The PlayStation 2, or PS2, was a wildly popular gaming console released by Sony in 2000. It quickly became the go-to console for many gamers, thanks to its impressive graphics, a wide selection of games, and innovative features like online play. Some of the most beloved games for the PS2 include Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, Final Fantasy X, and Shadow of the Colossus. In this article, we go through each of the steps to set up PS2 games for free to play right from an Android.
For many people, playing their favorite PS2 games brings back a sense of nostalgia and fond memories. However, the PS2 has been discontinued for quite some time now, making it difficult for people to experience the classic console. Not to worry though, in this article, we will outline the step-by-step process of emulating a PS2 console and playing PS2 games straight from an Android device.
How to play PS2 games on Android for free
An emulator is just a bit of software that can virtually simulate another device. They are usually completely safe to download and can be found straight from the Google Play Store. On an Android device, the emulator will be nothing more than just another app.
Step 1: Download a PS2 Emulator (AetherSX2)
There are a few different emulators for PS2 available, but it’s especially important to pick the right one here. DamonPS2 used to be the only viable option for PS2 emulation on Android, hence why it has accumulated over 10 million downloads. However, there are rumors of privacy concerns in how DamonPS2 manages data, and users have apparently dug up some questionable discoveries too.
AetherSX2 is the emulator we will be using in this article. So far, there have been no signs of any “dodgy” business and the emulator itself performs well and is reliable. In fact, the AetherSX2 developers have faithfully used code from PCSX2 which is a very well-known and widely-used PS2 emulator for PC. This app is free and also has no ads! So despite having millions more downloads, AetherSX2 is the one we recommended over DamonPS2.
Step 2: Download some PS2 games
The emulator will not come pre-installed with games. We have to find and download these ourselves and websites are a good place to look. It is easy to get tangled with shady websites so make sure to only use those that are completely trustworthy. A trusted site for PS2 games is EmulatorGames.net, they should have almost all the PS2 games available.
This site also offers games for other emulators of other consoles too, if interested. From a legal perspective, just ensure you own a physical copy of the game before obtaining a ROM file of that game. For any emulator, the game files to download are called ROMs which stands for Read-Only-Memory.
Put simply, an emulator ROM is just a digital copy of one of those physical game cartridges you would put into the console to play the game. PS2 ROMs have an average size of about 2.5GB so ensure there is sufficient storage available before downloading each game.
Step 3: Extract and Organise the Game Files
When downloaded the file will be in an archived format, so we need to extract the file first. To do this, first, download a file explorer app such as ZArchiver. Your device may already have one pre-installed as well. Navigate to the archived file on the explorer app, then click it, and select the option to extract.
The file of interest is the one ending in the file extension “.iso“. It is a good idea to create a folder on your Android phone specifically for PS2 games. This makes it easier to locate where PS2 games are stored if needed later and keeps PS2 games separated from other ROMs you might have for other emulators. After extracting the required file, it’s fine to then delete the archived one as that is no longer needed.
Step 4: Loading up the games on the emulator
AetherSX2 is a user-friendly emulator, in that when first opened, the app guides the user through a set-up process. There is a useful FAQ page detailing information about the emulator and some information about how users can improve performance and deal with other issues. Then, there is a settings page, and some bits here are a little complicated but should just be ignored.
Commonly, the Optimal/Safe Defaults is the default choice, however, those with particularly lower-end devices should pick the Fast/Unsafe Defaults option. This increases the frame rate to make games more playable but this comes at the cost of reduced compatibility with games. The next step is to import the BIOS and this is a really important step. Without this, the emulator will simply not work.
The emulator recommends obtaining this file from a personal home console, but there are ways to do this without a console. From a legal perspective, just ensure you own a physical copy of the console before obtaining a BIOS file. Once you have a BIOS file, upload it in the app where indicated.
Finally, the last step in the emulator setup is to pick a directory. This is why it’s a good idea to store the PS2 games in one folder, since here, users can simply set that folder as the main directory. Whenever new games are added to that folder, they should automatically show in the emulator. To play a game, just tap on it in the main menu.
Step 5: Getting familiar with the controls and settings
The emulator offers on-screen controls to interact with the game, and they are fairly alright to work with. It’s possible to play the game in landscape and portrait, in the latter option, the top half of the screen will show the game, and the bottom will be the controls. If the on-screen controls are tricky to deal with, it’s also possible to connect a remote via Bluetooth as well.
There is a settings option that allows tweaking of various things such as video quality, audio, key mappings, and on-screen control layout. It’s better to leave the more technical features as they are to avoid making any drastic changes to the emulator functionality. This emulator also offers a save/load state feature, and the option to toggle a frame limiter and software renderer.
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