The iconic Nintendo DS console may have long gone out of production, but the legend continues to live on among gamers and tech enthusiasts. While some have childhood memories associated with some of the super-popular Mario and Pokémon titles, many youngsters are also getting in on the act, eager to experience a bygone era. Whichever category you belong to, you can experience the magic of Nintendo DS consoles using software emulators on your PC or smartphone. So here’s a list of the 8 best Nintendo DS emulators for Android and iOS.
Best Nintendo DS Emulators for Android and iOS
Nintendo DS was a dual-screen device, but you do not need a dual-screen phone to play those games on an emulator. Here, we will list the best Nintendo DS emulators for your iPhone or Android device. What’s more, most of these emulators are under active development, which means they are mostly compatible with the latest versions of Android and iOS. It also means that they should be relatively bug-free and offer wider compatibility. So without further ado, let’s check out the best Nintendo DS emulators you can use on iPhone and Android devices in 2021.
1. NDS4Droid: Best Nintendo DS Emulator on Android
NDS4Droid is one of the best Nintendo DS emulators on Android and has been so for a long time. It is a free and open-source NDS emulator based on DeSmuME. The emulator supports critical features like save states, but the controls can be a little convoluted, especially with games such as Rune Factory that require multiple button-presses.
Unfortunately, Nintendo DS emulation is still somewhat slow, especially on older and mid-range phones. However, the app does include different “frame skip” options to make things a little better. Another issue with the emulator is that it doesn’t run any of the Pokémon games. It is, however, compatible with several other NDS ROMs. NDS4Droid last received an update in 2016, so don’t expect any new features or updates any time soon.
- Pros: Open-source, Ad-free, Supports save states, Wide compatibility
- Cons: Runs slow on older phones, Doesn’t support Pokemon ROMs, No fast-forward
- Platforms: Android
2. RetroArch: Best Multi-platform Nintendo DS Emulator
RetroArch is multi-faceted, multi-platform, multi-purpose, free and open-source software (FOSS) that works on nearly all platforms imaginable. It is not only available on Android, iOS, Windows, Mac, and Linux but also various game consoles, including PS2, PS3, PSP, PS Vita, Wii, Wii U, 2DS, 3DS, Nintendo Switch, and more. It is one of the best emulator front-ends that supports not only the NDS but also Game Boy Advance, the original Game Boy, as well as a whole host of consoles, both legacy and current.
Do note that RetroArch only offers the front-end GUI for emulators, game engines, and media players, so you must download the core for each individual system separately for it to work. The setup requires a little bit of technical know-how, but the emulator allows you to run classic games on a wide range of computers and consoles. You can even create your NDS games with the Libretro API using RetroArch.
- Pros: Open-source, Ad-free, Multi-platform support, Wide range of features
- Cons: Setup process requires time and technical know-how
- Platforms: Android, iOS, Windows, Mac, Linux, and more
3. EmuBox: Nintendo DS Emulator With Best GUI
One of the new entrants into the NDS emulator scene, EmuBox is an all-in-one Nintendo DS emulator that runs your old game ROMs on Android. It supports up to 20 save slots for each ROM and allows gamers to take screenshots whenever they want. It also supports fast forward and external controllers, including Bluetooth gamepads, etc.
One of the best things about EmuBox is that it doesn’t restrict itself to the NDS. Instead, it supports a whole host of other consoles, including PSX, GBA, GBC, NES, and more. It is one of the first multi-console emulators on Android and adopts Google’s material design theme to offer the most aesthetically pleasing and intuitive emulators.
- Pros: Wide compatibility, Great graphics quality, Supports external controllers, Portrait and landscape modes, Multiple save slots for each game
- Cons: Lags when too many cheat codes activated
- Platforms: Android
4. DraStic: Best Premium Nintendo DS Emulator on Android
DraStic is yet another fully-functioning Nintendo DS emulator on Android. It is one of the best Nintendo DS emulators, considering that it lets you play games at full speed on most Android devices. On high-end phones and tablets, it can also upscale the game’s 3D graphics to 2 times their original resolution. The emulator also supports add-on controllers, as well as physical controls in devices like the Nvidia Shield.
