You can now play PS1 games in iOS on your iPhone – here’s how

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Retro game emulators have had a moment in the sun recently, with Apple’s decision to permit them on iOS and iPadOS opening the way for old-school Nintendo games to make it onto the company’s platforms. Now, emulators for the original PlayStation (PS1) are entering the fray.

That’s because a new emulator called Gamma has just appeared, and it’s an app allows you to play PS1 games on either your iPhone or iPad. All the usual warnings about emulators apply, of course – including the fact that emulating games you've already paid for is still something of a legal grey area. But it's still an interesting and significant moment, at least. 

The Gamma app features a virtual controller layout underneath the gameplay screen (users can load their own custom controller skins if they prefer) and games can be played in either landscape or portrait orientation.

There’s support for a range of connected hardware, including Bluetooth controllers, wired keyboards, and more. And if you want to add game cover artwork to your library, Gamma lets you do that, too.

As well as that, Gamma features saves that persist across gaming sessions, and it allows you to save your progress manually and automatically. You can also pick a backup service to sync your saves to, and Gamma will automatically upload those saves for you.

An evolving situation

A Sony PlayStation 1 console and controller.

(Image credit: Karolina Grabowska / Pexels)

Gamma does not supply PS1 games to its users, and those must be found elsewhere. As we mentioned earlier, the use of downloaded emulator games – also known as ROMs – has been a point of contention in the world of emulators for a long time, and Apple’s recent rule clarification hasn’t dampened the controversy entirely.

Previously speaking to MacRumors, Apple has explained that iOS console emulators are permitted to load games downloaded from the internet, as long as “the app is emulating retro console games only.” In the case of Gamma, that would seem to be the case, as the PS1 was first launched 30 years ago in 1994.

It’s unknown whether Sony is happy to have a PS1 emulator on Apple’s App Store, and what action it might take as a result. Nintendo certainly doesn’t approve of emulators – its terms of service specifically disapprove of them – but that hasn’t stopped Apple allowing Game Boy emulators on its store.

Evidently, the situation is rapidly changing and evolving. But if you love retro games and want to play them on your modern hardware, you’ll likely be pleased with recent developments.

Please note the use of emulators may be in violation of the game developer and publisher terms and conditions as well as applicable intellectual property laws. These will vary so please check these. Emulators should only ever be used with your own purchased game copy. TechRadar does not condone or encourage the illegal downloading of games or actions infringing copyright.

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Alex Blake
Freelance Contributor

Alex Blake has been fooling around with computers since the early 1990s, and since that time he's learned a thing or two about tech. No more than two things, though. That's all his brain can hold. As well as TechRadar, Alex writes for iMore, Digital Trends and Creative Bloq, among others. He was previously commissioning editor at MacFormat magazine. That means he mostly covers the world of Apple and its latest products, but also Windows, computer peripherals, mobile apps, and much more beyond. When not writing, you can find him hiking the English countryside and gaming on his PC.