Nintendo’s decision to release its most beloved consoles in miniature form, pre-loaded with some of the finest games from their back-catalogue, has proven to be a resounding success. Both the NES and SNES Classic are bundles of nostalgic joy, if restricted by the fact that they come with a limited amount of games, and you can’t use your own cartridges with them.
Luckily, one plucky developer has released a tool that lets you hack the SNES and NES Classic to add as many games as their onboard capacity will allow (about 200 games for the Super Nintendo, 100 for the original Nintendo).
Note: downloading ROMs is by and large illegal, and we’re not going to show you how to find games online for your NES or SNES. If you want to know more, read our piece on the legality of emulators and ROMs.
Note: also, much like with rooting a phone, this process carries inherent risks, so we can’t be held responsible if you brick your device doing this. For what it’s worth, we’ve done this several times with no issues, and other users have reported success as well.
Hack Your NES Classic and SNES Classic with Hakchi2
The tool we’re going to use to mod your NES or SNES Classic (we’ll be using the SNES Classic for demonstration purposes) is called Hakchi2. This essentially lets you back up the original kernel for the console, then replace it with a new one containing whatever games you choose to load onto the system.
First, download the latest version of Hakchi from Github. We recommend the portable/zip version, because at the time of writing, the “web installer” version was buggy and didn’t work for us.
Once you’ve installed Hakchi, open it. First you’ll need to create a backup of the current SNES Classic kernel. Click “Kernel -> Dump kernel,” then follow the instructions to back up your default SNES Classic setup should anything go wrong. Your dumped kernel will be in the ‘dump’ folder of the Hakchi2 directory on your PC.
Once your kernel dump is complete, click Kernel and then “Flash custom kernel”, and follow the on-screen instructions to create the custom kernel, which will be the home for your NES or SNES games collection. If you’ve set everything up right per the instructions, the flashing process will start automatically.
When the flashing is finished, there should be a green circle in the bottom-left corner of Hakchi, denoting that the console is ready to have games added.
When that’s done, it’s time to start adding your games. Click “Add more games” at the bottom-left corner of Hakchi2 and add all the games you want from your computer. (Please not that not all SNES games will work perfectly on the SNES Classic, but most of them should.)
Once you’ve added all your games, it’s time to add the box art. Select all the games in your list, then right-click anywhere in the list and select “Download box art for selected games.” This will search Hakchi’s linked sites for SNES box art and add the box art for each game.
When it’s finished, you can go through each game in the list, and if you don’t like the box art it auto-selected, you can change it. Just click the game, then in the menu on the right click “Browse” to add your own or click “Google” to pick some box art from Google Images.
When you’ve picked all your games and have their box art in order, make sure the boxes next to them are all ticked, then click “Synchronise selected games with S/NES Mini.” Once this process is complete, your games collection should upload to your console, and you’re done!
If you have a lot of games, your NES and SNES Classic will keep them in separate folders off the main home screen, so don’t be alarmed if you don’t see all your games rubbing shoulders with the pre-installed games. They are there. Also, all the games you add to your console will benefit from the “Rewind” and save-state functions built into the consoles, which is great!