While Genesis emulation on the DS isn’t as perfect as you can have on a PC, it has a level of quality that justifies the little trouble that it takes to set it up – depending on the games that you want to play on it.
jEnesisDS (by Lordus) is arguably the best choice for the DS at the moment, and it is likely to remain so. You may want to try PicodriveDS but it does not support sound and generally performs worse. Neither project has been updated since 2008: the PicodriveDS dev has stopped working on it and suggested people to use jEnesisDS instead . The developper of jEnesisDS has apparently worked for SEGA and is unlikely to continue work on the emulator.
jEnesisDS doesn’t scale the image to fit in the DS screen, which is annoying and can be very unpleasant in certain game – but it is without re-scaling that jEnesis DS achieves good performance in terms of speed and compatibility (compared with PicodriveDS which does re-scale).
For this guide I used jEnesisDS (v0.7.4), which you can download from here. This is the most up to date version at time of writing and it is very much worth using it over older versions – on top of performance improvements, it also offers a useful feature that can help you cope with the drawback of the image not fitting fully in the DS screen.
In any carts with automatic patching it is as simple as dragging and dropping a file to the memory card. If your cart requires it, you will need to manually patch the .nds file before moving it. This emulator doesn’t need to be placed on the root of the card.
- Extract and move the .nds into your cart.
When you run the .nds file on your DS (do this just like you run any other .nds such as games), the emulator loads reasonably fast. The touch screen will show the folders and files you have on your card. Simply use the D-pad and buttons to navigate towards the ROM you want to run and select it.
The ROM will load. The touch screen will continue to give you some miscellaneous information, and you can pause or un-pause the emulation by touching it.
Although pause and un-pause works perfectly, other touch screen controls aren’t very responsive. From my experience with the emulator you will have to suffer through them to access some features:
1. You can access a “Configuration” menu by touching the “Pad” Icon in the top left of the touch screen. This brings you to several options that you can (fortunately) navigate with the D-pad. I haven’t fiddled much with the emulations settings as games run very well without doing anything. But for example, you can sacrifice some sound quality for speed by turning on the “Fake Z80”.
2. To use the save “STATE SLOTS” you need to touch them (the “I” and “II” in roman numerals in the bottom right). This brings up a sub-menu that can be then navigated (fortunately) with the D-pad.
Scrolling the Image to Fit The Screen
The image doesn’t completely fit into the screen. This is an annoying drawback of this emulator and to be honest it can ruin the experience in some games, but for others it can also not bother you at all.
There are some ways built into the emulator to cope with this:
1. I usually turn on the “Follow DPad” setting which fits the leftmost or the rightmost part of the image into the screen whenever you are pressing that direction during gameplay (this is a new feature that became available with version 0.7.4). It is annoying that the emulator doesn’t remember your settings, and by default this option is off, so you will need to put up with the clunky touch screen to access the configuration menu and turn it on everytime.
2. You can manually adjust the viewable area by using the shoulder buttons, at any time during gameplay (fortunately this always works, even if you have enabled “Follow DPad”).
3. When the emulation is paused (touch the touchscreen to pause and un-pause the emulation) you can use the D-pad to scroll the image.
If you don’t adapt at all to this flaw then you have to do without jEnesisDS. Try Picodrive or don’t emulate Genesis on the DS.
Given the performance and compatibility of this emulator, it is still probably the best choice on the DS but you can also try the (no sound) port of Picodrive.
The games I tried on jEnesisDS were running quite decently at or near full speed, which is nothing to scoff off on the DS.
The emulation isn’t perfect at all, with some graphic glitches and the sound not being accurate in some instances, and also having occasional glitches (particularly when you use the state slots, although a bit after loading it will start sounding normal again).
Finally, ROMs larger than 3 MB aren’t supported at all (this includes, sadly, Sonic & Knuckles). This was supposed to be work in progress back in 2008 but obviously as it is currently nearly 2011 without a new release you shouldn’t count on that in the foreseeable future if at all.
Despite all this, in general the emulation is very good. The “Pros” list has 2 things but those 2 matter much more than the minor annoyances in the “Cons”.
- It emulates Genesis on a DS at very respectable speeds and with reasonable accuracy.
- Decent compatibility (pocketheaven has a compatibility list) http://www.pocketheaven.com/ph/wiki/JEnesisDS
- Supports save states.
- The image doesn’t completely fit the DS screen.
- Doesn’t support the larger ROMs (over 3 MB).
- Touch screen controls for options are quite unresponsive.
- Some graphics and sound glitches