Steam Deck Emulation - best emulators for handheld gaming

Steam Deck on a blue and purple background - Steam Deck emulation
Credit: Valve

Steam Deck on a blue and purple background - Steam Deck emulation
Credit: Valve

With thousands of games available to play, you might think that there would be no need for people to wonder about Steam Deck emulation. And you would be entirely wrong.

Because while there is undeniably a vast selection of games on Steam Deck, sometimes you may want to go back to your youth, those halcyon days of freedom, no responsibility, and cherished childhood games that can only be accessed through emulation.

Happily, the Steam deck is set up to be extremely friendly towards emulators, so you can learn how to run an emulator in no time at all. And it's even easier with our guide to Steam Deck emulation. We'll supply you with a list of some of the best Steam Deck emulators.

Best Emulators for Steam Deck

If you aren't sure, an emulator is a way of mimicking a wide range of retro games and consoles, giving players access to a much wider range of games than those that are originally available on the console.

So if you want to revisit classic games from Sega, Sony and Nintendo, plus others, here are some of the best for you to choose from.


While there are plenty of emulators that specialise in games for specific consoles, EmuDeck may well be the only emulator you'll ever need. It covers games from the following consoles:

  • Sega Genesis
  • The SegaCD
  • Sega32X
  • PC Engine
  • WonderSwan
  • SNES
  • Mame
  • FBNeo
  • NES
  • Master System
  • Dreamcast
  • Neo Geo
  • Super NES Widescreen
  • Genesis Widescreen
  • Gameboy
  • Gameboy Advance
  • Neo Geo Pocket
  • GameGear
  • NDS
  • 3DS
  • PSP
  • Nintendo 65
  • Wii
  • GameCube
  • Sony PlayStation
  • PlayStation 2
  • PlayStation 3
  • Wii U
  • Switch

EmuDeck emulates a vast selection of consoles and games, and you may not need any others to get the classic games you want to revisit. It's also arguably the easiest emulator to get to grips with. You can check out our guide on how to install Emudeck on Steam Deck if you want to install this.


If you're looking to go back to the days of the original PlayStation, then DuckStation provides some of the most accurate and stable emulation available.

The SteamDeck Discover app will let you quickly and easily find it and get it up and running.


Next, for fans of the original Xbox, is XEMU. Once again, you can find this easily enough via the Discover app on your Steam deck.

Games emulated on XEMU are perhaps not as stable or consistent as DuckStation, but the majority can still be played without too many problems.


Simple64 allows you to emulate N64 games. Emulating cartridge-based games is generally harder than CD, but Simple64 makes this as painless as possible.

The biggest challenge is configuring your controls on your Steam Deck, as there doesn't seem to be a consistent format for transferring N64 controls across. But once you get past this, it's a great way to revisit games from the N64.


As the name suggests, SNES9X is all about emulating games from your Super Nintendo. It will provide faithful emulation of all your favourite titles, and allocating controls on your Steam Deck is also pretty straightforward.

You will need a SNES cartridge adapter to enable you to back up and copy your games onto the emulator.

Which Emulator Is Right For Me?

There are plenty of other emulators out there, this is merely a selection of some of the most reliable.

If you aren't sure what to go for, then it's worth taking some time to investigate how much work will be involved. We've given examples of some emulators that require you to do a bit more work. This is where something like EmuDeck comes into its own because it does so much of the work for you.

If you want an easy life, then EmuDeck is probably the way to go. But other emulators will give you a little more control over which games you want to play. Whether it's worth the extra work, however, is up to you to decide.

So there you have it, that's our top picks for some of the best emulators for Steam Deck. Be sure to check out how to install EmulationStation on Steam Deck to keep all your simulated games in one folder in your Steam Library.

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