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Covering SNES Emulation for 101 Beginner Guide

Posted: Mon Apr 13, 2020 3:47 pm
by racketboy
So I’m working on the newer draft of the emulation section for the SNES 101 Beginners Guide

I’m currently working on the overall structure and I’m realizing I’m I little out-of-touch/fuzzy on how all the different solutions out there are potentially related and then how to translate that into a Beginners Guide.

So I’m going to throw in my best guess of an overall structure here (with some notes) and then welcome you all to give me nudges on how to adjust it and flesh out.


SNES Mini / Canoe
As mentioned above, The Nintendo Super NES Classic / SNES Mini is a beginner-friendly emulation box that hooks up nicely to modern TVs. It is even hackable to add more ROMs. Nintendo build a custom emulator named [Canoe](https://emulation.gametechwiki.com/index.php/Canoe) that runs on top of the Linux + ARM Processor setup that powers Nintendo’s cute box.

And while it’s a pretty decent emulator it its dar from the most compatible or even the most accurate out there. SNES experts are also quick to point out where the SNES Mini comes up short with the games included with the device.

Nintendo Virtual Console (Currently on Wii U and 3DS)
notes from Opa:
“ Games range from $8 to $10. On Wii U you get save states, off-tv play on the gamepad, and can redefine the controller buttons. I don't have any 3DS Snes titles (someone else can chime in) so I'm not sure on save states/controls for that platform. It is important to note that you need one of the New 3DS consoles. The older models do not support SNES games. The "New" line of systems received a hardware upgrade that allows the emulation of SNES games (along with other improvements).

Here are some lists of VC games if you need to take a look. I haven't double-checked too closely but they seem accurate.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_V ... ent_System
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_V ... th_America)#Super_Nintendo_Entertainment_System

Nintendo Online Service (on Nintendo Switch)
Notes from Opa:
“Yeah, if you are a Nintendo Online subscriber you can download the SNES (and NES) app and play the games on your Switch.

Emulation seems to be really solid. I haven't had any issues (granted I haven't played for hours and hours). Switch emulation still features save states and you can additionally rewind the game. For example, if you screwed up a jump in Super Mario World and died- you can rewind the game to a point before you screwed up and keep playing. Pretty nifty if you don't want to keep replaying the same spot over and over in a difficult game. Also, for two-player games you can play with others online. This works really well and I honestly couldn't tell any lag at all. Really seamless multiplayer experience when I've played.

But yeah, as you already mentioned: the primary disadvantage is you're essentially leasing the games.“

PC Emulator: Higan
Originally known as BSNES, Higan was built with the goal of 100% cycle-accurate SNES emulation. This ensures that games play exactly as they were on the original console, including low-level hacks requiring precise timing, to a degree not possible in any other PC emulator. It has accomplished quite a bit and is the best software solution to run on more flexible hardware configurations.

You can learn much more about the development and accomplishments of BSNES/Higan in [this comprehensive article at ArsTecnica](https://arstechnica.com/gaming/2020/04/ ... erfection/)

MiSTer
Much like Analogue’s high end clone systems, MiSTer utilizes FPGA for hardware-based emulation, striving for the most accurate experience aside from the original hardware. The MiSTer project supports a lot of different systems in the forms of “cores” and the SNES is one of the more mature cores.

According to SmokeMonster, one of the leading voices in MiSTer community: "the SNES core is extremely accurate thanks to srg320 and Sorge's work over the last year. (Check out [the commit log](https://github.com/MiSTer-devel/SNES_Mi ... its/master) to get an idea of how far it's come). It also has cores for every special chip except ST-018 & ST-011 [used only in Hayazashi Nidan Morita Shogi and it's sequel] now, all by srg320."

He also states that, from a pure accuracy and performance perspective, MiSTer has a complete advantage of Higan (as great as it is), "FPGA parallel processing means that [MiSTer] functions like a SNES at the hardware level, with nearly perfect timing (that only gets better with time) and I believe that in the long-term, MiSTer will be 100% accurate, since the SNES core is one of its most popular.

As great as Higan is (and it is great), it is a completely different animal. So its benefit is simply that it runs on devices that people already own, and does the best job possible from that perspective."

Many Other Devices: RetroArch
If you are either somebody that enjoys a consistent emulator interface across a handful of devices (like an Android or iOS device, a Raspberry Pi or older consoles and handhelds), RetroArch is an established front-end that can install a variety of emulators that have common controller and system configurations.

