The Super Nintendo Entertainment System, or simply SNES, truly stands as a shining symbol of the golden age of gaming, its staggering catalog encompassing hot classics like Final Fantasy VI, Chrono Trigger, Megaman X, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, and Breath of Fire. While the SNES has long since gone out of fashion and is no longer produced, you can still relive the best SNES games with the power of emulation.
Given how advanced tech has become over the years, emulation can be done on most modern hardware, from your PC to your trusty, portable phone. We list 15 of the best SNES emulators that you can use to run your games below:
15 Best SNES Emulator Programs For PC, Mac, And Android
Topping our list is BizHawk, which enjoys a reputation as one of the best SNES emulators available. While this emulator might appear unassuming at first glance, if you’re a speedrunner, it is the perfect app to use. Coming fully equipped with tools to bolster speedruns, you will be able to breeze through your games to set world records.
Even if you’re not a speedrunner, BizHawk is still a solid choice, with its speed tools helping you accelerate long, drawn-out animations that are especially common in older SNES games. Furthermore, BizHawk is equipped with the ability to run games from other consoles like the NES, Nintendo 64, Game Boy, Game Boy Color, PlayStation, Atari 2600, and Sega.
BSNES is one of the oldest SNES emulators around, and its longevity isn’t without reason: it’s a stable emulator that can run most SNES games smoothly. While it was once discontinued, the emulator has since been revived, with added upgrades to further enhance your gameplay.
With high exacting standards put in place by the developer, BSNES has three distinct versions, with the HD version being the most popular. It not just outputs emulation accurately, but also does so in true HD and at 60 fps.
ClassicBoy is one of the oldest and best SNES emulators you can find for Android. Optimized for the smaller screens of smartphones, ClassicBoy is capable of running most SNES games smoothly. Apart from SNES, the emulator is also able to support emulation for other old consoles like the Game Boy Advance, N64, and PlayStation.
While the emulator is free to download, you can upgrade it to Gold by making a small in-app purchase. This upgrade grants you additional features like autosaves, additional settings, and added support for wireless controllers.
Based on BSNES, Higan expands its compatibility range from the standard Windows and Linux to Mac OS. And much like BSNES, Higan’s emulation quality is superb, accurately outputting your games at the highest possible quality that your setup can handle.
Higan is also able to emulate other consoles, including the ancient Famicom, GameBoy, and Sega.
5. John NESS
John NESS is another option you can consider for your Android phone. The successor to the original John SNES, John NESS provides support to a much larger library of SNES games. What makes this emulator stand out is its UI/UX, with buttons and controls meticulously mapped to work well on the touchscreen of your phone. Even if you can’t stand using your phone’s touchscreen, you can connect a Bluetooth controller for a more seamless gameplay experience.
Furthermore, John NESS also provides a host of useful features such as cheats, zip file support, and more.
NES.emu is one of the most versatile emulators out there that can run smoothly on Android devices—provided, of course, that you at least have a 1GHz processor to make it run smoothly. However, that shouldn’t be a problem if you have a relatively decent Android device.
With NES.emu, you get a variety of additional features absent in other emulators. These include support for cheats, save states, backups, multi-touch controls, and external accessories. Hence, you can play however you want with NES.emu, either with a Bluetooth controller or keyboard. Moreover, it supports landscape orientation which is absent from many famous emulators for Android.
The NES.emu emulator will cost you $3.99 on Google Play Store.
7. Nestopia UE
The original Nestopia was renowned for its highly accurate emulation that was supported by additional features like cheats and the option to mute audio when running in alternate speed mode. While the developers discontinued support for the app in 2008, it was later resurrected as Nestopia UE (Undead Edition).
While this refurbished emulator is similar to RetroArch, it’s less complicated to set up, making it more user-friendly for those who are not tech-savvy. Nestopia UE even added on to its original release with additional features like custom palettes for games and Famicom mics. It also incorporates VSync support, but this is slightly impeded by minor input lag.
If you still own your original SNES accessories, you might want to put them to good use. This is where No$SNS comes in, providing support for these accessories that is absent in other emulators. With this emulator, you’ll be able to enjoy a more authentic SNES gameplay experience on your computer.
