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Hands-on: You can now play Nintendo retro games on Apple TV 4K & TVs via AirPlay

19 Apr 2024 | Rasmus Larsen |

One of the first retro game emulators on Apple's App Store lets you to play Nintendo games on your TV via AirPlay, complete with game controller support. Here is how it works.

Last month, Apple officially opened the App Store to retro game emulators worldwide. The first notable game emulator to arrive is Delta, an all-in-one emulator and the official successor to the well-known GBA4iOS.

Delta supports a range of classic game systems including:
  • Nintendo Entertainment System
  • Super Nintendo Entertainment System
  • Nintendo 64
  • Game Boy (Color)
  • Game Boy Advance
  • Nintendo DS The developer, Testut Tech, promises "plenty more to come". It also features extensive controller support for Nintendo Switch Pro and Joy-Con controllers, Nintendo Switch Online controllers, PlayStation 4 and 5 controllers, Xbox One and Series controllers, MFi game controllers, as well as various Bluetooth and wired keyboards. In addition, it supports up to 4-person multiplayer. The app does not come preloaded with games. Users must manually load ROM files via Apple's cloud service, Files.

    Game emulation Apple TV

    You can play the Nintendo games from your iPhone to your TV via AirPlay. Photo: FlatpanelsHD

    How to play on your TV

    The developer has previously said that it is looking into a developing a dedicated app for tvOS in Apple TV 4K, but this app is not available at launch. In the meantime, Delta offers support for Apple TV HD, Apple TV 4K, and TVs from major brands such as LG, Samsung, Sony, and TCL via AirPlay. To get started, simply open the Delta app on your iPhone, select the game you want to play, and enable AirPlay mirroring from the iPhone control center. Performance will depend on the robustness of your WiFi home network – it is all offline so your internet speed is irrelevant.

    Game emulation Apple TV

    Playing with a game controller (must be Bluetooth connected to iPhone). Photo: FlatpanelsHD

    Works with game controllers

    FlatpanelsHD tested the app with an Xbox Series X controller connected to the iPhone. The controller seamlessly integrates with the Delta app, automatically hiding the on-screen controls. Once the controller is connected, you can put your iPhone aside and enjoy the game on your TV. While using AirPlay, we noticed a little bit of latency, but Super Mario remained perfectly playable and enjoyable. The Delta app also offers some unique features for Nintendo DS games when streaming via AirPlay to your TV. You can choose to display the screens horizontally or vertically, and even opt to have just the top screen mirrored on the TV while using the iPhone for a multi-screen gaming experience. We have not tested this feature yet at FlatpanelsHD.

    Free everywhere except Europe

    The Delta game emulator app can be downloaded for for free from the iOS App Store (iPhone only) worldwide, except in Europe. In Europe, due to the ongoing dance between Apple and the EU's Digital Markets Act, the Delta app is available through an alternative app store called AltStore PAL, costs €1.5 per year plus tax. It requires several additional steps to set up. Unfortunately, the situation in Europe is not be ideal if Delta later releases a true tvOS app, as AltStore PAL is currently only available on iPhone, not Apple TV. We will have to wait and see how this develops. Outside of Europe, we are impressed with how well the Delta game emulator works. It is a nostalgic trip down memory lane to revisit some of our favorite childhood games!
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