The best Nintendo DS emulators for Android

April 14, 2014

best nintendo DS emulator for android
The Nintendo DS is among the most popular handheld consoles of all time. Its iconic value is right up there with that of the Game Boy and the PSP. There were some amazing games for the system and sometimes it’s easier to keep those games on your phone than to carry around a second device to play them. Sadly, development of the Nintendo DS emulator platform is still quite new so the selections for emulators are scarce. However, there are some decent ones and we’ll take a look at them!


best Nintendo DS emulators for AndroidDraStic DS Emulator

[Price: Free / $5.99]
First up is DraStic DS Emulator and, simply put, it is the best Nintendo DS emulator available. It features a high game compatibility, good speed, and features such as fast forward mode, various display options, and support for Google Drive. It’s rated a 4.6 in the Play Store and it’s the only DS emulator rated over 4.0. It’s $5.99 which may sound expensive but in this instance, you get what you pay for. If you’re looking for a DS emulator, this is as good as it gets for right now.
Get it on Google Play
best Nintendo DS emulators for Android


best Nintendo DS emulators for Androidnds4droid

[Price: Free]
nds4droid is the most popular Nintendo DS emulator option. It isn’t all that good but it has been steadily improving. The developer is relatively active but the improvements have been slow coming. It’s a 3.6 rating and there are some games that work well, but there are still many that do not. It’s an open source project so other developers can contribute so there is hope that this app will continue to improve. In terms of quality, it’s a distant second from DraStic.
Get it on Google Play
best Nintendo DS emulators for Android


best Nintendo DS emulators for AndroidOpen NDS Emulator (DS Emulator)

[Price: Free]
Open NDS Emulator is another open source effort that is somewhat current. Like nds4droid, it’s not very good but there is hope that the app will improve as updates have occurred recently. A few people have had success with it but generally it isn’t good enough for regular use. The hope is that the nature of open source takes its course with this app and the improvements come eventually.
Get it on Google Play
best Nintendo DS emulators for Android


best Nintendo DS emulators for AndroidPretendo NDS Emulator

[Price: Free]
Pretendo NDS Emulator is last on the list but at least it isn’t the worst. It’s also open source and based on the ds4droid source code. It fairs better than Open DS Emulator in terms of rating and functionality but sadly not by much. Like the others, it is free and you can try your luck to see if it works for you but like the others it’s a work in progress.
Get it on Google Play
best Nintendo DS emulators for Android


Wrap up

For the time being the Nintendo DS emulator app selection is disappointing. DraStic seems to have it right but the competition is still pretty stuck. If you’re here looking for an emulator, our recommendation is to throw down the $5.99 and buy DraStic because it may be some time before these other ones are as good. The reason we included them is because the developers appear to be active (at least this calendar year) and their projects are open source so they represent the best hope we have that the emulator platform gets more diverse. Until they improve, just buy DraStic. If we missed a good DS emulator, please let us know in the comments!

Comments

  • namesib

    Drastic made all other DS emulators redundant.

    • JosephHindy

      That’d be fantastic. I can’t even do a “best PSP emulators” list because there aren’t any good damn PSP emulators to put on it! It’d be an empty list with a giant sad face as the article image.

      • Hodr

        What are you smoking? PPSSPP is the best PSP emulator for Android.
        If you meant by no contest then yeah, that’s the only PSP emulator.

        But if you meant there aren’t any good PSP emulators, I disagree. I just finished Valkyria Chonicles 3 using PPSSPP, played on Android while commute and continue on PC while at home. You should check it out.

        • JosephHindy

          You and “Guest” apparently had trouble reading so let me clarify.

          I can’t do a best PSP emulators LIST. A LIST of apps that play PSP games because there is only ONE that can do it.

          In order to do a list, I must have more than ONE application. Otherwise it’s not a list, it’s a review.

          Please read more carefully next time.

      • http://www.emuparadise.me/roms-isos-games.php Apple is a patent troll

        So PPSSPP isn’t good now?

        You just lost all your credibility.

        • JosephHindy

          You and Hodr apparently had trouble reading so let me clarify.
          I can’t do a best PSP emulators LIST. A LIST of apps that play PSP games because there is only ONE that can do it.

          In order to do a list, I must have more than ONE application. Otherwise it’s not a list, it’s a review.

          Please read more carefully next time.

          • emaN

            I can’t even do a “best PSP emulators” list because there aren’t any
            good damn PSP emulators to put on it! It’d be an empty list with a giant
            sad face as the article image.

            aren’t any
            good damn PSP emulators to put on it!

            It’d be an empty list

            That seems to imply that there is not even one emulator out there. Maybe you forgot or were not aware of it. To say that they had trouble reading instead of you writing is really funny. Way to be humble good job.

          • JosephHindy

            I like how your response is essentially “maybe you’re stupid.”

            Maybe if all three of you stopped assuming I was stupid this conversation wouldn’t have happened.

      • Balls

        So, since you’re sad about piracy killing the games industry(where do you even buy ubisoft coolaid?), what’s your preferred source of legitimately purchased ROMs for emulation purposes?

        • JosephHindy

          I personally work on an honor system since I trust myself to adhere to it. For instance, I get ROMs for things like Final Fantasy 6 on the Game Boy Advanced….but then I went and bought Final Fantasy 6 on Android when it was released. I paid Square Enix for Final Fantasy 6 so I don’t feel so bad about borrowing the game on another system.

          It’s essentially buy what you can when you can for me. If you jack a game ROM, try to find somewhere where you can purchase something from that studio (even if it’s merch, like a t-shirt) so they at least get something for their troubles. I don’t care so much about publishers as I do the guys who actually develop these games and the games themselves.

