Nestopia Tutorial

By Alejandro Rodriguez. Last revised Sep 20, 2016.


About Nestopia

This tutorial is to help you with Nestopia for Windows. Nestopia is an excellent Nintendo emulator. It's been around a long time and is generally considered the best. FCEUX (FCE Ultra) comes pretty close to Nestopia in terms of quality. Versus FCEUX, Nestopia offers more screen filters and is easier to use. It runs well on a wide range of machines of varying speed and specs.

*If you would like to download Nestopia, I have it in my emulators page.


Nestopia is a standalone program so it does not have an install wizard. Installation is simple: just extract Nestopia from its zip file. Not sure how to extract zip files? Here's a video tutorial showing you how: how to unzip files on Windows.

IMPORTANT! Nestopia must be placed in a common folder on your computer. I recommend Documents, Downloads, or create a folder on your desktop. If you place Nestopia somewhere else on your main C drive, then you may be restricting it to read-only access. Doing so prevents Nestopia from saving anything.

To open Nestopia, double-click on Nestopia's EXE

Setting up the keyboard or gamepad

  1. Go to Options > Input:
    Selecting the input Configuration
  2. You'll arrive here:
    Input Configuration
    First, notice the red circle on “Pad 1”. This is player 1. Second, notice the series of red arrows in the “Key” and “Mapping” panels. Those are the corresponding keyboard keys for each button on the virtual NES controller.
  3. You can reconfigure any of these buttons by double-clicking on one in the “Mapping” panel, then press the new keyboard key or gamepad button. Or you can click on Set All to have Nestopia run you through a quick wizard to reconfigure each button.
  4. Click OK when you're done.

Loading a game

  1. Go to File > Open, or press Ctrl+O:
    Loading a NES ROM
  2. Navigate your computer to the folder where your NES ROMs reside. Click on the game you want to play, then click Open - as shown here .
  3. That's it! Your game will begin playing immediately.

Full screen

Press Alt+Enter to enter full screen. Press Alt+Enter again to go back to window mode. Take note that it takes a few moments to enter/exit full screen mode, so don't panic if Nestopia takes a while.

Screen filters

Special scalers enhance graphics to make them look better than the real thing! This feature is also known as screen renders or screen filters. Here's how to enable them:

  1. Go to Config > Video:
    Selecting the Video Configuration
  2. You'll arrive here:
    The Video Configuration window
    As I outlined in red, that's where you select the filters. You have several to choose from. I have screen shot samples for these down below. Go ahead and select a filter.
  3. We're not done yet. Each filter can be customized! Click the Settings button to see how you can customize the filter you chose.
  4. Click OK and OK again when you're done.

The filters

Here is some explanation and samples for the filters:

  • Scanlines: With “Standard” selected, if you click Settings you can add scanlines to the screen to simulate a TV. It has a slider that allows you to customize the opacity of the scanlines. Below is how scanlines look like at 50%, and the second picture is 30% with Bilinear Interpolation checked:
    Sample of 50% Scanlines Sample of 30% Scanlines with Bilinear Interpolation
  • NTSC: simulates the fuzziness of an old TV. Below is a sample of NTSC, and the second picture has 30% scanlines & Bilinear Interpolation checked:
    Sample of NTSC Sample of NTSC with 30% Scanlines and Bilinear Interpolation
  • ScaleX: attempts to round pixels together without blurring (unless you select Bilinear Interpolation which blurs). Below is a sample of ScaleX with 3x setting, and the second picture has Bilinear Interpolation checked:
    Sample of ScaleX Sample of ScaleX with Bilinear Interpolation
  • Hqx: similar to ScaleX, Hqx attempts to round pixels together without blurring. The difference is that Hqx does a better job, I think. Below is a sample of Hqx at 2x with Bilinear Interpolation, and the second picture is 4x with no extra settings:
    Sample of Hqx at 2x with Bilinear Interpolation checked Sample of Hqx at 4x, and no extra settings
  • 2xSaI: attempts to round pixels together with some blurring. Below is a sample of 2xSaI, and the second picture has Bilinear Interpolation checked:
    Sample of 2xSaI Sample of 2xSaI with Bilinear Interpolation
  • xBR: this is Nestopia's most advanced filter. It heavily rounds pixels together. If the game you're playing has cartoony graphics, xBR can make it look gorgeous! See for yourself:
    Sample of xBR
    In the Settings, you can increase or decrease the intensity of the pixel-rounding.

Save states

Save states is a feature that saves the exact spot you are in any game. You can use this feature manually by going into the File menu or by quick keyboard shortcuts.

