It may be 25 years old, but the Super Nintendo still boasts some of the best video games of all time. If you want to SNES on your Windows machine, we think the best emulator for the job is RetroArch with a bsnes core.

RetroArch (with bsnes-mercury Core)

Platform: Windows/Mac/Linux
Price: Free
Download Page


  • Plays games from the Super Nintendo Nintendo Entertainment System in the form of ROMs
  • Play games with nearly any USB gamepad and customize the button layout
  • Save and load your state anywhere in the game
  • Rewind the game in real time
  • Adjust a myriad of video settings, including shaders that add old-school effects or smoothing to your graphics
  • Record a video of your playthroughs, or record your button presses to a BSV file
  • Play online with friends using Netplay

How to Set It Up


RetroArch is a little more complicated than “Install, File > Open”. We have an entire guide to using RetroArch, but here’s a quick primer on how to set it up with bsnes:

  1. Download the latest version of RetroArch from its download page. It comes as a 7z file so you’ll need 7-Zip installed to extract it.
  2. Open the 7z archive and extract the files wherever you want (I recommend C:\Program Files\RetroArch).
  3. Double-click on the RetroArch exe to start it up. You can navigate the interface with the arrow keys, press X to select, or Z to go back. It also supports a number of USB gamepads out of the box.
  4. To load an emulator in RetroArch, you’ll need to install that emulator’s “core”. Head to Online Updater > Core Updater and scroll down until you see the bsnes-mercury cores. If you have a seriously powerful computer (with a higher-than-3GHz CPU), try bsnes-mercury-accuracy. If your computer is more low-powered, go with bsnes-mercury-balanced or bsnes-mercury-performance instead.
  5. Return to the main menu, and to go Load Content > Select File and Detect Core. Select a ROM file from your hard drive to start playing.

You can also tweak numerous video, audio, and gamepad settings, but this will get you up and running.