This is downright amazing. Somebody has put together a website that allows you to play NES ROMs directly from Mobile Safari, no jailbreak required. The website, which is called webNES, allows users to link a Dropbox account to load their favorite NES ROMs and play them right from the browser.
I’ve tested webNES with a handful of ROMs, and most of them play decently, but there is some definite choppiness and slowdown. The emulator features a built in soft-controller, and the games can be played in either portrait or landscape mode.
The great thing about webNES is that it runs totally in your browser. This means that there’s really no way for Apple to shut it down, since it doesn’t require any apps or downloads from a jailbreak source like Cydia. Check out our full video walkthrough inside as I show you how I play a few of my favorite NES games directly in Safari.
To use webNES, you’ll need to go to webn.es via your mobile browser, as it won’t allow you to use a normal desktop browser (though I’m sure that can be easily worked around). There are a couple of built-in generic games, but you probably don’t care much about them. Once at the main webNES interace, you can tap the ‘+’ sign in the upper right-hand corner to link your Dropbox account. Your Dropbox account will need to contain an NES rom to add to webNES. Once you add your NES rom, simply tap on the name of the game to play.
You can link your dropbox account to load ROMs for games that you own
The experience is very jittery at times, but for a game running in the stock Safari browser, it’s still a sight to be seen in person. I highly recommend that you try this out if you have any legit NES ROMs laying around.
As far as sound goes, you won’t get any sound out of your iPhone’s speaker, but sound does work when you hook up a pair of headphones. Like the gameplay itself, sound was a bit choppy, as the games don’t exactly run at 100% speed.
Super Mario Bros and Rad Racer—two of my childhood favorites
You can even rotate your iPhone into landscape mode, and games will play in landscape mode with an overlaid soft controller. Games are a bit more difficult to play in landscape mode since the controller is overlaid on top of the playing surface and can interfere with your sight.
Rad Racer in landscape mode
Apparently, webNES works with any mobile browser, not just Safari, so if you’re running an Android device, you can join in the fun as well. Ultimately this won’t be something you can use to really play games due to its choppiness, but it’s a cool technical demo nonetheless. Hopefully whoever is behind the project will continue to improve it, and make it into something that’s useable long-term. What do you think about this awesome browser-based emulator? Pretty cool, no?
Shoutout to Conrad Kramer for turning us on to webNES.
Oh, and it looks good on iPad, too.