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Does The Snes9X Hold Its Own Against Its Competitors?

Last update: Aug 21, 2023

Snes9X emulator

What is Snes9X?

Snes9X is one of the most well optimized NES emulators on the market for Windows. It has a vast array of features, and is divided into two variants: The 64 bit version and the 32 bit variant. It’s a favorite among nostalgic gamers who wish to experience their childhood games in all their glory, without having to go through the headache of setting up complicated software.

What’s the appeal of Snes9X?

Specifically if you use a lower end PC, Snes9X offers extremely high game compatibility. It’s extremely user accessible, keeping its interface very simple and direct. As far as emulating the Super Nintendo console goes, the Snes9X is by far the best option to go for if you prefer a standalone emulator. If you’re a purist, you would be better off with a cycle-accurate emulator such as the BSNES, which is very CPU heavy. Multiple core emulation is better done on RetroArch.

Snes9X variants

Depending on the Windows system you have, you’ll need to choose between the 64-bit and 32-bit versions of Snes9X. A majority of PCs run the 64-bit version of Windows, but you can check using the following steps:

  1. Click on the search bar on the lower left of your desktop. Type ‘64-bit’ and run a search.
  2. A prompt will appear: “See if you have a 32-bit or 64-bit version of Windows”. Select this prompt.
  3. The prompt will take you to the ‘About’ section of your PC. You’ll see a section labeled ‘System type’. Next to it, you’ll see either ‘64-bit operating system’ or ‘32-bit operating system’. This is the operating system that you have.

Snes9X variants

Now that you know what you’re working with, download the variant of Snes9X based on your operating system.

Steps to install Snes9X on your PC

Since Snes9X is a standalone program, you simply have to extract it from the downloaded zip file.

Snes9X shouldn’t be placed in private folders as it may be restricted to read-only access. Being placed here will prevent Snes9X from saving files. It’s recommended to place the files in Documents, Downloads or on a specific folder on your desktop.

Troubleshooting installation errors

As with any software, you will run into errors when you use Snes9X. Here are some of the most common errors users experience, and how you can fix them:

The application was unable to start correctly (0x000007b).

This error code appears on PCs using 64-bit Windows 7. You can solve this issue by downloading Snes9X-32.

Unable to initialize XAudio2.

When you see this error code, you will fail to hear any sound effects or music. The main cause of this not having the most recent DIrectX release installed.

The program can't start because ddx9_38.dll is missing from your computer.

This issue is also related to lacking the most recent DirectX release. You can fix this by installing the full DirectX package.

Configuring your keyboard/gamepad

You can use the shortcut Alt+F7, or open the Input tab and select Joypad Configuration. This will lead you to this page:

Configuring your keyboard/gamepad

You can create new keybinds or reassign keys to your keyboard or gamepad buttons here. Select the field you want to alter, and press the key you wish to rebind it to.

How does Auto-configuration work on Snes9X?

For user convenience, reassigning one button will immediately move you to the next keybind. In practice, if you change the configuration for ‘Up’, you will immediately be prompted to change ‘Left’, and so on. When you click ‘OK’, Snes9X will apply and save your changes.

How do you load a game on Snes9X?

After you boot up Snes9X, a folder called ‘Roms’ will be created within it. You can store your games here to access all of them in one convenient location. This isn’t required, but it makes life much easier instead of searching for a game each time you want to play something. Here’s how you load a game:

  1. Use the shortcut Crtl+O or select File, and then Load Game from the dropdown menu./li>
  2. Then you can view the ‘Roms’ folder in the ‘Open’ window. Select the game you want to play, and click Open. If you stored your games in a different folder, you can browse the files on your computer to find them.
  3. Your game will launch immediately.

load a game on Snes9X

Common error: Failed to initialize display output

Sometimes you’ll be met with the error ‘Failed to initialize currently selected display output! Try switching to a different output method in the display setting’ when trying to launch a game. Go through this list to solve the problem:

  • Ensure you have the latest version of Snes9X.
  • Ensure the full DirectX package is installed.
  • Check if your game is an SNES ROM. These files are found in a “smc” or “fig” format. Any ROMs in a zip file have to be unzipped before being launched, and you have to make sure they’re in the proper format.