          • TheClarosVita

            I justify my full collection of Final Fantasy Roms and isos with having played FFXIV Legacy for a year. =D lmao

  • SuESanders

    It fairs better than Open DS Emulator in terms of rating and functionality but sadly not by much. Like the others, it is free and you can try your luck to see if it works for you but like the others it’s a work in progress. http://qr.net/stx3

    • JosephHindy

      Really dude? Posting a Titanfall referral link from Amazon? GTFO!

      • SuESanders

        what?

      • Semroth

        There wasnt a titanfall referral link so you GTFO

        • JosephHindy

          The dude edited his post after I posted that. It was 4 months ago and there’s an edit button.

  • rogue3

    How about best OG GameBoy emulators?

    • JosephHindy

      That’s coming up soon. Either later this evening or tomorrow :) keep an eye out in our app list section (found under Apps in the header at the top of the Android Authority website) :)

      • Jaime

        Thanks Joseph!

  • Hodr

    The reason why most DS emulator on Android suck is because they are based on x86 emulator such as open source DeSmuMe.
    DS is ARM -> x86 emulator -> run on Android ARM. No wonder it’s slow!

    DraStic targets ARM from the ground up, starting from OpenPandora handheld. That’s why it runs pretty good on ARM-based Android device.

  • http://www.emuparadise.me/roms-isos-games.php Apple is a patent troll

    Without emulators there are no good mobile games.

    • Otto Andersson

      Agreed. It’s funny how supposedly powerful today’s phones are, but Mario 64 with emulator is a hundred times more fun than the best smartphone game out there.

      Maybe, I hit that point of being old, but I miss flat rate game prices without ads as well.

      • http://www.emuparadise.me/roms-isos-games.php Apple is a patent troll

        I hear you. I miss the days where I can get a game and it not shoving apps or in app purchases in my face.

        • JosephHindy

          Yeah, back in those days, piracy wasn’t a huge issue. Not like you could go to Napster and download a game then go buy a blank cartridge to burn it all on.

          Piracy is destroying the game industry and it does suck to watch.

          • Samik Sengupta

            Shoving in app purchases and microtransactions has nothing to do with Piracy. But it has something to do with faster internet speeds and gaming turning into a profitable business industry it is today than it was 20 years ago.

            Soon greedy shitheads who have zero passion about gaming came in the picture and turned the more recent, smartphone gaming into a shitty business.

            Piracy ram rampant even during the 8 bit /16 bit era. I know several early 90s games that used primitive DRM systems because of that. There just wasn’t any piratebay.

          • JosephHindy

            That’s a very naive way of looking at things, especially when plenty of developers have openly stated that they only do Freemium titles now because of piracy.

          • Hmmm

            Which developers that actually matter? Or are we talking publishers who are entirely profit driven and can’t be expected to behave better? Where is this piracy occurring, which platforms are being destroyed by it?

          • JosephHindy

            All developers matter. Without developers, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

          • billy

            lol just pick an android game and google the name + apk. there are only a handful of good android games you cant get full versions of through piracy, and even those require an internet connection to verify licensing or download current sections of the game.

            even with freemium games you can usually remove the adds (revenue point) with tools like luckypatcher.

            the worst part about it is that developers for android and steam are usually independent developers that either keep the old school feel of gaming alive or truly push the artistic boundaries, but they are the easiest to pirate based on their platform. i mean, do call of dookie or halo even matter anymore? there is another major VG market crash on the horizon, you can smell it and see it happening…

    • Histirea

      The only good mobile games (without an emulator) end up being ports from dedicated gaming systems. Spectral Souls, for example.

  • MasterMuffin

    All the free options are pretty horrible. I tried to play some Pokemon Platinum, got frustrated because laaaggg before first gym and stopped playing pretty soon after it and just played with DeSmuMe. Smartphone screen is IMO too small to have the 2 screens with controls

    • Jaime

      Try drastic, it is really good. Pricey, but good.

      • MasterMuffin

        Yea I know it’s good, but smartphone screen is still too small IMO. I need to get an Android tablet

        • Jaime

          On a 5″ screen I can play without too much problem, but I mostly play RPG’s and Mario Kart. I have an 8″ tablet and it is better for sure.

          • MasterMuffin

            I want Sony to make a 7″ or 8″ tablet, because they make their tablets so thin and waterproof so I could carry it everywhere :)

          • Jaime

            Man, Sony makes beautiful tablets! 8″ thin, dust and water proof would be like heaven!

  • Derek Lanter

    You shouldn’t be discussing emulators. The legality is murky at best. Go buy a DS or 3DS and play them legally and let the developers make money.

    • http://www.emuparadise.me/roms-isos-games.php Apple is a patent troll

      Because people want to carry lots of different devices with them, I mean why have a camera on your phone when you can carry one with you.

    • Histirea

      Region lock. Can’t play Rune Factory 4 in the UK without importing both US system and a copy of the game, and many great games like Tales of Innocence never leave Japan, so our only option is to emulate it.

      ROMs also have the benefit of fans patching the Japanese version for English audiences.

  • Gulo

    Drastic is by far the only and one option for DS emulation on android. It’s fast, reliable and worth the price. Don’t bother with the others.

  • Jade

    Have you did my boy app, yet?

  • Arc Futahito

    Drastic is pretty bad with ff: 4 heroes of light. There is no hope in this world. Well, except playing it on PC with NO$GBA.

  • james

    what about this one : http://www.2dsemulator.com !!?