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Emulate A NES (Nintendo Entertainment System) On A PC

Updated on April 11, 2015

NES Emulator Windows 7

Super Mario Brothers 3 running in Nestopia  on a Windows 7 PC
Super Mario Brothers 3 running in Nestopia on a Windows 7 PC | Source

Emulate A NES On A Windows 7 PC

Anybody who grew up in the 1980s can probably recall playing the original Super Mario, Zelda and Final Fantasy games on the Nintendo Entertainment System console. Brings back memories huh? I have fond memories of playing Duck Hunt with my dad and playing Mario Bros. taking turns and having fun seeing who could get the furthest before dying. Of course, wouldn’t it be great to play all those old games again? Oh, your NES console bit the dust? Well, there’s another option for you rather than shelling out cash for a used console from eBay.

You could buy a combo system that plays NES, SNES and Sega Genesis games as an all-in-one unit, but computers can do anything these days right? Right! You could just download an emulator for your desktop or laptop computer, a cheap USB controller, keep your cartridges and not have to fuss with the blowing in the cartridge or slot and pray the games still work. So long as you have a physical copy of a game, you're legally free to download ROM images of your games and play them on a PC or Mac.

Final Fantasy In A NES Emulator

Final Fantasy playing in Nestopia on Windows
Final Fantasy playing in Nestopia on Windows | Source

Play NES Games On Windows

These days, there are emulators for just about any game console ever produced. They are available for free from many sources online. All one needs to do is simply download an emulator and some ROM files, of course, legally you can and should download only the ROM files of games that you actually own.

Most cases, all you have to do is extract the .zip file that the emulator is contained in to some folder on your desktop or other folder of your choice. Then, extract any downloaded ROMs into the same folder. Open your NES emulator of choice and then open your desired ROM file for the game you want to play.

When first playing a NES emulator, or any game console emulator for that matter, it would be beneficial to open the Input settings to discover what keyboard keys are mapped to represent the buttons on a game controller. You might even wish to change them so that you can find a more comfortable arrangement of the keys, rather than having the majority of them cramped into one area on the keyboard.

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Legend of Zelda In A NES Emulator

The Legend Of Zelda playing in Nestopia on Windows 7
The Legend Of Zelda playing in Nestopia on Windows 7 | Source
The Legend of Zelda II playing in Nestopia on Windows 7
The Legend of Zelda II playing in Nestopia on Windows 7 | Source

Why Use A NES Emulator?

Why is it better to use a NES emulator than a real console? Because NES emulators work! Who knows if the NES console sitting in your grandmother’s basement is even in working condition? Besides, with an emulator and some ROMs of your favorite games, you aren’t tied to a tv; you can take your games (and emulator) with you on a pocket sized thumb drive and play NES console games anytime on any PC.

Besides the aforementioned benefits, you can finally get closer to actually beating some of those old games you fondly remember. The majority of emulators support save states, which are basically snapshots of your progress in any game. These can be used to restart exactly where you left off last time, in the middle of a level or just before entering a boss battle (assuming you saved the game state before you died!).

In addition, most emulators also support the use of cheat codes. So, theres no need for items like Game Genies as the support for cheat codes is built into the emulator software.

Of course, playing old video games like those for the NES on a PC is always good for getting a few kicks, giggles and funny stares from people who missed out on this wonderful generation of video games. You could also introduce your kids to retro games like these to show them what video games were like "back in your days."

Now if you'll excuse me, I must get back to Zelda II. That's next on my list of my old games that I have to beat and cross off my bucket list.


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    • jesimpki profile image

      jesimpki 3 years ago from Radford, VA

      I haven't tried that CassandraCae. I'll have to give that a go on my new smartphone. Do you recommend any particular apps?

    • CassandraCae profile image

      Cassandra Kuthy 3 years ago from Ohio

      I emulate on my smartphone, IT IS AMAZING!!! I love it.

    • jesimpki profile image

      jesimpki 5 years ago from Radford, VA

      That is true ndemarco. Everything has its trade offs :)

    • ndemarco profile image

      Nick DeMarco 5 years ago from Jessup, PA

      I review a lot of games that I don't have in my collection using this very same process. I'm very torn about the experience, because while it's great having all these titles you couldn't buy when you were a kid, and having them all in one nice little package, there's still something about going through the sometimes painful process of playing the games on the actual console that carries more nostalgia value. I'm not saying this wasn't a great hub, it was, because a lot of people still don't know about this, but I still prefer the real deal over an emulator.