1. GBAtemp_3DS_best_emulators.png

    The Nintendo 3DS holds a special place for every gamer who owns the console. It was backwards compatible with the Nintendo DS, had a pocketable and portable form factor and came in various shapes and sizes (which could be confusing for those uninitiated). It also has Nintendo’s official support with first-party titles like Kirby's Extra Epic Yarn releasing only last year.

    But for the tinkerers among us, the 3DS is also special for its ease to load it with homebrew apps, especially emulators. With a homebrew-enabled 3DS, one can have access to libraries of retro games from the NES to the PlayStation. Sure Nintendo’s current console, the Nintendo Switch, also has impressive homebrew emulator abilities; in fact, we shared our 5 best emulators in a previous post. But if you want to give a second life to your 3DS, you can’t go wrong with emulators. And since it’s been a while since the console has been out, support has grown and running emulators has been made easier and better.

    As such, we decided to share our picks for the best emulators for the Nintendo 3DS. Let's jump right in!

    1. Virtual Console Injection

    vci.JPG

    An interesting fact about the 3DS is that it shares similar ARM architecture with the Nintendo DS and the GameBoy Advance. This means that the 3DS has something of a hidden GBA inside of its hardware and can run GBA games natively. Via the Virtual Console, the 3DS isn’t emulating the GBA but in fact running it on native hardware with the actual performance of a GBA.

    By means of Virtual Console injection (VCI), you can play GBA games natively, save for some games that require special hardware like WarioWare: Twisted. Thanks to the 3DS being backward-compatible with the GBA, VCI offers close to 100% speed and accuracy for GBA gaming.

    You can also use the same method to “inject” games from other retro consoles including the NES, SNES, GameBoy, GameBoy Colour, SEGA Mega Drive, Game Gear and TurboGrafx 16 into the 3DS but since these consoles run on different architecture than the 3DS, you might face some issues.

    To get started with VCI on the 3DS, GBAtemp member @Asdolo created the handy New Super Ultimate Injector (NSUI) tool which you can find out more in our discussion thread below.

    :arrow: New Super Ultimate Injector GBAtemp discussion thread

    2. DaedalusX64 3DS for N64 emulation

    x64.png

    The 3DS brought some of the N64’s most cherished titles back in remastered form like The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time, The Legend of Zelda Majora’s Mask and Star Fox 64. But these were the few exceptions and gamers would understandably want to play more of nostalgic N64 games on the go. With the DaedalusX64 3DS emulator, what many have awaited for so long is now possible.

    This N64 emulator for the 3DS is still a work-in-progress with a lot of the tested games facing performance issues. But only a few years ago, during the 3DS’ prime, many would have dismissed N64 emulation on the device as pure fantasy.

    As such, even if it’s not a finished emulator that will play every N64 game, it’s worth a try if you want to play N64 games on your 3DS. You can refer to the compatibility list here which is being regularly updated. The emulator’s developer @MasterFeizz made an official thread with instructions on how to use the emulator and download links.

    :arrow: DaedalusX64 3DS Official GBAtemp thread

    3. TWiLight Menu++ for playing DS games without a flashcart

    twilight.JPG

    Yes, the 3DS is backward-compatible with the NDS and even packs a slot for its cartridges but what about bypassing the need for a flashcard altogether and play DS games directly from the 3DS’ SD card? This is now possible with TWiLight Menu++ (TWLMenu++) which was developed by GBAtemp member @Robz8.

    As mentioned before, the 3DS shares the DS’ architecture and by using TWLMenu++, DS games run natively on the 3DS. Once you have installed the app’s CIA, you can drag-and-drop your ROMs onto the SD card, and play without the need for any additional steps. With this app, some DS games are even playable in 16:10 widescreen on the 3DS.

    If you still want to hang on to a flashcard, TWLMenu++ also allows you to launch DS ROMs flashcard as well, via nds-bootstrap which is included in the app.

    While it’s a 3DS that can get the most out of TWLMenu++, it also supports the DS Phat/lite. By loading it on a flashcard, TWLMenu++ allows you to bring the DSi Menu to your DS Phat/lite.

    If you want to learn more, head to the official thread created by @Robz8 that already has over 2 million views. You’ll find more details as to how to use the app, download links as well as FAQs to help in troubleshooting.

    :arrow: TWiLight Menu++ Official GBAtemp Thread

    4. PCSX ReARMed for PlayStation Emulation

    capsule_616x353.jpg

    You might already know RetroArch as a handy frontend for multi-system emulation and the PCSX ReARMed core now allows for decent PS1 emulation on the 3DS. Emulating the PlayStation on the 3DS would, similar to the N64, also be dismissed as fantasy a few years back. With developments in the scene, it is now possible.

