How to Make SNES Video Games
By Chris Gouker
Updated September 22, 2017
Items you will need
Super Nintendo Emulator
The Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) was the best-selling 16-bit video game system of all time and still holds a place in the hearts of many video game connoisseurs. SNES games allow for complex storylines such as in Squaresoft's Final Fantasy series and Nintendo's flagship series, Mario and Zelda, without the need for high-quality graphics. Despite following up with the Nintendo Gamecube and Wii, some gamers still cling to the Super Nintendo as their preferred console and enjoy amateur games programmed by fellow SNES fans.
Choose an SNES emulator. This is a program you'll run on your computer to mimic the SNES console. This is a quicker way to test and debug your code. There are many SNES emulators out there you can download for free. Check the Resources section below for a list of free emulators on the web. Bsnes is considered the most accurate emulator but is only available for Windows.
Download an assembler program. This will be the program used to compile your game code before running it in the emulator. The WLA-65816 Micro Assembler is a great assembler program for writing SNES games.
Write your code in the assembler. When you're ready to test, you'll convert this program into a ROM file. If your code is in a file called "testgame.asm," your first step is to run "wla-65816 -vo testgame.asm testgame.obj" to create an object file.
Make a link file by opening a blank text file and include "[objects]" on the first line and "testgame.obj" on the second line. Save this file as "testgame.link."
Utilize the WLA linker by running "wlalink -vr testgame.link testgame.smc." The smc file is a ROM file, which is the same code that runs on an SNES.
Run the code in your SNES emulator to test it. If it works properly, you can plug in a controller and play it just as if it were on a Super Nintendo system.
Assembler is a complicated programming language. It's recommended you have moderate programming experience before attempting assembler programming.
There are some companies that have created hardware so you can play home-written games on your SNES console. See the Quickdev16 page in the Resources section for an example.
While SNES emulators themselves are legal, downloading ROM files for licensed SNES games is not legal, according to Nintendo.
Chris Gouker has been writing since 1998, first publishing as a bi-monthly columnist for his hometown newspaper, "The Evening Sun" in Hanover, PA. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in computer science from Virginia Tech and is currently studying screenwriting at Watkins Film School in Nashville, TN.