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The market for retro consoles is becoming a little crowded. Between the Minis and the Flashbacks and the Classics, retro gaming consoles have never been more popular as adults and children alike are looking to experience older games.
The only problem is, with so many consoles to choose from, which one should you be buying? Thanks to a tool called Hakchi2 CE, you only need one—the SNES Classic Mini, a faithful recreation of the Super Nintendo console from the early 1990s. Let’s talk you through how you can play N64, NES, PS1 games and more on this retro console.
Installing Hakchi2 CE and Preparing Your SNES Classic Mini
Before you can add games to your SNES Classic Mini, you’ll first need to install the Hakchi2 CE tool on your PC, which you can download from the Hakchi2 GitHub repository.
Hakchi2 CE is Windows only, so you’ll need to create a Windows virtual machine on Linux if you’re using that OS. Once it’s downloaded and installed, open up Hakchi and go to Kernel > Install/Repair.
You’ll be asked if you want to flash the custom kernel, so select Yes. You might be asked for admin privileges, so accept this. A Windows command line installing drivers for interfacing with your SNES Mini will pop up. Once this is done, you’ll see the “Waiting for your NES/SNES Mini” window. You then need to do the following:
- Switch your SNES Mini POWER button to the off position.
- Connect your SNES Mini to your PC using the micro-USB cable.
- Hold RESET, and then switch your SNES Mini POWER button to the on position.
- Wait a few seconds, then release the RESET button.
The modified kernel will take a few minutes to install, and your SNES Mini will reboot in the process.
If you have any problems, wait for your SNES Mini to reboot and repeat the process. Once it’s installed successfully, click OK.
Installing RetroArch and Console Modules
Adding games to your SNES means you’ll emulate other gaming consoles. Emulating other console games requires you to install RetroArch on your SNES Mini, one of the best-known emulation libraries for Linux. This’ll allow you to play console games from other eras, including other Nintendo consoles and the PS1.
Go to Modules > Mod Store and then the Retroarch tab. Select the latest version of RetroArch ‘Neo’ (likely to be the top entry) and click Download and Install Module.
The module library will be installed and your SNES Mini will reboot. Once it’s installed, go to the Retroarch Cores tab. The “cores” are needed to emulate each console. For the N64, NES and PS1, you’ll need:
- GLupeN64 for the N64
- NESTopia or FCEumm for NES
- PCSX ReARMed Neon for PS1
You can follow the same process for any of the other console cores provided by the tool, but you’ll need to research which core works best for any game ROMs you wish to play. Install each by selecting the core, and clicking Download and Install Module. The cores will install and your SNES Mini will reboot.
You should be aware that game files for the PS1 are quite large compared to other consoles. You’ll need to think about modding your SNES Mini for extra storage with a microSD card or get yourself a USB OTG adapter with ports for power and for storage to plug into the SNES Mini’s micro-USB port. This’ll allow you to use USB memory storage instead.
If you’ve got additional storage in place, go to the Additional Functionality tab and install the Hakchi Memory Boost module. This will create a Linux swap file on your SD card which will improve performance on some high-end N64 or PS1 games.
Adding Other Console Games to Your SNES Classic Mini
With RetroArch and the relevant console modules installed, you can then begin to add games from other consoles to your SNES Classic Mini. Because of copyright concerns, we’re not able to provide you with any information on how to find ROM files yourself.
Assuming you’ve got some ROMs ready to install, close the Mod Store and click Add More Games at the bottom of the Hakchi2 CE window. Select your ROM files and click Open to prepare them for installation onto your SNES Mini. Once you’ve done that, select the games under New Apps, right click and hit Download box art for selected games.
When you’re ready, press Synchronize selected games with NES/SNES Mini and your new games will be uploaded to your SNES Mini’s internal storage. If you want to add them to a USB storage device, click Export games instead, select your USB storage device. Once you plug this into your SNES Mini, the games will be detected automatically.
Mapping Console Keys
With the games you want now installed, you’ll need to make sure the right keys for these console games are mapped to the right keys on your chosen controller. For the N64 and PS1, it’s recommended you buy and use a Wii Classic Controller Pro to give you the best gaming experience.
To do that, unplug your SNES Mini and set it up where you want to play it. Power it up, and select one of your new games from the scrolling list to start RetroArch. Once it loads, hit Select + Start on your controller, then go to Menu > Controls. You can then select your controller type and, if necessary, map individual keys to their emulated equivalents.
Once you’ve done this, just hit the back button (the yellow B key on the standard SNES Mini controller) until you return to the game and can start playing.
SNES Classic Mini: More Than Just a SNES
Thanks to Hakchi, the SNES becomes more than just a SNES. It becomes the only retro gaming console you’ll need, and thanks to its faithfully retro design, it won’t look out of place next to your TV.
If you’ve got the desire to collect other consoles, you could buy another from our list of the best retro gaming consoles instead. If you’re considering buying the NES Classic, don’t discount Hakchi—it’s designed to work with that retro console, too.