Linux Games: Zsnes (Super Nintendo Emulator)

27 Lug/09

I have a confession to make. My favorite game of all time is Zombies Ate My Neighbors. It was a classic Super Nintendo game that had you playing either a young boy or girl who uses various toys (such as a squirt gun) to save their neighbors from getting destroyed by zombies! This game is pure fun and, as far as I know, it is where the old “muhaha” came from.

Lately I had been jonesin’ to play that game so I was about to plop down some cash for an old SNES and the Zombies Ate My Neighbors cartridge when I came across Zsnes. Zsnes is an emulator for the Super Nintendo game system that runs on Linux, Windows, FreeBSD, and DOS. If you long for the old SNES games, this emulator will do the trick.

Getting and installing

Installing Zsnes is simple because it will most likely be found in your distributions’ repositories. Because of that you can either search for “zsnes” (no quotes) in your Add/Remove Software utility, mark the results for installation, and click Apply to install. Or you can install the nearly-old-fashion way and issue a command like:

sudo apt-get install zsnes

Once installed you will find the entry for the emulator in the Games sub menu of your Applications or Main menu. If not you can always run Zsnes from the command line by issuing:


Running Zsnes

Figure 1

Figure 1

When you start up Zsnes you will see the main window (see Figure 1). From this window you can configure Zsnes, load a ROM file, add Cheat Codes, and set up key combinations and configure sound.

The GUI may look a bit old school but remember the games you are playing are 8 and 16 bit games, so what should you expect?

Loading a ROM

One of the first things you are going to want to know is where to get ROM files. There are plenty of sites that have ROM files for SNES games. I found Zombies Ate My Neighbors on ROMNation.

When you download a ROM file it will be in .zip format. You will need to unzip that file once it is downloaded. The contents of the zip package will vary, depending upon who created the file. But the import piece of the puzzle is the file with the smc extension. This is the ROM you need to load.I have also found that some of the ROMs can be loaded directly from the zip file. This, again, will depend upon how the creator packaged the file.

To load your ROM click on the GAME menu and select ROM which will open up a Zsnes-native file manager. Once you have loaded your ROM an old familar “face” will appear – that face is the game you remembered from your undergraduate years (I am showing my age here).


Figure 2

Figure 2

Figure 2 shows the start screen for “Zombies”. The game plays within a window by default. If you want to play in full screen hit the Alt-A combination.  Naturally how well the game plays will depend upon your machine and which game you downloaded. On my machine Zombies Ate My Neighbors played exactly as it did on the original SNES. The controls took a few moments to figure out (arrow keys to move, A button to shoot). Once I figured that out it was time to see if I could get any further than I did back then (level 52 out of 99).

Final thoughts

I can’t tell you how much fun I am having reliving my youth as I destroy those “muhah’ing” zombies. If you miss the days of SNES, I suggest you grab a copy of Zsnes and find your favorite ROM asap!

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