If these steps haven’t fixed the issue, chances are that the problem is being caused by your computer possibly lacking support for OpenGL. This is usually because your computer has a dated video card. You may fix this issue by changing the output method to DirectDraw. Follow these steps:

  1. Open Snes9X, and open Display Configuration from the Video tab.
  2. In Display Configuration, select the menu for “Output Method” and choose DirectDraw, as demonstrated in the image below:
    Open Snes9X
  3. Click OK and try to load a game again.

If this doesn’t fix your game and you continue to receive the same error codes, you will fail running Snes9X. This problem relates to your computer, and not Snes9X. If your computer cannot run OpenGL or DirectDraw, you can’t run video game emulators.

How do you enter full screen?

You can use the shortcut Alt+Enter to enter full screen and to go back to window mode. Pressing Esc also disables/enables the top menu bar during forget.

What is output image processing?

This is a feature you can enable in Snes9X by clicking on Video and heading to Display Configuration. You’ll find a box named “Output Image Processing”, as shown below:

Click on the highlighted box, where you currently see ‘None’. A variety of different filters will appear. The only issue is that Snes9X doesn’t have a preview feature, so you have to apply and change each filter. What these filters do is enhance graphics to make them look better than the original. They’re also called Screen Renders or Screen Filters.

You can also find a “Hi Res” option in that box. Enabling this will allow certain SNES games, such as Seiken Densetsu 3, Romancing SaGa 3 and Treasure of the Rudras to render its font higher than the default 16-bit. This scales up the font for modern displays and makes it look well defined instead of a pixelated mess.

Here are some of the filters you can use:

  • Forced 1X: This is the standard image, without any filters.
  • Scanlines: Dark horizontal lines are added to replicate a TV image.
  • TV Mode: Tries to replicate a more accurate TV image than scanlines.
    TV Mode
  • Blargg’s NTSC (Compostie), Blargg’s NTSC (S-Video), Blargg’s NTSC (RGB): A realistic depiction of TV imagery.
    Blargg’s NTSC
  • SuperEagle, Super2XSal, 2xSal: Pixels are mashed together for a slight blur.
    SuperEagle, Super2XSal, 2xSal
  • Dot Matrix: Attempts to recreate the images provided by a dot matrix monitor.
    Dot Matrix
  • hq2x, hq3x, hq4x: This filter tries to sharpen and blur the image wherever deemed appropriate.
    hq2x, hq3x, hq4x
  • EPX A, EPX B, EPX C: Pixels are rounded together without blurring.
  • Simple 2X, Simple 3X, Simple 4X: The screen is enlarged, but no filters are applied.

What are Save States?

Save States are simply put, save files. They store your progress so that you don’t lose it each time you quit. You can use save states through keyboard shortcuts or by going through the file menu. You can have up to 9 different save states at a time. This is how you can create and load save states:

Save States

  • Creating a Save State: To save your progress, either use the shortcut Shift+F1 to save in slot 1, or go to File and then Save Game Position. Choose any one of the 9 slots here. The shortcut limits you to overwriting previous save states in the first slot.
  • Loading a Save State: To load a save file, either press F1 which will open the first slot, or go to File and then Load Game Position. You can choose any of the 9 save files you have.

What is the Fast Forward feature?

This speeds up the pacing of the game. All elements will move faster, as long as you hold down the Tab key. Fast forwarding will cease when you let go of the Tab key.

How do you use Game Genie And Pro Action Replay?

Every NES game has unique cheat codes. Once you find them online, you need to be able to implement them into your emulator. Here’s how.

