Nintendo DS emulation

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Nintendo DS emulation is the act of emulating the Nintendo DS on non-native hardware.


"NDS emu" was released before the Nintendo DS itself in November 2004. The purported emulator was packaged with a demo file, as no commercial games had been made available.[1] When commercial games were released, NDS emu was unable to emulate them. "Dualis" was released on March 5, 2005. It could not run commercial games, but could run homebrew games.[2][3] "NO$GBA" was released with Nintendo DS support on January 22, 2006. An update of the emulator released on August 4, 2006, was stated by the creators to be the first emulator supporting commercial Nintendo DS games.[4][5]



dasShiny is an experimental free video game emulator for the Nintendo DS, created and developed by Cydrak and licensed under the GNU GPL v3. dasShiny was originally included as a Nintendo DS emulation core in the multi-system Nintendo emulator higan, but was taken out in v092 and now exists as its own, separate project. dasShiny is written in C++ and C and is available for Windows, OS X and GNU/Linux.


Main article: DeSmuME

DeSmuME is an open source emulator for the Nintendo DS created by YopYop156 licensed under GPL. The original DeSmuME is written in C++ for Linux, Mac OS and Windows. It can play Nintendo DS homebrew and commercial roms. Later versions are multiplatform and contain multiple user interfaces. It has been ported to other systems such as the PlayStation Portable.

The original emulator was in French, but had user translations to other languages. It supported many homebrew Nintendo DS demos and some Wireless Multiboot demos. YopYop stopped development on DeSmuME due to a change of laws regarding emulation in France, which later turned out to be an April Fools joke. However, the source code has been released and other programmers have continued developing DeSmuME.


DraStic is a closed source emulator for the Nintendo DS created by Exophase (main author of gpSP, GBA emulator) from the GP32X/ OpenPandora community. It is made to run on the Open Pandora linux handheld gaming computer, and aimed at providing a better alternative for low-powered hardware. It was first released on February 15, 2013 and is currently actively in development. It already supports dynamic recompilation and multithreaded software rendering, many games run at full speed while other games are still to be optimized in order to run, newer versions of emulator also support graphics filters and have extensive database of cheat codes. Since the Open Pandora handheld has sufficient resolution as well as touch-screen capability, both DS screens can be displayed on the single Open Pandora screen and the touch capability is directly emulated with the stylus of the Open Pandora.[6] Exophase, together with Lordus, released an Android port of DraStic(2.1.0a) on Google Play Store last August 7, 2013. The port is based on the Pandora platform with GUI made for touchscreens.


Main article: DuoS

DuoS is a freeware emulator for the Nintendo DS written by Roor. It is written in C++ and is able to run almost all commercial games under Windows, and makes use of hardware GPU acceleration as well as a dynamic recompiler. This emulator is also notable for being able to run even on lower end PCs without consuming excessive resources.[7]


Main article: Ensata

Ensata is an official emulator provided to developers in Nintendo DS development kits. It emulates the ARM7 and ARM9 dual screen processor at 100% with some software exceptions. The touch screen is fully emulated with a cursor and works with a keyboard. Ensata is a cycle accurate emulator, and is designed for testing games which are in development, and not for general gameplay. Ensata version 1.3c was leaked to the emulation community by an unknown source and cracked by the "SMT" group to operate without a Nintendo developer account. Version 1.4d was leaked and cracked by the "EXPERiENCE" group.


Main article: iDeaS

iDeaS is an emulator that runs a lot of commercial games on a Windows PC with OpenGL. iDeaS has emulated the ARM7 Game Boy Advance processor at 100%, and the ARM9 dual screen processor at 99%; enabling it to run many commercial ROMs, including Super Mario 64 DS and Pokémon Diamond & Pearl (with a few graphical errors). The touch screen is fully emulated with a cursor instead of a hand, and a keyboard can be used to emulate the Nintendo DS buttons. iDeaS uses a plugin system that originally came from the UltraHLE Nintendo 64 emulator so that further support can be achieved without looking at the source code of the emulator. Plugins are available to download on the homepage. As of 2012, the domain page of the emulator has expired.


Main article: NO$GBA

NO$GBA is a freeware Nintendo DS emulator capable of running commercial and homebrew Game Boy Advance and Nintendo DS games. The latest version is able to run Pokémon Diamond and Pearl at full speed with no graphical glitches. It is considered by many to be the first Nintendo DS emulator to run commercial ROMs,[4] though others state that's already been countered by reports of successful emulation elsewhere.[5]

A development tool for testing and debugging of Game Boy Advance and Nintendo DS software has been created by Martin Korth, supporting source level debugging, the tool is designed for programmers, it is useless for gamers.

Physical flash card emulation[edit]

While ROMs can be run on a computer or laptop using an emulator it is also possible to run downloaded games from a specially designed blank game cartridge directly onto a Nintendo DS console. The majority of these Nintendo DS storage devices are produced in the Far East but can be purchased in most countries. Unlike the ROMs themselves, the legality of these cards is an extremely grey area, because as well as running illegally downloaded ROMs, they can also be used to back up copies of genuine purchased games or run software and games created by homebrew amateur developers.[8]


Nintendo DS ROMs are nearly always the same Read Only Memory on the original game cartridges. They are usually spread by individuals through peer-to-peer networks such as BitTorrent or by direct download from numerous websites.


See also[edit]