It can be tough to find an emulator that will be compatible with not only you and your gaming style, but also your individual needs, tastes, and ideas. After all, not everyone is looking for the same kind of experiences when they’re trying to use a PC or Android emulator.

Some are trying to recapture the experiences of the past, looking to play games that they enjoyed when they were younger. Meanwhile, others simply enjoy playing the games that are available on that particular platform, especially if they don’t have a Nintendo 3DS of their own right; and still, others need them to play their favorite fan games and mods, which are generally not sold in official retail outlets like the Steam store or Gamespot.

In fact—before we get into the meat of this article, in which we’ll talk about the best Nintendo 3DS emulators out there—it’s worth it to talk a bit about what people are searching for when they’re looking for this kind of emulator. First of all, we’ve already mentioned this group: the people who want to play games.

Whether they want to play games from their younger days or games that are newer on the market (although admittedly 3DS games have unfortunately been discontinued, now that the Nintendo Switch was released more than a year ago), these people just want to game. And who can blame them? That is the primary purpose of gaming, after all.

The same characteristics can be attributed to those players who want to play 3DS games not available on official channels, including fan-made games and copies of the game with fan-created mods. With these games, you simply can’t get them on the original 3DS: instead, you need to use an emulator to play them.

Another group that we mentioned earlier is that of individual developers who make their own games. Often, it’s not worth it for load up a 3DS every time they want to test out the game they’re developing. Instead, they either port it to their Android device or their PC, where they can test within quick reach of their computer-based coding.

Many gamers will use emulators to enhance their gameplay experience by accessing features not available in the original game. For example, they can alter the speed and time characteristics—making the game run faster or slower—or enable cheat codes so that they can access all kinds of features in a quicker, more efficient manner. They can also access the game’s coding to see awesome features that were left out of the final product, including items, sprites, and character animations. There might even be unimplemented levels or areas to explore.

Finally, the same games are region-locked, which means that they can only be accessed and certain specific regions. Gamers can get around these kinds of restrictions—thus allowing them to play their favorite games—if they simply download the right emulator.

Which emulator should you choose?

All of this being said, whatever the reason you’re looking for a 3DS emulator, there are several options to choose from. So, without further ado, we’re going to list some of these emulators, which many have described as being among the best 3DS emulators that you can download onto your PC or smartphone.

1- R4 3DS Emulator

There are many emulators that only are available on Windows OS, but R4 distinguishes itself from these other emulators because of its high-quality programming. It is free and features a straightforward interface, which makes it easier to use for every player involved: selecting games from your files is easy, and so is downloading them. (Playing them, maybe not so much.)

You can also customize the different functions of the keyboard to optimize your playthrough experience. With this 3DS emulator, you can play multiplayer 3DS matches with other players, and you have access to quality graphics. You can also play most games that are available on the 3DS.

In addition, this app is a good tool for developers, who can play their own games directly on their PCs, where they’re writing the game code: they won’t have to boot up their own 3DSs every single time they want to test something. Ignore the prompt for a cartridge when you open a game, and instead add the ROM file that you’ve downloaded to the program. Thus, you’re good to go to play with R4, which might yet be the best 3DS emulator out there.

2- RetroArch

This open-source 3DS emulator is available on Android phones and other mobile systems. As an open-source program, it employs the development interface known as Libretro, on which developers create apps that work across many different platforms. Apps made with this interface feature cross-platform camera support, OpenGL graphics, and location support.

It also includes a set of subprograms that gives users the ability to access all kinds of tools to supplement all their gaming needs. The app is free to play and features neat features like a straightforward, user-friendly interface; simple software updates; and ability to modify your controls and keyboard settings so that you can play games on your own terms. The app also supports all kinds of games, including Nintendo games, and you can remap the controls.

You can even use cheat codes while playing, to give yourself the fastest game playthroughs possible. The app is currently compatible with dozens of games—including games on systems other than SNES and the first PlayStation—and this Nintendo 3DS emulator for Android is available in different alphabets and languages.

3- NO$GBA

True to its name—and like most other emulators—this program will let you play 3DS games, for free, in this case on your Windows OS (the name literally means “No Cash Game Boy Advance”). This 3DS emulator PC even supports multiplayer gaming, so you and your friends can play in the same match at the same time.

And in contrast to its name, this emulator will easily allow you to play 3DS games: it is well-located in the heart of the 2010s, not the early 2000s of the original Game Boy Advance. As well, it can read multiple game cartridges. It does an amazing job of replicating the dual-screen technology of the 3DS. This emulator works great with Windows operating systems like Vista and XP, although it will create lag with Windows 10.

It is an excellent choice if you want to debug games that were originally sold on the 3DS and the GBA. Also, it works with both older and newer versions of Windows.

The initial version is free, although you will have to pay 2.50$ to download the updated version. The “updated version” in this case refers to what the most recent of the software was before the current update. In other words, you can download the older version that is available now, and then benefit from a free software update once the more current version is updated.

4- iDeaS

iDeaS is another example of a free, popular 3DS emulator that can support multi-cores. It can play all kinds of well-known games, including almost all Nintendo games on 3DS, and works with OpenGL graphics. Support for two screens is available, as is a host of other cool features, such as 3D rendering. Note, however, that you will have to find this stable emulator using other websites since the developer’s official website for the program is no longer online.

5- Pretendo

Punny name aside, this Nintendo 3DS emulator is actually a great DS emulator. Its controls are user-friendly and simple to master; you can customize them as well. You’ll need to buy any ROMs that u use with this emulator via legal means, rather than downloading them illegally over the Internet, and can even download them as ZIP files if you want.

