Emulation Options

General Options

General Options

Emulation Speed: This configures the regular speed to use when emulating. This should normally be set to 100%.

Fast Forward Speed: This is the alternate speed that is used when the Fast Forward button is held down.

Rewind Speed: This configures the speed at which to rewind the gameplay when the Rewind button is held down.

Set any speed value to 0 to make Mesen run as fast as it can.

Advanced Options

Several options in this section should NOT be enabled to avoid issues in some games – they are available here stricly for the sake of completeness (and testing homebrew software, etc.). These options are marked with the (not recommended) tag in the UI.

Advanced Options

Remove sprite limit: The NES can normally only draw up to 8 sprites per line – this limitation is indirectly responsible for some of the flickering seen in games at times. When this option is enabled, the limit is disabled, allowing up to 64 sprites to be drawn on the same line.

Automatically re-enable sprite limit as needed to prevent graphical glitches when possible: Some games rely on the sprite limit to hide objects from view. These games will have graphical glitches when the Remove sprite limit option is enabled. By enabling this option, Mesen will try to detect when games are attempting to hit the sprite limit on purpose and temporarely re-enable the limit in these specific cases. This option is not perfect and may not work in certain games, but it helps reduce the potential negative impacts of the Remove sprite limit option.

Use NES/HVC-101 (Top-loader / AV Famicom) behavior: The NES and Famicom both had 2 different releases - their original model and the “top loader” model. Both of these have slightly different behavior when it comes to their input ports. When enabled, this option causes Mesen to simulate the top loader models. No games are known to rely on this behavior.

Use alternative MMC3 IRQ behavior: The MMC3 has a number of different variants (A, B and C). By default, Mesen uses the IRQ behavior for versions B and C. By turning this option on, Mesen will default to using the MMC3A’s IRQ behavior instead. There is usually no reason to enable this.

Enable OAM RAM decay: On all models, OAM RAM decays whenever rendering is disabled. This causes the values in OAM RAM to randomly change, which may cause sprite-related glitches on the screen. No known game relies on this – the option is offered here mostly for the sake of homebrew software testing.

Do not reset PPU when resetting console: On the Famicom and top loader NES, the PPU does not reset when pressing the reset button (only the CPU is reset). When enabled, only the CPU resets when the reset button is pressed.

Disable PPU $2004 reads: On some early models, the OAM RAM cannot be read via the $2004 register (in this case, $2004 becomes a write-only register). When enabled, this option emulates this behavior.

Disable PPU OAMADDR bug emulation: On some models, a bug occurs that corrupts OAM RAM under certain circumstances. When this option is enabled, the bug is no longer emulated. This bug is required for at least 1 game to work properly.

Disable PPU palette reads: On some early models, it is not possible to read the palette RAM via $2007 – when enabled, this option emulates this behavior, making reads to palette RAM return corresponding values in the PPU’s memory instead.

Allow invalid input: On a NES controller, it is impossible to press both left and right or up and down at the same time on the controller’s D-pad. Some games rely on this and pressing both buttons at once can cause glitches. When enabled, this option makes it possible to press opposite directional buttons at the same time.

Randomize power-on state for mappers: Cartridges often have a random state at power-on and need to be fully initialized before being used. This option causes Mesen to randomize the power-on state of the most common mappers. This is useful when developing homebrew software.

Default power on state for RAM: On a console, the RAM’s state at power on is undetermined and relatively random. This option lets you select Mesen’s behavior when initializing RAM - set all bits to 0, set all bits to 1, or randomize the value of each bit.


Overclocking can cause issues in some games. The safest way to overclock is to increase the Additional scanlines before NMI option and leave the other options to their default values.

Overclocking Options

Additional scanlines before NMI: Increases the number of scanlines in the PPU, before the NMI signal is triggered at the end of the visible frame. This effectively gives more time for games to perform calculations, which can reduce slowdowns in games. This is the preferred option for overclocking.

Additional scanlines after NMI: Increases the number of scanlines in the PPU, after the NMI signal is triggered at the end of the visible frame. This effectively gives more time for games to perform calculations, which can reduce slowdowns in games. This option is less compatible and should only be used if the before NMI variation does not work as expected.

Clock Rate Multiplier: Use this to overclock or underclock the CPU – this has the same effect as physically changing the clock speed on an actual NES. Unless you enable the Do not overclock APU option below, the audio output will be affected by this. This is not the recommended way to overclock the CPU.

Do not overclock APU: When the Clock Rate Multiplier is not set to 100, the audio will be affected. When this option is enabled, the audio processor is not overclocked, which allows normal sound to be played despite the CPU being overclocked.

Show Lag Counter: When enabled, the lag counter is displayed on the screen. The lag counter keeps track of frames where the game does not attempt to read the input ports – this is usually an indication of the game running out of time to perform calculations, which usually causes slowdowns.