Video Game Emulation Wiki

higan (initially named bsnes, though the bsnes name was reused for a new emulator) is an open source multi-system emulator. Currently, the only thing worth using in higan is the cycle-accurate SNES core. It was created in response to inaccurate SNES emulators such as ZSNES and shoddy ROM hacks.

The name higan stands for 'Hero of Fire', the protagonist of the SFC RPG Tengai Makyou Zero. The icon 火 (hi, jap. "Fire") derives from that name.

While the SNES core is complete, development on Higan and all its cores continues for the forseeable future.




Bsnes versions

bsnes had 3 different versions: Performance, Balanced, and Accuracy. The Balanced version is recommended for modern PCs. Use the Accuracy version for extreme cases or if you have processing power to spare.

The main concession to performance in the Balanced core is the PPU (graphics) emulation – rather than render a pixel at a time as real hardware must do, it renders an entire scanline at a time. Because Nintendo told SNES programmers not to mess with the PPU while scanline rendering was in progress, this has no effect in most games – but some programmers deliberately broke the rules and these games will have problems in the Balanced core.

There are two games known to manipulate the PPU mid-scanline; “A.S.P. – Air Strike Patrol (USA)” and “Uniracers (USA)”. Uniracers works because it’s the only game that tries to manipulate OAM mid-scanline, and bsnes just happens to behave exactly the way that Uniracers expects. Air Strike Patrol is missing the shadow beneath the plane, which make the game harder to play.

Game Folders

higan is unique among emulators for introducing the concept of game folders. Game folders were about accurately representing the game cartridge and its metadata. Things like SRAM, cheats, input settings, emulator metadata get stored with the game.


As of 0.95, both the bsnes core and gba core are accurate. The others are very early in development, and are currently inferior to other existing emulators. Alternatives include Gambatte, VBA-M, and Nestopia.

Version 0.73 is an older, but easier to use version of bsnes. Another alternative is to use the bsnes core in RetroArch to get around some of the less-user friendly designs in higan.

Supported systems

NES (Famicom)
SNES (Super Famicom)
Game Boy
Game Boy Color
Game Boy Advance