The emulator also features the capacity to quicksave automatically, every so often, as you continue playing, so that you don’t have to worry about sacrificing a lot of progress if you forget to save. This emulator is available on Android systems, which means that you can play 3DS games on your smartphone. You can customize the settings of the program, which is a cool feature that adds to its user-friendly gameplay experience.

You can also disable graphics or sound, which can improve the speed that a given game is running at. There is also the possibility of using virtual controls, which are adapted into the 3DS console, and you can literally touch the screen to replicate the touch-screen functionality of the original device. This way, you can control all the same aspects of the game that you would with a physical 3DS, which in turn makes the experience more entertaining.

6- NDS Emulator

This is another example of one of a high-quality 3DS emulator for Android. However, note that it works on Android—meaning that you can essentially play 3DS games on your phone—and, as such, is available for purchase in the Google Play Store. You can customize the buttons and on-screen gamepads of your app, and the program supports the most updated version of Android OS.

You can also play most 3DS games out there with this emulator. There is both a free version and a paid version of this app. There are options for quicksaving, auto-load, autosave, and save states of that nature. It also offers external controller support, so that you can play your games on traditional classic or PC controllers—which is even better than using a 3DS, in a lot of ways.

It also functions quickly and works fast, so picking up and playing your games—whether by starting up a new file or opening an old game—is no trouble whatsoever.

7- DraStic DS Emulator

This emulator is available on phones running on Google’s mobile operating system (it is, after all, a 3DS emulator for Android), so it can be downloaded from the Google Play Store. It reproduces original 3DS graphics with high-quality resolution. You can also use the emulator to switch from one game to another, effectively playing both games at the same time: it’s not unlike using the Alt-Tab functionality on a Windows PC.

You can use cheat codes with this app, making it an ideal choice if you have played a game before and want to reach the end more quickly to unlock different features or alternate endings DraStic is compatible with Nintendo games, but will not run fan-made games or other unofficial software. It supports all kinds of games, and the interface can be personalized in many different ways.

You can use physical controllers with this game, which is nice because it will be like playing a console game from the comfort of your smartphone. Last, if you lose track of your saved games, you need to access the program on the Google Play Store to recover them, since saved game files are stored in the cloud.

8- Citra


Originally launched as an open-source affair in 2015, at that particular moment in time, Citra needed to be operated from the command line. However, now, anyone can use Citra, especially because it’s very user-friendly.

This means that users like you—even ones who don’t have a lot of experience using emulators—will have trouble figuring out how to use it. It works on all three of the major computer operating systems—allowing you to play 3DS games on your computer, and is compatible with all platforms. As an open-source emulator, it’s compatible with Windows, Linux, and Mac.

It is also one of the most popular Nintendo emulators out there, in part thanks to its stability, consistency, and lack of glitches and other errors.

You can easily play your games without worrying about whether or not your computer is going to lag—this free application works quickly and efficiently—and it even effectively scales 3D graphics. The emulator also gives you access to several visualization mods that are adapted to the various games you’ll play.

You can show both screens at the same time, or show one at a time and then flip between the two like you would with a larger computer interface. You use the mouse to replace the touch function of the original device, clicking it different parts of the screen to trigger in-game elements.

You can use Citra to play both commercial games and your own games that you or your company has developed yourself. You can run Citra if your PC can use 64-bit and if your graphics card supports OpenGL, version 3.3 or higher. It can work on older systems, too; however, in that case, note that you’ll have to choose the lower configurations manually.

9- NDS Boy

This free Android emulator will allow you to play 3DS games on your Android. It’s compatible with middling and higher-end devices, which for example run on Android 6.0 or higher.It is such a high-quality app that it may even have managed to usurp other ROM players from the top spot of “best 3DS emulator:”: for example, you can set autosaves to occur automatically at set intervals of time. As a free app, you used to be able to find this emulator on Google’s Play Store; now, you’ll have to look it up on other websites, since it’s no longer available on that platform.

10- DeSmuME

This emulator runs some commercial games, and, like a lot of other emulators, it is completely free of charge. This particular program is also a great choice for players who are seasoned users of open-source games. Its app is available on computer that run any of the three major operating systems on the computer.

It has a regular schedule of updates, which ensure that the gameplay experience remains as bug-free as possible. It can run virtually any type of game, and, as a highly lightweight emulator, can be installed on low-end devices that don’t offer much support for more complicated emulators. It offers an automated build service, and works with older operating systems like XP, unlike other emulators. This Nintendo DS emulator is free, which is ideal, especially when you consider how high-quality its performance capabilities are.

The 3DS emulator: a lovely way to regain all your old—and new—gaming experiences

If you like gaming, and if in particular, you like gaming on 3DS, then getting an emulator is the perfect choice for you. Not only will you be able to play all kinds of games—including those that you haven’t played in a really long time, and that you miss so much as a result—but you will also be able to play all types of new games that you’ve never experienced before, and which make use of the 3DS’s excellent, innovative interface.

As well, you can use this kind of app—which is compatible with both Android devices and PCs—to test your own homemade games, that you make yourself. So, if you’re in the market for this kind of application, have a look at the apps we’ve mentioned here: they will likely serve you well in your quest for the perfect Nintendo 3DS emulator for Android or the best 3DS emulator PC. With these apps, you can play every DS game you’ve ever wanted—and countless others—from your cell phone.

*** Videos are added for to guide in detail, all the rights belong to their original uploaders on YouTube***

10 Best Nintendo 3DS emulator for PC, Windows & Android
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