With the help of Super Mario, Nintendo dominated the world of video games in the mid-80s, with its handheld and home consoles that have given us so many hours of fun. There are many classics to be played and everyone has their favorites, but on this occasion, we are going to answer a question that many gamers may have about two systems of yesteryear where our favorite plumber took his first leaps.

Can The SNES Play NES Games?

No, The SNES cannot play NES games natively, since the Super Nintendo does not have backward compatibility. But there is some modern hardware that makes this possible.

NES and SNES games are not even the same size but one of the advantages of the contemporary era is that many companies have managed to create adapters that can solve this problem and let you play original NES games on the SNES.

Using Adapters To Play NES Games On A SNES

Retro-Bit RetroPort NES to SNES Cartridge Adapter - Super NES

As said before, there is quite a variety on the market, but one of the most popular one for SNES is the RetroPort adapter (from Amazon), distributed by the Retro-Bit store.

To accomplish the feat of playing NES games on SNES, the RetroPort takes advantage of the power provided by the SNES cartridge slot, although there is a certain procedure to follow to make it work.

  1. Remove the RCA cable from the SNES console. Instead, it will be plugged into the adapter, which has a small opening on one side.
  2. Connect the adapter to the cartridge slot.
  3. On top of the accessory, attach the NES game, which should fit perfectly.
  4. Connect the SNES to the power supply and turn it on.
  5. Play!

In essence, the Retro Port is a miniature NES, only it uses the SNES as a power source and a medium to play on your TV.

As the NES controller only had two buttons, on the SNES only two buttons will be functional as well, the A and the B, better known as the yellow and the red.

This is the best way you can use adapters to play regular NES games on your SNES hardware, and with most other brands, the procedure is similar. But it is not so easy to find those magic adapters in stores, both online and physically. At least in recent times, it appears out of stock everywhere.

But that’s not your only option, there are still other methods to enjoy the NES experience.

NES Game Emulators

Yes, I know, with this I start the usual debate, whether emulators are legal or not and all that stuff, but it is still an option.

Of course, for collectors and retro fans, it is not at all an attractive possibility, but for those gamers who live in places where the industry has not reached so much, much less the classic consoles, it can be an excellent option.

Also, collecting old games is getting harder as time goes by, so consoles like the NES are not so common in the market, and their value has only been increasing.

ROMS are indeed illegal, although game companies tend more to go after the people distributing them rather than downloading them. I am by no means endorsing the practice and it comes down to a matter of ethics and risk, despite missing many essential elements such as the controller, native resolution on a TV, and the console itself.

Multi-System Retro Consoles

Hyperkin RetroN 5: HD Gaming Console for GBA/ Gbc/ GB/ Super NES/ Super Famicom/ Genesis/ Mega Drive/ Master System

If you just want to enjoy retro gaming without the need for the original consoles, you can always resort to a multi-system retro console, most of which offer the advantage of hardware compatibility for a variety of consoles including the Nintendo Entertainment System and the SNES.

Such is the case with the Hyperkin Retron (also from Amazon) line of consoles. The newest Retrons have cartridge slots for other legendary consoles such as the Game Boy, Master System, Genesis games and many more.

If you have limited space and just want to relax in your living room with a controller in your hands, the Hyperkin Retron line is ideal for you. It’s the closest you’ll get to a classic experience without needing the original console and at a price that’s quite affordable on the market.

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Nested Project For SNES, An Interesting Alternative

Expanding on the point of emulators, there is one called the Nested Project that is taking things to another level. Developed by user Myself086 as an open-source program that you can download from his official GitHub page, Nested allows you to run NES titles using the SNES.

It does this by patching the ROMS to Super Nintendo SMC ROM format, and that file can be run either on any Super Nintendo emulator or on the console itself using a flashcard cartridge.

The grace of this project lies in something never before achieved, and that is that the Super Nintendo can emulate Nintendo NES games natively. Not everyone will know how to configure it, but if you have the original console and a flashcard (it doesn’t need any special support chip, nor advanced flashcards like the SD2SNES, any Everdrive will do) you can try it.

Super EverDrive X6
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Super EverDrive X6
  • Max. ROM size up to 7.5MByte
  • Max. Save RAM sizeo up to 128KByte

For those interested, here are the steps to make this work:

  1. Download the latest version of the emulator available on its official website. An obvious step but it never hurts to add it.
  2. The folder consists of two files, one SMC and one EXE. You only have to run the EXE.
  3. In the program menu open the ROM you want to convert to SMC format, click on “Save SNES” and a file with the SMC extension will be generated in the same folder where you have the NES ROM. 
  4. Save that file in a flashcard and insert it in the original console.
  5. Play, although it should be noted that some games still have compatibility problems that will be solved with time. Remember that this is a project under development. Within the official website, you will also find a list of 100% compatible games.

As you can see, this method is for those with some computer skills, although the steps are quite simple. If you have a SNES that you want to take advantage of in another way and can get flashcards, I suggest you try this. In the end, the worst that can happen is that it won’t work, but nothing will end up broken. 

To learn more about Project Nested and its special features, you can visit Myself086’s page on GitHub.

NES Classic Mini Console

Nintendo Entertainment System NES Classic Edition- Game Console

Finally, there are other options such as reissues of retro consoles, as is the case of the NES Classic Mini, although if Nintendo released few units at the time, now they are very difficult to find and especially expensive. A NES and SNES classic side-by-side would offer you all the best games and takes up less space than an old NES console.

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Thoughts On The Alternatives For Playing Nintendo Games

In short, I recommend you try the adapter or Retron method for playing your NES games, which will be the closest to using a SNES to play NES titles, a function that would have been nice from the beginning but was discarded at the last minute.

But even if you have no choice but to use an emulator, remember that the important thing is to keep alive the legacy of those classic gems that gave us so much fun in their time, and to present them to the new generations so they can enjoy them as well. In the end, we are all gamers.

Last update on 2024-07-18 at 22:29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API