This tutorial is to help you with ZSNES. The emulator has been around since the mid 90's, holding a precious spot in the hearts of all classic gamers who've kept up with emulation since then. It's a quality emulator with lots of neat features. However it hasn't been updated in a long time. I do not recommend it for a quality SNES emulation experience.
Note: ZSNES has a known security exploit. It's possible for a ROM to redirect you to a web page. There's no cause for panic, though, because there is no record of victims with this matter. You're fine as long as you know your ROMs are safe. For the sake of argument, even if you did come across a malicious ROM, Chrome and Firefox are aggressive at blocking malicious websites.
*If you would like to download ZSNES, I have it in my emulators page.
Extracting & Placement
I suggest you make a new folder called "SNES" within a folder called "Emulation". You don't have to, but it makes things a little easier for you if you're not too computer literate. Extract all the contents of this emulator's zip file into the SNES folder. If you don't know how to extract files from a zip file then read this. Put all of your SNES ROMs into the SNES folder too. ZSNES has zip support, so you do not have to extract ROMs from their zip files. Double-click on "zsnes" to open it.
1. It doesn't support my color! The error message: "ZSNESw does snot support 24bit color. Please change your resolution to either 16bit or 32bit color". To correct this, right-click on an empty spot on your desktop then left-click on Properties. Look towards the top where the tabs are, click on Settings. You will arrive here. In the spot where the red arrow points at, click in the option that says 16bit. If a 32bit option is available then choose that. Then choose Apply then OK.
2. DirectX?! If you get an error that says something about you need a higher version of DirectX then just install the full DirectX package. You can download it here: DirectX End-User Runtime Web Installer (284 KB). This installer promises to install all the legacy files that correct issues such as this.
3. Just a black square! If you get nothing but a black square then just press Alt+Enter to bring ZSNES to full screen.
4. The screen is purple and scary looking! Your screen may look like this in window mode. Just press Alt+Enter to bring ZSNES to full screen and it'll look fine.
Setting up the keyboard or gamepad
1. Click on the Config menu then Input.
2. You'll arrive to the screen as shown in the screen shot to the left. Click on KEYB/JOYSTICK then click on the SET KEYS button.
3. A tiny window will pop up asking you to press the button for the corresponding SNES button. You can press any button you want. If you have a gamepad then press the buttons on the gamepad. Gamepad buttons have a "J" then a number (as shown in the screen shot).
4. You could also set up turbo buttons. Click on the "---" then click on the button you want to be turbo. Since I have the Gamepad Pro, I've set those extra 2 buttons to be turbo for button Y and button A. If you want to set up the buttons for Player 2 then just go Input #2.
Loading a game
1. Click on the Game menu then Load. If you placed ZSNES in the same folder as your games then you will see them there.
2. Double-click on a game to play it.
3. If you placed your games in another folder then you will have to search for it manually with ZSNES's DOS-like file browser.
To do so, just click on the folder names; ".." brings
you back one directory.
Bringing back the ZSNES menu (ESC)
Pressing the ESC key during gameplay pauses the game and brings back the ZSNES main screen with the menus. Press ESC again if you wish to return to the game.
Moving around the ZSNES Window
Click & hold on the following red areas to move ZSNES when it is in Window mode.
Simply press Alt+Enter to bring ZSNES to full screen mode. Press it again if you wish to return to window mode.
Go to the Config menu then Video.
Notice the list in the "Video Modes" box. These are all the
resolutions ZSNES can blow up to. Here's what each stands for
• 640x480, 768x672, 800x600, 1024x768: These are desktop resolutions.
• WIN or W: Windowed.
• FULL or F: Full screen.
• S: If you choose a resolution with "S", games will stretch to fill the screen.
• R: If you choose a resolution with "R", games will not stretch to fill the screen. They will appear in their true screen size.
• D: If you choose a resolution with "D", you'll be able to use screen renders.
So if you're new to ZSNES, I bet you're thinking "Well
what the heck does all this mean to me? Get to the point!"
Okay okay. First, I need to point out that ZSNES comes out of
the box (or zip file, rather) set to "640x480 DR FULL"
when you enter full screen mode.
• If you have an old or slow computer (perhaps a computer purchased before 2000), it's best to not do anything and remain in 640x480 DR FULL.