Game Genie And Pro Action Replay

  1. Open up your game. Click on Cheat, then the tab that says Game Genie, Pro-Action Replay Codes.
  2. Type your code into the ‘Enter Cheat Code’ field. There mustn’t be any spaces in the code.
  3. Type a short description about the code in the ‘cheat description’ field.
  4. To add the code, click on the Add button. Put a check in the box next to the button, as this activates the code.
  5. To enter additional codes, repeat the entire process. While Snes9X supports cheats with multiple lines, they have to be entered one line at a time. Click OK when you’re done.
  6. Restart the game. If the cheat doesn’t work, it mightn't be the right one, or it may have been patched out.

How do you record media on Snes9X?

The two main paths of recording media on Snes9X is through screenshots and AVI movies.


While playing a game, pressing F12 will capture a screenshot. An alternate method is by going to File, then Save Other and choosing Save Screenshot. Your screenshots will be saved as PNG images in a “Screenshots” subfolder.

To capture a sprite: This is easier to do if you disable the background layers before capturing a screenshot. As Super Nintendo graphics have 5 layers, any of these layers can be turned off or on. Your keyboards 1-4 buttons will toggle these layers. The 5 button will toggle the sprite layers on/off.

AVI Recordings

Gameplay footage can be recorded by the following method:

  1. Load up your game, and get to the point that you want to start recording at. Press the Esc key to enable the top menu if you’re full screened.
  2. Go to File > Record AVI.
  3. The Save As window will pop up. You can write the name of your recording here, and click Save.
  4. You will then receive a prompt about the Video Compression window. Choose “Full Frames (Uncompressed)” and click OK.
  5. Once you’ve done this, your recording session will begin. You can stop your recording by going to File > Stop AVI Recording.
  6. Your recorded files will be saved in a “Movies” folder in the Snes9X’s folder.

Where can you find ROMs?

This is one reputable site to download ROMs from.

What is the ‘checksum fail’ error?

checksum fail error

This usually occurs if you’re playing a fan translation or ROM hack. The reason for this occurrence is because the size of the ROM increases substantially due to ROM hacking. The error message you receive won’t impact your gameplay in any meaningful way. If you have any game breaking problems, they aren’t related to this error.

Why is my game freezing at specific spots?

This is a rare error, and unfortunately has no direct fix. Your options are to either download a new ROM, or use a different emulator. There’s no guarantee this will work though.

Can I transfer my save files to another emulator?

There are two methods through which you can save games in Snes9X. Only one of these two can be used to transfer saves to a different emulator.

  1. Save States: These save files are exclusive to Snes9X. While you can transfer the save file to the same emulator on a different computer, you cannot port this to a different emulator.
  2. Saved RAM: These saves have an SRM file extension, which can be transferred to other SNES emulators. You can transfer it simply by copying and pasting the SRM file to the folder of your desired emulator. You may have to jump through hoops like pasting the files in a designated folder for save files, but that’s a small price to pay. You can also download save files off of the internet.

I can’t save anything on Snes9X.

First, you need to figure out which issue you have. Check if the following issues are the ones you face:

  • Your save states don’t function. When loading a previous save state, nothing happens.
  • If you save your game at a save point in an RPG and restart Snes9X, your save file is lost.
  • Changes you made within the emulator itself, such as adding screen filters are not saved. You have to change the configurations each time you boot up the emulator.

If these are the problems you face, it’s because you have Snes9X in a read-only location on your PC. You can solve this issue by moving the emulator to a common location.

Is Snes9X worth using?

The main goal in mind for this emulator was for it to be easy to set up. Even the least tech savvy folks would be able to play their favorite Super Nintendo games with ease, and that’s what Snes9X achieved. It has a simple interface and quick setup, meaning you spend less time fiddling around trying to make it work, and more time playing your favorite childhood games. For anyone who wants to experience their old Nintendo games again in all its glory, Snes9X is the way to go!

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