Other notable features include support for save states, the ability to customize the placement and size of the DS screens, portrait and landscape modes, and more. The DraStic emulator also supports cheat codes, with an extensive database running into thousands. Finally, it also supports fast forward, allowing you to increase emulation speed. On the negative side, DraStic is yet to implement Wi-Fi support, and there’s no multiplayer mode at this point.
- Pros: Fast, Graphics upscaling for modern smartphones, External controller support, Cheat code support
- Cons: Paid app, No multiplayer mode
- Platforms: Android
SuperNDS is one of the newest additions to the growing list of Nintendo DS emulators on Android. It works well on newer Android devices, offering fast gameplay, decent rendering, and relatively glitch-free graphics. It supports NDS, ZIP, 7z, and RAR file types and supports features like save states and more.
SuperNDS supports all Android versions upwards of 5.0 Lollipop but requires a decent amount of RAM to work. On older devices with less RAM, games can crash every once in a while, requiring you to free up RAM manually and restart the emulator. However, on newer devices with ample RAM, this emulator offers great gameplay at full-speed with decent graphics. It is one of the best Nintendo DS emulators on our list.
- Pros: Fast gameplay, Relatively glitch-free, Decent graphics
- Cons: Relatively barebones, Resource intensive compared to the competition
- Platforms: Android
6. Free DS Emulator: Best Nintendo DS Emulator for Older Android Devices
Free DS Emulator supports a large number of NDS titles on Android, offering fast gameplay with decent graphics. It supports .nds, .zip, and a whole host of other file types and offers features such as save game states, load game states, customizable buttons, cheat codes, and more. It also supports external controllers, including the Nintendo Switch Joy-Cons.
Free DS Emulator was originally designed for Android 6.0 Marshmallow, but it runs on most devices with Android 4.2 Jelly Bean and above. It also received an update last year, making it is compatible with most current-gen Android devices. You should download this emulator if you want to convert your old phone into a dedicated Nintendo DS gaming machine.
- Pros: Fast gameplay, Under active development, Cheat code support, External controller support
- Cons: Crashes while opening third-party ROMs
- Platforms: Android
7. iNDS: Best Nintendo DS Emulator on iOS
Apple’s mobile platform is relatively thin on high-quality NDS emulators, but iNDS is pretty much the best there is. Based on the legendary NDS4iOS, it is one of the best Nintendo DS emulators on the list because it works without jailbreaking. iNDS emulator is compatible with all devices running up to iOS 14 and offers gamers features like auto-save, in-app customizations, video filters, haptic vibration, and more.
Do note that iNDS isn’t available on the App Store because of Apple’s strict and rather draconian approval policies. However, you can download it from TopStore, AltStore, or through the Cydia Store on your jailbroken device. It is worth noting that the game ROMs do not come pre-installed with the emulator even though you’re downloading it from unofficial sources, so you’ll have to get your ROMs from elsewhere.
- Pros: Works without Jailbreak, Wide compatibility with commercial ROMs
- Cons: Requires time and technical know-how to set up and troubleshoot
- Platforms: iOS
NDS4iOS is one of the original Nintendo DS emulators on iOS and remains one of the best to date. It is a free Nintendo DS emulator that works without jailbreaking, making it accessible to a wider number of users on more devices. It is fully optimized for iPads and iPhones, with features that include support for iOS controllers and options to customize control-pad styling and position.
One of the unique features of NDS4iOS is that it also comes with an in-app browser to download Nintendo DS games as ROMs and more. The emulator also includes features, such as Dropbox integration and AirPlay support, allowing the user to sync their emulator files between their phone and TV. NDS4iOS requires iOS 5.1.1 or higher but also supports newer versions of the software.
- Pros: Works without Jailbreak, Dropbox integration, iOS controller support, AirPlay support
- Cons: No longer in development
- Platforms: iOS
Enjoy the Magic of Mario & Pokemon on iPhone and Android Devices
Nintendo DS was a truly iconic handheld console and continues to live on through the numerous emulators on Android, iOS, Windows, Mac, and Linux. Now that you’ve gone through our list of best NDS emulators for Android and iOS, download the one that catches your fancy and take it for a spin. Do let us know which emulator you liked the most and why in the comments section below. Also, check out the best Nintendo DS emulators for your computer, irrespective of whether you use Windows, Mac, or Linux.