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.



Anon says:

Yeah by the way just get the roms at …

nubby says:

Hey guys. Wasn’t gonna post here because its old but it comes up on good when you search best NDS NES emulator
Wanted to say that yes the CycloDS is expensive.
AceKard is better, cheaper.
Got my AK2 from realhotstuff : good site!
Got here in i think 3 days.
Usually AK2 is the FIRST game to get ROM’s working.
Infact my sister wanted to try a game before she bought, and AK2 had it working the first day, just had to update the firmware!
It has worked flawlessly with all but ONE game I’ve “tried before I bought” and that one game had even more problems with all other devices!

I got my AK2 for I think $18 shipped from – best buy I ever made!

Here is the same exact thing I got – still with free shipping – Works on original “fat” DS and DS lite!

Got a DSi or DSiXL? Get this one!!!

Both $18 shipped. If you’ve got $20 bucks and want to play some games – get one of these, you can play all your GBA, NES, SNES, GBC and more games on the go!

Oh – forgot to mention – you DO need a microSD card.
I got a 4GB for $9 at my local microcenter.

Need to buy one of those, too? Check on realhotstuff, they have the Acekards bundled with them for cheap – or buy them on Amazon! BTW never buy memory cards on ebay even trusted sellers sell fake stuff!
Note that 1GB will probably hold every NES and SNES game ever made, and the other GB would hold every GBA game ever made. – 2GB is all you will ever need, but if you can grab the 4GB “just in case”.

For ROMs, for DS, GBA, GBC, SNES, NES, PS1, GCN, and practically every console ever made, go to!

If you need something or want to know something about the Acekard 2 (Which I’ve had for two years and is still functioning fine!) email me at

Help a swedish man says:

I’m from Sweden and I need your help!!!
When I take my rooms on my nesds so can i don’t find them..
Can you give me a site *nes rooms* on this e-mail ”Please”
I need your help! 😉

juanpesos1995 says:

whrere rom is finded?? i need know please!

sonicstar5 says:

i cannot seem to get this to run earthbound zero, it gets to the file select screen and the graphics stop, but the music keeps playing, as a huge earthbound fan, id like to see nesDS to be able to play this rom, can someone look into this?

corey says:

why does mine freeze i use a acekard2i is it compatible with it?

Rortiz11b says:

I tried this on my dsi and it does everything yours does in the video but after you click the morio icon it goes black and stays black. what should i do …

null says:

This works pretty good, i only wish the GFX were not scaled I would not mind 4:3 overscan on the screen but other than that, this is a great program for the dsixl

Camo says:

hi i tried to put it on my r4i but i just cant get the games to appear can yu plz HELP ME

Andres says:

How do you save the games I always have to start over again! how do I save in, for example Super Mario Bros. 3???

sonic007m says:

When i load snesds i get for a millisecond the menu, but then both screens go black… i fixed this once, but cannot remember how! if any solutions, plz email me

dave says:

can this play famicom games?

jorge says:

i need to find the fuckin roms…..

Gannicus says:

I also think think maybe involved with scaling is happening with the Castlevania games .. Unless that is just me.

Alex says:

I tried this tutorial on my dsi but both screens goes black and stays black. what should i do?

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