The PlayStation 2 was one of the most popular consoles of its time. With four iterations under its belt, this console sold over 400 million units in total. It was also the longest-running PlayStation console, spanning over a decade. However, since Sony has moved on with successive PlayStation models, PS2 games are increasingly regarded as classics from the past. If you don’t own a PS2 console of your own, you can only access its games via emulators. We’ve found you 15 of the best PS2 emulators you can download below:
15 Best PS2 Emulator Programs in 2021
1. DamonPS2 Pro
DamonPS2 Pro is a compact PS2 emulator for Android, letting you enjoy PS2 games with maximum graphics on the go. However, this does mean you will need a somewhat capable smartphone with a high-end Snapdragon processor.
What’s great about DamonPS2 Pro is that it doesn’t consume as much power as other emulators. It can also run games at higher frame rates while still maintaining low power consumption.
Unfortunately, DamonPS2 Pro is a paid app, so you have to shell out a little bit to play. It does have a less powerful free version that provides the same performance. However, this free version limits your graphics options and bars you from great features like save states. Also, the free version contains ads and doesn’t provide a gamepad.
2. Free HD PS2 Emulator
The Free HD PS2 Emulator is just as its name says: it’s a PS2 emulator you can download free of charge. This emulator provides support for a wide variety of games — over 90%, in fact.
Additionally, this emulator can run games with a widescreen resolution for an immersive gameplay experience. What’s more, it also has 2x to 5x resolution so you won’t complain about the graphics at all.
Apart from those, the Free HD PS2 Emulator also doesn’t require BIOS, making it easier for you to load games. Moreover, it has all the other basic features you might need like save states, a gamepad, and more.
3. Free Pro PS2 Emulator
The Free Pro PS2 Emulator is another dedicated PS2 emulator for Android. It is capable of running games efficiently at up to 60fps, making them feel smooth if your phone can keep up. Of course, this frame rate isn’t always consistent because the fps changes on a per-game and per-phone basis. Nonetheless, it’s a great way to run PS2 games on an Android phone.
In addition, Free Pro PS2 Emulator also has several useful features. These include support for multiple file formats and the ability to play 90% of all existing PS2 games. It also doesn’t require a BIOS to run any games and supports SD cards for storing save states.
4. Golden PS2 (Pro PS2 Emulator)
Golden PS2, or Pro PS2 Emulator, boasts a slew of features that other PS2 emulators don’t have. For example, it doesn’t need a BIOS file to run PS2 games. It also supports various ROM formats so you’re not just limited to the PS2. You can also play games from other consoles like the PSP as long as they’re compatible. Furthermore, the app can support NEON acceleration and multi-threading, providing great graphics and performance.
This emulator is not without its weaknesses, such as the need to sideload the app on your phone. This makes it much more inconvenient compared with apps that are readily available on the Play Store.
5. Gold PS2 Emulator (Pro PPSS2 Golden)
If you’re looking for a reliable and versatile option, the Gold PS2 Emulator is one of your best bets. Not only does it support 90% of all PS2 games, but it can also run them at high graphics with steady performance.
Furthermore, Gold PS2 Emulator also supports different features. These include cheat codes using VBA-M files and it also supports different file formats, like .zip, .rar, 7Z, etc. Moreover, it’s one of the most backward compatible PS2 emulators because of the low system requirements. You can even install it on an Android phone running something as low as Android 4.4. Lastly, like other PS2 emulators, it can also store save states on SD cards.
HPSX64 might not be the best PS2 emulator overall. However, it has a couple of things going for it that makes it stand out. For example, it’s an open-source program that has been around since 2018. Thus, if you have a knack for coding, you can tweak the emulator’s code to your liking.
If you’re a non-coder, conversely, you still have a lot to gain from HPSX64. That’s because it has all the basic features you want in a PS2 emulator. These include gamepad support, V-sync, video buffering, and so on. Furthermore, it can support two gamepads for two-player gameplay if you like playing FIFA, Tekken, and other multiplayer games.
However, HPSX64 is a little rough around the edges because it’s relatively new. It doesn’t even support a huge library of games yet compared with other PS2 emulators. Nonetheless, it’s a decent emulator, especially if the games you want to play aren’t particularly hard to emulate.
7. New PS2 Emulator
New PS2 Emulator supports not only the PS2, but also the PS1 and PSX. This means it grants you access to a larger collection of games compared with most other alternatives.
However, that’s not the only thing that makes New PS2 Emulator a solid choice. It has other handy features that you don’t always find in other apps. For example, New PS2 Emulator supports different file formats, including .zip, .bin, 7Z, and more. It also supports external storage via USB or SD card.
Unfortunately, New PS2 Emulator doesn’t perform well in terms of graphics. There’s also a bit of lag during gameplay, so it isn’t for you if you are looking for the smoothest experience.
8. NSX2 (NeutrinoSX2)
NSX2 (otherwise known as NeutrinoSX2) is an open-source PS2 emulator that does its job well. This emulator is capable of running PS2 games at decent frame rates while also supporting the ISO game format.