Using the save state feature via the File menu

There's one detail about save states with Nestopia that can be confusing. There are two types of them. You have quick saves and regular save states.

Quick saves

  • Capturing a quick save: To capture a quick save go to File > Quick Save State. Nestopia lets you save up to 9 different save states. Pick a slot. The keyboard shortcut for saving a quick save in slot 1 is Shift+1.
  • Loading a quick save: To load a quick save that you previously saved, go to File > Quick Load State. Then select the slot you want to load. The keyboard shortcut for loading a quick save in slot 1 is number 1.

Regular save states

The less convenient regular save state feature has a few purposes.

  • By going to File > Save State you can enter a custom filename for your save. For example, if you're playing Super Mario Bros 3 you can capture a save state at the beginning of each level and call each save “Level 1-1”, “Level 1-2”, etc. The keyboard shortcut for saving a state is F5.
  • To load a save state, go to File > Load State and select your save file on your computer. Through here you can also load save states from another version of Nestopia on another computer. They keyboard shortcut for loading a state is F7.

*All the RPG shrines in my offer complete collections of periodical game saves. With them, you can continue at any significant point in the game. I offer a Game Saves Tutorial where you can learn more about how to use somebody else's saves. You can also learn about how to transfer saves between other emulators.

Fast forward

Fast forward is the feature that speeds up the game. To access it, hold down the Tab key. Let it go when you want it to stop.

Using Game Genie & Pro Action Replay

  1. First, load the game. Click on Debug > Game Genie Decoder/Encoder:
    Selecting the Cheats window
  2. You'll arrive at the Cheats window. From here click Add:
    Click Add to enter the window where you can add a cheat code
  3. You'll arrive at the Add Code window. Click Game Genie to add a Game Genie code, or Pro Action to add a Pro Action code. Paste the code in the field, then click Submit. Reference the below shot:
    Click the code type, Game Genie or Pro Action, then paste the cheat code
  4. Your code is now added to the cheats list. You may need to restart the game for the cheat to take effect. That's it! Also, it is possible to add cheats with multiple lines. You need to repeat these directions to add each line one at a time.

Finding cheats: is a good site. The next best source is Google. The best search keywords to use is to type the name of the game then “game genie”. For example: “mario bros 3 game genie”.

Capturing screen shots

While a game is open, just press Alt+E to capture a screen shot. That's it! You could also do it via the menu by going to File > Save Screenshot. Nestopia will place the screen shot as a PNG image in a sub folder called “screenshots”.

No sprite limit

Every NES fan knows that when the screen gets busy with sprites, the graphics get glitchy and pieces of the sprites disappear. Nestopia has an option that can correct this! Here's a before and after of this feature:

Unlimited sprites in actionThe default sprite limitation of the NES

Neat, huh? Want to enable it?

Enabling unlimited sprites

Just go to Machine > Options > No Sprite Limit, as shown above. Or press Shift+U.

Finding ROMs

In my links page, I have some good links to sites where you can download ROMs. If you want to try to find more sites than what's in my collection of links, just Google around. For example, if you want to download Super Mario Bros just Google “download super mario bros nes”.

Patching ROM hacks

Learn all about patching ROMs with ROM hacks in my Patching Tutorial. Note that the best place to find ROM hacks is

Q: Can I transfer my saves to another emulator?

Nestopia lets you save your game in two ways:

  1. State States: Nestopia's save states are exclusive to Nestopia so they cannot be transferred to other NES emulators.
  2. Saved RAM: This is the internal save in RPGs. They have an SAV file extension. View this for a clearer picture . SAV files are what can be transferred to other NES emulators. You can literally just copy & paste the ROM and the SAV file over to the other NES emulator and it'll pick it up. Although some NES emulators want to be organized. They require you to dump the SAV file in a designated saves folder. I have a Game Saves Tutorial where you can learn more about transferring saves. You could also learn about using somebody else's saves.

Q: Nestopia isn't saving anything!

If you're using Nestopia for the first time and you're finding that you have all these problems:

  1. Save states aren't working. You save a state, then when you try to reload it nothing happens.
  2. In an RPG when you save your game at a save point and close/re-open Nestopia, you find that the save is lost.
  3. Emulator configurations that you changed such as adding a screen filter aren't saved. When you close/re-open Nestopia, you have to make those configuration changes again.

Then your problem is that you currently have Nestopia in a read-only location on your computer. You must move Nestopia to a more common location such as Documents, Downloads, or a folder on your desktop.