The Best Super Nintendo (SNES) Emulators for PC/Mac/Android/iOS and More

Super Nintendo emulation has been around for decades and there are many choices out there for playing the classics on a variety of PCs and other devices.  Over time, we have seen a great deal of quality improvements and feature innovation. To help you narrow down your search of the best SNES emulator for you, here are the 10 best Super Nintendo emulators for PC, Mac, Android, and iOS that you can try.

Some of these recommendations are based purely on feedback I’ve seen online. I typically have stuck with the ones near the top of this list. I welcome you to leave any feedback or suggestions for improvement in the comments section below. I love to evolve posts like this with user contributions. Thanks, and I hope you find this useful!

[insert SNES game content recommendations]

Higan

Higan branched off from bSNES and it offers an exceptional gaming experience. It’s a multi-system emulator that supports Nintendo Super Famicom, Nintendo Game Boy, Nintendo Famicom and more. Higan emulates the original hardware as accurately as possible, offering a gameplay experience that you wouldn’t find with any other software emulator. However, because of the way the emulation works, Higan is a fairly demanding emulator and won’t work well on low-end or older devices.

Compatabilitiy is also key here: Higan emulator is capable of running every commercial SNES title ever released, making it the perfect choice if SNES games are all that you care about.

  • Supported platforms: Windows, macOS, Linux
  • Price: Free
  • Download Higan

Advantages

  • Highly Accurate
  • Highly Compatible – run ever commercial SNES title ever released
  • Compatible with several systems

Disadvantages

  • It does demand higher-end/modern hardware to run properly
  • To newbies, this emulator is intimidating
  • It does not work well with older devices

BSNES

BSNES has one of the longer legacies among SNES emulators and was abandoned for a bit. Currently, there are many emulators which are based on BSNES and one of them– higan– is also on this list. However, the BSNES emulator is live again as the developer, byuu has taken it upon himself to revive the project.

The main goal of BSNES is to offer a near-perfect emulation accuracy with good performance. And since higan is pretty complex to use for general users, BSNES is intended to make it easier to play classic Nintendo games on its emulator. There have been a total of 3 releases as of now, but the HD build seems to be the best one for high-quality graphics rendering. All in all, if you are looking for an accurate SNES emulator for Windows or Linux then BSNES is the right pick.

Advantages

  • Highly Accurate
  • Highly Compatible
  • More Trim and Specialized for SNES
  • Has great HD Mode

Disadvantages

  • It does demand higher-end/modern hardware to run properly

 

BizHawk

BizHawk is the best Super Nintendo emulator for speedruns gamers. Since it doesn’t lag unlike other emulators, you’ll have the chance to finish the game in the fastest time possible. The emulator is free and works well for casual gaming.

Besides, it’s designed around the production of Tools Assisted (TAS). Furthermore, it supports games published on different platforms including Sega Saturn, Game Boy Color, and Game Boy Atari 2600 and many more.

If you’re a fan of speedruns and want to complete a game in the fastest time possible, then you should definitely take a look at BizHawk. The emulator has been specifically designed around the production of Tool Assisted Speedruns (TAS) and it works equally well for casual gaming.

Advantages

  • Easy to use
  • Is available for free

Disadvantages

  • It’s not the best emulator for a specific system

SNES9X

A classic that still is a top choice for lower-end/aging hardware. It doesn’t have quite the accuracy of Higan or BSNES, but SNES9X is an exceptional emulator that runs fast. It is also the easiest to get up and running. The emulator is capable of running virtually all SNES titles without any noticeable issues and it works fairly well on relatively dated hardware.

It still offers a wide selection of features, including fast forward to speed up games. It has an Output Image Processing for better graphics. A recording feature that allows you to capture moves of your gameplay. Above all, a save states to save games in the exact place you want them to save too are other features.

Advantages

  • It’s solid and fast on even older hardware
  • Pretty easy to use
  • It runs on multiple platforms

Disadvantages

  • Not as super-accurate as Higan or BSNES

 

SNES9x EX+

Want the legacy of SNES9x but for Android? You should definitely check out SNES9x EX+. The emulator includes all the basic features you’d expect from any SNES emulator, including save/load states, on-screen controls, support for a variety of file types and game pad support.

Granted, the emulator looks a bit old school, but since it works quite well there’s no point complaining about the UI. What’s really great is that unlike some other SNES emulators for Android, SNES9x EX+ is completely free and ad-free with no in-app purchases. Do keep in mind, that the emulator will work well only on devices with a processor clocked at 1GHz or more.

ZSNES

ZSNES is another classic SNES emulator that also has a port for iPhone and other gadgets. It’s also quite approachable for newbies. The development of this emulator stopped in 2007 but it’s still quite capable and easy to use, which is why it’s still quite popular among emulation enthusiasts.

ZSNES features a decent selection of features, including filters to improve video output, save states support, and a great recently played games list which keeps track of 10 of the most recent games that you’ve played on the emulator. It’s worth noting that ZSNES has a known security exploit and it’s possible for a ROM to redirect you to a webpage and install unwanted apps on your system, however, the exploit can easily be avoided by downloading ROMs from trusted sources.

Advantages

  • It’s solid and fast on even older hardware
  • Super easy to use
  • It runs on a handful of platforms, including iOS

Disadvantages

  • Not as super-accurate as Higan or BSNES
  • It wasn’t ported to MacOS

John NESS

John NESS is the successor of popular SNES emulator, John SNES. It was pulled down from the Play Store due to copyright infringement issues. However, the developer has released a new emulator with support for all the older games and of course, the new additions. At this moment, John Ness is one of the best SNES emulators on Android after perhaps SNES9x EX+. The UI of the emulator is quite good and it makes the gameplay very comfortable.