Furthermore, NSX2 is also great for more creative players. That’s because you have easy access to its code, allowing you to modify the features to your preferences. You can dive into its clean and organized code to customize it to your liking.
Many people consider PCSX2 as the best PS2 emulator for desktop users. That’s because it’s not only open-source but also multi-platform. Hence, whether you’re running on Windows, macOS, or Linux, you can jump into PS2 games easily.
In addition, it also runs the games at optimal graphics without sacrificing quality or gameplay. There are even additional features that make the games look better than they were originally on the PS2. These include texture filtering, anti-aliasing, and modifying the resolutions up to 8192×8192.
PCSX2 even supports rare games, so it’s the perfect emulator if you want to exhaust the PS2’s library. There is also a built-in HD recorder if you wish to record videos of your gameplay.
Play! is a multi-platform PS2 emulator, compatible with Mac OSX, Linux, iOS, and Android. However, it’s not just the multi-platform capabilities that make Play! stand out. It’s also the fact that it’s so easy to install that even non-tech-savvy people can make it work smoothly. Furthermore, it doesn’t need a BIOS file so you can easily use a .bin or ISO file instead.
Unfortunately, Play! does have some issues. For starters, it can only run games at a maximum frame rate of 15fps—definitely not ideal if you want to play your games smoothly. In addition, you might experience frame drops from time to time if you don’t have a powerful device. It’s also something you have to side-load if you’re planning on using it on Android devices.
PPSSPP is not just a PS2 emulator, but it is also a PSP emulator. This two-in-one emulator does a splendid job of delivering high-end graphics, excellent performance, and a great interface to your PS2 and PSP games.
In addition, PPSSPP is also readily available on the Play Store so you don’t need to side-load anything to play. Moreover, the gameplay itself is stable and smooth so it’s a pleasure to play with even without a controller.
However, it does have a lag and bugs here and there. So if you don’t mind a few occasional crashes, it provides an excellent experience overall.
12. Pro PlayStation
On-screen controls, good graphics, and save states—these are just some of the features you get on Pro PlayStation. Sure, they’re basic features that any good emulator might have. However, Pro PlayStation executes these well while also adding many different features people might want.
For example, it provides a great interface that’s straightforward and easy to understand — an underrated feature not everyone notices. Moreover, Pro PlayStation also provides RAM compatibility, maps, and fast-forwarding features. It’s also compatible with older versions of Android so it’s a great choice if you’re using an old phone.
The only limitation it has is that it’s not compatible with all PS2 games. Moreover, it doesn’t have any games pre-included, so you have to find the files separately. Nonetheless, it’s one of the best PS2 emulator apps for mobile that’s quick, easy, and performs well overall.
PS2Emu is a great Linux-compatible PS2 emulator. Don’t expect it to be the perfect emulator, especially if you compare it to emulators on other platforms. This is because PS2Emu is still experimental and development is ongoing.
As a result, it’s unsurprising that PS2Emu’s controls are a little lackluster. The interface is basic and not very friendly to beginners. Moreover, you need to add a plugin just for the graphics, gameplay, and audio. Nonetheless, it’s still a decent find if you’re itching to play PS2 games on your Linux computer.
PTWOE was one of the best PS2 emulator apps available on the Google Play Store. Unfortunately, it’s been removed from Google’s selection and remains as a side-loadable app. If you don’t mind a little tinkering, this emulator is well worth the trouble.
That’s because it offers two versions that prioritize different things. One version (v.1.12) is more stable and has fewer bugs, but it compromises speed and feels fairly slow. The other version (v.1.27) is faster but sacrifices the two good qualities v 1.12 has.
This choice comes down to a matter of preference so you can take your pick depending on your priorities. Either way, you’ll get an app that performs well, even rivaling the best PS2 emulator apps for Android. That is, of course, if you have a somewhat capable phone.
Unfortunately, PTWOE isn’t perfect and requires a BIOS file to run. Hence, you have to go through a long process to get it running on top of side-loading the app itself.
If you run a search for the best PS2 emulator programs, you’ll likely find RetroArch on every article’s list. In fact, you might find it in every article that lists the best emulators of any kind. That’s because RetroArch is a very famous, multi-platform emulator that emulates multiple consoles. Hence, you not only get to experience PS2 games but other games from other consoles as well.
RetroArch is refined, unlike many other PS2-specific emulators. It has a well-defined interface that feels modern and premium. Moreover, it has a plethora of customization options that you can tinker with according to your preferences. It even has filters and shaders that bring a more nostalgic feel.
In addition, RetroArch also has an online play through its Netplay servers. This is huge because most other PS2 emulators don’t offer this feature. Furthermore, RetroArch also provides useful tools for YouTube and Twitch streamers, making it a favorite for online gamer influencers.
The Final Word
Finding the best PS2 emulator for your platform is easy. There are tons of options, especially if you’re looking for something based on mobile. You have RetroArch, PPSSPP, Golden PS2, and more. Each one has a specialty and you can download anyone depending on your priorities. You can also download multiple or all of the ones on this list. You can see what works for you and have fun playing and reminiscing about your favorite PS2 games.