If this is your first time using higan, welcome! Here’s a brief guide to getting started:

Install higan

On Windows, this should be as easy as downloading the latest release archive from the higan homepage and extracting it. More information…

On Linux, if your distribution doesn’t already include the latest version, you’ll need to compile it yourself — but don’t worry, it’s not too complex. More information…

Configuring inputs

Once higan’s installed, start it up. Open the “Settings” menu, and choose “Input …” to open the Input settings.

higan supports a lot of different controllers for a lot of different consoles, so you don’t need to configure everything immediately. For most consoles, it’s enough to just configure whatever shows up in the list when you choose that console. For example, when you pick the Super Famicom, you’re shown the inputs for a Gamepad in Controller Port 1.

Once you’ve configured the controls just the way you want them, higan will remember them — you don’t need to re-configure them every time you start higan, or every time you load a game.

Load a game

From the Library menu, choose “Load ROM File …” to open a filesystem browser, and choose the game you want to play. It will be added to the Game Library, and it will start running immediately.

In the future, if you want to play this game again, you can choose “Load ROM File …” as you did before, or you can choose the appropriate console name from the Library menu, which will list all the games for that console in the Game Library.

Connect a controller

Once the game is running, a new menu will appear named after the appropriate console. For example, if you’re playing Super Mario World, that’s a Super Famicom game so there will be a Super Famicom menu.

Open the console menu, and if there is a sub-menu for a controller port, make sure the port is using the controller you set up previously. If you configured inputs for a Gamepad in Controller Port 1, the Controller Port 1 sub-menu should be set to Gamepad. Like a real console, higan’s controller ports start out with nothing plugged in, so if the game you’re playing needs a gamepad connected, you’ll have to connect it!

This doesn’t apply to handheld consoles like the Game Boy and WonderSwan, since the “controller” is always connected. This does apply to the Famicom, even though the Famicom’s controllers are hard-wired, because higan uses the name “Famicom” to refer to Nintendo’s 8-bit home console in all territories, including the Nintendo Entertainment System.