How to Play NES ROMs on Your Computer (FCEUX)

The Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) featured some of the most classic video games back in the day. With the help of ROMs, these old games can live on even if the console or game in question finally bites the dust. In this guide, we show you how to use the FCEUX emulator to run those ROMs.

This guide will not show you how to obtain ROM images, but merely show you how to run them through the open source FCEUX emulator. We should note that this guide pretty much assumes you are on Windows, but if you are on a Mac of Linux computer, download the SDL version instead of the Binaries. It’s not as fully functional, but it is supposed to be functional nevertheless.

First, you need to get the FCEUX emulator. Visit their homepage and head over to their downloads section. From there, download the win32 binaries file

Wait for 5 seconds when the Source Forge to generate the download window. When the download window pops up, save the file somewhere on your computer.

Find a convenient place on your hard drive and create a general NES folder for everything related to NES stuff. This isn’t entirely necessary, but I find that it keeps things tidy on your hard drive to create a general purpose folder for everything related to NES games. After that, go into that folder and create a folder inside of it and label it something for all your rom images (this is where you’ll put your ROM files). Beside that, create another folder for your emulator (I prefer to just name it FCEUX to keep things simple).

When you are done, you’ll have a directory structure like this:


The reason I prefer to organize things like this is because if I find that the emulator I am using just isn’t cutting it, I can always get another emulator, name a directory and place it right next to the other emulator. Trust me, there are LOTS of NES emulators out there to be had, so yo are spoiled for choice if one doesn’t work out for you.

Now, open the zip file you downloaded containing your emulator. Highlight everything in the zip folder, click and drag it into your FCEUX folder:


After that, put your ROM (or all of your ROMs) in the ROM folder.

Once that is done, open up your FCEUX folder and double click on fceux.exe:


The first thing we need to do is be able to point the emulator to the ROMs directory. For that, either click on “File” and then “Open” or use the keyboard shortcut CTRL+O. From there, browse to your ROMs directory. Open any NES ROM so that it plays. Once you do that, the emulator will remember which directory the ROMs are located. You won’t have to go through numerous directories just to get to your ROM directory after this.

The next thing to do is figure out your controls. For that, click on the Config drop-down menu and click on “input”


You’ll get a pop-up screen. In this pop-up screen, click on the Configure button I’ve highlighted in this screenshot:


On the screen that then pops up, click on any of the controls for virtual pad one to configure your virtual controller:


When you click on any of the buttons, yet another pop-up window appears. What’s in there is the key that triggers that button. So, in the blow picture, I decided that the KeyBoard (KB) up key would be the up button for my controller. If I press other buttons as well, I’ll have other keys put into this. To get rid of it all for this button, just hit clear. When you are happy with your key choice, hit close. Note that turbo buttons A or B allows you to tap A or B very rapidly by merely holding down that key. Ideally, keep these keys separate from the normal A or B buttons:


When you are done configuring all of your keys, you can close out of those pop-up windows.

The last thing we need to do is configure the other shortcuts. For that, we go into the Config drop-down menu and click on “Map Hotkeys…”


From there, you get this screen:


Generally, I actually leave the hotkeys as default. Still, it’s a good screen to know whenever you want to learn or refresh yourself on the emulators speedkeys *caugh*save state/load state*caugh*.

If you need to change any of the default speed keys, you can do so by double-clicking on the item in question and changing the key accordingly (much like how you customized your virtual controller pad).

From here, you should be ready to play your favorite oldschool games.

Happy gaming!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.