from Nintendo DS ones to MS-DOS ones!
Open Cydia Impactor and make sure that you can see your device
Drag the IPA file of the emulator you downloaded to Cydia Impactor
Insert your Apple ID credentials
This is totally safe as the credentials are only sent to Apple so that your application is signed
Wait for Cydia Impactor to finish and enjoy the emulator!
It must be noted that your emulator will only be signed for 7 days! After that, you’ll have to re-sign it by following steps 4-8. If you want the emulator to be signed for more than 7 days, you can either:
Jailbreak your device if this is possible and install it through other means
Use a paid Apple Developer account which costs $99/year and signs your emulator for one year
Use a signing service BUT it must be noted that these act on a shady model and insert ads in their applications. Furthermore, there’s also a slight risk of the app containing unwanted services like a background cryptocurrency miner which could reduce your battery’s life span! iOSNinja does offer some signing services for some apps but beware of them for the aforementioned reasons.
Getting games on the emulator is dependent on the emulator itself, some have a web UI from which you can get ROMs from, some have a Dropbox sharing capability while others let you pass them ZIP files via Safari.
Remember that getting ROMs of games you don’t own is illegal and according to Nintendo, it’s illegal to dump your own games as well. Due to that, it’s important you exercise caution when using emulators and think twice about downloading games that aren’t even a decade old unless they’ve been made public domain.
Perhaps one of the main reasons why you should start emulating games on your iDevice is because most games from the App Store are full of IAPs and as a result are a pain to play.
If you don’t want to go down the emulation path but still want to play games that don’t nag you with IAPs, check out this article!
I'm a girl that's liked technology from day 1. Mostly interested in the PSVita/PSP scene but I've always modded my stuff when it's possible, that is :)Contact me via DM at @KawaiiAuroraA on Twitter if you have any questions/concerns about my articles or if you have any article requests.