Snes9x is an open source SNES emulator for Windows, macOS and Linux

Looking for a way to play some good old SNES classics?  Well, you can play them on your computer. All you need is a good emulator, like Snes9x, and a few ROMs, e.g. homebrew ROMs or ROMs of games that you own a copy of physically.

It is a portable application, and comes in 32-bit and 64-bit versions. The interface is nice and simple, use the menubars to select various options. Click on File > Load game and select the game that you want to play. The emulator supports SFC files, but it can also open ZIP archives that contain the game files.

Your recently accessed games are listed under the file menu. The stable version of the program has 10 save game position slots (savestate), these are numbered as 0 – 9, which you can use to save your gameplay at any moment without relying on the in-game save system. The prerelease version has 10 banks, each of which have 10 save slots.

Snes9x savestate

Snes9x has a built-in recording option that can be accessed from the file menu. Set a file name, and then the compression settings and hit OK. The emulator will record the gameplay until you go back to the menu and click on stop recording. The video is saved in the AVI format. While the recorded video retains the audio, the program mutes the sound while recording, so playing a game when you record it is slightly difficult.

There is one more video recording mode in Snes9x, and this one is called “Movie Record”. But it creates an .SMV video which is playable with the emulator, but may not work with your regular video players. You can also capture screenshots from the emulator’s File menu.

Moving to the Emulation menu, you can set the program to jump frames, add ROM hacks and choose some advanced options like rewind time, Hi-Res AVI recording, etc. The emulator automatically pauses the game, when you switch to a different window, you can toggle this option off. Snes9x supports cheats if you want to unlock/bypass something in a game. The emulator features NetPlay which you can use by entering the server configuration details manually.

Snes9x keyboard control settings

To view the Snes9x controls, select Input > Input Configuration. The default controls are fairly easy to get used to.

  • Up – Up Arrow
  • Down – Down Arrow
  • Left- Left Arrow
  • Right- Right Arrow
  • B – C
  • A – V
  • Y – X
  • X – D
  • Start – Space
  • Select – Enter
  • L – A
  • R – S

Don’t like the keyboard setup? You may customize the hotkeys, and there are several more available for other functions like save states, full screen mode (Alt-Enter), etc.

Adjust the playback rate, buffer length, channel, change the output device and customize the audio settings from the Sound menu.

Snes9x sound settings

You can switch to full screen mode, hide the menu bar from the Video Menu. Click on Display Configuration to access the advanced video settings. There are a lot of options here including output method (video renderer), image processing (quality), frame skipping, shader, aspect ratio etc.

Snes9x display settings

HQ4x for example will make the graphics sharper. If you face issues with screen tearing, enabling V-Sync will fix it.

Though the latest stable version of Snes9x is from 2019, the program is actively developed. You can get the latest Nightly builds (prerelease versions), from the AppVeyor page (Click on the OS > Artifacts and download the ZIP). The screenshots you see here are actually from the latest nightly version, though it still has the version number displayed as 1.60.

When it comes to performance, Snes9x is the best compared to Higan or BSNES, though the latter two are better if you have a powerful computer. If you’re interested in Higan or BSNES, you can find the last releases from Byuu (Near) on GitHub. SNES9x works fine on low-end computers aka Potato PCs, so if you have a spare computer lying around, you can turn it into a retro gaming device.

Snes9x is also available as a Libretro core for Retroarch if you want to use that emulator. If you want to game on your Android phone, you can select the core from the Retroarch mobile app, or use a dedicated one like Snes9x+.

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