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.


jeez! vnes has been around for years! don't tell me that you are just no finding out about it. ;) Well I guess it's ok but i'd rather go with genesis. :D

John Sheesley - TechRepublic Pro
John Sheesley - TechRepublic Pro

Did you have a Nintendo NES as a kid? I still have one from 1985 and it works great. But you don't have to have an NES or a Wii to replay some of the great games from the premiere 2d generation gaming platform. In Classics Rock, I introduce you to vNES which allows you to play NES games in your Web browser: Did you have an NES? If so, what was your favorite game? I played Zelda almost the whole way through. That was one of my favorites along with WWF Wrestlemania Challenge. I even had a Snoopy Olympics game, but it was pretty bad.


Heh...I fogot all about emulators because I've been slaving away here at work. I think my new laptop needs some old school games on it.


Emulators have been around for a long time now; I've got a huge library and at least three different Emulators installed. They take up no space at all and provide endless fun.


Any IT person that has been a gamer since Atari knows all about emulators. There are emulators for everything from Atari to NES, Master System, Genesis, SNES, etc. even freaking old school arcade games (MAME anyone). Just google emulators and you'll find websites that have more than just 50 NES games in their library. Fine the apps run on Java but there are more ROM's out there of old school games. So go out there and try it out.


I can't speak for the other websites, but I think the difference with vNES may be that what they are offering is legal. If you beleve their website, at least.

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