After Hours

Play Nintendo classics on your PC

Who needs the Wii? You can play original Nintendo NES games right on your PC. All it takes is a trip to vNES.

Who needs the Wii? You can play original Nintendo NES games right on your PC. All it takes is a trip to vNES.


Previously, I showed you how you can play old school Atari 2600 games from your Web browser, but that's not the only old online gaming you can do. You can also relive the original Nintendo NES games as well. To do so, it's just a quick trip to vNES.

Virtual NES

vNES is short for Virtual NES. They bill themselves as the largest Web site on the Internet to play online NES games. The site has dozens of old NES games that run in Java on your Web browser. Because they've Java based, they'll run equally well on Windows, Mac, or Linux machines.

You can choose from such games as:

  • SuperMario Bros.
  • SuperMario Bros. 2
  • SuperMario Bros. 3
  • The Legend of Zelda
  • Donkey Kong
  • ExciteBike

vNES claims to be adding games all the time, with 50 new games coming sometime in November. Apparently they got into a bit of trouble and only support games on the site for which they have a copy of the original NES ROM pack. There's no reason to worry about copyright infringement on your behalf however. The games are hosted from the Web site and only run on your browser.

Running the games

Running a game is as simple as clicking a link and waiting for the game to load. Below you can see what happened when I loaded Super Mario Bros:

Although the site discusses how to connect an actual NES controller to your system, you don't have to worry about that. You can use your keyboard. Layouts are as follows:

  • Start:  [Enter]
  • Select: [CTRL]
  • A button: [X]
  • B button: [Z]

Your arrow keys act as the arrows for the keypad.

If there's one semi-confusing gotcha, you must click the game with your mouse after it loads. Occasionally the Java game loses focus and the game won't respond to the commands from the keyboard.

Gameplay is pretty smooth. There doesn't appear to be any speedup or slowdown from the original games. The virtualized versions also seem to have the graphics down pretty well too. The sound left something to be desired. The tones were correct, but they seemed to lag a little.

If you like playing old Nintendo games but don't have your Wii handy, vNES is a pretty good place to go.

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