How to Play Super Nintendo (SNES) Games in Ubuntu

All Snes Games In Ubuntu With Higan Featured

There are plenty of emulators that allow you to play Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) games in Ubuntu, but not all of them are equal. Many emulators prioritize speed over accuracy or accessibility over compatibility. The result is that most games work at more than acceptable framerates even on older computers.

Higan is considered the most accurate SNES emulator and will allow you to play the vast majority of titles for Nintendo’s retro console. The tradeoff for its increased accuracy and compatibility is that it’s much more demanding than alternatives, so it can stutter even on five-year-old PCs.

If you have a relatively new PC, though, and like the idea of having access to almost all titles ever made for SNES, presented as if they were running on an original console, read on.

Install Higan

If you are using one of the latest versions of Ubuntu, you will find Higan in its software center. Search for it using its name and install it like any other app.

All Snes Games In Ubuntu With Higan Install

After its installation completes, find it in Ubuntu’s main menu and launch it.

All Snes Games In Ubuntu With Higan Launch Higan

Loading Games in Higan

With Higan up and running, click on “Library -> Load ROM File … “

All Snes Games In Ubuntu With Higan Load Rom

Locate the ROM of the game you wish to play in the requester that pops up. Note that Higan also supports zipped files, so you don’t have to uncompress your ROMs to load them. Select the file and click “Open.”

All Snes Games In Ubuntu With Higan Select Game

The game will load and run, and then you can theoretically play.

All Snes Games In Ubuntu With Higan Game Loaded

Practically, though, you can’t play yet. You still need to configure the input for this game.

Configure Inputs

Games made for the SNES were designed to be used with joypads, and in rare cases, peripherals like light guns. To be able to play SNES games in Higan, you have to map the controlling device you will be using to the inputs that games expect.

1. Choose “Settings -> Input … ” to open Higan’s control-mapping window.

All Snes Games In Ubuntu With Higan Configure Input

2. Choose “Super Famicom” from the pull-down menu on the top left.

3. Select “Controller Port 1” from the middle pull-down menu.

4. Change the input to “Gamepad” from the third pull-down menu.

5. If you are using an actual joypad, map those buttons in a similar way to the original configuration for a more authentic gaming experience. If you’re going to only be using your keyboard, feel free to map them to whatever keys you prefer.

For the mapping, double-click the entry in the Mapping column next to the control’s name, and then press the input you want to map to it.

All Snes Games In Ubuntu With Higan Settings Input Mapping

There is one more step before game-playing begins: You need to attach your (virtual) controller to the emulator. Notice the new menu that will have popped up next to “Library.” Higan supports multiple consoles, so this menu changes depending on the game loaded. Since you have loaded a game for SNES, this menu will now show “Super Famicom.”

Click on it and select “Controller Port 1 -> Gamepad.”

All Snes Games In Ubuntu With Higan Assign Gamepad

That’s it! Depending on the game loaded, you can start playing by pressing the buttons you marked to either Start, Select, A, B, X, or Y.

All Snes Games In Ubuntu With Higan Play Game

Useful Hotkeys

You don’t have to configure the rest of Higan’s options, but it’s worth mapping some useful hotkeys. Visit “Settings -> Hotkeys” to do that.

All Snes Games In Ubuntu With Higan Settings Hotkeys

We consider the following to be the most useful of the bunch:

  • Toggle Fullscreen
  • Save Quick State
  • Load Quick State
  • Pause Emulation
  • Fast-Forward

Thanks to Higan, you can have access to most of SNES’s titles, presented as they’d run on the original hardware, almost as if you had connected the actual console to your monitor.

Are you already playing SNES games on Ubuntu, such as ZNES? Do you prefer retro-gaming in your living room with Kodi as your front-end? Tell us in the comments section below.

Odysseas Kourafalos
Odysseas Kourafalos

OK's real life started at around 10, when he got his first computer - a Commodore 128. Since then, he's been melting keycaps by typing 24/7, trying to spread The Word Of Tech to anyone interested enough to listen. Or, rather, read.

Subscribe to our newsletter!

Our latest tutorials delivered straight to your inbox