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First NES emulator for iPhone now available on the App Store [Update: Removed]

Published Apr 16th, 2024 3:14PM EDT
NES emulator for iPhone
Image: José Adorno for BGR

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The first NES emulator for iPhone and iPad is now available on the App Store, following some recent App Review Guideline changes made by Apple. Developed by Tom Salvo, the launch of Bimmy was shared on the MacRumors forum as a “simple emulator to aid in homebrew game development and testing” as well as to “play public domain ROMs.”

UPDATE: Just hours after launching the NES emulator, developer Tom Salvo has removed the app from the App Store. Here’s the statement he shared on the MacRumors forums regarding the removal: “I’m so sorry everyone. I removed the app out of fear. No one reached out to me pressuring me to remove it. But I’d rather not have the risk.”

The key features of Bimmy include:

  • CPU, APU, PPU emulation
  • Files integration
  • Game Controller support
  • Save State support

The best part of this NES emulator for iPhone is that it doesn’t cost anything, and it also doesn’t collect any data from the user, unlike the previous two emulators available for the iPhone: iGBA (which has since been removed) and Emu64 XL for Commodore 64.

While the latter is still available, iGBA was a ripoff of another Game Boy emulator called Delta. Over the weekend, Apple approved the app and then removed it after learning it was a clone. To MacRumors, the company said that “emulators on the App Store are permitted to load ROMs downloaded from the web, so long as the app is emulating retro console games only.”

That said, while I still think Nintendo should be the one releasing game emulator apps for the iPhone, it’s interesting to see Apple finally embracing a market that the Google Play store has been part of for more than a decade. Even though a significant portion of gamers use emulators to play ROMs of old games, there are ways to rip a physical cartridge legally to play a game you own on an emulator. There are also plenty of homebrew games available for free.

Pokémon Crystal running on iPhone thanks to emulator appImage source: José Adorno for BGR

We’ll keep an eye on all the new emulators that hit the App Store. So far, we have this NES emulator for iPhone, Emu64 XL, and hopefully, Delta will soon be available on the App Store. While Riley Testut hasn’t said when he’s expecting to release his game emulator app for iPhone, it’s possible that it will launch with his alternative app store, AltStore, for EU users.

BGR reached out to Nintendo for a comment on gaming emulator apps on the App Store.

José Adorno Tech News Reporter

José is a Tech News Reporter at BGR. He has previously covered Apple and iPhone news for 9to5Mac, and was a producer and web editor for Latin America broadcaster TV Globo. He is based out of Brazil.