It’s no secret that you can do a fair bit of game emulation on Android (though it’s worth being aware of the exact legality surrounding this). But did you know that there’s an emulator that lets you play some of the greatest PC games in history on your Android device?
ExaGear Strategies and ExaGear RPG (tailored for strategy games and RPGs, respectively) technically let you play most PC games, but the strains of emulating PC hardware on an Android device mean you’ll be better off playing pixel-era games (Civilization III, Fallout 2, Heroes of Might and Magic 3, and Disciples 3 are just some of the games known to work with it).
Here’s our guide on how to play classic PC games on Android using this godsend app. Remember that you need to have the original game files for this to work.
First, grab ExaGear Strategies and/or ExaGear RPG from the Play Store (depending on what type of game you want to play), and install the classic PC game you want on your Android device onto your PC. (I’m using the GOG.com version of Sid Meier’s sci-fi strategy game, Alpha Centauri.)
Next, connect your Android device to your PC via a USB cable, making sure that you’ve enabled File Transfers on it. (Pull down the notification menu from the top of your Android screen, tap “Use USB for -> File transfers.”)
After that, use Windows Explorer to copy your game directory (C:\GOG Games\Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri for me) onto the internal storage of your Android device.
Once it’s there, download a file manager for your Android device that lets you access the root directory of your internal storage. (I used ES File Explorer.)
Open the file explorer, navigate to the location where you copied your game onto your Android device, “Cut” it, then paste it to the ExaGear folder, which should be in the folder “/storage/emulated/sdcard.”
The game will now sync with ExaGear, and when you open ExaGear Strategies or ExaGear RPG, the Windows executable (.exe) files for your game should appear. As a general rule of thumb, select the one that you’d use to run the game in Windows (terranx.exe for me, which is the Alien Crossfire expansion for Alpha Centauri).
You’ll then be asked to select a control scheme. There are only two to choose from in Strategies and one in RPG, and they’re generally well optimised to work with most of the 90s classics. Pick a control scheme, and game away!
You’ll notice that once you pick a control scheme you have 3 days to try it out before deciding if you want to buy it for $7. It’s a bit of a catch, but a small price to pay to enjoy your favourite vintage games on Android.
To some extent, it’s a case of trial-and-error whether games work or not, but to make your life a bit easier this person put together a list on DRM-free games site GOG.com of all the games he’s found to work with ExaGear. The two games I tried out on my trusty old HTC One M8 were Fallout 2 and Alpha Centauri, and both worked perfectly.