Some accessories that No$SNS supports include the Exertainment Bike, Pachinko Dial, Barcode Battler, NTT Data Pad, Twin-Taps, and the X-Band Keyboard. Moreover, the No$SNS emulator also has built-in tools to test out SNES code.
It’s a more unique emulation software and caters to a niche market. However, if you’re one of those rare people who value what it offers, No$SNS is a good choice.
9. The Mega S.N.E.S Rock Retro
Mega S.N.E.S Rock Retro might be relatively new in the SNES emulator scene, but it has definitely established itself as one of the best SNES emulators for Android. Capable of fast and accurate emulation, Mega is also compatible with a huge collection of games. This emulator can even output your games at full HD to visually enhance your gameplay.
Mega also includes standard emulation features like cheats and Bluetooth controllers. You can also customize your control mapping and even use an external mouse—although this is only compatible with a few games.
OpenEmu is a low-maintenance SNES emulator for the Mac OSX, outfitted with a very clean UI and capable of outputting games in the highest quality. Furthermore, OpenEmu supports emulation for more than one retro console, such as N64, Nintendo DS, NES, SNES, Sega, Atari, Game Boy, and Famicom.
While you’ll have to download different cores to run games from different consoles, this feature effectively makes OpenEmu a one-stop hub for all your retro consoles.
OpenEmu also includes features like filters for better visuals and support for external controls like SNES controllers.
If you’re looking for the best SNES emulator PC can offer, RetroArch is tough to beat. That’s because it’s one of the biggest names in the emulation community—and for very good reason.
For starters, RetroArch is one of few emulators with extensive cross-platform support, spanning multiple operating systems like Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, and even web browsers. Moreover, it’s free, making it quite attractive for anyone who wants a well-rounded emulator.
Furthermore, RetroArch supports a wide variety of classic consoles. These include the SNES, Wii, GameCube, Game Boy, 3DS, Sega Dreamcast, and more. It also offers useful features like shaders, rewinding, and native recording or streaming for YouTubers and Twitch streamers. If you’re looking for the absolute best SNES emulator, this might just be it.
If you’re looking for the best SNES emulator with low resource consumption, look no further than SNES9x. It has exactly what you need: a simple installation process and immediate gameplay after extraction. Moreover, it can run almost any SNES game without issues.
Of course, the real kicker for the SNES9x is the low consumption of resources. That means you can run it on dated hardware or lower-end desktops without having to worry about lags or crashes. It also has features that help you optimize graphics, support for save states, and fast-forward to speed up slower games. SNES9x even offers a recording feature if you want to capture some fo your best gameplay moments.
SNES9x is free and can run on Windows, Mac, and Linux.
13. SNES9x EX+
SNES9x EX+ is basically SNES9x for the Android, coming packed with all the features that you need in a basic emulator: ability to run games smoothly, save states, touch controls, a gamepad, and support for various file types.
The only setback this emulator has is its unappealing UI, its menus looking pretty outdated. This, however, doesn’t hinder its emulation performance, as it works very well on Android devices. It’s also completely free with no ads or in-app purchases.
SuperRetro16 is a feature-rich emulator with cloud saving functionality on top of the standard save states, fast forward, and controller support. This is especially useful when you change your Android device, letting you transfer your saved data with little to no hassle.
SuperRetro16 is a free app, but it does have some in-app purchases. Overall, it’s a decent solution for on-the-go emulation for Android users.
If you want the best SNES emulator that’s simple and easy, then check out ZSNES. It’s very capable despite its age, and it’s pretty simple to set up. ZSNES includes all the features you need such as visual filters, save states, and recently played lists.
However, the developers did stop supporting the program back in 2007 so don’t expect any updates. Moreover, it has a known weakness that might download unwanted programs to your desktop through sketchy ROMs. Of course, you can easily avoid this if you download ROMs from legitimate sources. Otherwise, it’s a decent emulator that’s free on Windows and Linux.
Final Word on the Best SNES Emulator
The best SNES emulator for you will always depend on your needs. Whether that’s something simple, quick, and easy, or something full-featured with support for multiple consoles, there is bound to be an option on our list that is suitable for you. So take your pick and get right down to classic SNES gaming today!