Best NES Emulators for Retro Games

Mesen is widely regarded as one of the most accurate NES emulators on the market. The program comes in two varieties: Vanilla Mesen for NES games and Mesen-S for SNES, Game Boy, and Game Boy Color titles. Moreover, Mesen is compatible with more than 290 titles.

As with other emulators, Mesen includes a wide variety of extras that allow players to fine-tune their experiences. The emulator even includes built-in save states, video filters, and cheat codes. Plus, if you want to get into “romhacking” (i.e. modifying the game), Mesen includes plenty of debugging tools so you can create your own custom titles. But unlike other emulators with more options than you know what to do with, Mesen is a snap to download and set up. A handy setup wizard runs the first time you run the emulator, which walks you through setting up controls and folder locations. You can’t get much easier than that.


Modern game consoles are designed to be region-free. You can buy a PlayStation 5 game in Japan and it will work just fine on the PS5 console you bought in America. Whether or not you understand Japanese is another matter. Unfortunately, older consoles aren’t as open-minded. An NES cartridge from a European country will not work on a North American NES console, for example. Fortunately, FCEUX does not suffer from this problem.

FCEUX is arguably as close to a true one-size-fits-all NES emulator as it gets. Unlike Retroarch (which “cheats” by using cores from different emulators), FCEUX supports NES ROMs of all kinds, including European PAL, American NTSC, and Famicom. However, all this dedicated support comes at a low cost. Unlike Retroarch, FCEUX’s color scheme leaves something to be desired. The colors aren’t horrible, but they’re not up to par with other emulators.

What FCEUX lacks in color accuracy, it makes up for in features. The emulator has all the features of Mesen and Retroarch, such as debugging and recording tools, but FCEUX also includes a special tool-assisted speedrun. Unlike other emulators, FCEUX even supports joysticks.

Nestopia EU

As mentioned earlier, Retroarch uses the Nestopia UE kernel for NES ROMS. Naturally, this factoid will probably make you wonder how this emulator works on its own. Well, if the core of Nestopia UE was bad, gamers wouldn’t consider Retroarch as one of the best emulators, would they?

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