For powerful devices, you can run BSNES/Higan for SNES games, but older or lower-powered devices like a Raspberry Pi may have these more resource-demanding emulators like Higan blacklisted for the device. As a result, you may need to have RetroArch use something like SNES9X that prioritizes speed over accuracy.

Re: Covering SNES Emulation for 101 Beginner Guide

Posted: Tue Apr 14, 2020 11:29 am
by racketboy
Updated above draft to include new comments from SmokeMonster about MiSTer SNES core.

Re: Covering SNES Emulation for 101 Beginner Guide

Posted: Tue Apr 14, 2020 11:36 am
by marurun
Might be fun to mention BizHawk and a nod to the TAS scene...

Re: Covering SNES Emulation for 101 Beginner Guide

Posted: Tue Apr 14, 2020 11:40 am
by racketboy
marurun wrote:Might be fun to mention BizHawk and a nod to the TAS scene...


I totally had to Google that to see what that and "TAS" was. I'm apparently old :lol:
But yeah, that could be a helpful note include in brief.

Re: Covering SNES Emulation for 101 Beginner Guide

Posted: Tue Apr 21, 2020 8:31 am
by racketboy
How's this sound for a RetroArch section? (I'm also adding it to the original post above)

"If you are either somebody that enjoys a consistent emulator interface across a handful of devices (like an Android or iOS device, a Raspberry Pi or older consoles and handhelds), RetroArch is an established front-end that can install a variety of emulators that have common controller and system configurations.

For powerful devices, you can run BSNES/Higan for SNES games, but older or lower-powered devices like a Raspberry Pi may have these more resource-demanding emulators like Higan blacklisted for the device. As a result, you may need to have RetroArch use something like SNES9X that prioritizes speed over accuracy."


I'm also thinking about having a separate introductory article/guide for RetroArch to link to -- share your thoughts here
viewtopic.php?f=27&t=53137

Re: Covering SNES Emulation for 101 Beginner Guide

Posted: Tue Apr 21, 2020 9:21 am
by Ziggy587
bsnes was rolled into Higan (which emulated multiple consoles) but byuu brought back the standalone version of bsnes. Also, as of March 2020, Higan and bsnes are now community projects. Meaning, instead of byuu being an independent developer of both emulators, he put the projects on GitHub.

Re: Covering SNES Emulation for 101 Beginner Guide

Posted: Tue Apr 21, 2020 10:23 am
by racketboy
Ziggy587 wrote:bsnes was rolled into Higan (which emulated multiple consoles) but byuu brought back the standalone version of bsnes. Also, as of March 2020, Higan and bsnes are now community projects. Meaning, instead of byuu being an independent developer of both emulators, he put the projects on GitHub.


OK thanks -- that clears up some of the confusion I was having. I had seen bsnes turned into Higan, but I was still seeing bsnes as a separate entity.

Re: Covering SNES Emulation for 101 Beginner Guide

Posted: Tue Apr 21, 2020 10:54 am
by samsonlonghair
SNES9x is still around. http://www.snes9x.com/

They released version 1.6 almost one year ago. https://sites.google.com/site/bearoso/

SNES9x has been ported to most types of computers you could name, and a bunch of consoles too. SNEX9x is easy to use, and has lower system requirements than Higan and/or Bsnes.

I'd say that (among the free options) SNES9x is probably the best bet for people who are new to emulation, or people using an older computer. A regular windows user could reasonably go from never emulating anything to emulating Super Nintendo games on SNES9x in the same day.

Re: Covering SNES Emulation for 101 Beginner Guide

Posted: Tue Apr 21, 2020 10:56 am
by racketboy
samsonlonghair wrote:SNES9x is still around. http://www.snes9x.com/

They released version 1.6 almost one year ago. https://sites.google.com/site/bearoso/

SNES9x has been ported to most types of computers you could name, and a bunch of consoles too. SNEX9x is easy to use, and has lower system requirements than Higan and/or Bsnes.

I'd say that (among the free options) SNES9x is probably the best bet for people who are new to emulation, or people using an older computer. A regular windows user could reasonably go from never emulating anything to emulating Super Nintendo games on SNES9x in the same day.


Good point -- thank you!

Re: Covering SNES Emulation for 101 Beginner Guide

Posted: Fri May 08, 2020 8:38 am
by racketboy
Can anybody confirm if these widescreen support in bsnes is exclusive to a RetroArch core or if you can utilize in a stand-alone emulator?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kvdM8zxPvgs