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Snes9X Tutorial

By Alejandro Rodriguez. Last revised Sep 20, 2016.

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About Snes9X

This tutorial is to help you with Snes9X for Windows. Snes9X is one of the best SNES emulators out there. It offers high game compatibility, runs well even on low-end PCs, and offers tons of great features. It's easy to use, too. Sometime around 2010, Snes9X was split off into two versions: Snes9X-64 and Snes9X-32. Snes9X-64 is optimized for 64-bit Windows and Snes9X-32 is optimized for 32-bit Windows.

*If you would like to download Snes9X, I have it in my emulators page.

64-bit and 32-bit versions

When you go to download Snes9X, the first thing you're going to see is two versions: 64-bit and 32-bit. So what is that and which version do you download? I won't drown you with technical jargon. In short: these are types of Windows systems. 64-bit is newer and faster, and 32-bit is older and slower. If you have 64-bit Windows, you need to download the 64-bit version of Snes9X. And vice versa with 32-bit.

Not sure if you have 64-bit or 32-bit Windows? Here's how you can check:

Searching for '64-bit' to find the technical specs window
  1. On the bottom left where you see Search the web and Windows, do a search for “64-bit”.
  2. You'll see this come up: “See if you have a 32-bit or 64-bit version of Windows”. Click it.
  3. You'll arrive here . Look for “System type”. If it says “64-bit operating system” then you're using 64-bit Windows. If it says “32-bit operating system” then you're using 32-bit Windows.

Using Windows XP? Here are directions for that .

Installation

Snes9X is a standalone program so it does not have an install wizard. Installation is simple: just extract Snes9X 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! Snes9X must be placed in a common folder on your computer. I recommend Documents, Downloads, or create a folder on your desktop. If you place Snes9X somewhere else on your main C drive, then you may be restricting it to read-only access. Doing so prevents Snes9X from saving anything.

To open Snes9X, double-click on Snes9X's EXE

Q: Application was unable to start correctly?

Upon opening Snes9X, you might get this error:

The application was unable to start correctly (0x000007b). Click OK to close the application.

This error happens on some machines when using Snes9X-64 on 64-bit Windows 7. The resolution is simple: just use Snes9X-32 instead. I know, it's a confusing contradiction. Snes9X-64 was specifically optimized for 64-bit Windows. Yet to resolve this error you need Snes9X-32 that was optimized for 32-bit Windows.

Q: Unable to initialize XAudio2?

Upon opening Snes9X, you might get this error :

Unable to initialize XAudio2. You will not be able to hear any sound effects or music while playing.

It is usually caused by not having a recent DirectX release installed.

You need to 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.

Q: ddx9_38.dll is missing?

Upon opening Snes9X, you might get this error:

The program can't start because ddx9_38.dll is missing from your computer. Try reinstalling the program to fix the problem.

You need to 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.

Setting up the keyboard or gamepad

Click on Input > Joypad Configuration, or press Alt+F7. You'll end up here:

Snes9X's Joypad Configuration

This box tells you the buttons that correspond to each SNES button. To reassign a button to another keyboard key or a gamepad button, just click on the field you want to change. Then press that keyboard key or gamepad button.

Auto-configuration

By default, Snes9X will jump to the next button after the one you just reassigned. Let's say you just plugged in a new gamepad and you want to avoid having to manually click on each of the 12 buttons. Snes9X can do it automatically! Start by reassigning the first button: Up. After you reassign Up, Snes9X will jump to Left, then Down, then Right, then Z, and so on. Click OK when you're done.

Loading a game

When you open Snes9X for the first time, within its folder it will create a folder called “Roms”. I recommend tossing your games in this folder, but you don't have to.

To load a game:

Loading a game in Snes9X
  1. Click on File > Load Game; or press Ctrl+O.
  2. The “Open” window will pop up with the “Roms” folder in view. From this window click on the game you want to play, then click Open - as shown here .
  3. The game will begin playing immediately.

Full screen

Press Alt+Enter to enter full screen. Press Alt+Enter again to go back to window mode. During forget, pressing Esc disables/enables the top menu bar.

Output image processing

Output image processing enhances graphics to make them look better than the real thing! This feature is also known as screen renders or screen filters. You can access this feature by clicking on Options > Display Configuration. Look for the box titled “Output Image Processing”, as shown here:

The Display Configuration box, with Output Image Processing in view

Click on the drop-down (where you see None) and choose a filter you want to try; here's an expanded sample . Snes9X doesn't have an immediate preview, so to see how it looks you need to click OK to close this window. Repeat the process to select a different filter.

About Hi-Res: In the same box you'll see a “Hi Res” option. Thanks to the wonders of emulation, a handful of SNES games can render its font higher than 16-bit! Games such as Seiken Densetsu 3, Romancing SaGa 3, and Treasure of the Rudras. Enabling Hi-Res applies a filter for these special fonts to make them look nice and sharp. Otherwise, these fonts look pixel-ish.

