Introduction: Turn a Super NES Into a Universal Game Player

Picture of Turn a Super NES Into a Universal Game Player
Don't you wish you had a system that could play all your favorite games from the past? Mario? Sonic? Gauntlet? Yes!

Well with this magic system you can play all your favorites on a 4-player system that uses authentic Super Nintendo Control Pads. It has the capability to play games from NES, Super NES, N64, Neo Geo, Gameboy Advance, Commodore 64, Sega Genesis, arcade games and more! It is cartridge free, and plugs into any TV with HDMI. Take it to any friends house, because this puppy is very portable! The secret is there is a mini computer inside of the Super NES that runs whatever classic games you choose.

I started with just an old Super Nintendo, and with about $200 and some time on my hands, I was able to turn it into pure gaming gold. You can do the same thing as well, just follow this instructable!

This console is:
• 4 player and super portable - have a gaming party at anyone's house!
• Cheap to build
• Able to use authentic SNES controllers (4 player with additional wireless controllers.)
• Solid State, no moving parts
• Cartridge-free! Store all your games on a SD card.
• Can be used in Modern TV's even if your real Nintendo is cannot be accepted by your TV.
• Going to make all your friends jealous   ^_^

Check out a demo of the player right here:

The emulators I use are all 100% free. Keep in mind if you build your own player, it should be used for games that you legally own.

Step 1: Everything You Will Need

Picture of Everything You Will Need

OK, before we begin, there are a few basic skills you need to complete this project:

• Basic soldering skills
• A bit of computer know-how (Installing operating systems, emulators, tweaking computer settings)
• Some Mechanical know-how as well (Putting together computer components)

Here are the tools you will need

• Screwdriver set
• Glue gun
• Soldering gun, solder removal gun
• A thin 4mm socket (for removing those pesky Nintendo screws)
• A cresent cutter.
• SD Card Reader
• Keyboard and Mouse

Here is the parts you will need, see the photo for details on each item below:

• An old Super Nintendo with controllers
• A mini ITX Motherboard with processor (Must have HDMI output, have an external power supply, and must be no more than 4 cm high) I personally used a ZOTAC IONITX-C-U. The nice thing about the Zotac is that it does not get hot enough to need a cooling fan.
• Stick of RAM for the computer
• SD Card SATA Solid State Hard Drive
• 16 GB SD Card (goes in the solid state drive)
• USB Super NES dual port controller adaptor
• HDMI Cable and HDMI adaptors
• 2 Cherry microswitches
• Some standard internal computer cables
• Some wire and solder
• (Optional) 1 or 2 wireless dual shock style controllers if you want 3-4 players (These are also needed to play N64 games)
• Speaker grating for cool ventilation.
• 4 philips head 1/2 inch machinery screws for putting everything together.
• Windows XP or other operating system

Step 2: Take Apart the Old Super NES

Picture of Take Apart the Old Super NES

1) To take apart a Super NES, you must remove the four screws underneath the system. Now these screws have special security heads that would normally require a special screwdriver. I did find that a 4mm thin socket will do the trick in removing these screws.

2) Once the Super NES is open, unscrew and remove all the "innards". The only things that will be kept is the case shell, the power and reset switches, the back port plate and the front controller port plate.

3) Cut away all unneeded plastic from the inside. From the top half, cut the inside plastic away from the eject button. From the bottom half, cut all plastic from the bottom center of the case.

4) Your Super NES case is empty and waiting to be filled. If your old SNES is one of those that turned a really nasty yellow, now is the time to paint it if you like. This is only an optional, cosmetic step...I personally left mine unpainted. There are some great console painting instructables out there if you choose to paint!

Step 3: Put Together the Controller Port

Picture of Put Together the Controller Port

Here we will take apart the USB Super NES controller adapter and solder it to the original controller port.

1) Open up the adapter by removing the screw from the bottom.

2) With a desoldering iron, remove the solder points from each pin of the controller port. The ports should come off. There will be 7 pins for player 1 and 7 pins for player 2.

3) Take the controller port from the Super NES. On the back side will be a green circuit board. Desolder the two rows of 7 pins and the green board will come off.

4) After you take the green board off, desolder the red LED light. This can be attached to the computer later as it's power light.

5) Solder 3-4 inch wires to the leads on the SNES port.

6) Keeping the wires in the same order as the pins on the USB adapter, solder the wires carefully to the adapter circuit board. Each player has a section of 4 leads, followed by 3 leads.

