Have you ever thought of playing games like Animal Crossing: New Leaf, The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds, Super Mario 3D Land, and Mario Kart 7? And similar on your PC?
You probably would have! But the problem is that these games were made exclusively for Nintendo users. Still, would you like to play? There is a way.
You can play them on your smartphones and computer using a 3ds emulator. With the ever-growing popularity of Nintendo games, it has become easier to access Nintendo-exclusive games. All thanks to the Nintendo 3ds emulator.
This emulator lets you play your favourite Nintendo game without actually using the gaming console. Now, going ahead in this post, I’ll list the 10 best 3ds emulators and the criteria that’ll help you select a 3ds emulator as per your requirements.
Checklist to Find the Best 3ds Emulators
- A 3DS Emulator comes with unique features. Before installing an emulator, makes sure it fulfils any of these requirements:
- Check the emulator’s compatibility with your smartphone or computer.
Some 3DS emulators provide an autosave facility in their app. So, keep this feature in check before installing an emulator.
- Do not use any emulator that produces dull graphics. Instead, use one that enhances the quality of your graphics.
- It would be best if your selected 3DS emulator allows you to use speakers or headphones to produce the desired audio output.
- Higher resolution improves your overall gaming experience. So, make sure, to install an emulator that supports high resolution.
8 Best Nintendo 3DS Emulators
Pretendo NDS Emulator
Pretendo NDS Emulator is the first emulator on this list. It’s a popular emulator that’s available for tablet & Android smartphone users. To access some of the best Nintendo games, you can load 3DS ROMs with .ds, .rom, .rar & .zip formats. However, there’s a catch.
Before you load any ROM into the app, you need to make sure that the ROM is legally purchased. Or else the Pretendo NDS emulator will not work for you. Once you’ve loaded the ROM, it’s up to you to customize the app.
After getting my hands on the emulator, the first thing I noticed was its similarity with the Nintendo DS Console. With some tweaks here & there, you can easily turn on the AutoSave option. Once enabled, the game will save automatically.
- Provides countless customization options.
- AutoSave feature is available for everyone.
- Only supports legal ROMs.
R4 3DS Emulator
R4 3DS Emulator is the 2nd emulator on this list. It’s an all-in-one emulator that supports almost every Nintendo 3DS game (Even the recent releases) on its platform. R4 3DS Emulator is available only for Microsoft Windows users.
To use this Emulator, you need to first insert your game’s cartridge & browse the game files you want to access from the app.
As per the developers, the next version of the R4 3DS emulator is being designed to support all the latest versions of 3DS games. While for testers and developers R4 3DS is a playground to build and test games without actually buying a DS console.
You must be wondering why an “insert cartridge” pop-up message is thrown on the screen when the game is launched, it’s just for effect. Begin playing by opening the game file.
- Allows you to customize your Keyboard.
- Supports easy load & play.
- No console is needed to view your work’s result on your PC.
- R4 3DS Emulator doesn’t support the latest games.
- R4 3DS Emulator’s usage is limited to Windows only.
Citra 3DS Emulator
Citra 3DS Emulator is the 3rd emulator on this list. It’s an open-source emulator with the capability of playing every Nintendo 3DS game. Citra 3DS Emulator is available to use on Windows, macOS X, Linux & Android operating systems.
CITRA emulator can be installed only on a 64-bit operating system that is equipped with at least Open GL 3.3 graphics chip.
Citra 3DS Emulator lets you play games at 60fps with the original console screen resolution of 400×200. This gives you an experience close to that of an actual Nintendo 3DS gaming console.
- Available on Windows, macOS X, Linux & Android operating systems.
- Enhanced 3D graphics quality provides an immersive gaming experience.
- Provides two-screen for visualizations.
- Requires a decrypted device.
- It can’t accept dumps from 3DS backups.
RetroArch is the 4th emulator on this list. It’s an open-source emulator that comes with all the latest controls & features for a great playback experience. You can use it for popular gaming consoles like PlayStation, Nintendo DS & GameBoy.
When using the app for the first time, you may run into some errors as it asks you to download certain games before the actual play. Even though Retroarch is completely free to use, you won’t see a single ad popping on the emulator.
Not even display ads. If you try to play games other than the DS games, you might face some difficulty as they aren’t compatible with the RetroArch emulator.
