The Best NES Emulator for the Nintendo DS: nesDS

The Best NES Emulator for the Nintendo DS

Adding some retro functionality to your Nintendo DS is always a good thing. This time we will be showing off NES emulation for all your favorite 8-bit Nintendo classics.

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What Is The Best NES Emulator?

I was surprised to find that most of the emulation sites out there are pushing old NES emulators that are just slight modifications of their GBA counterparts. nesDS, on the other hand, customized the PocketNES code to take full advantage of the DS hardware and to improve performance and compatibility. It isn’t perfect, but I think you will find it quite suitable for most games.

Easy Installation

After some of my frustrating experiences getting some of my GP2X emulators to run, I was very happy with the simplicity of the nesDS installation. Assuming your homebrew cart doesn’t require patching, all you do is download the executable file and put it in a folder with some NES ROMs. (Actually, you don’t need folders, and your ROMs can be elsewhere, but folders usually help keep things organized)

For my CycloDS Evolution cartridge, I just copied over a folder (named “NES”) that had the executable and my ROMs on to MicroSD card, popped it in my DS Lite, and I was good to go. No configuration needed. (Configurations options are availible for tweaking, but I don’t bother)

If you need need installation assistance with older DS homebrew solutions, check out this wiki guide at PocketHeaven.

Video Tour of nesDS

To get a better feel for how nesDS handles, I’ve recorded a quick video that walks through some of the menus and shows a few popular games in action.

nesDS’s Best Features

  • High compatibility
  • Full speed for most games
  • “Rewind” feature with R-trigger
  • “Fast Mode” with L-trigger
  • Save states

Complaints & Limitations

  • Not a huge deal, but I can’t seem to navigate the menus with the D-pad and face buttons. It all seems to be touch-screen based. Since the menu options are small, you will need a stylus for best results.
  • There is no DPCM sound (SMB3 drums, Kung Fu laughing, etc), unlike PocketNES.
  • There is also no raw PCM sound (speech in Joshua, SCAT, Big Bird’s Hide and Speak), like PocketNES.

Download


90 Comments

Alex says:

So I tried nesDS on my Acekard 2, and it worked the first time with Zelda, but when I tried it with Super Mario Bros (you know that classic game) It started me in world 0 which is like a castle underwater and I don’t actually get to play the game. Now when I boot into nesDS it just locks up! soooo ummm….. yeah wtf man?!

na says:

ok i dont know were to get the roms can u help me

jambo222 says:

Can someone pls email me details on how and where i can run the nes ds emulator pls and where i can get the roms for it

jorge says:

I tried it on my R4 and the files will not appear. Is this compatible with R4?

racketboy says:

I don’t have one, but I would this it would be…

JJ says:

Im trying to get the nesDS site but its gone now and i cant get your mirror to work. What can i do to get this for my ds?

thaks

racketboy says:

The mirror still works for me….

m.ratajczak says:

Hey, if there is a chance to snesDS acted like nesDS?

When I use nesDS I browse the files in my microSD (using the R4 DS) and it would be nice if snesDS can also browse the files.
Racketboy can do it for us? please, please …

racketboy says:

Not sure how I would do it…. Sounds like you need to talk to the developers 🙂

m.ratajczak says:

hehe, I thought that you have certain skills developers: P
I thought that, after collecting nesDS from your web page I can browse the files.

other nesDS so do not work, I mean to others you have to ‘put’ files ROM, as well as in snesDS. the exception is nesDS from you …

racketboy says:

Oh wow — that’s kinda weird…
But no, all I did was take the copy I downloaded from the developers site and put it on my server just in case 🙂

justin says:

this is by far the best NES emulator out there for the DS
thanks

Jahbreeze says:

The home page for nesDS looks like it’s down. Any idea if it has moved, or where to?

racketboy says:

That’s odd — I guess he killed it?
Good thing I have it mirrored 🙂

stamp says:

Does the nesDS you have mirrored support DLDI?

racketboy says:

not sure — how would I find out?

