There’s no debate about it – the Super Nintendo, Super Famicom, SNES, whatever-you-want-to-call-it, is one of the best games consoles of all time. Its entries in long-running series like Mario, Zelda, Mario Kart, Metroid, and myriad third-party IPs ensure that. It’s actually very easy to play SNES games on Android, too, thanks to a host of well-established emulators that bring all the joy of Nintendo’s seminal console to the small screen.
Here are our favorite SNES emulators for Android.
If you’re looking to play games not only from the SNES but from pretty much every other retro console in existence, then Retroarch is without a doubt the way to go. It can be a bit fiddly to set up, and the sheer volume of options – from shaders to graphics tweaks to driver changes – can be overwhelming to the beginner, but its reputation as the ultimate emulation front-end is well deserved.
For the uninitiated, Retroarch lets you download “cores,” which are essentially emulators contained within Retroarch. There are quite a few SNES cores to choose from, but the hands-down best in our opinion is Snes9x, which performs with a great mix of accuracy and quality.
2. Snes9x EX/+
Running off the back of the excellent Snes9x emulator (that’ll be a running theme in this list), Snes9x EX and EX+ are the best dedicated SNES emulators for Android if you don’t want all the fuss of Retroarch.
The “+” variant of the app is available in the Play Store and is designed for more powerful devices. The regular “EX” version can be found on the developer’s site and can run on lower-end devices. While these emulators aren’t updated as regularly as the Snes9x Retroarch cores, they still run brilliantly, with a solid selection of tweaks, shaders and other options to play around with.
As with most SNES emulators for Android, PS4 and Xbox One controllers should easily auto-detect and via Bluetooth and have the appropriate buttons assigned to them.
3. Multi Snes9x
Yet another variant of the indomitable Snes9x open-source emulator, Multi Snes9x, addresses one of the bugbears of emulation: online gaming. While it functions perfectly well as a single-player emulator, its real focus is to let you play your favorite SNES games with your friends on your LAN or online.
Locally, you can play with people via your router or Wi-Fi Direct, and it’s surprisingly stable, with little issues with desyncing.
It has all the options you’d hope for in an online/social-focused emulator, including the ability to text chat during games. You sign into it using your Google or Facebook account and can invite your friends to play through either of those platforms.
4. John NESS
If you remember the paid John NES and John SNES emulators, which were removed from the Play Store due to alleged copyright infringement, then you’ll feel right at home with John NESS. This is the follow-up to those, combining NES, SNES and GBA emulators in one package. (You can still download the original John NES and John SNES emulators from their official site.)
Everything about this emulator works swimmingly and with great accuracy. It has the usual array of features like shaders, turbo buttons, save-states, cheats and other features you’d expect to find on an emulator.
This is one of the most frequently updated emulators, though if you’re a person of principle when it comes to open-source software, then you might want to know that this developer’s previously been accused of using (and effectively monetising, via in-app purchases) the exact code used in the existing Snes9x, VBA-M and FCEUX emulators.
Those are some of the best SNES emulators you can get for Android, and you don’t need to pay a penny to use them! We also recommend getting your hands on a good controller and controller mount – a touchscreen can never replace the feel of a real controller. Do it!