EmuDeck app turns Steam Deck into a retro gaming monster

EmuDeck running on Steam Deck
(Image credit: EmuDeck)

The Steam Deck from Valve is proving to be full of surprises. Not only can it play some of the best PC games on the go, as well as doubling up as a worthy desktop replacement during work hours, it’s also proving to be a beast when it comes to retro game emulation.

And, for those that really want to push the Steam Deck to its retro-gaming limits, the new EmuDeck app will be an absolute must-have.

Built natively for the Steam Deck, EmuDeck is a near one-stop solution for emulation gaming on Valve’s handheld. Doing all the donkey work of having to set up the (sometimes complex) retro gaming emulators, it will configure everything from aspect ratios to hotkeys ready for play on the Steam Deck, as well as downloading appropriate box art for all your ROMs, and integrating everything into your overall Steam library.

There’s a little bit of configuration required, and you’ll need to have downloaded the standalone emulators from the Steam Deck market and opened them at least once for everything to work. You’ll also need your own retro BIOS files and ROMs – the legality of which remains a contested area.

But if you want everything from games on the original NES and Game Boy sitting alongside PC classics like Half-Life 2 and Hades in your Steam Deck library, EmuDeck will have you covered.

Check out the ace step-by-step guide to getting it set up from the superb Retro Games Corps below:

A retro revolution

As the games industry matures (and the gamers buying the games progressing to vintage years themselves), there’s an increased interest not only in brand-spanking new ray-traced titles, but also in having access to the 8-bit, 16-bit and 32-bit classics of yesteryear.

While PC gamers usually have the tools to bring their older game libraries with them through generations of hardware, it’s not always so simple for console gamers. Xbox has gone some way to streamlining the issue with this console generation’s backwards compatibility support and multi-gen Xbox Game Pass library – and though it’s a far sight better than what Nintendo and PlayStation currently offer, it’s still a piecemeal approach to accessing every game that a player may have enjoyed on older hardware in years past.

And so there’s a growing wave of retro-oriented devices coming to the market, from Android games consoles to Raspberry Pi builds, and a succession of ever-improving dedicated retro handheld including the Anbernic RG552 and exemplary AYN Odin. There’s a gap in the market that the big gaming players aren’t filling, and though the distribution of ROMs is illegal, there’s nothing to stop such excellent hardware from facilitating their use.

With power obscene in terms of what’s expected from a handheld gaming device, the Steam Deck is set to be the one on-the-go emulation device to rule them all. And with dedicated apps like EmuDeck, expect to see more and more gamers looking back to the classics of old.

Gerald Lynch

Gerald is Editor-in-Chief of iMore.com. Previously he was the Executive Editor for TechRadar, taking care of the site's home cinema, gaming, smart home, entertainment and audio output. He loves gaming, but don't expect him to play with you unless your console is hooked up to a 4K HDR screen and a 7.1 surround system. Before TechRadar, Gerald was Editor of Gizmodo UK. He is also the author of 'Get Technology: Upgrade Your Future', published by Aurum Press.