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An emulator is software or hardware that pretends to be another device or program. One computer system, or host, can act like another, or guest. The host can run software or use peripheral devices designed for the guest system. When a hardware device becomes outdated but still needs to work with a new device, an emulator is employed.
The 3DS is Nintendo’s portable game system released in early 2011. It has a wide, 3.5 inch 3D screen and uses parallax-based technology that creates the illusion of 3D graphics popping off the screen. Just like the DS, the bottom screen of the 3DS is a stylus-based touchscreen.
A 3DS emulator is a closed source that is used to emulate Nintendo games so that you can use your Android phone or PC to play Nintendo 3DS games. With the 3DS emulator, you no longer need the Nintendo console to play.
Best 3DS Emulators for your Android
There are a number of 3DS emulators. Let’s start by talking about the best ones for your Android phone. Most emulators are still under development, so there aren’t many gratifying options out there. Among the working emulators, below are the best.
1. DraStic DS Emulator
The DraStic DS Emulator allows you to play Nintendo games full speed. It is one of the most stable emulators out there. WIth this emulator, you can enhance 3D graphics to 2 by 2 times their original resolution and customize the placement and size of the DS screens – either portrait or landscape. This emulator supports hardware and software controllers. It will even synchronize with your Google Drive space.
Save states let you save and resume your progress anywhere. With thousands of cheat codes in its database, you can modify your gaming experience how you want.
- Enhance 3D graphics
- Google drive support
- Controller customization
- Does not support WiFi/multiplayer emulation
The AseDS (NDS.EMU)’s emulator is a free emulator that lets you play your games on any Android device. Like the DraStic emulator, you can save and load games from anywhere, any time. It supports wireless controllers and device microphone. AseDS lets you keep your screen in its original state or stretch it to fit another size.
This emulator gives you custom button layouts and codebreaker cheat codes. It emulates the dual touchscreen interface and gives you automatic frame skipping and flickr reduction.
- Free of charge
- Custom button layouts
- Cheat codes
- Screen display options
- Occasionally crashes
- Games run a bit slowly
- Ads can be annoying
3. NDS Boy!
The NDS Boy! NDS Emulator is another free option. This version is a little more limiting, especially if you don’t have a high-end device with 2G RAM, quad-core CPU or higher. Lower devices are not identified by the emulator and will have a heavy lag or even crash completely.
NDS Boy! supports NDS game files (.nds, .zip, .7z, .rar). Similar to the other emulators on the list, you can save and load quickly and easily from anywhere as well as customize controls.
- Free of charge
- Customizable controls
- Supports NDS game files
- Edit and resize dpad
- Only supports Android 4.0+
- Slow speed
- Recommends turning off sound to improve speed
Best 3DS Nintendo Emulators for PC
When you want to use your PC to play Nintendo 3DS games, the best emulators are below.
1. Citra 3DS Emulator
Citra 3DS Emulator is the most popular emulator and is in a constant state of improvement. It is an open source emulator written in C++. With builds maintained for Windows, Linux, and macOS, Citra keeps portability in mind.
Most useful for running and debugging homebrew applications, Citra only emulates a subset of 3DS hardware. Currently, Citra can boot several commercial games. A user friendly program that lets you play Nintendo 3DS games on your PC, Citra is simple to download.
- Impressive resolution that can adjust up to 720p
- Debugging homebrew
- Allows multiplayer
- ROMs need to be decrypted
- Requires high speed internet connection
DeSmuME is a free emulator that is constantly being updated and issues are being fixed. The latest version has seen some nice core fixes, most notably the save-related issues. DeSmuME has all of the usual emulator features like control configuration and save states.
- Great for older games
- Easy to use and configure
- Control configuration
- r5430 or later doesn’t support Windows 32-bit And r5358 and beyond
No$GBA is an emulator for windows and DOS. It can run commercial and homebrew ROMs. Created for DOS in 1997, it was upgraded in 1998 to support Game Boy ROMs. In 2001, with the release of the Game Boy Advance, No$GBA released an emulator for Windows and DOS operating systems. This version features multiplayer support by emulating the Game Boy Advance link cable.
- 3D rendering
- Sound emulation
- Code Breaker codes for DS games
- Not functional for commercial ROMs
NeonDS from Softonic is available for Windows 2000 and earlier versions. Only available in English, it doesn’t use as much space as other PC games. This emulator is for Windows and has a good sized list of compatible games. Some games don’t play sound, but most games work well.
The rendering system of NeonDS is optimized for OpenGL 2.0 and allows video capture. The tactile screen can be used virtually with the mouse.
- Free of charge
- Obtains up to 60 FPS, even on older computers
- Not compatible with the full Nintendo DS catalog
- Some games have low frame rates
While no emulator will be as good as playing with your 3DS console, these listed emulators are great options. Whether you want to play Nintendo game on your PC or your Android phone, you will find an option that will work for you.
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