Pokémon Go has taken the world by storm, attracting new players and instilling a powerful sense of nostalgia in others. That’s largely thanks to the title featuring the original set of Pokémon Red and Blue creatures that debuted in 1998.

While there are Pokemon games for Android, many mobile games don’t have the same feel as the originals.

If you’re missing some of the older Pokemon games, don’t despair. It’s actually pretty easy to play them on your Android phone or tablet today. Here’s how.

Which Pokémon games are playable on Android?

There is no single Pokemon emulator, but everything from original Game Boy games to Nintendo DS titles can be emulated on Android. Including:

  • Gameboy (UK): Red, blue and yellow
  • Game Boy Color (GBC): Gold, silver and crystal
  • Game Boy Advance (GBA): ruby, sapphire and emerald; FireRed and LeafGreen
  • Nintendo DS (NDS): Diamond, Pearl and Platinum; HeartGold and SoulSilver; Black and white; Black and White 2

You will need a separate emulator for each system. These are the main series games, although you can also emulate spin-off titles like Pokémon Pinball if you wish.

As you’d expect, the newer a console, the harder it is to emulate. You can emulate the 3DS on Android, but it’s currently unstable. Although you can emulate newer games like Pokémon X and Y, Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire, and Sun and Moon on Android, this article focuses on the classics.


By the way, we have looked at how to play Pokémon games on iPhone and iPad if you have these devices as well.

How to Play Pokemon Games on Android

Once you’ve made sure the game you want to play is realistic, here’s what you’ll need to get Pokémon on Android:

  • An emulator for the system the game was originally on.
  • A ROM Game.

A emulator is software that imitates a certain game system. If you want to play GB, GBA, and NDS games, you will need an emulator for each. Just because the consoles were backwards compatible doesn’t mean the emulators necessarily are.

Most emulators support custom save states and fast forward, both of which are extremely useful for Pokemon games. Custom save states allow you to use multiple save files at once, and you can save at times when the game doesn’t normally allow you to, such as in the middle of a battle.

Fast forward solves the problem of characters speaking too slowly and also allows you to run quickly without being told “this is not the place to ride a bike”.

A ROMs is basically a file that contains all the game data. If you want to play Pokémon Red and Pokémon HeartGold, you will need a Pokémon Red ROM and a Pokémon HeartGold ROM.

You are now ready to dive. Then we will see which emulators to use and how to find ROMs.

Which emulator should you use for Pokémon?

The answer to this question depends on the console you are looking to emulate, so let’s look at them separately.

If you don’t see an emulator on this list, it’s probably best to avoid it. Unfortunately, there are many spammy emulators in the Play Store that are just copies of existing emulators with ads stuck in every corner, which won’t give you a good Pokémon Android experience!

We’ve tested the choices below to make sure they work well. See more of our favorite emulators for Android if you want to play other consoles too.

Game Boy and Game Boy Color

Pokemon Game Boy Emulator for Android

There is only one serious competitor to emulate both the Game Boy and the Game Boy Color: My OldBoy! It comes in free and paid versions; the free version should work for occasional use. It allows regular in-game saves, fast forwarding at up to 2x speed, entering cheat codes, and customizing controls.

Upgrading for $4 lets you connect with other users to trade Pokemon, advance faster than 2x, and save anytime. We’d say it’s worth a few bucks, especially if you plan on playing multiple games.

Anyway, both free and paid versions offer perfect performance because these systems are so old and there are no ads during gameplay.

To download: My old boy! To free (Free) | My old boy! ($3.99)

GameBoy Advance

Game Boy Advance Pokemon Emulator for Android

Just like with the GB/GBC, the GBA has a standout emulator: My Boy! This emulator from the same developer is almost identical to My OldBoy!, except that it plays GBA games instead.

Although the free version of the app is no longer available, the paid full version allows you to record anytime and advance up to 16 times the speed. You can even log in to trade or battle your friends.

If you want to play Pokemon GBA games but can’t pay, check out John GBAC for a free alternative that will emulate both GBC and GBA games.

To download: My boy! ($4.99)

To download: John GBAC (Free in-app purchases available)

Nintendo DS

Nintendo DS Pokemon Emulator for Android

We will first mention the free option: nds4droid. This emulator is completely free and open-source with no ads. It has customizable controls, so you can place the buttons or the D-pad wherever you want. While the performance won’t blow you away, it’s good enough on most devices. It also hasn’t been updated for a few years, unfortunately.

Like most emulators, it supports custom save states and cheat codes, but there is no fast forwarding. For playing games at normal speed, however, it does the job.

On the other hand, if you are willing to pay a few dollars, you should definitely check out DraStic. It offers significantly better performance and supports fast forward.

Pokemon DraStic Nintendo DS emulator for Android

DraStic is still in active development and works on Android TV with smartphones and tablets. If you have a few bucks to spend playing Pokémon games on your phone, it’s worth it.

To download: nds4droid (To free)

To download: DraStic DS Emulator ($4.99)

How do you get old Pokemon game ROMs?

We cannot provide information on where to find game ROMs. Although they are readily available on the Internet, be aware that downloading roms for games you don’t own is piracy. Nintendo has a strong stance against the use of ROMs, so you do so at your own risk.

We can, however, give you some tips for scanning ROMs.

Make sure you get the correct version for your region. After most ROM names there will be a (J), (U), (E), or another letter depending on the game. J represents Japan, you represents the United States, and E represents Europe.

Any region should work with an emulator, but of course you’ll want to get one that matches where you live. If you don’t speak Japanese and you download the Japanese version of a game, it won’t make much sense.

Also pay attention to the file that is downloading. ROMs come in ZIP files that you don’t usually have to unzip. some come as RAR files instead. If a website provides an APK or EXE file, remove it. It is malware waiting to infect your device.

The ROM files are small in size, relative to the age of the console. Pokémon Red is only 380KB, while Pokémon Black is around 110MB.

What Pokémon games will you be playing?

Now you know how easy it is to get Pokemon games for your Android device. You can start reliving your favorites or try out a build you missed at any time.

If you want to take it up a notch, try completing a fun Pokemon challenge in one of these games. Once you’ve completed all of the main series, then try out some awesome fan-made Pokémon titles.

The best free games made by Pokemon fans

Want fan-made Pokémon games? This article covers the best free community-created Pokémon games to play right now.

Read more

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