Near, creator of the higan and bsnes emulators, has died

Bahamut Lagoon
(Image credit: Square Enix)

Near, also known by their username Byuu, the creator of several groundbreaking videogame emulators and a recent celebrated translation of JRPG Bahamut Lagoon, has died by suicide.

Near posted a thread on Twitter explaining how they were affected by a campaign of harassment organized against them on the Kiwi Farms forum. Subsequently, Hector Martin, an IT consultant and Linux hacker, posted a message about Near from a mutual friend (CW: contains explicit details of Near's method of suicide) and said that they had confirmed Near's death with police in a follow-up tweet. The linked document also focuses on the Kiwi Farms forum and the doxing and harassing of Near and their friends.

Near's bsnes was the first Super Nintendo emulator with 100% compatibility, and higan is a multi-system emulator supporting 26 different devices including the NES, SNES, Game Boy and Game Boy Advance, Sega Master System and Genesis/Mega Drive, and PC Engine. If you've played any of the indie games influenced by EarthBound, aka Mother 2, then odds are good that game's designer had a copy of EarthBound open in higan for reference.

Parts of the emulator created to keep Stephen Hawking's voice synthesizer working in the final years of the famous physicist's life were even borrowed from higan's open source code.

In the field of fan translation, Near contributed programming to localizations of games like Mother 3, Dragon Quest 5, Der Langrisser, and released a localization of Bahamut Lagoon in 2021, 23 years after beginning it, as a Vice profile explains.

If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (US), Crisis Services Canada (CA), Samaritans (UK), or Lifeline (AUS). If you are outside of these regions, check this list for a hotline in your country.

Jody Macgregor
Weekend/AU Editor

Jody's first computer was a Commodore 64, so he remembers having to use a code wheel to play Pool of Radiance. A former music journalist who interviewed everyone from Giorgio Moroder to Trent Reznor, Jody also co-hosted Australia's first radio show about videogames, Zed Games. He's written for Rock Paper Shotgun, The Big Issue, GamesRadar, Zam, Glixel, Five Out of Ten Magazine, and, whose cheques with the bunny logo made for fun conversations at the bank. Jody's first article for PC Gamer was about the audio of Alien Isolation, published in 2015, and since then he's written about why Silent Hill belongs on PC, why Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale is the best fantasy shopkeeper tycoon game, and how weird Lost Ark can get. Jody edited PC Gamer Indie from 2017 to 2018, and he eventually lived up to his promise to play every Warhammer videogame.