How to Hack the NES Classic Edition

how to hack the nes classic edition

By now you’ve probably heard that the NES Classic that Nintendo released last fall has been officially discontinued across the globe. It seems like an extremely stupid move by Nintendo, but there are now rumors circulating that an SNES Mini may be hitting store shelves this fall. I’m not sure why they felt the need to remove the NES Classic from shelves in order to replace it with an SNES Classic, but unfortunately that’s what they did, so we all have to live with it.

However, for those of you that did manage to get your hands on an NES Classic over the last few months, you may be getting sick of the 30 games that come preloaded on the console. If that’s the case, we’re here to help… there is an NES Classic hack out there that allows you to put more than the original 30 games onto the console. I would still recommend following our instructions on how to build your own retro gaming station, instead of hacking the NES Classic, but if you don’t want to purchase a Raspberry Pi and more peripherals, then this NES Classic edition hack is just what you’re looking for.

This is Windows PC only, if you’re looking for step-by-step instructions on how to hack your NES Classic on your Mac, click here.

Note: These hacks do indeed work on the new version of the NES Classic that was released in 2018. Just make sure you have the latest version of hakchi.

NES Classic Hack

*Warning* This will absolutely void any warranty you might have on your NES Classic, and if you brick your console in the process, we are not responsible. Perform this hack at your own discretion and only if you feel comfortable with the steps outline below.

What You Need

Step 1

  • Download a copy of Hakchi2. This software will allow you to hack your NES Mini. (PC Only)

I’m not sure of the legalities surrounding the use of Hakchi2 on the NES Classic, so I’m not going to link directly to the application files, but if you do a quick Google search for it, you should be able to find what you’re looking for pretty easily.

Step 2

  • Download NES ROMS of the games you wish to add to the NES Classic.

Again, just as in our how-to guide on building your own retro gaming station, legally we can’t link to where you can download NES ROMS, but if you know how to use Google to search for the most basic terms, you should be able to find ‘NES ROMS’ to download that way.

Step 3

  • Connect the MicroUSB cord to your computer, but not to your NES Mini yet. We will do that in step 7 when following instructions to dump the kernal.

Step 4

  • Find where you download the Hakchi2 application to and unzip the file and launch the application.

Step 5

Within the Hakchi2 application there are a lot of different things we can do to mess around with the NES Classic, but our main goal is to add new games to the console.

  • Click ‘Add more games’ and browse to the NES ROMS that you have downloaded.

Hakchi2 does have support for zip files, but be aware that sometimes when you download a zip file of a ROM it can contain multiple versions of the same game from different regions. So if you don’t want to have multiple copies of the same game on your console, make sure to extract the files and remove the unwanted versions.

As the games are being added you’ll probably see a bunch of dialogue boxes pop up with errors and questions for you. Unfortunately not all of the ROMS will work properly on the NES Mini and you’ll have to skip those. And some of the ROMS will need to be patched, which will be taken care of by the software.

  • For dialogue boxes with a yellow warning exclamation point – Click No
  • For dialogue boxes with a blue question mark – Click Yes.

Step 6

Time to get the artwork for all of the games so that they appear nice and clean in the NES Classic menu system.

  • In Hakchi, go to File, Download Covers for All Games

This may take a while depending on how many games you are adding at a time, and it may also not be 100% accurate. If you’re worried about it you can always click through each game one by one to see which games are missing, and manually add the artwork yourself.

Step 7

  • Click Synchronize to NES Mini
  • Click YES on the dialogue box that tells you that you need to dump the stock kernal from the console.
  • On the next dialogue box, be sure to click INSTALL DRIVER before following the instructions.
  • Follow the instructions on the screen in order to dump the kernal.

Dumping the kernal allows you to restore the NES Classic to it’s original state if something were to go wrong.

Step 8

  • Once the stock kernal is dumped to your computer, click YES on the next dialogue box to reflash the console with the custom kernal created by hakchi2.
  • Once the kernal is flashed you can now upload your games to the mini by clicking OK on the dialogue box.
  • If you’re loading a lot of ROMS on to the console you will get an error message dialogue. Read the dialogue and follow the instructions on the screen.
  • Depending on how many games you are loading, you may have to repeat the process in the dialogue box a number of times.

Step 9

  • Plug the NES Classic into your TV via HDMI and enjoy all your new games!

So there you have it, you now have as many games as you would like on your NES Classic to play and enjoy. There are other mods out there that will allow you to add retroarch mods to the NES Mini in order to play SNES and Genesis games as well, but if you’re going to go that route, we recommend setting up a raspberry pi with RetroPi as you’ll be able to use many different USB controllers, and the computing power of the raspberry pi’s are a bit better than the NES Classic, which means you’ll have better luck running more games.

If you have any questions about this process, please feel free to ask in the comments and we’ll help out if we can.

Update August 2018: I can confirm that this method works for hacking the newest release of the NES Classic. I used Hakchi2 CE 3.3.0 and everything worked just fine. I actually did it on a Mac computer using VirtualBox to run Windows 10, so if anyone is looking for instructions on how to hack the NES Classic on a Mac, I should have an article up soon.

About the author


35 years old, married with children (1). My gaming is done exclusively on the Xbox One these days, but my gaming history goes all the way back to the Atari 2600. FPS and racing games mostly, but I dive into other genres on occasion.


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