In the past couple months, we have seen our world change. Staying home has become the norm, with social gatherings being restricted. Movie theaters are closed, concerts are cancelled, and more and more people are passing the time with video games. Digital downloads are at an all-time high due to many game stores being closed, with outlets such as Wal-Mart that also carry essential items being one of the few places to purchase a physical game.
Due to all this, there is no better time for many to dive into the world of emulation for their gaming fix. Many households are on a tight budget due to workplaces being closed, and others are working from home. Even if you stick to titles you already own to keep everything legal, the simple convenience of having your entire game library available on your PC (or if you choose a device you build) means you can enjoy your games without having to switch carts or discs, swapping cables for consoles hooked to your television, or even hunting down a particular game among bookcases filled with hundreds or thousands of titles.
Perhaps you used to emulate but switched over to authentic hardware (like I did myself around a decade back, although I still dabbled with emulation as well). The good news is that there are now packages such as Retroarch that bundles a good looking frontend with all the emulators (or “cores”) available as a simple download in the frontend. Although if you are willing to put in the work, you can build yourself an impressive customized UI using Hyperspin.
While being stuck at home, you could also start a simple project to build your own emulation setup instead of keeping it on your PC. If you want a handheld, there is no easier kit that the RetroFlag GPi paired with a Raspberry Pi 0 W and an SD card flashed with Retropie. All you have to do is supply your game ROMS and let it scan what you add for it to download artwork and you are set. For under $150 dollars you can build your own handheld with no soldering that can handle any game from the Atari 2600 to the 16 bit era, and some PS1 era titles will play full speed as well. Or you can always get a Raspberry Pi 3, your choice of Retroflag case that resemble an NES, SNES, or Mega Drive, and of course your SD card flashed with Retropie and have a more powerful system that can handle PS1 along with some Dreamcast. Add a controller for the console one and you are good to go!
If you are stuck at home, there is no better time to start an emulation project and create something you craft to your needs for a new old-school gaming setup! All of these parts are available via mail order and can be delivered right to your door, or you can just set everything up on a PC or laptop and grab any USB controller you have laying around (or even something wireless like an X-Box One or PS4 controller) and get to gaming!