While the obvious usage case for the Steam Deck is to play new (or recent) PC games on the go, the unspoken usage case is that it should also be a dream for anyone wanting to play emulated classics. So let’s see how the handheld is shaping up a few weeks after release.
YouTuber ETA Prime has put a bunch of old consoles through their paces on Valve’s new device, and while some of the more vintage games are running as well as you’d expect, there are some surprising results for more recent hardware as well.
I haven’t got a Steam Deck, so I haven’t been able to put any of these games/emulators through their paces myself, but if there was one thing that was going to get me purchasing me one aside from the emulation potential itself here, it would be that unifying front-end (Launchbox/BigBox) you can see at the start of the video, which looks like a dream.
You can see ETA Prime’s findings below, and skip straight to the relevant emulators if there’s one in particular you’re interested in, but note that not every system’s footage can be seen. While the Saturn, PS1, Dreamcast, PS2, Xbox, PSP and PS3 can all be seen running games successfully, footage of Nintendo titles booting in the CEMU emulator has been left out for obvious reasons.
While most of these games are running pretty well, it should be noted — as ETA Prime points out in the video itself — that emulation is a constantly-evolving artform, so just because a game is running poorly now doesn’t mean we won’t see improvements in the months and years to come.
If you’re curious how many PC games the system is capable of running this well, Valve has a list that we put to the test a couple weeks ago, which again is going to be constantly added to and improved.