The NES Classic has a strange history. After a hugely successful launch in 2017, Nintendo discontinued the product, only to start production again a few months after the announcement. Then, Nintendo ceased production on the NES Classic and SNES Classic. It’s been two years since the last run of mini retro consoles, so we probably won’t see them again any time soon (maybe a re-rerelease 30 years down the line). To give your shrunken console a second lease on life, here’s how to hack an NES Classic.
Although it comes with 30 of the best NES games, even masterpieces like Super Mario Bros. 3 get old after a while. Fret not! It is possible to add more games to your NES Classic. The device is essentially a tiny computer running an emulator, a program that imitates the software on a console. With a little tweaking and a lack of scruples, you can add any NES games that you want to your Classic. Even better, you won’t need to do much in the way of “hacking,” as some clever Nintendo fans have already developed programs to load games from a computer onto an NES Classic.
A word of caution, however. It’s not illegal to modify your NES Classic or to download a program like the one we use in our example, but you will need a digital copy of any game you want to install. For NES games, these are typically filed as ROMs and are protected by copyright law. If you want to acquire ROMs, there are a number of popular sites to do so, but be careful about potentially downloading illegal material.
If you want to venture on, here’s how to hack your NES Classic to bolster its library.
How to hack your NES Classic
To install games on the Classic, you will need a program like Hakchi, which we’ll be using in our example.
Step 1: First, plug your NES Classic into a Windows-based PC via a USB cable.
Step 2: Download the latest version of Hakchi from the developer’s page. It will come as a ZIP file; if you have Windows 10, you can simply right-click the file and select Extract All. Otherwise, you will need to extract it using a program such as WinZIP or 7-Zip.
Step 3: Once you have extracted the Hakchi program, run it.
Step 4: The program will open a window. Click the button labeled Synchronize Selected Games With NES Mini.
Step 5: The program will ask you to dump the original kernel image. Click Yes.
Step 6: Hakchi will then give you some instructions to follow. Ensure that the Power button on the NES Classic is off, and that the device is connected via a USB cable.
Step 7: Next, hold down the Reset button and press the Power button (while still holding the Reset button). Then, let go of the Reset button.
Step 8: In Hakchi, click the button prompting you to install drivers.
Step 9: Once the program finishes dumping the kernel, click Synchronize selected games with NES Mini again.
Step 10: When prompted, click Yes to begin flashing the custom kernel. Once the process finishes, click OK, and you can begin loading games.
Step 11: Once you have the game files on your computer, click the Add more games button in Hakchi. Select the files you want to add, and click OK.
Step 12: Once you have added all the games you want, click Synchronize. That’s it!