Super Nintendo Entertainment System

Best Free Linux SNES Emulators

Last Updated on February 12, 2019

Emulation refers to the duplication of functions of one system using a different system. Specifically, an emulator is software specifically written to emulate aspects of the original console or computer, primarily the CPU, I/O and memory system.

The Super Nintendo Entertainment System (also known as Super NES, SNES, or Super Nintendo) is a 16-bit video game console. Nintendo released it in Japan in November 1990 as the Super Famicom (or SFC) with only a few games available. The console was released the following year in North America, and more widely in 1992. The Super Nintendo was the best-selling 16-bit game console of its era, despite a late start and competition from the Sega Genesis.

Gamers have a few choices when it comes to playing their SNES games. They can whip out their ageing SNES console, purchase the Nintendo Classic Mini SNES (where you’re limited to the included games), or play with a PC emulator.

This article selects the best SNES emulators available for Linux. This article does not extend to emulator frontends. For example, there’s BizHawk which offers two SNES core options (snes9x and bsnes). Another notable frontend is RetroArch.

Here’s our verdict of the SNES emulators available for Linux. Your experience may differ, so please share your comments in the section below. ZSNES used to be our recommended SNES emulator, but it hasn’t seen an update since 2007, and has been surpassed by others.


Learn more about the features of each emulator. We’ve prepared a concise summary. Click the links below.

SNES emulators
higanEmulator for multiple video game consoles, including the SNES and many others
bsnesStandalone SNES emulator using the higan SNES core
Snes9xFreeware SNES emulator
MednafenCommand line multi-system gaming emulator
MAMEMulti-purpose emulation framework
ZSNESRuns most SNES games at full speed with sound and special graphic filters

Please note: Emulators are legal in most countries, but downloading a game to play on an emulator often represents a copyright violation.

Best Free and Open Source SoftwareRead our complete collection of recommended free and open source software. Our curated compilation covers all categories of software.

The software collection forms part of our series of informative articles for Linux enthusiasts. There are hundreds of in-depth reviews, open source alternatives to proprietary software from large corporations like Google, Microsoft, Apple, Adobe, IBM, Cisco, Oracle, and Autodesk.

There are also fun things to try, hardware, free programming books and tutorials, and much more.
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5 years ago

“Please note: Emulators are legal in most countries, but downloading a game to play on an emulator often represents a copyright violation.” – ignoring homebrew software-libre games isn’t fair… :S