In a past entry, we showed you how you could enjoy some of the best Nintendo handheld games by playing them on your Mac via Gameboy and Gameboy Advance emulator apps. This time, we’ll focus on Nintendo’s home consoles, showing you how to play, NES, Super NES, Nintendo 64 and even Nintendo Gamecube games on your Mac the same way.
Ready to get started? Great. But first, a reminder…
Important Note: To use these emulators you need games. Now, since physical cartridges or discs simply won’t do, games for all these platforms are available online as ROMS (which you can search for in Google). Be aware though, these and any other emulators out there exist for game owners to be able to play backups of games they own and not to foster piracy, which is illegal.
Ok, let’s get started now.
Nintendo Entertainment System (NES)
That’s right, the system that started it all. The Nintendo Entertainment System (NES for short) was the first video game home console to become mainstream and it is still loved by millions thanks to the excellent game library it boasts.
To emulate the NES on your Mac, you will need Nestopia, a simple emulator that gets the job done. Simply download it, install it, and load ROMS in the *.nes format.
However, since the original NES had a very low resolution, you might find its window too small for you, but you can increase its size manually, although losing a bit of image quality in the process. Controls (using your keyboard) are also customizable in the app’s Preferences.
Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES)
Another classic Nintendo console, the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES from now on) is considered by many gamers to be the best Nintendo console in history, mainly due to the amazing games that it boasted, as well as for being the birth place of several legendary gaming franchises.
Emulating the SNES on your Mac is not that hard, although it definitely is a bit more technical than doing so with the NES.
The best Mac SNES emulator by far is definitely Snes9x which runs perfectly almost every game ROM you load on it.
Controls (as you can see in the picture below) are completely customizable and you even have the option to play with a friend in two-player mode using the same keyboard.
One really neat feature of Snes9x is its ability to greatly improve any game’s image quality with just a simple tweak. To do that, you have to go to the emulator’s settings and and under the Graphics tab look for the Video Mode option. There, select hq2x to double the game’s image resolution, which will dramatically increase its sharpness.
As you can see from the screenshots below, the difference when this effect is applied is night and day:
This is a great incentive to try the app, since you not only can experience your SNES games as before, but you can also play them with enhanced visuals.
In case you were wondering, Macs can also run games from Nintendo’s first 3D console, the Nintendo 64, which is also home to some great gaming classics. For this, you will need to download the sixtyforce emulator.
Being a quite more advanced console, emulating the Nintendo 64 is a bit more difficult. Not all games are compatible with the sixtyforce emulator, but thankfully some of the console’s most iconic ones are.
Keyboard controls are entirely customizable, even though the default ones work excellent.
Even better, just as with the SNES, this Nintendo 64 emulator also features graphic enhancements, which makes games look better than originally intended. This feature is available on the app’s Preferences, right on the Graphics tab.
And as you can see from the comparison pics below, Nintendo 64 games look a lot better when this feature is enabled.
Nintendo Gamecube and Nintendo Wii
Amazingly enough, both the Nintendo Gamecube and Nintendo Wii can be emulated on Macs, although since both are more modern consoles, you will need a fairly powerful Mac for their games to run smoothly.
In the pics below you can see the Dolphin emulator (which runs games for both the Gamecube and the Wii) running a Gamecube game, although in my case (I have a mid-2011 Macbook Air) it does so very slowly and with noticeable lag.
And there you have them. You now know how to enjoy your classic Nintendo games on your Mac without having to dust off those old consoles. Enjoy!