This is a hub for various information about netplay. Most info was gathered from the guys over at /vr/, so if you have any questions or need someone to play retro games with, visit their IRC channel at #/vr/_Netplay on rizon.net & and their official website here
Before you begin, here are some things to consider:
- Emulator netplay is NOT perfect. Desyncs WILL occur very often. Choppy/stuttery gameplay is also very common, and sometimes there is controller input lag. It comes with the experience.
- It sometimes takes several consecutive tries for the game to stay synced well enough to enjoy some multiplayer action. Do not be discouraged and try again until it works.
- When using netplay, make sure not to have anything downloading (torrents, YouTube videos, etc.)
- Try not to move the emulator window around, or switch focus to windows other than the chat/Kaillera window and emulator, or you risk desyncing the game.
- It's highly recommended to use a controller. Some emulators still register input from keyboards while you're chatting on separate chat windows.
You should note that some emulators and clients will require you to forward your ports. To do that, follow the Port Forwarding Guide For Netplay.
Local Multiplayer Netplay
This section will cover consoles that originally had local multiplayer, also known as couch multiplayer, where multiple controllers were hooked to the same console. Out of convenience, handheld consoles that required link cable or wireless within a small distance in the same room between two units will be considered local multiplayer as well.
Netplay emulates local multiplayer allowing for players across the globe to play the same game as if they were in the same room.
- RetroArch *: FCEUmm, QuickNES, or Nestopia cores support netplay. Save states cannot be used during netplay, and bringing up the menu screen will cause disconnection.
- Mesen: Mesen has a netplay feature, available by going to Tools -> Netplay. Hamachi (and other methods) or a port forward is required.
- VirtuaNES *
- Mednafen *: FCEU core
- Nestopia *
- RockNESX 2.0: A very old NES emulator. Has a very nice interface but the documentation doesn't indicate what ports it uses, so you're limited to using a VPN like Hamachi. The author did away with netplay in more recent versions.
- Jnes: Still shows signs of being updated, but it absolutely HATES anything other than stock Kaillera. I'm not sure if it's possible to get it to work.
- RetroArch *: Snes9x or bsnes cores.
- Mednafen *: bsnes core
- ZSNES *
- Mesen S: Mesen S has a netplay feature, available by going to Tools -> Netplay. Hamachi (and other methods) or a port forward is required.
GameCube / Wii
- Dolphin: This guide should help, although it should be noted that netplay is not perfect. This is for playing with other Dolphin emulators.
Game Boy Advance
- VBA-Link and some forks of VBA-M have netplay support for link cable emulation between two GBA units. Has significant issues.
- Citra has local multiplayer support (through Wi-Fi).
None of the existing emulators for the following Nintendo devices currently offer solutions for local multiplayer emulation through netplay. However, some of them have support for online gameplay modes that existed on the original console. Refer to the next section for more details.
- Kega Fusion *: Besides RetroArch, this is really the only one worthwhile option to netplay with. It emulates practically every single console and peripheral prior to the Saturn, all while allowing for some decent netplay capabilities on the side.
- GENS *: An acceptable alternative. While it only emulates Genesis/Mega Drive, Sega CD and 32X, it uses Kaillera for online multiplayer, which is helpful in case you get consistent desyncs while using Kega Fusion.
- Mednafen *: Genesis core is experimental but mostly functional; 2 players only. Also has a Master System core.
- PCSX2 (unofficial netplay build): Netplay has never officially been added to PCSX2, but someone tried making their own branch a few years ago to implement it. Only about seven fighting games work, and the project has since been abandoned.
Alternatively, use this fork and extract the PPSSPP folder to two differently named folders which you can run at the same time as different instances with different key inputs.
Under Networking Settings:
- Change PRO Ad-hoc Server IP Address to 127.0.0.1 on every instance
- Enable Networking/WLAN and Built-in PRO Ad-hoc Server.
- Make sure each instance of PPSSPP has the same Port offset, but a different MAC address.
Games confirmed to work: God Eater Burst, Battlefront, Metal Slug XX, Monster Hunter 2.
None of the existing emulators for the following Sony devices currently offer solutions for local multiplayer emulation through netplay.
