How to Play or Connect NES and SNES Classic to a Laptop

Retro games simply remain the bomb. Whether it’s Super Mario, the wonderful world of Zelda or old-fashioned boxes with Punch Out. They’re just a lot of fun! Now that Nintendo has released the Classic Mini, there is an easy way to play these kinds of games on your TV again. But do you know that this can also be done on your laptop or PC as well?

Even though I have a passion for games and older NES and SNES consoles, unfortunately, I no longer own any of them myself. Recently I installed RetroPi on my Raspberry Pi so I could play these games again. But what if you are on a train, for example? Then the Pi is of no use to you, however, you can still use your laptop to play your favorite old-fashioned games.

Unfortunately, you cannot directly connect the NES or SNES classic to your laptop. Laptops have HDMI output ports, they do not come with input ports. If you connect your console it will power on via the USB port on your laptop, however, you will need the HDMI in for the display. There is actually a much better solution for this! You can use an emulator instead to play your favorite games on your computer.

The best thing is that you don’t need an extra device enjoy these games! You can play them straight on your laptop. It doesn’t even matter if you are a Windows or a Mac user. By using an emulator, you can easily play all your favorite games on any operating system. An emulator is actually a piece of software that can simulate the old game consoles from the past. The games can be downloaded, and the emulator ensures that everything works well on your computer.

The advantage of emulators is that they are available in many different types: the 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System, the Super Nintendo Classic up to a Game Boy. All you need is an emulator, a computer, and a controller. To make it extra fun, you can also buy the old retro controllers with a USB connection. I now have one of the old NES controllers, it really makes for an awesome nostalgic experience!

how to play or connect nes and snes classic to a laptop

Turn Your PC Into a Retro Gaming Emulator

Games have changed phenomenally in the last 25 years. The current games may be much better and faster than those of the past but we humans are nostalgic creatures. In other words, those games from the past are a joy to play again! But how do you do that? Do you install an emulator for every game console in history? No, you turn your PC into one big retro game emulator.

In this article, we will show you how to install and configure the software to play older NES and SNES classic games on your laptop. The setup may seem like a bit of a hassle, but it is totally worth it, since it is a single emulator that takes care of all your gaming needs.

RetroArch and EmulationStation

To be able to play games from, for example, the Super Nintendo or the Nintendo 64 within one environment, two programs are required on your laptop, RetroArch and EmulationStation. Before I explain how to get started, it is important to know the exact functionality for each of these programs.

RetroArch is the software that takes care of the actual emulation of your gaming console. It is the power under the hood, however, it lacks an interface that lets you start the emulators and games graphically. I other words, you would have to enter a separate command for each emulator and game, which is quite inconvenient. For that reason we also install the EmulationStation. If RetroArch is the engine, EmulationStation is the rest of the car you control the engine with.

Installing and Configuring the Software

The installation of the programs is not that complicated, the configuration takes a bit more work, more about that later. You can download RetroArch here . Download the file and unzip it into a folder with WinZip on 7-Zip. You can download EmulationStation here, and then follow the steps for the installation.

If you try to configure RetroArch without a proper guide, it can be very frustrating. When you click inside the interface, it acts up funny. The reason for this is that RetroArch does not support a mouse, navigation is done using the keyboard with ‘Enter’ and ‘arrow’ keys.

If you want to play your games with a controller (for example, an old compatible SNES controller) that should work without any problems by simply plugging it into your computer. You can then control the menu with it. If not, you can easily configure this yourself by using the keyboard to navigate to Settings> Input> Input User 1 Binds> Bind All. You can then decide for yourself which function you want to associate with which button.

Video Settings for RetroArch

When you have configured the controller (which is optional, you can also control games with your keyboard), it is time to adjust the video settings. These are settings that are really hard to figure out on yout own, luckily others have already done that for you.

Navigate in RetroArch to Settings / Driver and make sure that the option GL is selected for Video Driver. Then navigate to Settings / Video and enable the VSync option. Additionally, make sure that the Hard GPU Sync is also enabled.

how to play or connect nes and snes classic to a laptop

Final Words

NES an SNES were among the most popular gaming consoles of the 1990s alongside SEGA and PlayStation. Thanks to various emulators, games from back then are making a comeback on the computer today.

There are a number of console emulators on the internet and they all work similarly. I focused more on RetroArch because it is an all in one solution, and you get to play games regardless of the console type.  If you want to further explore emulators, you can check the following ones out:

Nintendo Entertainment System (NES): VirtuaNES and FCEUX (Windows), Nestopia and RockNES (OS X)

Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES): BSNES and SNES9x (Windows and OS X)