Writing An NES Emulator with Rust and WebAssembly
I wrote the
NES emulator with Rust and
WebAssembly to learn
Rust. It’s not perfect and have some audio bugs, but it’s good enough to play Super Mario bros.
Here is the source code. Also, you can play the game in the canvas below
The Nintendo Entertainment System (NES)
The Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) was the world’s most widely used video games.
- CPU 6502(RP2A03), 8bit 1.79MHz
- PPU Picture Processing Unit RP2C02
- ROM ProgramROM:32KiB + CharactorROM:8KiB
- WRAM WorkingRAM 2KiB
- VRAM VideoRAM 2KiB
- Color 52color
- Resolution 256x240pixles
- Sound Square1/2, Triangle, Noise, DPCM
- Controller Up, Down, Left, Right, A, B, Start, Select
I had to emulate the above specs with
WebAssembly and browser features.
Building WebAssembly with Rust
wasm32-unknown-emscripten to convert
WebAssembly. Because I did not have
wasm32-unknown-unknown when I started this project, since there are now great libraries such as
wasm32-unknown-unknown consider using them It might be good, too.
The most important of these are
NO_EXIT_RUNTIME is used to freeze the memory on the
Rust side to use it from the
The Game loop
NES works at 60 FPS. It means that It is necessary to refresh the screen every 16 ms. So I used
emscripten_set_main_loop for this. If 0 or negative value is used as the second argument,
requestAnimationFrame will be used internally. (See. https://kripken.github.io/emscripten-site/docs/api_reference/emscripten.h.html#c.emscripten_set_main_loop)
I wanted to use closure so I struggled and finally wrote it as follows.
NES used the
MOS6502 (at 1.79 MHz) as its CPU. The 6502 is an 8bit microprocessor.The 6502 had relatively few registers (A, X & Y) and they were special-purpose registers.
The stack pointer needs to point to a 16bit address space, but the upper 8 bits are fixed to
0x01. 256 bytes are available for the stack( 0x0100 to 0x01FF) in
WRAM is allocated. That is, if the stack pointer register is
0xA0, the stack pointer is
This is expressed as follows.
The Program ROM is
0x8000~, The WRAM is mapped from
0x0000~0x07FF, and the PPU register is mapped to
How to emulate CPU
The 6502 does not have a pipeline structure like a recent CPU, and can be emulated simply by repeating fetching, decoding, and execution from Program ROM.
In addition, the opcode dictionary is created using
lazy_static. That is a very good library.
The PPU (Picture Processing Unit)
PPU reads the sprite information from the cartridge and constructs the screen. So the data bus of the
PPU is directly connected to the cartridge.
Sprites are 8 x 8 or 8 x16 pixels as follows, PPU places sprites based on data set in VRAM. (Below is the output of Super Mario Bros. sprite data).
Please refer to the following article for details about the
Released in 1983, the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) home console was a cheap, yet capable machine that went on to…www.dustmop.io
After generating data for one screen from VRAM data and sprite information, I emulated game screen by drawing on Canvas.
emscriptenyou will be able to call on the Rust side via
The game Pad
The game pad emulated using keydownEvent. Specifically, the following handlers are registered at initialization, and specific bytes of ArrayBuffer are written at keyDown / keyUp. This is because, from the viewpoint of Browser, the memory on the Rust side can be handled as ArrayBuffer.
Just like Canvas, we used
As an example, the waveform is generated using the WebAudio API as follows
Although we omitted it considerably, we implemented NES Emulator with Rust and WebAssembly like this. The whole code please see the following repositry.
If you want to know deeply, you may want to look at the following.
I’ve been really impressed with Rust, and I think that it is one very good choice for building on the
WebAssembly. A framework for an advanced browser front end like