Testing ‘Delta’, the Most Popular Retro Game Emulator for iPhone: Everything to Know 


Remember the thrill of conquering Donkey Kong or rescuing the princess in Super Mario World? If you miss those pixelated adventures and unforgettable soundtracks, retro game emulators are at your rescue.

Emulators have recently surged in popularity, topping the charts on the Apple App Store. We decided to test ‘Delta,’ one of the highest-rated iPhone emulators. Here’s our experience and everything you need to know about it.

What is a Video Game Emulator, and Why is Everyone Talking About it?

As the name suggests, a video game emulator is software or an app that emulates/imitates a video game console. It allows users to play retro console games using an emulator and the right ROM or ISO files on a computer or smartphone. As a result, users can experience playing on old consoles like Game Boy on their latest devices.

Until now, emulator apps have not been officially allowed. However, recently, Apple revised its decision and allowed retro game emulators to be listed on its App Store, all thanks to the European Union’s new regulation. As a result, several developers listed their Emulators on the App Store.

However, later on, many publishers had to remove their apps due to legalities surrounding ROMs (games). But one emulator stands strong, and that is ‘Delta’.

What is Delta Emulator?

Delta is an all-in-one emulator for iOS and iPadOS created by Riley Testut. It allows users to play classic games like Super Mario and Mega Max X from various vintage consoles on their modern iPhones. The app builds upon the strengths of its predecessor, GBA4iOS.

It also supports cheat codes, can save and load game states from the pause menu, and has built-in controller skins for all consoles.

delta emulator on iphone

Which Consoles Can It Emulate?

The Delta supports consoles like Game Boy, Nintendo DS, and more. Here’s the complete list of game systems supported:

  • Nintendo Entertainment System (NES)
  • Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES)
  • Nintendo 64 (N64)
  • Game Boy (Color)
  • Game Boy Advance (GBA)
  • Nintendo DS (DS)

How to Get ROMs in Delta Emulator?

The first thing you will notice after downloading the Delta app is that there’s nothing on it. That’s because Delta is just a platform and does not include any games. You will have to get those separately. So, the most recommended way to get ROMs for the Delta or any emulator is to get a digital copy of your game cartridges or discs.

We know that the official way is more suitable for enthusiasts than regular users. Unfortunately, we can’t provide a guide to installing or using ROMs from third-party websites because of the copyright grey area they reside in.

However, some DMCA-free titles created by enthusiasts are already available in ROM files that you can play. Several websites, like Homebrew Hub and Itch.io, allow you to download completely legal and free ROMs.

How Was Our Experience?

Given all the buzz around Emulators, we decided to give Delta a shot. We played a couple of titles, such as Apotris and Super Crusher Fighters. To our surprise, the experience was incredibly smooth. From performance to UI and graphics, everything ran seamlessly.

The screen’s edge detection was just perfect, making it feel like a native app rather than a forced emulator, which is a common issue with many other emulators. The app’s touch controls are good. Yes, it can not give that exact feeling of playing on a Game Boy, but it surely prominently gives that vibe.

Furthermore, games are automatically categorised based on the consoles from which they originate. This thoughtful design makes navigating your library a breeze. Instead of scrolling through a jumbled list, you can easily browse specific console sections to revisit your favourite titles quickly.

Interestingly, the emulator also saves the game and allows you to continue wherever you left. It also supports multiplayer games with added controllers. Unfortunately, we could not test that feature, but at least there’s an option.

The Polarising Debate Over Emulators and ROMs

Delta and emulators like it breathe new life into classic games, but their existence provokes a heated debate. Many people hail them as gateways to preserving gaming history. They say that these emulators allow new generations to experience these cultural touchstones. However, critics also argue that emulators facilitate widespread copyright infringement through the use of ROMs (copies of game cartridges).