7) Hot Glue the circuit board on the groove of the Super NES controller port. Also, the red LED gets placed on the port as well after you have soldered some computer case wire to it.

Step 4: Add Switches and Vents, and Hard Drive

Picture of Add Switches and Vents, and Hard Drive

Now it is time to add those little things that are necessary before we start mounting in the guts.

1) Solder the microswitches to computer case powering wires, then hot glue the switches on the top of the case as pictured above.

2) Cut the speaker grating to the shape of the holes on the top of the case. Hot clue the grating right onto the case.

3) Hot glue the Hard drive to the top of the case as well. It is light and will not move.

Step 5: Put the Guts in the Case!

Picture of Put the Guts in the Case!

Now everything will come together. It's just a matter of carefully assembling the components.

1) Before you mount anything into the bottom half of the case, be sure to test it out to make sure everything fits properly. This will be trial and error until you find a good method to fit everything.

2) Hot glue the motherboard in place, If you are good with using motherboard mounting screws, you can used these as well.

3) Screw the DC power plug of the motherboard into the back panel.

4) Hot glue one of the HDMI adapters to the hole for the multi out. If there is any gaps, just fill it with hot glue.

5) With your remaining HDMI adaptors, feed the area from the port to the motherboard HDMI slot.

6) Plug the USB Super NES controller adapter to one of the USB ports and and place the port back on the front of the Super NES.

7) If you have wireless controllers for player 3 and 4, plug the wireless receivers in.

Congrats! You are now finished with the physical build. Now it is time to load in all the computer applications and games!

Step 6: Load in Operating System and Games

Picture of Load in Operating System and Games

It's time to get digital! Your console now needs an operating system and applications.Plug your keyboard and mouse into usb ports on your system. You will be keeping these in until you have everything set the way you want it.

1) Install your operating system. I have attached instructions below on the process for installing Windows XP using a computer and an SD card reader.

2) Now with the operating system up and running, you are free to get all the games, emulators and application you want. The easiest way to load these games on your hard drive is by taking out the SD card and plugging it into your computer with the SD card reader. Just drag and drop all the games and emulators in a folder on your SD Card. You are free to put whatever games and emulators you choose on the card, but they need to be games that can be mapped to your controllers. See the appendix attached to step 8 for my recommended emulators.

Step 7: Roll Up All Your Games and Emulators Into a Frontend

Picture of Roll Up All Your Games and Emulators Into a Frontend

You got your games, but you want to access all your games easily using your Super Nintendo controllers. This can all be done with an interactive application launcher called a frontend. There are many out there to choose from. I reccomend MaLa because it is free and easy to use.

1) While you still have all your SD Card plugged download and copy over a frontend. You download get MaLa from You can now plug your SD card back into your SD card hard drive and boot up your video game player.

2) Boot up MaLa (or your Frontend of choice) and it will take you to the initial set up process. You can go to the options screen and browse for all the your emulators that you will be using.

3) Go to the controller options and set the controls to be read from your Super NES controller. When you hit OK, you can now access your games from using your gamepad.

4) In the options screen be sure to also to check the "Start with Windows" box. Everytime you turn on your system, it will be load up your frontend.
5) You can customize your frontend to look however you want. Check out the appendix on step 8 for some great resources on customizing your frontend . Otherwise, you are done with the set-up.

6) You can unplug your keyboard and mouse and close up your system. I recommend if you are going to screw together you Super NES, use a different set of screws that have a regular head, just so you don't have to bother with those Nintendo screws anymore! I recommend using 1/2 inch machinery screws to close your system.

Step 8: You Are Ready to Play!

Picture of You Are Ready to Play!
You should now have everything you need to plug and play in any HDMI TV.
• Your Super NES Video Game Player
• The power supply (It comes with the motherboard).
• HDMI Cable
• 2 Super NES controllers
• (Optional) Player 3 and 4 controllers

You can now enjoy endless gaming fun!

If you are interested in seeing a quick startup demo of my Super NES player, check out this video:

Finally, I would like to provide an Appendix to provide a little more support if things get confusing. This includes a helpful FAQ, some recommended emulators and some great resources to help you along.


TimothyKingJ14 (author)2015-12-27

Could you make this system play the newer games as welle? Games such as xbox 360 and xbox one. Newer games like that.

