The Nvidia Shield TV, in all its fairness, is a beast of a device. From being able to stream in crisp 4K Ultra HD to playing and streaming your favorite games through GeForce Now, it's almost an unbelievable deal.
All of this is made possible by the Tegra X1+ SOC onboard with 3 GB of RAM, making it one of the fastest and most powerful streaming devices on offer.
Running on the Android TV platform, you can install some amazing apps for Shield TV from the Play Store, further increasing the appeal of this device.
With that said, you may wonder, can it run anything you want it to run? How about playing classic games from a bygone era, say some of the old PSP games?
Turns out, you can play retro games on the Shield TV without needing the actual hardware in the vicinity. All you have to do is install an emulator on the Shield TV and load the ROMs/games onto the emulator to play it.
Nvidia makes its own controller which negates the need for an external controller, making the Shield TV an ideal emulating device.
Download an Emulator from Playstore and follow the instructions to install it on Nvidia Shield. Load the game into the emulator by selecting it from the storage. You can even set up the controls to your liking using the Nvidia Shield controller.
Here are the instructions on how to install an emulator on the Shield TV.
Things to Consider Before Installing Emulators on Nvidia Shield
First, let's take a look at the necessities to take care of before you can play games on the Shield TV.
The type of Shield TV model you own can make or break the deal when considering an emulator.
The Shield TV Pro is based on a 64-bit architecture, unlike the 32-bit variant that comes standard on the base model Shield TV.
Some emulators may not support the 64-bit architecture.
If you have an older model, like the 2015 or 2017 models, you don't have to worry about this issue since all of them run on 32-bit architecture.
Type of External Storage
Next, you need to have a suitable storage device with a good storage capacity. This is for loading the game ROM from your PC to the Shield TV.
A class 10 USB thumbstick, an HDD, or an SSD should do the trick.
It is generally not advised to download the game ROM on your Shield TV since most browsers don't support downloading features.
Downloading a File Manager App
After connecting the USB drive to the Shield TV, you will need a File manager to copy the file from the USB to the Shield TV.
You can download a file manager from a ton of options on the Play store. Simply go to the play store and then, search and install a file manager of your choice from the list.
Using this file manager app, you can manage the file transfers between the Shield TV and the external storage device.
Choosing an Emulator
Finally, you have to choose the right Emulator for your intended choice of execution.
One of the most widely used Emulators is Retroarch.
Even though not a conventional Emulator, it supports multiple emulating scenarios like support for SNES, NES, Nintendo, and other platforms.
Other widely popular emulators include PPSSPP, ClassicBoy, My Oldboy!, etc.
Some emulators only support a single platform.
Make sure you choose the right emulator. Most emulators are available in the Play Store. Some emulators may not be available in the Play store, which you will have to sideload.
Note: While Emulators are legal to download and use, downloading game ROMs may not be legal in some regions. This is because of copyright issues and other publishing rights protocols.
Make sure you adhere to the local rules and regulations before proceeding to download. If you possess a physical copy of the game, you may be eligible to make a backup and hence, use it with an emulator.
But still, make sure the rules and regulations permit such provisions before acting upon the said.
How to Transfer the Game ROM
After you have downloaded/procured the game ROM on your PC, make sure you store them separately on the USB drive.
Classifying the ROMs according to the platform may be advised for easy detection and transfer purposes.
Make sure to store the entire collection in a single master folder with the name ROM or any other suitable name.
After making a suitable directory, remove the USB drive and connect it to the Shield TV.
Make sure you have accepted all the necessary permissions while installing the file manager app on the Shield TV.
Open the app and navigate to the USB directory.
Locate the ROM folder and copy the folder using the quick setting menu or in most cases, by pressing and holding the Select button on the Shield TV remote.
Place the folder in the internal storage of the Shield TV; it should be easily accessible.
Note: Shield TV has a maximum storage of 16 GB (PRO model). Make sure you don't exceed the threshold or else the performance may get affected.
How to Install the Emulator on Nvidia Shield
Depending on the platform you choose, you have to download/install an appropriate emulator on your Shield TV. Follow these steps for installing and using an emulator from the Play store.