The developer states that the app is using the original SNES engine which means will have a great time playing the classic games with a focus on accuracy over performance. As for the features, you have cheats, high-quality rendering, zipped file support, customizable keys and more. Not to mention, the emulator also supports Bluetooth/MOGA controllers which is awesome. Overall, John NESS is a capable SNES emulator on Android and you should definitely give it a try.

The Mega S.N.E.S Rock Retro

The Mega S.N.E.S Rock Retro is a relatively new emulator, but it has quickly gained popularity among the Android community. The best part about this emulator is that it’s pretty fast and has wider game compatibility. Further, you can play SNES games on Full HD Graphics setting which is great. Apart from that, the emulator has a long list of features like controller customization, support for popular cheat codes, compatibility with Bluetooth controllers and more. There is also support for mouse, but it’s limited to few selected games only. Simply put, if you are looking for a new SNES emulator on Android then this one is worth exploring.

Also see RetroArch

In reading up on Emulation, you might see lots of mentions about RetroArch. It’s isn’t really an emulator itself, but instead is an interface and structure that manages multiple emulators.

However, it is also valid to mention RetroArch here as a RetroArch installation might be the only or best solution to use emulators on certain devices like the Nintendo Wii U or Playstation Classic.

Kicking off the list is RetroArch, a great SNES emulator which comes with cross platform support, allowing users to enjoy SNES games on a variety of different platforms. RetroArch is often described as a front-end for emulators which runs programs converted into dynamic libraries called liberto cores. Essentially, the software provides a polished interface for the user to play a wide range of classic games, making it quite easy to use. The emulator includes support for a number of different controllers and it offers several advanced features like shaders, netplay, and rewinding.

Also see OpenEmu

OpenEmu is a multi-system emulator that started as a port for the NEX/Famicom emulator Nestopia. The emulator is more of a front-end which requires you to download extra cores to enjoy. You could view it as a similar setup to RetroArch that has more of a desktop computer-oriented interface that is quite beautiful and matches the MacOS aesthetic well.

It’s fairly easy to use and has a very clean UI. The emulator features a couple of different filters to improve visual output and it also supports multiple input methods, so you can easily use a retro controller with your system for a much more authentic experience. Another great thing about OpenEmu is that it isn’t too resource extensive, which means that you can easily run it on older macOS devices with low-end specifications.

Best Controllers for SNES Emulation

Enjoy Your Favorite SNES Games With These SNES Emulators — there’s two solid routes to go if emulating on modern devices or PCs — Bluetooth or USB adapters…

8Bitdo SN30 Controllers

It took decades, but we finally got a mass market, solid quality set of wireless controllers that not only use modern 2.4G wireless technology and decent rechargeable batteries. 8bitdo sells both North American SNES grey and purple style controllers, but also a Black Edition. The collaboration with Analogue and the co-release alongside the Super Nt helped bring these into the mainstream of the retro community. We have since seen some knockoffs of these controllers all over eBay and Amazon. If you’d like to see some video and info about 8Bitdo’s SNES controllers, check out this segment My Life in Gaming’s third-party controller video.

8Bitdo SN30 Pro Controllers

8bitdo wasn’t content to make a quality modern wireless replica of the original SNES controller, but they produced a “Pro” version that incorporates even more modern features in addition to a more ergonomic design. These pro versions Add dual analogue sticks, additional triggers, customizable vibration and button mapping and macro programming. Many of the additional buttons on the Pro controller is so that is better suited to be used with the Nintendo Switch, but it’s still a great option for a real SNES with 8bitdo’s receiver.

8Bitdo Wireless Mod Kit

8bitdo also took their manufacturing run to their advantage to offer the wireless guts as stand-alone modification kits to let the DIY crowd turn their older controllers or custom creations (such as arcade-style joysticks) into a modern wireless controller.

These kits also happen to be suited for relative beginners to modding as they are designed to be easy to install without soldering.

SNES-to-USB Adapter

In case you want to emulate SNES games on a computer, you can get affordable adapters to turn your standard SNES controllers into gamepads for your PC for a more authentic experience.

Any More Thoughts on SNES Emulation?

That rounds up our list of the best SNES emulators for PC, Mac and Android. If you’re wondering why we haven’t included more emulators for iOS, it’s because there aren’t any official ones on the App Store. Apple is known to be a little too controlling when it comes to the type of apps that go up on the App Store and that has had a negative impact on any emulator development for the platform. So, iOS users set aside, which of these aforementioned emulators do you plan on trying out first? What games are you looking to play with these emulators? Let us know in the comments section below.


4 Comments

Eric says:

Hi there, I have used SNES Emulator is going all the way back to the late 90s, I was sad, however to see that the section of this article Talking about bass controllers seems to have somehow not gone up. What are your recommendations for controllers? I certainly have bought a number of cheapo imitation Nintendo controllers from Amazon but there must be better options.

racketboy says:

Are you talking Bluetooth controllers? (I see “bass controllers” in your comment)
What hardware are you looking to play on?

Eric says:

Hi there, I only caught my typo after submitting my reply. Bluetooth or wired for PC. There are a lot of cheapie Nintendo imitation controllers out there, I have owned and worn out a few (also tossed some). For SNES/Nintendo, is there a “better” controller option out there?

racketboy says:

I realized I left out the Controller section I meant to include — check the bottom of the guide now.

The 8bitdo ones are pretty solid for Bluetooth. The only complaint I’ve see is that the D-Pad responsiveness isn’t the greatest by default, but there’s a pretty simple mod to get it top-notch.
My Life In Gaming covers it in video here https://youtu.be/DLs19HXQkLQ?t=2187

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