If you’re anything like me, then you’re obsessed with retro gaming and emulation. I love using my Chromebook, my Pixel Phone, and anything else I can get my hands on to play nostalgic titles from my youth and enjoy them in new and innovative ways. The scene for retro game emulation has also been heating up quite a bit with handhelds like the Anbernic RG522, the Retroid Pocket 2+, and more.
While gaming on third-party handhelds has become huge, so has the power of the web. With it, the ability to play your games right through the web browser has been a thing for a little while now. Today, I want to show you something pretty incredible and get you excited about playing your existing games collection right through your browser!
WebRCade is a new, open-source feed-driven gaming experience that runs right through Chrome and other browsers, and it allows you to point to locations where you have hosted your own content in order to play it instantaneously, with no downloads required.
Responsive browser-based gaming powered by feeds
Games natively execute within the browser across a wide variety of platforms as directed by cloud-based gaming feeds.WebRCade
Before we get started, I want to make it clear that Chrome Unboxed does not endorse theft of intellectual property in any way, shape, or form. People have worked tirelessly to create games, and as an indie game developer myself, I’m all for paying creatives so they can feed their families. With that being said, don’t go illegally downloading ROMs, even if companies aren’t directly losing money in the process. It’s unethical, and you should only use your own physically-owned content that you’ve backed up in digital form for the journey we’ll go on today!
WebRCade is not a “streaming” platform, and instead, it lets you plug in URLs for your own content on Dropbox (Direct-connect), Drive, or really anywhere else (via URLs). You can also pull in open-source, freeware, and homebrew games from places like the Internet Archive and such. For now, it only supports some 16-bit consoles like the ones you see listed below, but in time, the developers are looking to add support for more advanced games like those from Nintendo 64, and more. The fact that this is even happening just through the web browser is both exciting and impressive and is something that game preservationists everywhere should be celebrating.
- Atari 2600
- Atari 7800
- Super Nintendo
- Game Boy
- Game Boy Color
- Game Boy Advance
- Sega SG-1000
- Sega Master System
- Sega Genesis
- Sega Game Gear
- Game engines like Classic Doom
While visiting play.webrcade.com lets you play a host of existing pre-built content (Be sure to turn this into an icon on your Chromebook!), you should consider creating your own feed to get the most out of the service. Doing so will take about 20 minutes to set up because you’re pretty much doing it from scratch. The benefit is that you can use WebRCade to play retro games on any device that has a supported web browser, including an iPhone – a piece of hardware notoriously difficult to run emulators on.
While you can look at the docs to build your own web-based gaming setup, I highly recommend looking at an official tutorial from one of my favorite YouTubers – Russ from Retro Game Corps. He’s partnered with WebRCade directly to make the video for how to set all of this up, and it’s very in-depth as he goes step-by-step through everything (Don’t forget to subscribe!).
Taking a look at the photo below, you can see a list of Game Boy Advance games that the site’s default feed comes pre-built with. Clicking to play one will load it up instantly, but I did find that it was a challenge to figure out what buttons to press in order to interact with the world around me. Luckily, WebRCade supports gamepads, so you can connect one up or use a GameSir X2, Backbone, or Razer Kishi like Russ is doing in order to get a more native experience.
Should you choose to use WebRCade cross-platform by saving your feed to the cloud and loading it in as is performed in the tutorial, then you should know that the service supports In-game saves, but not cloud saves or save states – not yet, at least. Support for both could very well be added in the future, and that would make it more seamless for those of us who have and use several different devices.
Web technology like this is a big win for gamers and an even larger win for the future of gaming itself. I’m ecstatic to follow WebRCade and see where it goes. It has solid documentation, support, and a great community. It’s been well thought out and I believe it has a bright future.
For anyone looking to play their own retro games collection on an older Chromebook, this is a fantastic solution as it requires just a web browser, and doesn’t rely on any local horsepower to run – something that’s increasingly more common these days. Let me know in the comments if you’ll be checking out WebRCade, or if you have another web-based emulation experience that piques your interest!