Turn your Apple TV into the best retro games console for your living room with these accessories

Apple TV 8BitDo Pro 2
(Image credit: Future)

Apple TV already has its killer software feature before WWDC 2024 even begins, and it’s all thanks to RetroArch.

The multi-system emulator has been available for Apple TV, iPad, and iPhone for several weeks now, allowing you to emulate gaming systems and handhelds from the past 40 years. While you can use a controller for your iPhone, as well as a Magic Keyboard connected to an iPad to play some classic games through RetroArch, it’s the feeling of playing these on a couch with a controller via Apple TV that brings home a lot of retro nostalgia, especially if you’ve played these games as a kid.

Granted, it can be a challenge to set up RetroArch, which is why our guide is here to help. The next question though, once the emulator is working as you expect, is how can you emulate that feeling of playing your favorite games as a kid again?

Fortunately, there are a few products that can help make this scenario a reality.

Great accessories to use with RetroArch on Apple TV

8BitDo Pro 2 Controller | $49.99 at Amazon

8BitDo Pro 2 Controller | $49.99 at Amazon

You need a good controller in order to play your favorite games. This is where 8BitDo comes in with its fantastic Pro 2. Taking inspiration from Nintendo’s Super Nintendo controller, the Pro 2 has grips to help with those intense fighting games. It also features analog sticks and extra shoulder buttons to be compatible with as many games as possible on RetroArch.

PWAYTEK Smart TV LED Backlight | $74.99 $59.99 at Amazon

PWAYTEK Smart TV LED Backlight | $74.99 $59.99 at Amazon

An LED Backlight can be a perfect addition to your TV, as a way of expanding what’s being shown on screen. For example, if you’re playing a game of SQRXZ 4, the vibrant background colors from its levels will leap off the TV, and certain lights will reflect the colors of the enemies and items.

Samsung 83-inch S90C OLED TV |$3999 $2999 at Best Buy

Samsung 83-inch S90C OLED TV | $3999 $2999 at Best Buy

Featuring a bright HDR 10+ OLED display as well as Wi-Fi and all the smart features you expect in a TV of this price, your favorite games will look fantastic. At $1000 off, it’s an easy buy if you’re thinking of upgrading your existing TV.

AirPods Max | $519 at Amazon

AirPods Max | $549 $519 at Amazon

AirPods Max is a perfect complement to Apple TV and RetroArch, thanks to the comfortable design of the headphones as well as its noise-cancellation feature for when you’re playing those intense games. Despite AirPods Max being almost four years old, they remain a great pick for using RetroArch on your Apple TV, letting you be completely immersed when playing a game.

HDMI Right-Angle Cable | $14.99 at Amazon

HDMI Right-Angle Cable | $14.99 at Amazon

Since Apple TV first debuted in 2008, it’s always come packaged with a power cable, but not the required HDMI cable that connects it to a TV. What a world. Fortunately, there are some great deals to be found on these cables  — especially those with an angled port. These are ideal for maintaining great cable management at the back of the TV, which can prevent a lone cable from hanging out of the TV cabinet like a snake.

Daryl Baxter
Features Editor

Daryl is iMore's Features Editor, overseeing long-form and in-depth articles and op-eds. Daryl loves using his experience as both a journalist and Apple fan to tell stories about Apple's products and its community, from the apps we use every day to the products that have been long forgotten in the Cupertino archives.

Previously Software & Downloads Writer at TechRadar, and Deputy Editor at StealthOptional, he's also written a book, 'The Making of Tomb Raider', which tells the story of the beginnings of Lara Croft and the series' early development. His second book, '50 Years of Boss Fights', came out in June 2024, and has a monthly newsletter called 'Springboard'. He's also written for many other publications including WIRED, MacFormat, Bloody Disgusting, VGC, GamesRadar, Nintendo Life, VRV Blog, The Loop Magazine, SUPER JUMP, Gizmodo, Film Stories, TopTenReviews, Miketendo64, and Daily Star.