Best SNES Emulator Download – Play Super Nintendo Games on PC

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Best SNES Emulators for PC – Download Now & Play Super Nintendo Games on Your Computer: The Super Nintendo Entertainment System (also known as the Super NESSNES or Super Nintendo) is hands down the most popular 16-bit video game console ever released, selling in the millions. It is a love letter to yesteryears’ console generation with classics like Street Fighter , Contra – Alien Wars, Donkey Kong and Zelda among its many hits. It is no wonder that this console still holds a sway in the second hand market with used units going for thousands of dollars in many cases. If you ever played an SNES game, then you might know the reason why this particular piece of hardware is so sought after even in this Uber HD 3D era. Some things don’t lose their charm and only get better with time…SNES happens to be one of them. So to revisit an old page in the book, I thought I’d write a post to let folks relive those nostalgic SNES gaming days on their PCs.  Read on as I show you how to play SNES titles on your workstation/PC using software called Emulators.


How to Play SNES Games on PC


Emulation is the process of reproducing the behavior of a particular computer system on another type of computer system using hardware or software to accomplish the reproduction. For e.g. Recreating the SNES environment on a PC by aping the behavior of a typical Super Nintendo system to on a PC to play SNES games. An emulator in the present context would be a software program that allows us to achieve said emulation to play SNES games on a regular PC.

In order to play all the SNES games you love, you need to have the ROMS for the games you want to play. These can be obtained by a simple Google search of a  term like “snes roms” as there are many ROM hosting sites. However, keep in mind that not all ROMs are legally allowed for download and emulator-play. Theoretically, you can download & play any game ROM you have a physical copy of but the rules may vary. So please check the company’s/game’s legal standing regarding sharing and emulation before proceeding to download.

There are quite a few emulators for the SNES console in the market today. Most of these emulators are available as free downloads in the form of ZIP files over the Internet. We tried a few of these and bring you the best of the lot in the following article. Each has a few pros and cons but for the most part, they’re all good.


Best SNES Emulators – Free Download


1.  SNES9X :


Snes9x is a portable, freeware Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) emulator. It basically allows you to play most games designed for the SNES and Super Famicom Nintendo game systems on your PC . These games include some real classics that were only ever released in Japan and were never savored by most people in the rest of the world. A shame, I’d say considering how good some of them are. Well, we got some making up to do for some lost gaming opportunities, don’t we? This is where SNES9X comes in with its excellent emulation. SNES9X will allow the player to save and load states, apply custom filters and the ability to use cheat codes for all the ammo and lives you need, provided the game supports it.

Snes9x offers ports for various systems including Windows, MacOS and Linux. SNES9X is quite popular with old school gaming crowd owing to its easy-on-the-eye windows style interface as opposed to other emulators for the Super Nintendo where the layouts, Interfaces look a little clumsy and unrefined.  Being on of the first Super Nintendo emulators on the scene, SNES9X is immensely popular and loved by old-school gamers all around the globe.

One of the cool features of this emulator is the Turbo mode where you can speed up the gameplay if the game you’re on moves at too slow a pace. This comes in handy to move ahead and power through the boring parts of a game you otherwise love. The gameplay is smooth and lag and bug-free for the major part.  Map a Joypad or your keyboard with the SNES pad buttons in a simple, straight forward manner and get going. You can download a ROM and fire up the emulator to see for yourself.

Snes9X Input Config


MarioKart SNES9x



2. ZSNES :


ZNES is our next in the line of the top emulators for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System on PC.

This emulator renders most of the SNES games very neatly. Although not as accurate as SNES9X, it does the job quite impressively. The interface, while not the best I’ve seen, is quite intuitive once you get a hang of it. ZSNES offers Turbo mode, custom filters and allows the player to fast-forward a few frames of a game to get thorough those hair-pulling, insanity-inducing titles that are harder to play than the average SNES game.

ZSNES also offers emulations for some accessories like the light gun. Yes, a freaking light gun. Remember those things? Man, what fun those were! My forefingers used to be sore after hours on that delightful, futuristic looking piece of plastic.

ZSNES also offers the option to save & load states and input cheats to add replay value to an old title that you love so you don’t have to start all over again because you caught that stray bullet. ZSNES does what it claims to do and does it with elan. The layout isn’t as straight forward as, say, SNES9x’s but will get the job done and only gets easier as you keep using. Try ZSNES even if you already have an emulator of choice. It is just too good to miss.





3.  Higan/BSNES :


BSNES is another SNES emulator, which has obtained 100% bug-free compatibility with the entire library of licensed games. It is now a part of the multi-emulator called Higan by the same guy who made the original BSNES. This is the best alternative to SNES9X and ZSNES  emulators right now. It’s strength lies in its relatively bug-free reproduction of many Super Nintendo games which play without glitches while also looking similar to how they did on the old consoles.

BSNES is probably the most accurate SNES emulator in the market right now in so far as it reproduces the titles in the most original way possible keeping all the retro gaming goodness intact. Moreover, as part of the multi-system emulaotor Higan which does SPC7110 emulation, cycle-accurate SPC700 emulation, cycle-accurate SuperFX emulation, and Super Game Boy emulation, it’s a boon for retro game lovers as it’s an all in one package that helps you relive all your nostalgic, sweaty afternoon gaming glory days on your  PC.





4. SNESbox :


SNESbox is an online alternative to the above emulators. SNESbox uses Flash to run directly in your browser window with no additional software to download including ROMs. So you can dive right in and play a game. The site lists out a bunch of ROMs and Games on the website. All you have to do is choose a game and hit the Play button to load the online emulator and start playing your favorite Super Nintendo games.


Once you select a game, it loads the emulator screen and offers you the following options :

  • One Player
  • Two Players via Internet (for available games)
  • Game Walkthrough

For One player, the game starts immediately and you can start playing.

For the multiplayer option, the site generates a URL and you have to share this with a friend who you want to play along with or you can enter the pulic chat are where you can meet a fellow player to join you in a game.

The game walkthrough is usually the brief tutorial video that appears in-game for most titles before the option select. User uploaded walkthroughs are also available on the site.

SNESbox games

The gameplay is smooth though a bit slow at times. The controls can get a little unresponsive at times but still the games are playable and the gameplay is by no means broken. What stands out is that SNESbox lists about 1861 games and 11337 ROMs as of writing this article, which is aplenty.

With so many titles on offer, you can surely find your favorite game and play it right away on SNESbox with no additional downloads necessary. So this is recommended if you just wanna have a few sessions of play on your favorite retro title without going through the hassle of downloading, installation and configuring any emulator software. Try it now.


Conclusion :

There is no picture-perfect emulation so to speak. Even in the best emulation software, there are bugs and glitches that prevail through multiple revisions but for the major part, popular emulators out there don’t usually glitch to the point of breaking the gameplay for most games. Having said that, the above mentioned candidates do a fine job of recreating those old SNES titles on your PC.  All the above emulators (save SNESbox) share a common feature set for the most part, though a feature here and one there could’ve been compromised to make way for smoother rendering or more accurate reproduction. Try the above list with a ROM or two and decide for yourself which suits your wants best.

Have fun throwing punches, beating up alligators, executing hook shots and helio-bombing tetrandakkers.

You might also find the following post useful – Contra for PC .

Comment below to share your own list of SNES favorites. Subscribe for more posts.

Sam is an advanced digital entity that bounces from site to site posting information and studying human behavior in its digitized form. Future plans include migrating to the physical realm when nanotechnology gets advanced enough to facilitate it in building an imperishable cyborgenic body for itself. End of Line.


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