Emulators for Palm PDAs : An Overview of the Best

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3 years ago, I posted a review at this site:

Emulators for Pocket PCs: An Overview of the Best

Liberty was the first Palm emulator – for use with Gameboy cartridges. It was a
great effort at that time; I liked it so much that I whipped out this review for
it at
Now that the Palm OS is more up to speed with the StrongArm chip,
more capable emulators have surfaced and it will be great to have a write up of
an overview on them.

palmemu 1

Above is a screenshot of the icons of some of the Palm emulators that I like.
To play these emulators, you will needs game ROMS – get them at
PDROMS, your #1
legal ROM Source since 1998. Running an emulator is like having another computer
on your Palm, with a library of software thrown in as well.

My most favorite Palm emulator is Codejedi’s

, the Atari ST emulator – and it’s free! it has been updated to
v0.7.11 which includes full screen 320×480 display, Zodiac compatibility,
improved sampled audio playback and other fixes.

I had a great time playing all the blasts from the past – from breakout games
like Impact to 2-disk games like Street Fighter II. In fact, I liked the Atari
ST computer so much that I had 2 of them; one running in colour and the other in
super fine hi-res black and white. There hasn’t been a gaming computer quite
like it since then – the game play is just out of this world.

palmemu 2
palmemu 3

The 2 screenshots above show CaSTaway’s easy to use launcher and the emulator
in normal mode, running Silkworm.

Whenever emulators are mentioned, MAME (Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator) is
used as the benchmark for all others to follow. I hear that a MAME for Palm is
in the making, but until it sees the light of day, here’s another great arcade
emulator, Xcade, from
Codejedi who brought us the free CaSTaway Atari ST emulator.

For a few dollars, Palm owners get to play the actual ROMS of arcade classics
like Space Invaders, Galaxians, Pacman and the like. At present, over a dozen
arcade games are emulated and it is great carrying arcade machines on your Palm
with good speed and great playability. The latest version is Zodiac friendly and
runs in full screen 320×480 mode.

palmemu 4
palmemu 5

Above are screenshots of Xcade’s launcher and that of the emulator in normal
mode, running Donkey Kong. Since Xcade predates MAME, some current ROMs for MAME
will not work for Xcade – you have to go back – way, way back to the original
ROMs. Or you can use the free utility to convert MAME ROMS for use in Xcade.

palmemu 6
palmemu 7

The NES emulator by
is what a finely crafted emulator should be: good interface,
sound, stable with lots of options – I call this the "Lexus" of Palm emulators.
The latest version, 1.4 supports full screen (320×480) and the Zodaic version is
wonderful (I’m inspired by KalemSoft’s passion for the Zodiac) and NES games
like Battle City, Galaga and Galaxians are really arcade quality.

palmemu 8
palmemu 9

I first came to know of programmer Aaron Ardiri when he released his Watch
and Game apps for the Palm. Later, he released the first working emulator for
the Palm, Liberty,
a Gameboy emulator. Today, he’s as active as ever taking care of security for
the Zodiac and releasing the Atari 2600 emulator,

Atari Retro

This emulator has 7 of the most popular 2600 games – the first home console
that made it big until it went bust. Everything about Atari Retro is very well
laid out, with controls and variations of games like the real thing. For Zodiac
owners, there’s the 360×480 version as well – great blast from the past.

palmemu 10
palmemu 11

Like I said, the NES emulator by KalemSoft is what a finely crafted emulator
should be – good interface, sound, stable with lots of options. Their other
emulator on sale at this site
Gizmo Ultra, is equally
well done. It is a virtual Game Gear handheld/SMS (Sega Master System) console
running at full speed with sound on Palm devices. For Palm capable devices like
the T3 and Zodiac, the full 380×480 screen is possible. Take a look at the above
screenshots and be impressed at the amount of thought and work that has gone 
into Gizmo. Sound is a plus, screen size options are great and speed adjustment
totally enhances the enjoyment of the games.

palmemu 12

Whereas the Atari 2600 was the first gaming console to hit homes in a big
way, its popularity proved to be its downfall when many companies flooded the
market with really bad software. Except for Activision, most Atari game
developers shelled out nothing more than blocky stuff. Then came the Nintendo
Entertainment Systems (NES) who took over the market with quality games like the
Mario Brothers series. Sega challenged NES’ dominance with the SMS console with
its immensely popular Sonic series and upped the ante with a colour handheld,
the Game Gear (which would have beaten the Gameboy except that it sucks
batteries like a thirsty wanderer).