TylerM56 (author)TimothyKingJ142016-01-23

hey buddy! I didn't write this but I think I can help answer your question. unfortunately, no. there are no Xbox 360 or Xbox one emulators to my knowledge and you would need a pretty powerful CPU to do this... much more than what is needed to do N64 emulation.

DanielH437 (author)TylerM562016-11-12

Easy! Just get the cpu out of [Insert Modern system Here] and make an emulator for that... cant be that hard right?

benoit.dorion.33 (author)2014-09-11

How well does the hot glue hold up over time? I want to do a similar project with the NES and I was worried hot glue would not hold my ports in place very well.

If a little hot glue doesn't hold, just cake the stuff on.

Hot glue is still holding just fine for me.

Crafterkid123 (author)2014-10-18

It would have been cheaper to use a Raspberry Pi. Not everybody can afford a "1337 gaeming FaZe pc !!111!1!" motherboard.

Raspberry Pis didn't exist in 2010 / 2011. I'm sure you could use one today, it would save $50, but stuff like N64 wouldn't work.

Now with the new Raspberry Pi the N64 would work (I know they didn't exist at the time of your post, but just updating everyone else who reads this).

phantomgrahf (author)2014-11-25

Hello there, I have built the snes to your instructions so far but my motherboard has been freezing everyone it loads Windows. The only thing I have done different is: I use 4 gb ram, win 7, and a 250 gb toshiba hard drive, maybe you can help

flattery (author)phantomgrahf2015-12-30

Use Linux instead of Windows. Less resource intensive and more stable.

I am using the same zotac, I noticed that the 4gb ram doesn't always start the motherboard just on pure luck I will be able to start out sometimes

flattery (author)2015-12-30

Just use a Raspberry Pi. They are cheaper and smaller work great. I made the same thing a couple years ago using a Raspberry Pi and a regular Nintendo Case. I have NES controllers for it but generally use xbox controllers.

slothbear607 (author)2015-04-21

Will hins mother board work with out fans and will it fit?

Here is the link

MRCrabtree (author)2015-01-29

I recently repaired a SNES for a friend and also found that a 4 mm nut driver worked almost perfectly, however, I was only able to remove a few of the screws. The rest would slip no matter how much force was used to push the driver onto the screws. I got the most luck out of heating my nut driver prior to fitting it onto the screws and allowing it to cool around the screw before unscrewing it. Worked fantastically for the next nine screws (I was opening two SNES consoles.) Hope this helps other people fighting these stubborn proprietary screws.

rodrigobalest (author)2015-01-06


What is the recommended configuration to run DreamCast and N64 games smoothly?


スマレスカ (author)2014-04-20

Okay so I need a little help here how did you manage to get the screws out from the corners while I've been able to do the two center ones I can't find anything that fits so I can turn the socket :/ please help?

FluxEdgeHD (author)2013-08-07

Is there a way to replace the SNES controllers with wired/wireless controllers from systems such as the PS2 or XBox360? Most of the emulators I use require more controls like the Gamecube. Any help here?

kilofeenix (author)FluxEdgeHD2013-09-12

From what i read, he basically tore apart An old snes and replaced it with a tiny computer using the snes as an nostalgic case, so yes any usb or wifi pc controller will work

FluxEdgeHD (author)kilofeenix2013-09-12

Thanks :)

taintt4u (author)2013-06-01

I want to build one of these, and have been looking around for my options. I came across an acer one that has hdmi out with a broken screen on ebay. intel atom 1.66, 320gb hdd, 1 gig of ram. I checked dimensions, and the components should have no problem fitting in NES. This would even make the little retro box wireless if ever needed. What are you thoughts? I could snag this cheaper than mini itx mobo.

cerberustugowar (author)2011-10-06

the reason you used wireless (opposed to corded) player 3 and 4 controllers was to try and keep it looking as stock as possible right?

is there enough room for a ssd where your sd to sata adaptor is?

it seems to be quite hard to find mobo's with a cpu and psu for $100 right now...

I have found several that are decent, some with and without the PSU though.

Is the one I am looking at using for my version of this.

Another great site, albeit UK based, is

They have boards, accessories, and even 12VDC PSU

I ended up buying a clear plexi-glass mine ITX case off of ebay along with a SSD, ram, motherboard, and PSU from NCIX. I still have to finally deside on a Front end for it as some or more flashy and some more straight forward and to the point. DO you still like the front end you chose to go with?. I sold my all of my NES, SNES, N64, GC, and Genesis collection to make this build. Hopefully I actually finish it one of these days.