• If not, enjoy the full potential of ZSNES by setting it to "800x600 DS F". Just click on it and click on Set. What this does is stretch ZSNES to fill the screen and allows you to use screen renders.
If you're wondering "Why is 800x600 DS F the best?? There are so many other resolutions!" Well, ZSNES doesn't do anything else special on resolutions higher than 800x600. Besides, setting it to higher resolutions may cause ZSNES to run slower.
1. Bring ZSNES to full screen if you haven't already. And beforehand you need ZSNES set to "800x600 DS F".
2. Click on the FILTERS tab and you'll see an option for 2xSai Engine, Super Eagle Engine, Super 2xSai Engine (Eagle and 2xSai), Interpolation, Scale2x, and Hq2x. Put a check next to one and play a game for a while; see which screen render you like the best. Look below for some examples.
• 2xSai Engine: smears pixels together with a slight blur, and does so diagonally in attempt to round every edge.
• Super Eagle: same as 2xSai, but the screen is less blurred and not all the edges are rounded off.
• Super 2xSai: combines 2xSai and Eagle.
• Interpolation: a basic blur filter.
• HQ Filter: sharpens blacks & whites (which are normally outlines) and smears together gradients (similar to Photoshop's "Smart Blur" filter). A very advanced filter!
• NTSC Filter: this filter simulates a poor quality television! It's neat! It even flickers like a TV. You can't get more nostalgic than this!
Save states is a feature that saves the exact spot you are in a game.
1. Once a game is open, go to the Game menu then SAVE STATE.
2. To recall your saved state, click on Open State within the Game menu.
3. ZSNES allows you to save up to 10 different save states for a single game. To choose a save state slot, click on PICK STATE within the Game menu, then choose the slot #1 you want to use.
4. To make things easier for you, you can set a keyboard button to save and load your states within the Game Keys menu.
Side Note: All the RPG shrines in my FantasyAnime offer complete collections of periodical game saves so that you can continue at any significant point in the game. If you'd like to learn more about how to use somebody else's saves or transfer saves between emulators, check out my Game Saves Tutorial.
Save states with the F3 key
Pressing F3 during gameplay opens up a the Save State Slot thumbnail viewer. Just press the left & right arrow keys to move along the track, then press Enter on the save state slot you want to use.
Capturing screen shots & sprites
1. If your intention is to capture only sprites, disable layers first.
2. Press F1.
3. By default the red highlighting is on SAVE SNAPSHOT so just press enter. By default ZSNES will save the screen shot as BMP (bitmap). You also have the option to save it as PNG. PNG is a file format similar to GIF, but it can hold a lot more colors, though this makes the memory size a bit larger.
4. To save as PNG, move the red highlight to IMAGE FORMAT: BMP then press Enter. It will change to "IMAGE FORMAT: PNG". If you want to change it back to BMP then just press enter on it again. FYI, PNG causes a slight color distortion. If you're just capturing screen shots to have screen shots, then use PNG. If you plan on editing game graphics and such, then use BMP to ensure you're getting the best quality graphics.
The graphics of all Super Nintendo games are made up of five layers:
four graphics layers and the sprite layer. You can turn any of these layers on an off. Keyboard buttons 1, 2, 3, and 4 turn the graphics layers on/off. Button 5 turns the sprites layer on/off.
*This feature is crucial if you want to capture game sprites, because it makes the process so much easier when there's not a background to manually edit out.
Don't know what SPC's are? Then check out my Extracted Music tutorial. Anyway, when the game you're playing is playing a song that you like, press F1, move the highlight to SAVE SPC DATA, then press Enter. The SPC will save into the directory where ZSNES is in.
Recently played games list
See that down arrow in the above screen shot? ZSNES keeps track of all the 10 games you've previously played. Clicking on a game in this list automatically loads it. If you deleted the game or moved it to another folder then nothing will happen.
Faster!! ZSNES' fast forward
Impatient? Hold down the "~" key to fast forward. If you'd rather adjust the speed yourself to save you the trouble of holding down this button, then decide for yourself what buttons they should be in the Game Keys window. It's "+FRAME RATE" and "-FRAME RATE".