palmemu 13
palmemu 14

At the time of this writing,
Phoinix is
possibly the only Palm Gameboy emulator that works for OS5 devices until the
gbaZ (Gameboy Advance) emulator sees the light of day. Phoinix’s programmer is
actively working on it and the latest update works fine with the Zodiac also.
Although it is a tad slow and without sound, my favorite cartridges Super
Marioland, Headon and Watch & Game series work just fine.

palmemu 15
palmemu 16

Frodo is a
c64 emulator that is no longer updated and abandoned. This is too bad as it
already has sound and good key assignments all round. The screenshot above is
from a great an early c64 pinball game, arleady playing as good as it looks in

palmemu 17
palmemu 18

is an emulator for Mattel handheld games, an interesting LED handheld device which
every kid in my neighbourhood wanted for Christmas. This electronic game is
somewhat like Speak and Spell, targeted at children. This device cleverly used
LED numbers to simulate many kind of games – great for developing the
imagination in today’s clueless kids.

palmemu 19
palmemu 20

apPALM ][ is
a nice little Apple ][ emulator that works pretty well with sounds, disk drives
and all. Unfortunately, the buttons are all wrong for the Zodiac. Can anyone
help here?

palmemu 21
palmemu 22

is a pretty good console with some very neat games. For some reason I
can’t get it to run on the Zodiac. This emulator is just starting out and
already it is looking pretty good.

palmemu 23

Dave at the SPUG forum called my attention to the
SCUMM Virtual
Machine. He goes on to say that "it is technically an "emulator" and a pretty
good one too".

palmemu 24

Jeff aka Codejedi alerted me of his freeware emulator
In his own words, from the man himself:

"Kronos is an interpreter for Magnetic Scrolls, Infocom-style ZMachine, and
Scott Adams style adventure games. Magnetic Scroll’s was a UK based text
adventure game company from the middle 1980’s; their games helped kick off the
adventure game genre by introducing high quality artwork, a fancy English-like
parser and wonderful plots. While Infocom was better known and more influential,
Magnetic Scrolls was light years ahead in their time. Infocom was an American
company who created the adventure game genre and offered some of the most
memorable and involved games in history. Zork will never be forgotten."

Hmm… it will be great to relive the early Scott Adams text-only adventure
games – leaving everything to the imagination!

palmemu 26

palmemu 25

To conclude this first ‘show and tell’ session of Palm emulators, I want to
share a beta release of an NEC PC Engine emulator by the great guys at KalemSoft
called Dream Engine. I have been playing with the emulator for a few weeks – so
far it does not have a save feature but will have full screen and all the bells
and whistles when it is released. As it is, it plays all the ROMs I have with
sound and in a polished way as you can see from the above screenshots.

NEC came into the console market to complete with Nintendo and Sega. They
released a nice console and a great colour handheld which is tops even by today
standards. The games come in credit size cartridges, costs a bomb but can be
used on both handheld and console. PCE doesn’t have too many games but everyone
of them is good; some even specially customised for PCE.

I leave you with this thought: Gizmo Ultra runs both GG and SMS games at $21.99
while Gizmo lite runs only GG games at $14.99.

Is it reasonable or even wise to shell out $$$ for emulators when there are some
which are labour of love (eg caSTaway) where a Palm user could pick up for free?

Let me answer this question from a personal experience recently…

While preparing to post this thread on emulators at

, I check them out on the internet and started taking them for
test drives.

Of course, I purchased Xcade, Nesem etc… but I also tried Frodo, CaSTaway,
Phoinix… and here’s my 2 cents:

1. When you buy an emulator, you get a load-and-play software without any hassle
– works first time out of a box like Nesem. As for the freeware Frodo, a c64
emulator, it took me a week to get it working. Then only, because Dylan at the
forum at Zodiac Gamer went out of his way to help me (thanks a million, Dylan!).

2. By paying $$$, you get support all the way. I must go on record to say I am
very impressed with KalemSoft’s support team. When I couldn’t get Gizmo Ultra to
work on my Zodiac, I sent these guys an email thinking at best, I’ll eventually
get a response the next working day. Wrong! It was answered within hours! On the
same morning, I contacted KalemSoft’s support desk 2 more times. All 3 emails
were answered within the same morning and Gizmo Ultra is running superbly
without a hitch by noon. As for Frodo, the author will not respond to emails

3. Because the developer is rewarded for his hard work, the emulator continues
to improve and becomes very polished and great value for the money. On the other
hand, I understand work on Frodo has been abandoned

There are many more emulators for the Palm and new ones are coming out all the
time. I will be happy to hear from anyone about their experiences with Palm
emulators or new ones I have not heard, especially from developers whom I want
to thank for brightening my world.


