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The name higan stands for 'Hero of Fire'
Emulated {{{emulated}}}

higan (formerly bsnes) is an open-source, multi-system emulator. It was created in response to inaccurate SNES emulators such as ZSNES and shoddy ROM hacks.


Supported systems[edit]

NES (Famicom)
SNES (Super Famicom)
Game Boy
Game Boy Color
Game Boy Advance
Master System
Game Gear
PC Engine


bsnes versions[edit]

higan's SNES emulator, bsnes, has 3 different profiles: Performance, Balanced, and Accuracy. The Balanced version is recommended for modern PCs. Use the Accuracy profile only for extreme cases. The Balanced profile was previously known as "Compatibility" in versions before v0.92.

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 makes the game harder to play.

v0.98 is the last release of Higan which includes the Balanced and Performance profiles. Future releases will only include the Accuracy profile.


There is a fork of bsnes known as bsnes-mercury, which aims to restore functionality like HLE DSP chip emulation and SGB emulation using Gambatte that was removed in later versions of bsnes, as well as to have some optimizations that don't affect emulation accuracy. It also has an option to overclock SuperFX. Default options make it exactly the same as regular bsnes, with LLE DSP chip emulation enabled. This fork is only available as a libretro core, though it is possible to build it with Ethos (byuu's frontend) instead.

This fork is developed by Alcaro, who developed ZMZ and is also developing his own libretro frontend, minir.


bsnes-classic is a fork of bsnes v0.73 that aims to backport emulation improvements from current higan while keeping the features of the older version's Qt GUI. There is also another fork based on bsnes-classic known as bsnes-plus that focuses on adding debugging features to the GUI.


nSide is a fork of higan that, among other things, adds support for more boards as well as peripherals and the VS. UniSystem to the NES core. It also retains the SNES Balanced core and thus makes available new improvements to higan, such as the WASAPI driver and the IIR-Biquad interpolation filter, to users whose computers cannot run the Accuracy core-only releases from higan v0.98 onwards with full speed.

Game folders[edit]

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.


Higan's bsnes and bgba cores are its most developed/accurate. The Nintendo 8-bit cores are very early in development, and are inferior to other existing emulators; alternatives include Gambatte, and Nestopia. BGBA has made amazing strides from v0.95 on, getting very close to MGBA in accuracy. Higan also features a WonderSwan/WonderSwan Color core as of v0.98, which yields satisfactory results. The library-based GUI is not for everyone, though, and doesn't support drag and drop like a lot of other emulators do.

Version 0.73 is an older, but easier to use version of bsnes. There is also the aforementioned bsnes-classic, which is v0.73 with emulation improvements from newer versions. Another alternative is to use one of the bsnes cores in RetroArch to get around some of the less user-friendly designs in higan.