Thank you so much you have just made it official the Nds has taken over my life.

Chalo says:

Help! Whenever I try to download the emulator on this site on my mac it downloads as a blank file. Anyone else having issues. What does it the download look like on your desktop?? Mine looks like a “new sheet” in word.

Golgo 14 says:

Chalo,
For some reason, on a mac this downloads as a text file. Just delete the .txt extension so that the file ends with .nds and you should be fine.

Elwood says:

Overall this is a great emulator. The games tend to run at full speed with only the more “busy” games getting any real slow down.

However, it can be hard to certain games to run, as some games (such as SMBros.) will only run if it’s a specific dump of the game. Others will glitch or start you in the negative world.

Also a handful of games won’t work no matter what, namely Mother/Earthbound Zero, Ninja Gaiden 3, Adventures of Lolo 2, Double Dragon 2, and TMNT 2. Punch-Out is a garbled mess and basically unplayable. Also a few games like TMNT1 and SMBros 3 have minor graphics glitches on the main character’s sprites.

As a whole, the games work great. But it’s sad that these popular ones don’t.

Elwood says:

Here is a compatibility list for NES DS. This should help some people figure out which games will work, and in the case of some of them figure out which dump of the game will work best.

http://gbatemp.net/index.php?showtopic=81903

choconado says:

I seem to be having a problem running this through the acekard 2.1. The first time I loaded it up, it worked fine, like a dream. Then, from that point on, it freezes up at the starting screen, where you select the files. The buttons do nothing at all. I’ve tried redownloading this many times, to no avail. Am I doing something wrong??

Corey says:

At 1/19/2009 2:30 PM, Elwood said…

Overall this is a great emulator. The games tend to run at full speed with only the more “busy” games getting any real slow down.

However, it can be hard to certain games to run, as some games (such as SMBros.) will only run if it’s a specific dump of the game. Others will glitch or start you in the negative world.

Also a handful of games won’t work no matter what, namely Mother/Earthbound Zero, Ninja Gaiden 3, Adventures of Lolo 2, Double Dragon 2, and TMNT 2. Punch-Out is a garbled mess and basically unplayable. Also a few games like TMNT1 and SMBros 3 have minor graphics glitches on the main character’s sprites.

As a whole, the games work great. But it’s sad that these popular ones don’t.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
Try downloading other copies of the games. I noticed that certain “rips” of the ROMs aren’t necessarily that good. Especially when you start looking at the modded and hacked ROMs. As for the other poster who asked where they can get ROMs, I use bitTorrent’s to get all of my ROMs. That includes my NES, SNES, Genesis, DS, and GBA. And recently I jailbroke my iPhone and have been downloading tons of .IPA’s (iPhone’s application and game extension). Apps that run anywhere from $0.99 to $75 in the iTunes store I’ve been getting for free. It’s freaking awesome. Oh and one other thing about the person who mentioned their R4 Card. Be wary about the R4 as the original manufacturer was sued by Nintendo and has ceased making the cards. There are still some R4 cards out there for sale that have been stocked in a warehouse. But about 85% of the R4’s out there are cloned and there’s a good possibility it will end up bricking your DS (just in case you don’t know “bricking” is a term used when your DS locks up and basically becomes useless, making it as useful as a brick). Personally I think the best card out there is the CycloDS. Sure it’s a little more expensive but it is worth it. And just be sure you are buying for a certified dealer. These cards are also being clones as is just about everyone out there. Sorry for the long post but I had alot to say. Any ?’s just post here, I’ll check back, or just email me. If that’s okay with the head man, Mr. Rackboy that is. Have a good day.

Corey

chris says:

actually, EarthBound Zero does work. You just need a .sav file that has the names entered (the problem is with the naming screen). So once you get that, you should be fine. It’s a pain finding one, so you have to make one yourself with an emulator on the computer…

ivan says:

Bro this is the most easy thing to do I just got my ds lite today from a friend and is allready pimped with the large list of NES games TNX a LOT

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