sprocketnes is an emulator for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) written in the Rust programming language. This emulator serves as a technology demonstration, showcasing Rust's capabilities for systems software development, particularly in the context of emulators.

Project Purpose

The primary goal of sprocketnes is to illustrate how Rust can be effectively used for writing systems software. It aims to provide a clean and idiomatic Rust codebase, despite having some limitations and not being intended as a production-quality emulator.

Why NES?

The NES was chosen for this project due to several reasons:

  • Familiarity: Most hackers and developers are familiar with the NES.
  • Simplicity: It is relatively straightforward to emulate.
  • Documentation: The NES hardware and software are well-documented.
  • CPU-Bound: Emulating the NES helps in benchmarking and optimizing Rust code.
  • Real-Time Audio: Emulating NES audio tests Rust's real-time capabilities.


  • Accurate Emulation: Provides a reasonably accurate emulation of the NES hardware.
  • Benchmarking: Serves as a benchmark for optimizing Rust code.
  • Real-Time Audio: Tests Rust's capability to handle real-time audio processing.


Gameplay Controls

  • A: Z
  • B: X
  • Start: Enter
  • Select: Right Shift
  • D-Pad: Arrow Keys

Other Controls

  • Save State: S
  • Load State: L
  • Quit: Escape

Building sprocketnes

To build sprocketnes, you need to have the Speex codec library installed. On macOS, you can install it using Homebrew:

brew install speex

To build the emulator, navigate to the project directory and run:

cargo build

For a more optimized build suitable for playable speed, add the --release flag:

cargo build --release

NES Games and Demos

There are numerous free NES demos and games available at nesdev.com that you can use with this emulator.


sprocketnes demonstrates the Rust programming language's suitability for developing systems software, particularly emulators. While not intended for production use, it provides a clean and idiomatic example of Rust in action. Enjoy exploring NES games and demos with sprocketnes!

For more information and to contribute to the project, visit the sprocketnes repository.

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