Enabling SNES Mouse, Super Scope & LE Gun
1. Click on the Config menu then Devices.
2. Click on the bullet next to the option you want, then click on the X. "Port 1" means player 1 and "Port 2" means player 2. You could also press "6" to switch between them.
Using Game Genie & Pro Action Replay
1. First open the game you want to enter cheats for.
2. Click the CHEAT menu then ADD CODE.
3. The cursor will automatically be blinking in the "Enter Code" box. Type in the code with no spaces. Press the Tab key when you're done.
4. Type in a short description for the code. Now click the ADD button, the code is now added.
5. Click on the X. Now you must reset or reload the game for the code(s) to take effect.
6. If your cheat doesn't work then either you typed it wrong or it's a bad code. Don't expect every cheat code on the net to be a working code. If you want to disable the code then just go back to the Cheat window and double-click on ON, it will change to OFF. If you want to delete the code then just click on it then click on the Remove button.
Note: You *can* use cheats with multiple lines. You need to enter each line one at a time. I suggest you name each line like "INF WEAPONS 1", "INF WEAPONS 2", "INF WEAPONS 3" so it can be easier to keep track of the cheat. Again, if the cheat doesn't work then that means you either typed it wrong or it's a bad code.
Finding cheats on the web
You have a few options.
• There are websites that contain complete archives of Game Genie and Pro Action Replay codes. GameGenie.com and About.com seem to be the best resources for that. At About.com, the best way to find their cheats with their search is to type the name of the game then "game genie". Like so: "super mario world game genie".
• You can download a ZSNES CHT file that already contains a whole bunch cheat codes. A CHT file is where ZSNES stores your cheats for a single game. Zophar's Domain has the largest CHT file archive. To use a CHT file, simply rename it to the name of your ROM (the same process as patching a ROM with an English patch).
• The next best source is Google. The best search keywords to use is to type the name of the game then "game genie". Like so: "super mario world game genie".
In-game cheat search
ZSNES has the ability to find numbers in a current game and replace it with whatever number you want. Due to the vast amount of numbers games have, this feature pretty much can only be used in RPGs to change your money. For the walkthrough of this cheat search feature I will be hacking into Chrono Trigger, changing 4727G to 9999G.
1. First open the game you want to hax0r. In my case I opened Chrono Trigger.
2. Click the CHEAT menu then SEARCH.
3. You'll arrive to the screen shot you see toward the left. If the money you want to hack is under 65,535 then put the bullet next to the "2 bytes" option. If it's larger than that then put the bullet next to the "3 bytes" option. In my case I chose "2 bytes" since I currently have 4727G. Click START to continue.
4. Next you'll arrive to this screen. Under "ENTER VALUE" put the amount of money you currently have. In my case I entered 4727 for my 4727G. Click SEARCH to continue.
5. Next you'll arrive to this screen. This screen tells you how many of the numbered you entered was found. In my case the search found 2 variables of "4727" within my current game in Chrono Trigger. If the search found more than, oh, maybe 2-3 variables of the numbered you entered, then the number you're looking for isn't large enough. The more money you have, the greater the chance you can easily change it using this cheat search feature. Anyway, click VIEW to continue.
6. Next you'll arrive to this screen. This screen lists the variables the search found. In my case those two variables of "4727" are listed. The next step is to choose a variable and change it in the next screen to 9999 or whatever else you want. Ah, but which one changes gold? Games only have one variable for money; ZSNES won't be able to tell you what it is. Through trial and error you have to try each variable. But usually the first variable is the correct one. Once the variable you want to change is highlighted (by default the first one is highlighted) click ADD to continue.
7. Next you'll arrive to this screen. This is the sexy screen is where you change the variable to whatever you want. Under "ENTER NEW VALUE" go ahead and type whatever new number you want. In my case I put 9999. Ah, but note that the new number you put can't exceed the "MAX VALUE", which is listed further down. Enter a short description in "CHEAT DESCRIPTION" if you wish, but you don't have to. Click ADD to continue.
8. Next you'll arrive to the cheat codes screen, and your modified variable will be there as an automatically-generated ProAction Replay code.