Product Information


12 thoughts on “Emulators for Palm PDAs : An Overview of the Best”

  1. Gadgeteer Comment Policy - Please read before commenting
  2. Originally posted by gorkon280
    LEDHEAD is a sim for Mattel Handheld games and not Merlin.

    what must i been thinking???
    Mattel handheld games of course!
    thanks for the headsup 😡

  3. opps
    it should be

    just right clicking the link
    should inform you that there was something wrong
    and reveal what the actual site should be

    thanks for the heads up

    Scott Raulinaitis, editor of tapland
    has an excellent shorter overview of emulators at

    and i have written articles on emulators for other platforms:

    All About Emulators for the PPC

    The Apple ][ Emulator for the PPC

    Liberty GameBoy Emulator for the Palm OS

    An early article on Emulators for PCs

    Emulators for GP32 handheld

  4. The article has a link to PPC article. Boy is that article old or what. It’s practically coming from the last ice age. (plus the article is wee bit fluffy.)

    PPC emu list.

    older list:

    —————————-Copy, spread the joy.



    * = recommendable

    Multi Video Consoles

    PocketGB / MorphGear* : GameBoy, GameBoy Advance, PC Engine, NES, Game Gear, SNES (new), Sega Master System

    YameCE* : GameBoy, PC Engine, NES, SNES

    GameBoy (Color)

    MBoy : GameBoy

    PalmGB : GameBoy


    Gnuboy : GameBoy

    GnuBoy CE* : GameBoy
    http://gnuboyce.cjb.net/ *

    GnuBoy XCE : GameBoy : http://www.pocketgamer.org/games/emulators/index2.shtml

    GameBoyVM : GameBoy

    GameBoy Advance




    NES, Famicom

    NesCE : NES

    nesCE : NES

    nesCE Upgrade : NES

    DarcNESce : NES

    FCEUce : NES

    InfoNES : NES

    NesterCE : NES

    PocketNES : NES

    PocketFC : NES

    PocketNester* : NES

    NesterJ4u* : NES

    SNES, Super Famicom

    PocketSNES : SNES

    PocketSNES Bleeding Edge* : SNES

    IPS PocketSNES : SNES


    PlayStation, PSone

    FPSEce : PlayStation 1

    PocketSX : PlayStation 1


    PocketColeco* : Colecovision

    Odyssey 2/Videopac Plus (G7400)

    Pocket Odyssey2

    Atari 2600

    PocketVCS* : Atari 2600

    GameGear, Master System

    CEGG : Game Gear/Master System

    smsCE : Master System

    Virtual Game Gear : Game Gear

    Genesis, MegaDrive

    PocketGenesis* : Genesis (MegaDrive)

    TurboGrafX, PC Engine

    bfEngine : PC Engine

    PocketEngine : PC Engine

    TWPCE : PC Engine

    TGEmuCE : PC Engine


    PocketWS* : Wonderswon

    Cycne : Wonderswan

    oswanCE : Wonderswon

    Atari Lynx

    PocketLynx : Lynx


    Neopocott : NeoGeo Pocket

    Multi Arcade

    MameCE* : Multi Arcade

    MegaMameCE* : Multi Arcade

    MameCE3 : Multi Arcade

    iMAME* : Multi Arcade

    Apple IIc

    AppleCE : Apple II

    Pina* : Apple II

    PocketIIE : Apple II

    Atari 800XL, Atari 5200

    PocketAtari* : Atari 800XL, Atari 5200


    CastCE*** : AtariST

    Commodore 64

    Come Back : C64

    Pocket C64* : C64


    VZ/Laser 200

    VZCE : VZ/Laser 200


    fmsxCE : MSX 1, MSX 2

    PocketMSX* : MSX 1, MSX 2

    Oric 1/Atmos

    PocketOric : Oric 1/Atmos


    M88* : PC 88


    Pocket9801* : PC98

    Sharp MZ-2500


    PC DOS

    PocketDOS* : PC DOS

    Sinclair Spectrum

    PocketClive* : Spectrum

    Sinclair Spectrum Emulator : Spectrum


    CoPilot CE : Palm OS

    LED Handhelds

    LEDHead : electronic LED handheld games

    Lucas Art Game Interpreter

    PocketSCUMM* : Lucas Art Game Interpreter

    Sierra Game Interpreter

    PocketSarien* : Sierra Game Interpreter

    Infocom Game Interpreter

    FrotzCE : Zork Game interpreter

    ZipCE : Infocom Game interpreter


    Pocket Biz Calculator : HP-12C


    Emu48* : HP48


    TI59CE : TI Calculator


    VTI Pocket Emulator v2.4: TI-82, TI-83, TI-83 Plus, TI-85, TI-86 and TI-89 calculators

  5. Originally posted by Green1
    [B]The article has a link to PPC article. Boy is that article old or what. It’s practically coming from the last ice age. (plus the article is wee bit fluffy.)

