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About ares2021-01-18

ares is an open-source multi-system emulator with a focus on accuracy and preservation. Its source code is structured to be maximally readable and self-documenting.

Although ares is currently developed locally, it is the work of dozens of contributors over the past sixteen years.

The ares name was chosen as an homage to the protagonist of my all-time favorite video game, Lunar: The Silver Star. In fact, most of the internal naming of ares falls in the same vein: hiro, nall, ruby, luna, lucia, mia and more are all from the Lunar universe, which is further reflected in ares' icon. Being able to play these great games today inside ares is the realization of a childhood dream.


ares is the main project name and consists of the emulation cores for each supported system. The project as a whole consists of several additional components. They are:

libco — a cooperative threading library
nall — a C++ template library and platform abstraction layer
hiro — a cross-platform user interface abstraction layer
ruby — a cross-platform hardware audiovisual abstraction layer
mia — a game analyzer driven by databases and heuristics
luna — an advanced tree-based emulator user interface
lucia — a simplified file-based emulator user interface


This project began on October 14th, 2004 under the name bsnes as a Super Famicom emulator. It maintained this naming from v001-v090. Over the years, bsnes grew to emulate many additional systems.

On August 9th, 2012, the project was renamed to higan, to better reflect its new nature as a multi-system emulator. It maintained this naming from v091-v110. Over the years, higan grew in complexity to support more and more additional systems.

On February 22nd, 2019, bsnes was revived as a spin-off of higan, to once again focus solely on the Super Famicom — the project's original claim to fame. The purpose of this was to restore the ease-of-use of earlier bsnes versions, and to provide additional performance boosts and enhancements that were not within the spirit of the new higan project. bsnes' revival proved to be very successful, and led to a rethink regarding the project's other emulation cores.

On March 25th, 2020, ares was created as a fork of higan. The reason for this was to build on the successes of the bsnes revival to create an easy-to-use multi-system emulator, as well as to begin adding more modern systems such as the Nintendo 64 and PlayStation, which simply cannot be emulated using the cycle-accurate model of higan.

Presently, bsnes and higan are developed as public open-source projects under group management; whereas ares is developed privately. bsnes runs as its own project, having diverged too far from higan to share code any longer; whereas higan and ares continue to share code and bugfixes between the two projects. For now, this even extends to higan and ares sharing each others' differing user interfaces, but over time the intention is for the two projects to diverge and stand on their own as separate, unique emulators, though still attempting to share code improvements as much as possible between the two projects.

Further Reading

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