We explain how to use a software emulator to maximise gameplay, turning your current Windows 7 computer into a classic arcade machine. You can enjoy Frogger, Yie Ar Kung-Fu and other great games of old.

Remember the heady days of yesteryear, when gaming was in its 8bit binary-graphics glory? Watching several pixels go at it hammer and tongs on a mono-hued display in ill-lit arcade parlours was the height of excitement in the late 70s and early 80s.

With the obscene amount of power now available from the average PC, you could probably engineer a Moon landing. Spend £500 on a mid-range machine and you’d expect to get at least a 2GHz dual-core processor, 4GB of memory and a 512MB graphics card under the hood. Such a system is capable of rendering next-generation graphics, with thousands of photo-realistic pixels in millions of colours, on HD displays with surround-sound audio. Old-school arcade gaming looks positively retro by comparison.

Despite this, arcade games emulators on Windows PCs are hugely popular. After all, a good game is a good game. Many of us are rediscovering arcade classics and indulging in a bit of nostalgia. But the younger generation are using arcade emulators and discovering these 8bit treats for the first time. It doesn’t matter how many polygonal pixels a game has; if it has playability in spades, people will return again and again.

Nostalgia-fest retro gaming is a big deal. Thousands of online emulators are available that turn PCs into arcade machines. You can even download multiple arcade machine (Mame) emulators that can play console classics on your Windows 7 PC.

At first glance, the number of emulation options is staggering. This is because most have been lovingly crafted by committed open-source community projects over several years. Installing the correct emulator can be a frustrating experience for the majority of users, who just want to dip into arcade gaming.

Luckily for you, PC Advisor is on hand to take you through the process, helping you to turn your Window 7 PC into an arcade machine. We’ll provide tips and tricks for using an emulator, so you’ll be blasting away in 8bit glory in no time.

Step 1. Emulators and retro games are usually found online in compressed folders so they can be downloaded quickly. You’ll need software to extract the files: try the free 7-Zip, which supports a range of file formats. Make sure you choose the correct version for your PC (32bit or 64bit).

Classic games 1

Step 2. You can visit the official Mame site and download the emulator found there, but this version doesn’t have a graphical user interface. Instead, we used MameU132 from emulator-zone.com for this walkthrough. This software has a simple interface and is very easy to navigate.

Classic games 2