Apple TV just became one of the most powerful retro games consoles on the planet

RetroArch for tvOS can turn your Apple TV into a time machine

Apple TV 4K
(Image credit: Apple)
Quick Summary

Apple TV gets one of the more comprehensive retro games emulators around.

RetroArch can emulated over 70 machines, including home computers of the 80s, consoles and coin-ops.

With Apple lifting its ban on games console emulation, it was only a matter of time before the big hitters arrived. We've seen smaller emulators appear on iPhone, such as Delta, Gamma and PPSSPP, which each focus on specific brands or machines, but now we have RetroArch – the software that drives many a Raspberry Pi project and more.

What's more, as well as hit the iOS App Store, RetroArch is available on tvOS, potentially turning your Apple TV into one of the most powerful retro games consoles around.

That's because the popular emulation app isn't just a portal to play Nintendo, Sega or PlayStation games, it combines emulators for more than 70 consoles and computers of yesteryear, plus arcade machines from different decades.

That includes the likes of the SNES, Mega Drive and PlayStation 1, but also the ZX Spectrum, Commodore 64 and Amstrad CPC. Even more obscure consoles are covered, such as the Mattel Intellivision and Nintendo's Virtual Boy.

You don't get any games, of course, so you have to provide your own ROMs, but I run RetroArch on a Raspberry Pi 4 (inside a Picade build-it-yourself arcade cabinet), and it works well with most titles.

There are some glitches and caveats, plus the legal ramifications of where you source your ROM files from, but when it's up and running, you get transported straight back to the heyday of gaming in the 80s and 90s,

Getting your (legally-sourced) games onto RetroArch is simple as the tvOS version has a built-in webserver. You can therefore just open the utility on your Apple TV, then go to the listed URL using a web browser on the PC that stores your ROMs. Then transfer them over.

You can find out more about RetroArch for tvOS (and iOS) on a dedicated webpage. It includes instructions on how to get it up and running.

Just add a Bluetooth-enabled compatible controller and away you go.

Rik Henderson
News Editor

Rik is T3’s news editor, which means he looks after the news team and the up-to-the-minute coverage of all the hottest gadgets and products you’ll definitely want to read about. And, with more than 35 years of experience in tech and entertainment journalism, including editing and writing for numerous websites, magazines, and newspapers, he’s always got an eye on the next big thing.

Rik also has extensive knowledge of AV, TV streaming and smart home kit, plus just about everything to do with games since the late 80s. Prior to T3, he spent 13 years at Pocket-lint heading up its news team, and was a TV producer and presenter on such shows as Channel 4's GamesMaster, plus Sky's Games World, Game Over, and Virtual World of Sport.