1. On the Home screen, click and open the Play store app.
2. Search and type the Emulator of choice.
3. Click and open the Emulator. Click on Install.
4. If you have a Gamepad, you can connect it now while opening the app.
5. Accept all the required Permissions.
6. In the Home screen of the app, navigate to the library/collection menu to add games to your emulator.
7. Select the directory on the Shield TV storage, where the game folder lies. The emulator will automatically detect any supported files.
8. Launch the game to play it.
And there you have it, a general guide on how to install and play games on an emulator on your Shield TV. Although the process may vary from emulator to emulator, the process is almost the same.
Let's now take a deeper look at different emulators and how different the interfaces are with each of them.
How to Use Retroarch
Retroarch has support for several platforms, and you can download what they call "cores" to install these platforms as plugins.
Follow these steps to successfully configure Retroarch and play games.
1. Once you open the app, click on Load core from the Home screen to install a specific core.
2. Click on download core to see the available option. Select the appropriate core.
3. After installing the core, head back to the home screen and move to the right and select "Scan directory to add ROM".
4. Locate the directory on the Shield TV and select "scan this directory".
5. Return to the Home screen. You can see the detected games to the right, under the controller icon.
6. Select the game of your choice and then click on Run to load the game.
You can add multiple cores to play games from multiple platforms.
How to Use PPSSPP
PPSSPP is an emulator that lets you exclusively play PSP games. You can download the app from the play store.
After installing the app, move to the left, to the Games section. Click on the Upload arrow icon to select the game ROMs from the directory.
You can launch the games once the cover art becomes visible.
PPSSPP has a premium version called PPSSPP gold, which lets you play games in HD quality among other features.
How to Use Classic Boy
Another great emulator to try on the Shield TV is Classic Boy.
Similar to the Retroarch simulator, Classic boy also supports multiple platforms for emulation. Follow these steps to install and play games on the app.
1. You can download and install the app from the Play store.
2. After installing, you can choose your platform of choice from the available list on the Home screen.
3. Click on "Choose a game" to locate the game from the directory.
4. After locating the game, click on New game on the platform/core menu to run the game.
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Using a Front End App
If you have a lot of games and you use multiple emulators to play them, you may want to look into a front-end app.
A front end seamlessly integrates and organizes all your games into a single interface.
Just launch the app and click on the game icon to play the game, hence removing the need to painfully start an emulator and locate the games on the directory each and every time.
DIG, ARC browser, and Nostalgia are some of the frontend apps available on the play store though some are paid.
All you have to do is install the app and it will automatically detect the games stored in the directory.
If it were unable to do so, you can manually locate the game folder and the app will organize the games according to the platform.
It will even apply cover art and other information about the games on the Home screen.
Common Issues with Emulators on Shield TV - How to Fix
Even though the prospect of Emulating old retro games seems enticing enough, issues do trouble the app periodically. Here are some of the issues you may face and some tips on how to solve them.
1. Check for updates. If you have issues loading the emulator, you should check for updates on your Shield TV. Go to Settings> Device Preferences> About> System upgrade to update your device. Also routinely check for updates on the play store for the emulator you use.
2. Frame rate problems. Playing retro games can cause the Frame rates to fluctuate and cause frequent frame drops. This is because of ill-matched frame rates. Try changing the frame rate of the game on the emulator by going to the setting menu. You can also change the frame rate on Shield TV, but this may lead to problems with your TV.
3. Controller issues. If you have problems with the controller, try tinkering with the controller settings on the Emulator. If the problem is with the Shield TV connection, check out this article about controller issues on Shield TV.
Retroarch support issues. Having problems loading games on Retroarch, try changing the core. Retroarch has several cores available for the same platform. If you have problems with one of them,try another one.
Despite some issues like the ones listed above, there are many cool things to do with your Shield TV.
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Playing old games from your childhood is the ultimate nostalgia inducer. The Shield TV can help you take it up a notch, by helping you do it so on a bigger screen.
Make sure you configure the emulator to your liking before playing. The current generation of emulators even allows saving your progress, which was not always the case with the predecessors.
If you are having issues downloading a file manager or the emulators themselves on the Shield TV, you might want to look into Internet issues on Shield TV.