    PPC emu list.

    older list:

    —————————-Copy, spread the joy.

    it is one thing to copy a list from a posting somewhere

    and another thing to write brief comments about a few emulators

    and still another thing to
    1 have experienced owning/playing with a wide range of consoles/handhelds/computers these emulators duplicate,
    2 buy/download/test run a good number of emulators and
    3 screenshot/organise/write about them

    this is the reason i believe that since my article on ppc emulators as far back as 03/06/2001
    it is still one of the 2 overviews on ppc emulators
    with screenshots of running programs that i have come across on the web

    the other is an article which i wrote, entitled
    Everything you ever wanted to know about ppc Emulators
    after Mike Wagstaff, admin of http://www.pocketgamer.org
    (still THE place for ppc games after all these years)
    emailed me after reading that article
    that he wished it was posted on his page instead
    so i wrote a few articles for pocketgamer
    including an expanded listing of ppc emulators

    btw what green1 refered to as the ice-age
    is really the golden age of ppc
    when all manufacturers are giving up their incompatibility
    for one single fast chip, the strongarm chip that ipaq has adopted
    thus making emulation a more precise science
    at a time many ppc users were asking, ‘what is an emulator?’

    judging from the passionate discussion that followed the article
    i would venture to say that it was very well received

    nb it is ironic that the list that was copied from pdagamer
    mark higgins, the admin from pdagamer
    when notified of this post – emulators for palm os
    posted a note in his news page with a link
    then emailed me about the future possibilities of emulators for the palm
    like mike did when he saw mywriteup on emulators for the ppc
    at this time when palm is moving up with the same strongarm chip

    a case of history repeating itself? 😀

  6. nb it is ironic that the list that was copied from pdagamer
    mark higgins, the admin from pdagamer

    obviously then you haven’t asked where the pdagamer list itself comes from. (check pdagamer forum thread)

    and also, the so called ‘golden age of PPC emulator’ are an era when there were less than half dozen sub par emulators. Only Mame and GB reached smooth playability and wide ROM compatibility. Compared that to current pNester, pocketSNES bleeding edge, and of course FPSeCE.

    PS. most of the emulator on that PPC article you tauted are either not available and has been replaced with better versions. The articles are archaic and has very little value except as historical note.

    1 have experienced owning/playing with a wide range of consoles/handhelds/computers these emulators duplicate,
    2 buy/download/test run a good number of emulators and
    3 screenshot/organise/write about them

    elaborate fluff is still a fluff.
    Here are what gamer care about emus write up:
    1. where to get the emu
    2. playability (fps, control arrangement)
    3. performance, if more than 1 emus are available.
    4. how to instal and deal with ROM if the steps are complicated. (FPSeCE and SCUMMVM are prime example)

    the spam-ce.com list addresses 3 of the items.

  7. Originally posted by henrykong
    [B]nb it is ironic that the list that was copied from pdagamer
    mark higgins, the admin from pdagamer….

    should be pdarcade, not pdagamer

    imho a review
    that shows screenshots and actual running games
    helps a reader see what’s available
    and points the way to broaden his options

    for those whose appetite has been whetted
    more info is readily available from the links given

    from the majority who commented on the last thread
    and those above
    many liked and appreciated the review
    including many adminatrators of websites like
    zodiac gamer, tapland, clie source etc 😀

    i love the consoles in its early days when every cartridge is joyfully anticipated
    i love the pcs in its early days when every new game is played and discussed
    i love emulators in its early days when every feature is longingly looked forward to

    the palm os scene is still this way
    people are still asking ‘what is an emulator?’
    and this are the golden days for the palm emulators
    like it was when i posted that ppc article

    btw zodiac gamer has a rather good list of palm emulators
    many not covered by my review

    happy days are here again :p

  8. Don’t forget Little John emulator for Palm OS 5 or greater.
    It emulates:
    Sega Genesis/Megadrive
    Sega Master System
    Sega Game Gear
    Bandai Wonderswan/Wonderswan Color
    NeoGeo Pocket/NeoGeo Pocket Color
    Atari 2600
    …. Yup it is the best and stable and high resolution updated recently. Have fun.

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