Emulating SNES, NES and N64 Games In Mac OS X

After years of being maligned, Mac users now often have access to the latest and greatest games sooner rather than later and as Apple’s market share continues to increase, this trend is surely bound to only increase – it’s a great time to be a Mac gamer!

Still, sometimes it’s fun to look back and play some retro console classics and if one desires, it’s perfectly possible to use your Mac to achieve this, with NES, SNES and even N64 games all attainable with good graphic and speed performance. Read on after the break to see how.

Since we’re going to be emulating games on our Macs, there’ll be no need for cartridges, nor any way to use them if we had them. Therefore, one must attain ROMS, or files which contain the games. The legality of this is somewhat questionable and opinions vary as to it being piracy or not but most consider emulation fairly harmless. A quick internet search for “the old computer” will usually throw up a website which contains the required results.

The Nintendo Entertainment System was launched in the US in the mid-1980’s and proved to be an iconic 8-bit classic, with worldwide success and many unofficial clones launched in Soviet Eastern Europe. To emulate NES games, we have a few choices in Mac OS X, but after trying most of them out, I’m going recommend you go with Nestopia.


Simply follow the link and navigate to the relevant Mac OS X download to install Nestopia – it’s a free download. That done, you can grab your ROMS and direct the app toward them via the built-in menu.

The Super Nintendo Entertainment System was the 16 bit follow-up to the NES and was no less successful than its predecessor. With such classic titles as Starfox, Super Mario World and Pilot Wings all finding a home on the SNES, there’s little wonder that its games are still being played today.

To get started playing SNES games on our Mac, we need to grab a copy of SNES9X, which is also free. Download and install SNES9X as normal and then launch the app.


SNES9X contains more options but is still very simple to configure and all you should need to do is navigate the menu to “File -> Open ROM Image” and select your ROM.

Coming a decade later than Nintendo’s original 8 bit console, the Nintendo 64 was, appropriately, 64 bit and featured significant graphical improvements over its predecessors. For this reason, it takes a little more resources to emulate Nintendo 64 adequately but there’s still plenty of games which run just fine on a Mac.


For our N64 emulation, I’m going to recommend Sixtyforce which has managed to handle the games I’ve tested on my MacBook Pro without many glitches. Sixtyforce is free to use but there is a charge to unlock all the app’s functionality. ROMS are loaded in the same way as SNES9X and Nestopia, accessible via a menu.

The process of running emulated retro games on your Mac really isn’t too difficult at all and probably the biggest challenge is sourcing all the game ROMS you wish to play. If desired, a joypad can be plugged into your Mac to complete the experience. In addition, there’s even an app which turns your iPhone into a NES style controller – I’ve tested this out and found it to be surprisingly usable.

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