- Free emulator with no ads whatsoever.
- Supports gaming consoles like Playstation, Nintendo DS & Gameboy.
- You can easily run Original Game discs (CDs).
- Compatible with only DS games.
- Requires you to download certain games first.
Drastic DS Emulator
Drastic DS Emulator is the 5th addition to this list. Out of all the 3DS emulators in this list, the Drastic DS Emulator comes with the most stability for Android.
Unlike other apps in this list, Drastic DS Emulator is a paid app that’s priced at $4.99 for Android users. It comes with these features:
Set the graphics to Original in high-end quad-core devices & enhance your gaming experience incredibly. Add thousands of cheat codes to tweak your gaming experience. Customize the placement and size of the DS screens, for portrait and landscape modes. Save and resume your progress anywhere with save states. Synchronize your save games with your online Google Drive space.
- Provides fast & stable in-app environment.
- Supports add-on controllers on certain devices.
- Increase emulation speed with fast-forward
- Auto-Save option is available.
- Be it in Portrait mode or Landscape mode, the app allows you to customize the size & placement of the DS screens.
- It’s a paid app.
- Not suitable for low-end smartphone users.
NO$GBA is the 6th entrant in this list. Pronounced as ‘No Cash GBA’, it’s a free-to-use Nintendo Emulator for Nintendo DS, Nintendo DS Lite& GameBoy Advance. NO$GBA can be used to load all saved types & cartridge readings. The best thing about NO$GBA is that even if you’ve no cash in your pocket, you can play Nintendo DS, & GameBoy Advance games absolutely free.
- It supports multiplayer.
- Best Compatibility with commercial DS ROMs.
- Completely free app.
- Available only for Windows users.
- Longer update period.
3DMOO is the 7th addition to this list. It’s an open-source emulator developed by richly, developer of the GBA emulator for NDS. The Nintendo 3DS emulator is exclusively available for Windows & Linux users.
Even though 3DMOO does support all the commercial Nintendo 3DS games, the processing would be way too slow. In fact, on some occasions, frequent crashes might occur to ruin your gaming experience.
- Open-Source program.
- Not in active development.
- Frequent crashes on playing commercial 3DS games.
NDS Emulator for Android
Based on the DS emulator for PC named DeSmuMe, nds4Droid looked promising. Unfortunately, the nds4droid is now a dead app and hasn’t been updated for quite a while now, but you can still use it with some games.
For starters, it’s a pretty decent emulator to try some games and get a feel of playing DS games on Android. Also, the app is entirely free without ads, so you don’t need to worry about any in-game distractions while playing.
The DS emulation can be a bit slow, although the app has a frame skip feature to help you with that. You can also easily save the states of the games on nds4droid, which allows you to resume the game from exactly where you left it.
Being a dead app, you will experience a few bugs or crashes on your device. And for a lot of games, playing on the app is unbearable. Still, nds4droid is one of the only “working” DS emulators for Android out there.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can 3DS Emulate SNES?
Yes, you can emulate it to play SuperFX and SA-1 games.
Is Citra Emulator Illegal?
Yes, it is. Downloading commercial games & distributing them among others is an illegal practice.
Are Emulators Legal?
According to all legal criteria, emulation is legal within the United States. However, the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted code remains illegal in other parts of the world.
Can DeSmuMe Play 3DS Games?
No it can’t. DeSmuME emulator is exclusively developed to play DS Games. Besides, the app is currently under development. So, you never know when an update rolls out to support 3DS games on DeSmuMe.
Can I play 3DS ROMs on a DS emulator?
On a standard NDS emulator, it’s not possible. However, you can 3DS ROMs to start playing 3DS ROMs on a DS emulator.
Can I play Pokemon Platinum on 3DS Emulators?
Yes, you can. I’ve added some 3DS emulators to the above. Based on your preference, use any one of the 3DS emulators & start playing Pokemon Platinum.
In this post, I’ve added what you should look for in 3DS Emulators & out of the 8 emulators, you can use any one of them to start playing your favourite games. All these emulators mentioned in this list work fairly well with every popular gaming title.
Do check out the pros. and cons. of all the emulators listed above & feel free to use 3DS emulators to start playing your favourite Nintendo Game. That’s all for now. If you’re having any trouble using any of these 3DS emulators, do let me know in the comments section given below.