Building RetroArch

In this article, we’ll go through the process of building RetroArch and the Snes9x-2010 core for the nintendo switch.

It is assumed that you have already completed all of the setup steps outlined in the Development Environment Setup Guide.

Disclaimer: The instructions in this section relate to projects that are under active development. These instructions will probably become out of date quickly.

Credit to Misson20000 for the original work on these ports.


  • The snes roms are currently compiled inside the nro file. Therefore you must compile a new copy of the emulator every time you want to add or remove roms.
  • Input / controls are still under development. They may work well, or not at all. This is NOT a bug.
  • You will need to press both + and - at the same time to return to the RetroArch menu from inside a game
  • You can attempt to build other cores for RetroArch than Snes9x, but many will fail due to requirements such as needing to use the file system, or needing specific graphics systems. Some cores for newer systems such as N64, PSX etc are not able to run yet, even if you could build them. You can view a list of the cores and their status here:


Before being able to build RetroArch, we need to build the Snes9x-2010 core, which requires you to build libtransistor.

Note: Previously when building Snes9x you were required to build libtransistor from a different branch. All of those pre-requisites for being able to build Snes9x have now been merged into the mainline of libtransistor so there is no need to build other branches.

Once you have built libtransistor, you can now move on to Snes9x. Checkout libtransistor-snes9x2010 and make it as follows:

git clone
cd libtransistor-snes9x2010
make platform=switch LIBTRANSISTOR_HOME=/path/to/libtransistor

Depending on whether you already set an environment variable for LIBTRANSISTOR_HOME, you may need to put the path in to the make command as well.

When it has successfully finished building, you will have a file called snes9x2010_libretro_switch.a in your libtransistor-snes9x2010 folder.


Next up is building RetroArch

git clone
cd RetroArch

# Create a new folder called fs
mkdir fs

# Move the snes9x2010_libretro_switch.a file we built before into the libtransistor-retroarch 
# folder and rename it to libretro_switch.a
mv /path/to/libtransistor-snes9x2010/snes9x2010_libretro_switch.a ./libretro_switch.a

You are just about ready to go, but first you need to find at least one snes rom file (no, we won’t tell you where to get them, do not ask) and copy it into the fs folder that we just created. Once the rom file is in the fs folder, rename the file so that the name does NOT contain any spaces. If you want to include more than one rom file, just place them all into the fs folder before building.

Now you are ready to make it: make -f Makefile.switch LIBTRANSISTOR_HOME=/path/to/libtransistor/

You can now take the resulting retroarch_switch.nro file and load it via PegaSwitch and ace_loader. Then from the RetroArch menu screen, select Load Content, navigate to the / folder and select the rom that you’d like to play.

If you decide you want to rebuild it to try different roms, be sure to delete both the retroarch_switch.nro file as well as the fs.squashfs files before rebuilding.


  • I’m getting an error ld.lld-5.0: error: libretro_switch.a(libretro.o) is incompatible with version_git.o

    This means that you probably didn’t build libtransistor-snes9x2010 properly. Go back and ensure you build it with the correct platform. Then re-copy the libretro_switch.a file into the libtransistor-retroarch folder.

  • I’m getting an error No rule to make target 'libretro_switch.a', needed by ''. Stop..

    This happens when you are missing the libretro_switch.a file from the libtransistor-retroarch folder.

  • I’m getting an error No rule to make target 'fs/', needed by 'fs.squashfs'. Stop..

    This happens because your fs folder is empty. You need to put at least one ROM in there for RetroArch to compile properly.

Where to go from here:

You should now have a working Snex9x RetroArch which can run on your Switch!

If you are willing to give us a helping hand, don’t hesitate to join our Discord. There is a lot of work left to be done, lots of emulators need to be ported. It’s time to Emulate All the Things !

Last Updated: 2018/02/14

Written on January 5, 2018