Best SNES Emulator for Linux

The Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) was a 16-bit, fourth-generation home video game console that was released by Nintendo on November 21, 1990, in Japan and on August 23, 1991, in the US. It retailed for $199.99. It had a Ricoh 5A22 CPU at 3.58 MHz. Named after its predecessor, the Nintendo Entertainment System, it was alternatively called the Super Famicom in Japan, and during that time it had fierce competition with SEGA’s Genesis.

The SNES is best remembered for the fiery competitive spirit of its gaming generation. The SNES refined the gaming experience of its predecessor to create unforgettable classics. Titles like Super Mario World, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, and Super Metroid are consistently praised as some of the greatest and most beloved games ever made and are often credited for their influences on the action-adventure, and Metroidvania genres.

This article is a list of the best SNES emulators for Linux. Please note that we do not include emulator front-ends, which can be used in conjunction with multiple different emulator core. For example, BizHawk is a front-end which can either be used with snes9x or bsnes.

Disclaimer: While running an emulator is legal, downloading a game from the to play on an emulator may be a copyright violation. This article offers information for education purposes only. We do not endorse piracy in any possible way.


Higan is a free , open source emulator capable of running games from multiple consoles, including the SNES, with great accuracy. Designed to be as faithful to the original hardware as possible, it is a popular choice for those who are looking for an emulator that can play almost any Super Nintendo game flawlessly.

higan logo

Higan is written in C to ensure the best performance. However, as it tries to accurately emulate the SNES, you’re going to need decent hardware for a smooth experience. In exchange for high CPU usage, higan is able to run every commercial Super NES title ever released.

Higan is freely distributed under GNU General Public License and runs on most major platforms, including Windows, Linux, macOS, and FreeBSD.

higan notable features

  • Create an accurate emulation cycle that takes advantage of today’s multi-core CPUs.
  • Enjoy super smooth graphics with our multi-threaded PPU renderer.
  • Load ROM files directly without the need for folders or libraries.
  • Play games with enhanced audio and full sound support.
  • Automatically configure your controllers for a seamless gaming experience.
  • Play your favorite Super Nintendo games on any platform, including Linux, FreeBSD, macOS, and Windows.


bsnes logo

bsnes is a subset project of higan, and focuses on performance, features, and ease of use. In fact, higan is based in the current version of the higan standalone, while bsnes accuracy is based on old bsnes code from before bsnes was turned into higan.

bsnes does not try to accurately mimic the original SNES, but rather maintains a balance between the accuracy and performance. That said, you’ll get much faster multi-threaded PPU renderer without stressing the CPU too much at the price of compatibility.

bsnes is distributed under GNU GPL license abd uses Qt to develop its cross-platform GUI. It was originally developed by Near and is now maintained by the community.

Currently, there are also several bsnes forks with different sets of goals :

  • bsnes-hd : A newer fork of bsnes that adds HD video features, such as HD Mode 7, widescreen support, etc.
  • bsnes-mt : bsnes fork with a few graphics improvements, bug fixes, hotkey shortcuts, etc.
  • nsnes-mercury : bsnes fork that aims to restore functionality like HLE DSP chip emulation and SGB emulation using Gambatte that was removed in later versions of bsnes, as well as to have some optimizations that don’t affect emulation accuracy.
  • bsnes-classic: a fork of bsnes v073 that aimed to backport emulation improvements from more current versions of higan while keeping the features of the older version’s Qt GUI.
  • Numerous other forks : BizHawk, bsnes macOS, bsnes-Qt, bsnes-sx2, bsnes-plus, bsnes-cplusplus98, bsnes-gilgamesh, bsnes-hle, bsnes-libretro, bsnes-mcfly, bsnes-rr, defimulator, higan-qq, lsnes, OpenEmu/BSNES-Core, SnesBox, xSnes.


Snes9x is a proprietary Super Famicom (SNES) emulator written in C++. It has official ports for MS-DOS, Linux, Microsoft Windows, AmigaOS 4, macOS, MorphOS, Xbox, PSP, PS3, GameCube, Wii, iOS, and Android.

Neat/byuu, author of Higan, always recommend using the latest SNES9X for general emulation now unless you have a very specific reason for needing something cycle accurate. The emulator had broad compatibility and ran on systems with limited resources without issues. So if your PC isn’t fast enough to run higan, it’s a good choice.


Mednafen is an acronym for My Emulator Doesn’t Need A Frickin’ Excellent Name, formerly Nintencer.

Mednafen is an open-source, multi-system emulator, command-line based SNES emulator that utilises OpenGL and SDL. It provides a wealth of features, including remapping of hotkey functions and virtual system inputs, support for save states and real-time game rewinding, and the ability to take screen snapshots at the press of a button.

Mednafen can also record audiovisual movies in the QuickTime file format, with several different lossless codecs supported.

Since Mednafen uses a threaded model of emulation and SDL has limitations, a joystick is a better choice than a keyboard for playing games, as it will have less latency. However, most people won’t be able to tell the difference between the latency of the two devices.

We hope that the information above help you find the suitable SNES Emulator for Linux to install and play.

You may be interested in our Linux software roundups, including 8 Best Open Source CMDB software, Best Linux Video Converters, Best Linux Home Security Software.

If you have any suggestion, please feel free to leave a comment below.

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