6 Best SNES Emulators Of 2024

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The emulation world is forever going and one of the most searched questions is “What are the best SNES emulators?”. That’s the exact questions we want to answer for you in this article.

Playing the best SNES games on a handheld, PC, or Android phone is something many of us want. We want to play our games where and when we please, because hey, we’ve purchased them!

For those of you new to the emulation community, it still is a little shady. Downloading emulators is legal, but downloading ROMs is currently illegal.

I know, what’s the point in emulators you may be asking? Well, the only way to play your games on an emulator legally, is be ripping the ROMs directly from your own games that you own. For example if you have an F-Zero cartridge, you are allowed to rip the ROM and install it on your handheld, PC or Android emulator.

But downloading ROM’s of games you do not own is frowned upon by Nintendo, and although they have no history in taking individuals to court, they do have a history of suing individuals and companies who share ROMs.

Below you will find a list of the best SNES emulators for PC, Mac, Android and even hardware.

PLEASE NOTE – This article is purely for educational, scientific, and knowledge-enhancing
purposes only and should be treated in the same way as a highly exciting thesis or dissertation. Retro Dodo does not condone illegal downloading or any other shady activities that might get anyone (namely us) into trouble. Please check the legality of ROM downloading in your area and always follow government guidelines on internet safety and copyright laws.

1. Higan

Best SNES Emulators - Higan logo

Higan is a multi-system emulator that was once called “bsnes” back in 2004. What made Higan so popular and why many still use is as one of the best SNES emulators to date is simply because of the accuracy of the emulation.

It was originally developed by byuu, but in 2020 it was handed over to the community so they could develop it as pleased and to some what keep it “open-source” and open to the retro gaming community.

Higan is a SNES emulator exclusively for PC, and has no goal to be released on Android or Mac.

The user interface is simple, effective and takes no CPU power away from the emulation. But what makes Higan so great is the face that it doesn’t just emulate SNES games, it can also emulate the following:

  • Famicom
  • Famicom Disk System
  • Super Famicom
  • Super Game Boy
  • Game Boy
  • Game Boy Color
  • Game Boy Advance
  • Game Boy Player
  • SG-1000
  • SC-3000
  • Master System
  • Game Gear
  • Mega Drive
  • Mega CD
  • PC Engine
  • SuperGrafx
  • MSX
  • MSX2
  • ColecoVision
  • Neo Geo Pocket
  • Neo Geo Pocket Color
  • WonderSwan
  • WonderSwan Color
  • SwanCrystal
  • Pocket Challenge V2

That’s a lot of consoles! So what users find is that once they are satisfied with the SNES emulation, they tend to keep it for a wide number of other emulators and that’s why its still one of the best SNES emulators around.

You can save states, load states, change a bunch of settings for audio, video and performance etc. it’s just an all round reliable, community driven piece of kit that works as it should.

2. RetroArch

Best SNES Emulators - RetroArch logo

RetroArch is basically the mother of all emulators. Any system, any game, and it’s got it covered.

But how can one program do all of the above, I hear you cry to the heavens.

Well, RetroArch uses something called cores to emulate different emulators. By using these cores, you can easily swap between the NeoGeo Pocket and the SNES without having to load up a whole new program.

Simples!

So what’s the core that makes the SNES tick?

Well, it’s actually Number 3 in our list of the best SNES emulators!

Yes, Retro Arch uses SNES9x as a core, and it runs super smoothly on new and old devices alike.

Plus, RetroArch also comes with this cool overlay to fill the rest of your screen. These guys think of everything!

3. SNES9x

Best SNES Emulators - SNES9X logo

SNES9X is a portable, freeware Super Nintendo Entertainment System emulator for PC. It allows you to play most of your favourite SNES games in an easy to use form factor on your PC or workstation. This also includes Japanese exclusive SNES games too.

Snes9x is the result of well over three years worth of part-time hacking, coding, recoding and debugging. Snes9x is coded in C++, with three assembler CPU emulation cores on the i386 Linux and Windows ports.

