How to Install AltStore and Play Retro Games on iOS

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If you’re firmly in the iOS camp, there’s a good chance you look lovingly at Android and its deep selection of emulator options. At least that was the case until Riley Testut introduced AltStore. AltStore enables iOS and iPadOS users the ability to add unauthorized third-party applications. For now, the application list only includes a few apps, like the hugely popular jailbreak app, Delta emulator. The app – which enables you to play Game Boy, Super Nintendo, Nintendo 64 and more – is the best way to relive your childhood gaming obsessions on the iPhone and iPad. Here are all the steps you need to know to start playing Super Mario on your iPad today.

How to Install on Mac

1. The very first step is to download AltServer for the Mac.

Play Emulators On Ios Altserver Install

2. Once the download has completed, you can launch “AltServer,” and it will appear as an icon in the menu bar.

Play Emulators On Ios Altserver Icon

3. Connect your iPhone or iPad to your computer and make sure each is unlocked. If the phone or iPad asks if it can “Trust” the computer, tap “Trust” to continue.

4. Click on the AltStore icon in the Mac menu bar and select “Install Mail Plug-in.” This part is unusual, but the workaround for AltStore requires a specific plugin be installed as part of the Mail.app.

Play Emulators On Ios Mail Install Plugin

5. Enter your Apple ID email and password. While privacy questions persist, it’s been made clear that AltStore never sees your Apple ID login information.

6. You will be prompted to install the Mail plugin. To do that, open Mail and select “File -> Preferences.”

Play Emulators On Ios Mail Manage Plugins

7. Select “Manage Plug-ins” and Enable “AltPlugin.mailbundle.” Click Apply and then restart Mail.

Play Emulators On Ios Mail Plug

8. You’ve reached the final step. Click AltStore in the Mac menubar, select “Install AltStore” and then choose whichever iOS device is currently connected to your computer.

Play Emulators On Ios Altstore Install

How to Install on Windows

Before you install for Windows, it’s important to make sure you have iTunes and iCloud installed. The most important step here is to make sure you install the software directly from Apple and not from the Microsoft Store. You can get iTunes and iCloud here. After those downloads are complete, follow the next steps.

1. Download AltServer for Windows.

2. Extract the downloaded “AltInstaller.zip” file anywhere on your desktop.

3. Double-click on the “setup.exe” file and continue with the installation instructions.

4. Connect your iPhone or iPad. As is the case with the Mac, you may be required to click on “Trust” to continue.

5. Open iTunes (the one from the direct download links above) and enable “iTunes Wi-FI Sync” for your iPhone/iPad.

6. Click on the AltServer icon in the Windows notification area, select “Install AltStore” and then choose your iOS device.

7. When prompted, enter your Apple ID email and password.

8. Give it a few seconds, and then AltStore should appear as an app on your device.

Important Note

The way AltStore is built to work around Apple’s guardrails, it requires you to “update” your iOS or iPadOS device every seven days. AltStore offers some advice on how to best manage this process, but it does require the Mail app to be open as well as AltStore on the Mac. On Windows, just the AltStore needs to be open. When either of those platforms is ready, jump into the AltStore on the iOS device and “refresh” the downloaded apps.

Play Emulators On Ios Mail Update Apps

How to Install Delta

With AltStore installed, the next step is to add Delta, the actual Emulator app, to your iPhone or iPad.

1. Open AltStore on your iOS device. At the bottom of the app, you will see four options: News, Browse, My Apps and Settings. Tap on “My Apps.”

Play Emulators On Ios Mail Browse Altstore

2. As soon as you tap on “Browse,” Delta is the first app you will see.

Play Emulators On Ios Mail Delta Altstore

3. Click on “Free” to install, and Delta will install itself as any other app would on your iOS device.

Play Emulators On Ios Mail Delta Altstore Arrow

Playing Games

Playing ROMS you don’t own is illegal, so we are going to assume that you have your own ROMs.

1. Download the ROM on either your computer or iOS device. Our recommendation is to create a new folder in Files to save all downloaded ROMs.

2. Once the file is downloaded, open Delta and look for the “+” sign. When you tap on it, it gives you two options: iTunes and Files. Select the “Files” option.

Play Emulators On Ios Mail Rom Location

3. Locate the ROM inside the Files app and tap on it. Delta will automatically know based on the file type which platform it should be loaded in. Super Nintendo files will load for Super Nintendo, Nintendo 64 for Nintendo 64, etc.

Play Emulators On Ios Mail Roms

4. After the app is in its appropriate folder, click on it to begin playing. The amount of ROMs you can add is really based on the amount of memory you have available on your device. Given the small file sizes of retro games, you can install hundreds, if not thousands, without taking up much room at all.

Play Emulators On Ios Mail Aladdin

Delta does have the option of installing additional emulators outside of the ones they offer by default. For example, PSP (Playstation Portable) fans can install PPSSPP. The same goes for DolphiniOS, which includes support for Dreamcast. Each of those apps are installed by downloading their install files into the Files app and hitting the “+” button at the top of the AltStore screen under the “My Apps” option.

Retro gaming is currently enjoying a big comeback, thanks in part to the likes of hardware like the NES, Sega and SNES Classic. With software like AltStore and Delta, reliving those classics is easier than ever on your iPad. If you are not keen to play on your phone, you can build a Raspberry Pi retro gaming console instead.

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