9. Close the screen and go back to your game to see if the variable has changed. If you did what I did and paused the game at the status screen, you need to refresh the screen by closing it and re-entering it so the modified variable will show. Click here to see my 4727G replaced to 9999G. Ah, but even after these steps your money variable has not changed, then that means you need to go back to Step 7 and choose a different variable.
Netplay allows you to play against a friend over the internet.
1. First you both must be connected to the internet.
2. Both of you need to go to the Netplay menu then Connect and tell each other your IP. Punch in your friend's IP into the IP box.
3. Type in a nickname for yourself in the "Nickname" box, then click on Connect to Server. Your friend must also click to Connect to Server
once he/she enters a nickname. ZSNES will tell you if the connection was successful. If it doesn't work then one of you has a firewall and that person won't be able to use the Netplay feature.
Netplay with strangers
Want to play against someone but all your friends are offline? Then go to the Z-Net homepage and download their Z-Net program. It's like an internet waiting room/chat room for people who want to Netplay. The Z-Net program also automatically opens up ZSNES once you decide to play against someone.
Within the MISC menu you will find GUI OPTIONS. Here you can alter the appearance and attributes of the ZSNES GUI (all of its menus n' stuff). Play around with its options because there might be something there that'll improve your ZSNES experience. I suggest you enable SNOW EFFECT because it's nifty!
If you go to CONFIG then SAVES, here you can customize the game keys for ZSNES's sexy save features.
If you go to CONFIG then SPEED, here you can customize the game keys for ZSNES's sexy speed features.
Within the MISC menu you will find MISC KEYS. Here you can alter the key command of most of ZSNES's features. To do so, all you need to do is click the black rectangle next to the game key, then press the new keyboard key (or gamepad button). I suggest you set up a key for Save state, Load state and Save SPC.
Things are different with ZSNES WIP. They've added so many features that the Game Keys screen got too crowded, so they were forced to distribute Game Key options in separate screens.
• The Saves (State Selects) Game Keys have been moved to CONFIG > SAVES
• The Speed (Frame Rate) Game Keys have been moved to CONFIG > SPEED
Q: The graphics are refreshing so slow!
If graphics aren't scrolling smoothly, then it could simply mean ZSNES isn't refreshing the screen according to your monitor. To resolve this, go to the Config menu then Video. Put a check in VSYNC (short for vertical synch). However, if you have a not-so-fast computer, enabling VSYNC may cause the screen to drop frames and suddenly jump as it scrolls.
Q: Upon load I get a 'bad checksum' error!
You're playing a fan translated game or modified/hacked game, right? That "bad checksum" message is normal. It just means the English patch or modification/hack patch increased the size of the ROM, hence the checksum is different.
Q: My game freezes at a specific spot!
If your game keeps freezing at a specific point in the game, then you've experienced the infamous game freeze. It's very rare and has been plaguing emulation enthusiasts for over a decade. Why does this happen? Well you can't expect every game to work 100% perfectly with every version of every SNES emulator.
I am going to assume you're playing your game from a recalled save state since you keep experiencing the same lock up. Unfortunately, there's no way to fix it. Restarting the game from the beginning probably won't help either. There's only hope for you if you're playing an RPG. And if you are playing an RPG, what you can do is copy your SRM file (the in-game save) for use with another SNES emulator, like Snes9X. However, if in your RPG you did not save your game in-game and only used save states, then you're screwed.
Q: Can I transfer my save to another SNES emulator?
ZSNES lets you save your game in two ways...
As I explained further above about save states, that's the feature that lets you save at any point in any game. ZSNES's save states are exclusive to ZSNES so they cannot be transferred to other SNES emulators.
Saved RAM is the internal save in RPGs. They have an SRM file extension. View this for a clearer picture. SRM files are what can be transferred to other SNES emulators. You can literally just copy & paste the ROM and the SRM file over to the other SNES emulator and it'll pick it up. Although some SNES emulators want to be organized and require you to dump the SRM file in a designated saves folder. You can learn more about transferring saves and using somebody else's saves in my Game Saves Tutorial.
Chapter 2: The History of Video Game Emulation (not affiliated with this site)
Chapter 3: Downloading & Setting Things Up
Chapter 4: Video Game Emulator Tutorials (below)
Chapter 5: Gamepads
Chapter 6: Extracted Video Game Music