Emulating & Playing Classic SNES Games On The PC With ZSNES

Craig Snyder 27-02-2012

snes emulatorIn my opinion, the Super Nintendo was the greatest gaming console that ever existed. Boasting titles like Chrono Trigger, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, Super Metroid, EarthBound, Final Fantasy III, Super Mario Kart, Donkey Kong Country, Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars, Super Punch-Out, F-Zero, Star Fox, Zombies Ate My Neighbors, Street Fighter II Turbo: Hyper Fighting, Super Castlevania IV, Secret of Mana, NBA Jam, Mega Man X, Harvest Moon, and more, is it really hard to see why?


We’ve touched on ZSNES a little How to Play Old School Console Games on Computer Read More in other articles, but here I’d like to give you a full emulation walkthrough and make sure that you’re able to understand and enjoy SNES games on your PC.

Downloading ZSNES

ZSNES has not been updated (and doesn’t need to be) in over five years. I’d recommend the link above anyway, which will take you to the latest news post in the event that there is a random update.

snes emulator

Otherwise, here are hotlinks directly to the latest version (1.51) for each platform:

Configuring ZSNES

After you’ve downloaded and unzipped the archive, launch the application.


snes emulator games

My immediate suggestion then is that you go to Misc and then GUI Opts and you set BG Effects to None. It just looks better (in my opinion) and lags a little less without snow.

snes emulator games

Afterwards, I’d recommend going to Config then Video and setting up a better resolution. Pay attention to the legend scale, on the right hand side. Most of us, in 2012, use widescreen monitors, so I’d suggest you choose a windowed resolution that works well in widescreen. Widescreen didn’t even exist back then though, so you also want a resolution that preserves the 8:7 ratio.


Keep in mind, the higher your resolution, the more pixelated your games will be. Some mind that, some don’t.

snes emulator games

Lastly, to Config then Input. I highly recommend customizing the controls here and beginning to memorize the keyboard-to-SNES controller comparisons. If you’re using a keyboard, I wouldn’t even worry about turbo and diagonal keys.

snes games


Getting ROMs


While ROMs are freely available online, MakeUseOf can’t help you find them. Downloading ROMs for games that you don’t own is piracy, and doing so is your decision to make.

Extract ROMs into a folder so you can easily keep track of them. It’ll get messy and confusing otherwise. SNES ROM files have the “.smc” extension.

Loading ROMs

After downloading the ROMs you’re interested in, go to Game then Load. Here, you’ll want to navigate to the folder where you’ve saved your ROMs.


snes games

After you’ve highlighted the game you want, you simply click Load. Your game should immediately come up, and you’re ready to play!

Saving States

Unlike you could on the SNES, the ZSNES emulator supports state saves, which basically means you’ve got a built-in memory card. To save your state, you simply press the ESC key while in game (which takes you to the start screen menu overlay) and select Game then Save State. To load your saved game, you’d simply load your game again and go to Game then Open State.

snes emulator

That’s it. Isn’t technology great? No more turning the TV off and leaving the console on while you go to school just so you don’t lose your progress. After this article, I’m feeling pretty nostalgic. I think it’s time to go play some Suikoden.

We’ve done a lot of other articles on emulation, too. Here’s 3 of them :

If you guys need any help with getting your ZSNES and/or ROMs to work as I’ve described, let me know in the comments.

Related topics: Custom Android Rom, Emulation, Retro Gaming.

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  1. David
    January 21, 2016 at 5:30 pm

    can you use a xbox controller/pc controller on these games?

  2. Sushi
    March 2, 2015 at 3:43 am

    Hi! This tutorial is amazing and I'm very thankful that you made it! :D I just have one problem: I've downloaded the first Starfox game for zsnes and all the keys works smoothly, but I can't find the key on my keyboard to shoot the enemies. I've tried pretty much all the keys ecxept for the numbers. Do you think there's a problem with the rom or there isn't such a key in the program itself? Sorry for bothering and thank you very much for your help! :3

  3. Adam
    June 8, 2012 at 7:14 pm

    When I save i cannot access the file, all it says is bad rom so what can I do?
    The rom is the legend of zelda a link to the past.

  4. Austin Beatty
    February 27, 2012 at 11:27 pm

    Nice, although Snes9x sometimes seems to be more accurate, both are good emulators. I'm currently playing through Super Mario RPG and Link to the Past (my first time playing that game surprisingly) on my Android phone :D SNES is the console I grew up with, I love that system :)

    • Craig Snyder
      March 5, 2012 at 3:26 am

       Awesome, ALttP and SMRPG are two classic games.

  5. llegal noob
    February 27, 2012 at 11:14 pm

    does the llegal stuff mean I have to own the game to play it ? I dont know where I would buy these games,.

    • Craig Snyder
      March 5, 2012 at 9:16 pm

       If you've owned the game, it is completely legal.

  6. Dan
    February 27, 2012 at 10:54 pm

    I prefer snes9x