The filters

Here is some explanation and samples for these filters:

  • Forced 1X: the default; no filters applied.
  • Scanlines: adds dark horizontal lines to simulate a TV. Sample:
    Sample of scanlines
  • TV Mode: attempts to simulate a TV more so than scanlines. Samples:
    Sample of TV Mode Sample of TV Mode 3x
  • Blargg's NTSC (Composite), Blargg's NTSC (S-Video), Blargg's NTSC (RGB): an impressive filter that realistically simulates a TV! Sample:
    Sample of Blargg's Composite
  • SuperEagle, Super2XSaI, 2xSal: smears pixels together with a slight blur. Samples:
    Sample of SuperEagle Sample of 2xSaI
  • Dot Matrix: simulates a dot matrix monitor. Sample:
    Sample of Dox Matrix
  • hq2x, hq3x, hq4x: a smart filter, which attempts to sharpen and blur when necessary. Sample:
    Sample of Dox HQ3X
  • EPX A, EPX B, EPX C: attempts to round together pixels without any blurring. Sample:
    Sample of EPX
  • Simple 2X, Simple 3X, Simple 4X: just enlarges the screen with no filters.

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
  • Capturing a state: To capture a save state go to File > Save Game Position and choose any of the 9 slots. These slots are reserved to allow you to save up to 9 different save states. The keyboard shortcut for saving states is Shift+F1 to save in Slot 1.
  • Loading a state: To load a state you previously saved, go to File > Load Game Position. Then choose the slot where your save resides. The keyboard shortcut for loading saves is F1 to load from Slot 1.

*All the RPG shrines in my FantasyAnime.com 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, press the Tab key. Hold it down and let go until you want the fast forwarding to end.

Using Game Genie & Pro Action Replay

Entering a Game Genie or Pro Action Replay cheat code
  1. First load the game. Click on Cheat > Game Genie, Pro-Action Replay Codes.
  2. (1) In the “Enter Cheat Code” field type the code. You could also Ctrl+V to paste it from a site. There cannot be any spaces in the code!
  3. (2) In the “Cheat Description” field type a short description for the code.
  4. (3) Click on the Add button to add the code. You'll see a box next to it - put a check in that box to activate the code, as shown here .
  5. Repeat the process to enter more codes. Know that Snes9X does support cheats with multiple lines. You need to enter such codes one line at a time, and in order. Click OK when you're done.
  6. Reset or reload the game. If the cheat doesn't work then you either typed it wrong or it's a bad code.

Finding cheats: GameGenie.com 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: “super mario world game genie”.

Capturing screen shots

While a game is open, just press F12 to capture a screen shot. That's it! You could also do it via the menu by going to File > Save Other > Save Screenshot. Snes9X will place the screen shot as a PNG image in a sub folder called “Screenshots”.

Capturing sprites: Capturing sprites is easier if you disable background layers before capturing a screen shot. Super Nintendo graphics are made up of 5 layers: four graphics layers and the sprites layer. You can turn any of these layers on and off. Keyboard buttons 1-4 turn the graphics layers on/off. Keyboard button 5 turns the sprites layer on/off.

*In need of a graphics editor to edit screen shots? Here are The Best Free Photo Editors.

Recording AVI movies

Want to upload your own SNES gameplay videos to YouTube? Well Snes9X will let you capture them! Here's how you do it:

  1. Play a game up to the point you want to start recording. If you're in full screen mode, press the Esc key to enable the top menu.
  2. Go to File > Record AVI.
  3. Snes9X will prompt you with the Save As window . Where I have the red outline, enter the name you would like for your movie clip, then click Save.
  4. Snes9X will prompt you with the Video Compression window . Leave it as “Full Frames (Uncompressed)” and click OK.
  5. The recording begins. Snes9X will most likely have sound disabled and be running sluggish. Don't worry! That doesn't mean your movie clip will come out the same way. When you're ready to stop the recording, go to File > Stop AVI Recording.
  6. That's it! :) Jump into Snes9X's folder and enter the “Movies” folder. Your movie clip is there.

Converting AVI movies

YouTube won't have a problem playing your video after you upload it. But, yet if you want to edit your AVI recording in a video editor, it might be rejected and not work. In that case, just convert your AVI recording to a more compatible format such as MP4. A great, free video converter is Miro Video Converter. With Miro, all you need to do is drag the AVI over to it, select Format > Video > MP4, and click Convert.

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 World just Google “download super mario world snes”.

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 Romhacking.net.

Q: I get a 'checksum fail' error!

Checksum fail

This comes up when you play a ROM hack or fan translation. It's normal; everything's fine. It comes up because the size of the ROM increased due to the ROM hacking. It's a misleading error message because that's not a big deal. If you're having problems with your game right now - the bad checksum error has nothing to do with it.

Q: My game freezes at a specific spot!

If your game keeps freezing at a specific point, then you are a victim of the infamous game freeze. It's rare! I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but there's nothing you can do to fix this problem. Restarting the game from the beginning won't help either. Why does this happen? Well, you can't expect every game to work 100% perfectly with every version of every SNES emulator.

There's hope if the game you're playing is an RPG. If you've been using in-game saving you could copy over the SRM file to another SNES emulator to continue where you left off.

Q: Can I transfer my saves to another emulator?

Snes9X lets you save your game in two ways:

  1. State States: Snes9X's save states are exclusive to Snes9X so they cannot be transferred to other SNES emulators.
  2. Saved RAM: This 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. They require you to dump the SRM 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: Snes9X isn't saving anything!

If you're using Snes9X 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 Snes9X, 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 Snes9X, you have to make those configuration changes again.

Then your problem is that you currently have Snes9X in a read-only location on your computer. You must move Snes9X to a more common location such as Documents, Downloads, or a folder on your desktop.