What makes it so popular is the solid, easy to use user interface that comes with a bunch of features and settings built in for you to tinker with. It’s not as accurate as Higan, but for the average consumer it looks identical in performance.

SNES9X doesn’t focus on any other games console, instead it puts all the teams time and effort into making one of the best SNES emulators out there.

It has frequent updates, a large community and it works well in terms of performance. You may have to tinker with it slightly, but once you download it, it works very well, and that’s what many of us want from an emulator.

You can save, load states, change resolution, scaling, audio, frame skips, you name it, if you want to tinker, the SNES9X emulator is a good one for you.

4. Classic Boy Gold

Best SNES Emulators - Classic Boy Gold logo

ClassicBoy is a very powerful all in one emulator on the Android app store that allows you to play your retro games on the go. What makes this special is that not only do they allow you to play with a gamepad style layout on screen, but it can also be played with gestures.

ClassicBoy also has a “paid” version called ClassicBoy Gold which unlocks a bunch of new features such as auto saves, exclusive settings and even wireless controllers.

This app is one of the best SNES emulators for Android because of the experienced team behind it who work on it constantly.

The ClassicBoy app can also play a bunch of other games, but it all comes down to how powerful your smartphone is. We recommend at lease a dual core smartphone to emulate these well. The ClassicBoy can emulate the following consoles:

• PlayStation 1 ( PS1 )
• Nintendo 64 ( N64 )
• Nintendo GBA/GBC/SGB/GB
• Nintendo NES/Famicom
• Nintendo Pokemon Mini
• Sega Genesis/MD, Sega CD, Game Gear and Master System
• Sega Saturn
• All kinds of arcade games, such as Neo-Geo and Capcom DPS-1/2/3.
• Neo-Geo CD
• Atari 2600 VCS
By downloading and installing external plugins, the app also supports Nintendo SNES, Nintendo DS, MAME 2003 (0.78 romsets) and Sega 32X. More consoles/handhelds emulation will be added in the future.

It’s overall an easy to use, great performing app that may look a little outdates but trust us, it’s one of the best for reliable emulation on your Android smartphone. You can download it for free or upgrade to their lite or premium version within the app.

5. ZSNES

Best SNES Emulators - ZSNES logo

ZSNES is another SNES emulator, and although its not in the top 3, it’s still a go to for those that want simplicity. The only downfall is that development stopped back in 2007, so there’s little to no new updates for this emulator and some flaws that needs addresing.

But don’t let that put you off, this is still one of the best SNES emulators because they left it in such a good state. It’s an emulator for PC users and it’s simple to use for those that are perhaps newcomers to the emulation scene.

The UI is also pixelated, so it feels like a retro gaming piece of software. Some would say it makes the emulator look far better than its competitors.

It emulates well, epecially on newer PC’s which isn’t hard seeing as SNES games are so easy to run. We did find a few issues however when playing for long periods of time. The most dominant was sound quality issues, we noticed cracking and freezing of audio from time to time.

The community has also mentioned the potential of unwanted downloads to your system through this emulator, so even though it’s on our best SNES emulators list we want you to be aware that we don’t actually recommend downloading this one, even if it works most of the time.

So there you have a little look at some of the best SNES emulators out there. We’ll frequently update this article when we review more emulators. Please remember to only use emulators for ROMs that you own.

6. OpenEmu

Best SNES Emulators - OpenEmu logo

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, OpenEmu is one of the sleekest emulators on the planet. If you love using OSX programs for their simple interfaces and carefully collated features, then OpenEmu will be right up your street.

Just drop your ROM files into the program and let OpenEmu do the rest. The library is perfect, listing every game and console in alphabetical order with cover pictures on show to make finding your chosen game even easier.

The controller mapping section is super simple to use too. It just takes all the hassle out of something that should be straightforward but often isn’t, allowing gamers to get on with playing.

And if that wasn’t enough, it comes on a wood-effect background. What more could a person want!

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