How to emulate every Nintendo system in Windows

The following list will guide you through how to play NES, SNES, Nintendo 64, Nintendo GameCube/Wii, Nintendo Gameboy/Color/Advanced, Nintendo DS AND Nintendo Virtual Boy games on your Windows PC.


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There are many NES emulators, but Nestopia is my favorite. It is open source and is still being worked on. It plays all the games I’ve tried, it works with my gamepad, and has some advanced options. It even supports multiplayer over the Internet! Download Nestopia here.


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ZSNES is a great emulator, the interface is weird, but it works great. A tip I wish I knew a long time ago is that when you have you mouse in the window, you can hold the right mouse button to move the window. You can read a great tutorial about ZSNES here and download the program here.

Nintendo 64

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Project64 has been working on their 64 emulator for a very long time. You can get the beta (1.7) if you donate, but the stable 1.6 is free and great. The only problem I have with Nintendo 64 emulation is that it’s hard to emulate an N64 controller, but that isn’t Project64’s problem. You can download it here.

Nintendo GameCube/Wii

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Dolphin is the only emulator I know of for GameCube or Wii games. I was surprised to find that Super Smash Brothers Melee was going at a playable speed. Dolphin is updated weekly and seems to be progressing well. It comes in both 32 bit and 64 bit applications, which you can download here.

Nintendo Gameboy/Color/Advanced

All of these emulators are rolled into one package with Visual Boy Advance. It has not been updated since 2005, but it works great. One nice feature is that it can play roms that are still in a zip folder. So there is no need to unzip. Something you may want to look out for is Visual Boy Advance-M, which plans to improve upon VBA. For now, you can download VBA from here.

Nintendo DS

I had problems with this. DeSmuME worked the best, but I tried iDeaS and it had some problems too. I only tried this with one game, but I have been told DeSmuME is slightly better.

Nintendo Virtual Boy

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Oh come on. Why would you want to do that to yourself? Red Dragon is probably the best we’re gonna get. There is little to no interest in emulating this failure. Download it here, if you must.

{ 29 comments… add one }
  • George December 27, 2008, 11:48 am

    its funny, you told everyone what programs can be used to emulate old games, but you told nobody where to get the roms!

  • Whammo December 27, 2008, 2:01 pm

    You can get the roms from any torrent site. Don’t waste your time downloading each rom separately at rom-world and being subjected to countless ads.

  • Jimmy December 27, 2008, 3:00 pm

    no$gba is best for ds games

  • Mike December 27, 2008, 3:13 pm

    Hello. Thanks, this is awesome

  • Rob December 27, 2008, 4:30 pm

    An N64 controller is easy to enmulate using a PS2 style controller. Map your C buttons to the right analog stick. I have been using a PS2 controller for N64 for years.

  • jimbo December 27, 2008, 8:38 pm

    how do i get the cartridges (currently in boxes in my attic) into my computer? there are only a few games i would be interested in emulating and i already have the game cartridges…

  • Freezer December 27, 2008, 10:17 pm

    Seconding No$GBA for DS emulation. It can even play at reasonable speeds on older computers. If they’d get the save states working properly, it’d be near perfect.

  • Nate December 27, 2008, 10:17 pm

    For $10 you can get a usb adapter that allows you to plug in either an n64 or ps1/2 controller. I bought 2 and it works great!

  • IheartEmus December 28, 2008, 12:32 am

    I found a site which offers frequently updated builds of Dolphin revisions as well as other Downloads. It’s a legal emulation website however, so you won’t find downloads for game roms, iso’s, bios’s, firmware or other copyrighted material.

    I am a member on their forums, which I use whenever I need support with an emulator and have a problem. They are very snappy with support responses and are quite laid back unlike some other emulation communities I’ve joined in the past.

    Yo can grab Dolphin builds here: Dolphin Builds

  • Anon December 28, 2008, 11:33 pm

    It’s a good guide. I’d like to see one for ubuntu as well.

  • saitokthx December 29, 2008, 1:50 am

    >.> wow.. i’ve used all those emu’s except virtual boy =\

    im a geek!

  • Anon December 29, 2008, 9:59 am

    lulz virtual boy

  • Corey December 29, 2008, 1:55 pm

    Yeah, I third No$ for the DS emulator, but the only issue I had with it is that the window is not resizeable. There’s a small hack for it that doubles the window size, but greatly reduces the playing speed and causes some small glitches.

    Nothing’s perfect, however.

  • marco December 29, 2008, 11:46 pm

    > jimbo ‘how do i get the cartridges (currently in boxes in my attic) into my computer? there are only a few games i would be interested in emulating and i already have the game cartridges…’
    To do so you need an adapter? to read out the cartridges and make roms out of them. It is easier to use the internet to look for the roms of the games you have. Because you have the original cartdriges, it is legal. :)

  • JonBoy Online January 7, 2009, 12:59 am

    I have tried and tried but never had much success with Gameboy emulators.
    Its easier playing the Ds with something like a m3DSreal.

  • DIY ROM Arcade January 22, 2009, 8:06 am

    Nice article. Thanks for the good suggestions on different Emulators, and great screenshots btw.

  • jonesy February 22, 2009, 3:12 pm

    even though EVERYONE hated the Virtual Boy, i actually liked it, when it got scrapped, i was able to pick up every game for it for a buck at kb toys and the system itself for like 5 bucks.. i was so happy :P

  • Red Eyes May 7, 2009, 10:12 am

    i second that no$GBA is best EMU for DS and GBA in one program.

  • Alie June 9, 2009, 2:29 pm

    WHat about wii?

  • Brett June 14, 2009, 1:02 am

    Can anyone help? I got a N64 to USB controller adaptor, it works perfect in control panel test, but wont work in emulator. I tried the different controller plug in – still no joy. Any clues, need to play PILOT WINGS 64!!

  • Chris June 21, 2009, 4:50 pm

    Project64 < Mupen64Plus

  • pc arcade games July 25, 2010, 7:05 pm

    hey thanks for the share, ive been lookin for this emulator for awhile now with no luck, and then i stumble this site and there it was.

  • znes_hunter May 27, 2011, 1:27 pm

    when you want roms , than just google snes roms (or nintendo 64 ,nes,ds…)

  • Kenneth Brockert June 6, 2014, 5:09 pm

    I’ve always liked FCEUX most for NES and thought snes9x was much prettier than znes even though I usually prefer open source. Dolphin plays GameCube quite well now and project64 has also finally got 2.0 release

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