Seen as a throwback to the clamshell style of the original Donkey Kong Game & Watch, the Nintendo DS went on to become the biggest-selling handheld range of all time, selling over 35 million more than the legendary Game Boy.
The DS is still revered for its huge game library and innovative approach, so what better way to get back into the DS than with a Nintendo DS emulator? But the question is what is the best?
Potentially a tricky system to emulate given the split touchscreen form factor, you will be pleased to find that Nintendo DS emulation is in excellent form on both desktop computers and Android devices, which are perfect obviously to play games that rely more on the touchscreen features of the Nintendo DS.
Best Nintendo DS Emulator For Windows PC, Mac, And Linux
DeSmuME is the best DS Emulator for Windows PCs and also Mac & Linux. DeSmuME is an open-source project and is one of the most mature Nintendo DS emulators.
It is generally considered to be the best option if you are on a desktop computer to play DS games.
I have nothing but praise for DeSmuME, this free emulator works perfectly as a means to get your DS games onto the big screen with ease.
It is fantastic to be able to just connect your controller, and with a quick set-up process, map the buttons to the DS controls, I was up and running in under a minute.
Touchscreen support is no issue either with the mouse pointer which can simply be used to click where you need to on the screen.
DeSmuME emulator allows you all the control you could wish for in terms of emulator configuration. It’s simple enough for beginners, yet jam-packed with features for advanced users and developers.
The only other NDS emulator I would recommend for PC, Mac & Linux would be melonDS. MelonDS is also free and offers similar features to DeSmuME. MelonDS also supports DS WiFi emulation, but DeSmuME wins out because of its overall excellent range of features and compatibility.
DeSmuME Emulator Features Include:-
- Save States
- External Controller Support
- Cheat Code Support
- Native DS Backup Memory Compatibility
- Take Screenshots, Record Video & Audio
- Configure Twin Screen Orientation
- Screen Filters / Shaders
- Integer Scaling
- HUD for additional debug info
- BIOS image swapping
- Resolution & Texture Scaling
- Antialiasing & Smooth Texture Options
- Sound Core Configuration
- Disassembler Tools
- Comprehensive Debugging Tools
Best Nintendo DS Emulator For Android
DraStic is still the best DS emulator for Android devices.
Android devices are in a unique position to give a more authentic Nintendo DS experience with the help of emulators such as DraStic and of course, having their own touchscreens!
DraStic is packed with features that will make replaying your favourite DS games on your Android device a whole new experience.
With loads of settings available including upscaling game resolutions, tweaking audio settings, mapping controls on an external controller, cheat code functionality, and Google Drive integration, DraStic is really all you’ll ever need from a DS emulator, available now.
Paired with a Bluetooth controller such as the Razer Kishi Controller for Android, it will effectively turn your phone into a supercharged Nintendo DS.
DraStic is a paid app that is currently $4.99, but it’s absolutely worth it if you are after a top-quality way to play your favourite Nintendo DS games on your Android devices.
DraStic Features Include:-
- Resolution Upscaling
- Fully Adjust Screen Positioning and Settings To Your Preference
- Fully Adjustable On Screen Controls
- External Controller Compatibility
- Save States
- Fast Forward & Pause Emulation
The Nintendo DS is a tricky one to emulate, not because of anything too demanding on the speed front, but of course, because of its twin and touch screen elements. However, this is handled really well on PC and of course brilliantly, perhaps more naturally on Android devices.
DS & DS Lite consoles are also backward compatible with Game Boy Advance games, but most DS emulators do not cater to this, instead, check out our best GBA emulator guide.
If the Nintendo DS feels a little too new for your retro disposition, then maybe the best Game Gear emulator is more up your street.
Finally, be sure to check out our comprehensive emulator guide for more emulator recommendations.
A lifelong avid gamer and computing enthusiast, Matt has decades of Retro Gaming experience. Now over 40 years old, Matt now even considers himself retro, but fortunately, nobody has developed a Matt emulator (not yet at least!).