ZeroVirus (author)2013-02-21

I am working on designing my own version based on your work. Due to damage on my SNES case it won't look "stock" though because I am going to end up painting it. One thing I am thinking of adding to mine would be 2 USB ports on the beack between the HDMI and 12VDC connectors.

j-rod43 (author)2011-08-13

how much are the mainboards?

ZeroVirus (author)j-rod432013-02-21

they basically range from $100 - $150

kendawg77 (author)2012-11-30

is there anyway to make it RCA

~CableGuy (author)2012-11-11

man! , this is awesome! wish I had enough money to that... damn... let's go to bed and make this instructable in dream!
Keep Rockin' dude!, thumbs up!

harvardman (author)2012-03-20

awesome job ...i have to build one for the kids but cant find the motherboard you used ...can u give options please thanks for your time

Muniosi (author)2011-09-09

Anyone know where to get just the housing for a SNES? I've looked everywhere.

cerberustugowar (author)Muniosi2011-10-06

pawnshops, goodwill, 2nd hand stores, craigslist?

tthrower18 (author)2011-05-08

i can do all of this and more with my jailbroken ipod touch

splinks (author)tthrower182011-05-31

You can have up to 4 players playing teenage mutant ninja turtles on your 1 iphone?

I call bullshit

tthrower18 (author)splinks2011-06-13

ok not 4 players but i can still play

drawesomer (author)tthrower182011-08-22

Oh yeah? Well I can do all that with my iPad!

mishathegoat (author)2011-08-07

Very cool, nicely done. I did a similar one a few years back with an NES. Also, just a heads up, downloading or dumping video game ROMs is illegal regardless if you've purchased the game or not (in most countries at least). Even if it is for archival purposes.

0fin (author)2011-06-20

when i create the dos start up disk
there is only 1.38mb on my sd card now???HELP???

Calico Jack (author)2011-06-03

On my system, the controller ports are tack welded to the mount. Is this the case for all super nintendos? How would I remove the welds without damaging the parts I need?

On another note, could you use the original power switch of the snes? If not, is it a matter of space, or compatibility?

Hi! Is this just soldier points on the circuit board, or is there an actual weld? On mine, I had to just melt the soldier to pull out the controller port. Otherwise it came right out. I used a solder removal gun, or desoldering iron, to suck up the melted soldier on the circuit board and everything came right apart.

As far as the switches go, I could not use the power switch because it was a hard on off switch. Computers generally use a momentary push switch for their power button. The reset switch on the Super NES is a momentary switch, so I probably could have used that though. I am guessing that just about any switch that springs back to the off position should work.

I'm pretty sure it's a weld, but I'm no expert. So you are probably right. It's probably solder. I'll have to take another look. Thanks for the quick response!

0fin (author)2011-06-05

do u need to the swithes or can u just plug it up and unplug it to turn on and off?

vigothecarpathian (author)0fin2011-06-06

You generally don't want to unplug a computer when it is powered on, since there is a chance it can harm the computer. What you can do is set the computer to turn on when it is plugged in, and use the "shut down" command to turn off the computer. The frontend menu program I used, Mala, has the option to turn the computer off automatically when you quit the program.

0fin (author)vigothecarpathian2011-06-06

the thing is i dont get how to setup mala
do i do it on the snes or my pc?

Dropkickmurphy (author)2011-05-10

First, I'd like to appreciate your great work - maybe the most useful consolemod I've seen so far!

Do you think it's possible to do the mod with a PAL console also?

Thanks!! :)

I believe that a PAL console could possibly work, they were similiar size consoles. I think the US Super NES was a tad taller with it's "hump" in the middle though. I didn't make much use of this area, but certain motherboards have a taller heatsink that could possibly need that clearance.

dishinhof (author)2011-05-01

I love this design and i am starting my bill of materials for it. I was wondering, can you also run dos box to play all of the old dos games as well. I figured you could but i though id ask anyway.


Sorry about the slow reply, I haven't been around computers much these days. Yes, dos box should run fine with this sort of setup. The only downside is many dos games might have a hard time mapping to a joypad. You can always work around this by using a program like xpadder or joy2key that will turn gamepad controls into keyboard strokes. xpadder also maps mouse controls as well I believe.

0fin (author)2011-05-08

whats a stick of ram

About This Instructable




Bio: Vigo is an electronics enthusiast with a passion to bring back the nostalgia of the past. His goal is to share major projects that anyone ... More »
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