Best NES Emulators For Retro Gaming

Mesen is widely regarded as one of the most accurate NES emulators out there. The program comes in two varieties: vanilla Mesen for NES games and Mesen-S for SNES, Game Boy, and Game Boy Color titles. Moreover, Mesen is compatible with over 290 titles. 

As with other emulators, Mesen includes a wide variety of extras that let players tweak their experiences. The emulator even includes save states, video filters, and built-in cheat codes. Moreover, if want to take your first crack at “romhacking” (i.e., modding the game), Mesen includes extensive debugging tools so you can create your own personalized titles. But unlike other emulators with more options than you know what to do with, Mesen is a breeze to download and set up. A handy configuration wizard runs the first time you run the emulator, which runs you through configuring controls and folder locations. You can’t get much easier than that.


Modern game consoles are designed to be region-free. You can purchase a PlayStation 5 game in Japan and it will play on the PS5 console you bought in America just fine. Whether or not you can understand Japanese is a different matter. Sadly, older consoles are not as open-minded. An NES cartridge from a European country won’t work on a North American NES console, for instance. Thankfully, FCEUX doesn’t suffer from that problem.

FCEUX is arguably as close as we’ll get to a bona fide one-size-fits-all NES emulator. Unlike Retroarch (which “cheats” by using the cores of different emulators) FCEUX supports NES ROMs of every variety, including European PAL, USA’s NTSC, and Famicom. However, all of that dedicated support comes at a small cost. Unlike Retroarch, FCEUX’s color palette leaves something to be desired. The colors aren’t horrendous, but they don’t measure up to other emulators.

What FCEUX lacks in color accuracy it makes up for in features. The emulator has all of the bells and whistles that Mesen and Retroarch have, such as debugging and recording tools, but FCEUX also includes special tool-assisted speedrunning. Unlike other emulators, FCEUX even supports joysticks.

Nestopia UE

As previously stated, Retroarch uses the Nestopia UE core for NES ROMS. Naturally, that factoid will probably make you wonder how that emulator functions on its own. Well, if Nestopia UE’s core was bad, gamers wouldn’t consider Retroarch one of the best emulators out there, now would they?

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