The many platforms that conform to the term "arcade" have got to be considered the most extensively researched and emulated platforms in existence. Choosing the right emulator is quite a daunting task since there are so many different versions that accomplish the same thing in almost imperceptibly different ways. Branching off from a standard official emulator that, by itself, is commonly regarded to leave much to be desired.
- MAME32 Plus Plus *
- Kawaks 1.63 * (And later versions)
- GGPO: Arcade emulator built around netplay. Widely considered to have the best netcode for only multiplayer available. It's so great that its used in some more recent commercial games. The only disadvantage is that you need to open ports to use it, and it's severely limited to games that were made or modified specifically to use this technology. Built on the same emulator is FightCade, which can be found here.
- MameHUB: Said to have a comparable netcode to GGPO, it's also capable of emulating console games through MESS. However, using MameHUB requires registration, and the frontend, is coded in Java, is an absolute resource-hog which heavily impairs your gaming experience if you're using a low-end computer. You can join a game that's already in session. Newer versions of MAMEHub use much fewer resources.
Online Multiplayer Emulation
This refers to different game modes than regular local multiplayer. Some consoles offered during their lifetime options to connect to the internet (or similar services) to play against other people online.
While most of these servers went defunct, some of them are (or were) still up and the emulators were developed far enough to be able to interface with the actual official servers. The others had replacement servers, that could host both real hardware players and PC emulator users. However in many cases emulator users were banned over cheating or concerns that emulation lag gave them unfair advantage (which is the case with Wiimfi's project, and some of its associated game mods that took it a step further to prevent the game from running on emulators).
Requirements may include:
- images of network certification files ripped from real hardware, which might be further complicated by the fact that the ones distributed online are much more likely to be banned. This is the case for Wii and Wii U online.
- if using custom servers, patching out the original URL addresses in the game to point at the newer servers instead. This is achieved either through Action Replay codes, or modifying the game's image with dedicated tools.
- PCSX2: Has an option to connect to Sony's own servers (or replacement servers) provided the game is still up. Relevant links: How To Play PCSX2 Online (See Online PS2 games for what games still have servers up)
Because Nintendo shut down its servers for Wi-Fi, it can't be connected to. Wiimmfi is the only option, but Dolphin will not be able to connect normally, as you require a normal Wii's files. This guide has instructions on how to get the certificates needed to connect to their servers, but do note that you cannot connect if you cannot run the game full speed. This also includes lag spikes that may occur. Your emulator will be banned from the servers if the game is unable to run full speed.
It's more recommended to connect via your Wii since you require files from it to play it on Dolphin, and it's risky to try with Dolphin regardless. CFG and USB Loader GX both support Wiimmfi without patching the game and do it on the fly. Looking into different custom servers than Wiimmfi is another option.
- Cemu supports online play pretty well, however custom servers are still not up so you'll have to risk your own Wii U's network certification files to use this feature.
DeSmuME main version 0.9.7 used to include an option to connect to Nintendo's own servers, and later, the custom servers. It works pretty well. However, since the project maintainers had creative differences and decided further development on it is to stop, it was never developed any further and as such existed for a long while as unofficial forks requiring an Ethernet connection (though further workarounds were found to enable any kind of connection). Very recently, it was added back in that state to the main builds.
melonDS, a newer DS emulator by the developer who used to work on that feature, is planning online support.
Status of various other consoles and their emulation of online features:
- Satellaview (SNES): Custom broadcasts already can be emulated on bsnes-plus, still WIP.
- XBAND (Genesis/SNES/Saturn): SNES XBAND emulation revival WIP.
- GB Online Adapter (GBC/GBA): WIP.
- Phantasy Star Online (DC/GC/PC): Custom servers already up, emulation WIP.
- Android: Emulators can already connect online.
Inactive online feature development:
- 3DS Nintendo Network (3DS): no interest from Citra developers.
- Sony online services (PSP/PSV/PS3/PS4): custom servers up for some games, zero emulation interest.
- Horse betting service modem (NES, SNES), WonderSwan online (WSC), PS1 online (PS1/i-mode): zero interest.