higan (emulator)

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Higan icon july 2014.png
Higan v101 running on Windows 8.1
Higan v101 running on Windows 8.1
Developer(s) byuu et al.
Initial release May 2005; 12 years ago (2005-05)
Stable release
102 / January 19, 2017; 5 months ago (2017-01-19)
Preview release
099.16[1] / July 4, 2016; 12 months ago (2016-07-04)
Repository gitlab.com/higan/higan
Development status Active
Written in C++11, C99
Operating system Windows, Linux, macOS, FreeBSD
Platform IA-32, x86-64
Type Video game console emulator
License GNU GPLv3
Website byuu.org/emulation/higan

higan is an emulator for multiple video game consoles, including the Nintendo Entertainment System and the Super NES. Originally called bsnes,[2] It attempts to emulate the original Nintendo hardware as accurately as possible through low-level, cycle-accurate emulation and for the associated historical preservation efforts of the Super NES platform.[3][4]

As of higan v103, there exists preliminary support for the Sega Master System (Mark III), Sega Game Gear, Sega Mega Drive (Genesis), and NEC PC Engine (Turbografx-16), but while these cores are usable and run many games, they will require more development to reach the compatibility level that exists in other emulators.[5] The main developer of higan suggests that it may take a year or two for these cores to reach a maturity level that is comparable to the Nintendo cores.[6]


Development of higan began by a pseudonymous programmer only known as byuu on October 14, 2004 as bsnes, and the first version was released in May 2005 for Microsoft Windows. Since then, it has been ported to Linux, OS X and FreeBSD. Initially developed under a custom license, later releases were licensed under various versions of the GNU General Public License, although the main developer does sell GPL exceptions on a case-by-case basis to companies and individuals who want to base products on Higan without the GPL's requirements, which helps fund further development of Higan.[7]

The higan project has contributed significantly to the field of Super NES emulation, with a number of firsts in SNES emulation, and in reverse-engineering developments such as the organization of funds, hardware, and expertise for decapping the SNES's enhancement chips.[4]

higan's developer claims its ability to run every commercial Super NES title ever released.[8] higan is the first emulator to have featured SPC7110 emulation, cycle-accurate SPC 700 emulation, cycle-accurate Super FX emulation, and Super Game Boy emulation.[9] Newer versions of higan can experimentally emulate the NES, Game Boy, Game Boy Color, Game Boy Advance and WonderSwan. Forked versions of bsnes have provided emulation support for Nintendo DS, XBAND, Super Famicom Box, Satellaview BS-X software, and tool-assisted speedruns.[10]


In 2008, British Internet magazine WebUser recommended bsnes for "some fun old-school gaming".[11] In 2009, Japanese game magazine GameLabo recommended bsnes for "those seeking a realistic playing experience".[12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ higan v099.16 - public beta test
  2. ^ "new name - higan". Retrieved October 8, 2012. [dead link]
  3. ^ Byuu (August 9, 2011). "Accuracy takes power: one man’s 3GHz quest to build a perfect SNES emulator". Ars Technica. Retrieved March 11, 2015. 
  4. ^ a b Fenlon, Wesley. "16-bit Time Capsule: SNES Emulator Makes a Case for Software Preservation". Retrieved March 11, 2015. 
  5. ^ https://board.byuu.org/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=1656
  6. ^ https://board.byuu.org/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=1493
  7. ^ https://byuu.org/emulation/higan/licensing
  8. ^ Bannister, Richard (February 2006). "Emulation Nation: Interview - Richard Bannister". Retro Gamer (Interview) (21). Interview with Craig Grannell. p. 97. 
  9. ^ "The State of Emulation, Part III". byuu's homepage. Archived from the original on June 29, 2012. Retrieved July 5, 2012. 
  10. ^ "tasvideos.org Preferred Emulators". tasvideos.org. Retrieved May 13, 2012. Isnes 
  11. ^ "Downloaded". WebUser (191): 39. 2008. 
  12. ^ "SFC". GameLabo (September): ?. 2009. 

External links[edit]