Project Url: kylewlacy/GhidraNes
Introduction: Ghidra extension for loading iNES 1.0 NES ROMs
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A Ghidra extension to support disassembling and analyzing NES ROMs.

Ghidra disassembly showing a decompiled function from a file named "game.nes"


  • Import NES ROMs in the iNES format. The following mappers are supported:

  • Add labels and memory blocks in disassembly, making it easier to jump around a disassembled ROM!


  1. Install a Compatible version of Java and Ghidra (Java 11+).
  2. Download the latest GhidraNes release. Make sure the release you download matches your Ghidra version!
  3. Go to "File" > "Install Extensions...". Click "+" in the top-right corner and choose the GhidraNes Zip. Click "OK" to install the extension.
  4. Restart Ghidra.


  1. In Ghidra, create a new project by following the wizard under "File" > "New Project...".
  2. Drag-and-drop an iNES .nes ROM onto the project. Set the format to "NES ROM" and click "OK".
  3. Double-click the ROM in the project to open Ghidra's CodeBrowser.
  4. Analyze the file when prompted (or go to "Analysis" > "Auto Analyze..."). Leave the settings as default and click "Analyze".
  5. Done, the game will be disassembled! On the left-hand side, under "Symbol Tree" > "Functions", open reset to jump to the reset vector (where execution starts), or vblank to jump to the NMI vector (where execution goes during VBlank).


Bank switching

GhidraNes maps each bank of the ROM to its own memory block, but there is no control-flow analysis implemented that handles bank switching automatically. Instead, handling bank switching in the disassembly is a manual process. Take this function for example:

Ghidra disassembly showing a "reset" function consisting of "LDA #0x0", "STA DAT_8000", and "JMP (0xfffc)=>reset". The gutter shows this function as an infinite loop

This disassembled function is doing a bank switch: the write to DAT_8000 switches the PRG ROM to bank 0 in this case. Cases like this can be fixed in Ghidra using the following steps:

  1. Right click the JMP instruction
  2. Click "References > Add/Edit (R)"
  3. Double click the destination operand
  4. For the "To Address" field, change the left-hand dropdown from "RAM:" to the appropriate memory bank ("PRG0::" for this example)
  5. Click "Update"

The disassembly should now show a jump to the correct bank:

Ghidra disassembly showing the same "reset" function, but the "JMP" instruction now goes to "(0xfffc)=>LAB_PRG0__ffaf"

Note: The STA, STX, and STY instructions can also cause control flow to change if the bank containing the currently-executing code is switched out. It would be good to document a workflow for how to handle this with Ghidra (possibly using the "Fallthrough" mechanism?)


Developing with Eclipse

  1. Install Java and Ghidra.
  2. install Eclipse.
  3. Install the GhidraDev Eclipse plugin. Instructions can be found in your Ghidra install directory, under Extensions/Eclipse/GhidraDev/GhidraDev_README.html.
  4. In Eclipse, open the GhidraNes repo by going to "File" > "Open Projects from File System...". Click "Directory", then choose this repo (the top-level folder containing this file and the GhidraNes subdirectory). Finally, click "Finish".
  5. Open "GhidraDev" > "Link Ghidra...". Add your Ghidra installation, click "Next >", then select the "GhidraNes" as the Java project. Click "Finish".
  6. Go to "Run" > "Run As" > "Ghidra" to run Ghidra with the GhidraNes extension.

Building a release from Eclipse

NOTE: Ensure the GhidraNes Eclipse project is set up with the earliest version of Java that should be targeted. Using a later version of Java can cause compatibility issues!

  1. Install Gradle (with SDKMAN, this can be done with sdk install gradle).
  2. In Eclipse, open "GhidraDev" > "Export" > "Ghidra Module Extension...". Choose "GhidraNes" as the project, click "Next >", then choose "Local installation directory:" and browse to your Gradle installation dir (with SDKMAN, this will be at ~/.sdkman/candidates/gradle/$GRADLE_VERSION). Click "Finish".
  3. The built zip file will be saved in the GhidraNes/dist/ directory. See the "Installation" section for details on installing the built zip.

Developing with another editor (such as VS Code)

  1. Install Java and Ghidra.
  2. Configure the JDK settings in your editor.
  3. Copy the GhidraNes/ file to GhidraNes/ and configure Ghirda's installation directory as needed.
  4. Import the GhidraNes repo as a Java project (the top-level folder containing this file and the GhidraNes subdirectory).

Building a release with Gradle

  1. Move to the inner GhidraNes subdirectory: cd GhidraNes/GhidraNes
  2. Run gradle buildExtension
    • If the file hasn't been set up, properties can be passed to Gradle directly, e.g. gradle buildExtension -PGHIDRA_INSTALL_DIR=/home/user/ghidra_10.2.2_PUBLIC
  3. The built zip file will be saved in the GhidraNes/dist/ directory. See the "Installation" section for details on installing the built zip.
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