    The PCSX ReARMed developers recently changed the 3DS builds to use PCSX4ALL’s Unai renderer, which is less accurate but faster and now allows many PS1 games to run at full speed. This is mostly applicable for the New Nintendo 3DS while the old 3DS won’t be able to emulate many games at full speed.

    We have an official PCSX ReARMed discussion thread, complete with download links and compatibility list for you to learn more about.

    :arrow: PCSX ReARMed Official GBAtemp Discussion Thread

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    That’s it for our best 3DS emulator picks! Are there any other emulators that you use and would recommend?
     
  2. Discussion (55 replies)

  3. AmandaRose

    AmandaRose Do what I do. Hold tight and pretend it’s a plan
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    @Robz8 will be having a heart attack right now he hates when people call twighlightmenu an emulator :rofl2:
     
  4. Prans

    OP Prans Geek, gamer, human
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    yeah likely a misnomer from my part but couldn't leave it out :)
     
  5. SuperDan

    SuperDan Im Aware ... Im Unaware
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    I Still Love My N3DS... even though i hardly touch it .... i mostly use mine for watching films in 3D ,,, i do like them Moflex Movies .. i think i have over 100 of them on my 256 SD Cad with about 300 gigs of films saved on my PC ... its a shame that ISO site died as it damn near impossible to find more films .... these days .... i was quite surprised how well PS1 and N64 games run on 3DS ... & playing Mario 64 is 3D was cool waiting for that special update so i can play more N64 games one day .... if only it had a Dreamcast emu i'd be stoked ... maybe one day
     
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  6. susi91

    susi91 GBAtemp Regular
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    ...
    5. Vice3DS
    6. - 8. bubble2k16 Emu's
    :)
     
  7. Rahkeesh

    Rahkeesh GBAtemp Addict
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    I find it really weird not to cover the basics like genesis, snes etc. with Bubble2006k's suite of emulators. One of the few solutions optimized for old3DS, handles superfx and segaCD scaling well on new3ds, and the interface is far simpler and less hassle than injectors or retroarch. Its the place I would recommend anyone to get started.
     
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  8. Dartz150

    Dartz150 Yet another Onii-chan
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    Despite owning a "homebrewed" Nintendo Switch, I find the 3DS quite the best option to have a handheld retro gaming experience, because is smaller (If you have the regular sized new3DS model) and I find its screen perfect for 1:1 pixel perfect ratio display modes.
    I'm recently enjoying retroarch's psx ReArmed core and MAME, though it would be very nice to have these as standalone emulators.

    And of course, you have full speed on 100% GBA library and nearly 90% of the NDS Library thanks to nds-bootstrap + TM++ and the newly released open_AGB_FIRM
     
    Last edited by Dartz150, Aug 20, 2020
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  9. Sonic Angel Knight

    Sonic Angel Knight GBAtemp Legend
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    Kinda shock retroarch isn't on this list. (even though is on like almost everything from 20 year ago generation of platform) :blink:

    Though Virtual console is just nice for feeling more natural and authentic to the system, feels very limited in what it should be able to do compared to other emulators. Plus not all games work with it. Missing mappers or special support for things like NES MMC5, or GBA save data differences. (Probably rom file size also play factors) Not to mention SNES only for NEW 3DS. :blink.
     
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  10. spotanjo3

    spotanjo3 GBAtemp Legend
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    Impressive for new 3DS but I am stick with Nintendo Switch for those emulators working much better soon NSW, thought. And its on go too, heh!
     
  11. JuanMena

    JuanMena I❤90's
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    My favourite Emulator is called LUMA-CFW.
     
  12. IanSkinner1982

    IanSkinner1982 Advanced Member
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    I'd recommend Vice3DS.
     
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  13. Zense

    Zense GBARunner2 config: Touch touchscreen -> Press R
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    Great to see so many of the homwbrew projects that happen on this very site get some much deserved attention and recognition! The 3DS is a powerhouse for its retro and backwards capabilities, much like it's console sibling, the Wii U.

    The list of credits for all of these projects would be huge if every contributor to these programs were to be listed, but they all still deserve a lot of respect for what they have accomplished and done for free :grog:
     
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  14. Goku1992A

    Goku1992A GBAtemp Advanced Maniac
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    I had a very bad experience running emulators on the 3DS. But I will give it to twilight for the NDS playback that's about it.
     
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  15. playstays_shun

    playstays_shun GBAtemp Fan
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    Technically Twilight++ isn't an emulator since its using NDS bootstrap and natively playing using the arm cpu in the 3ds for DS backwards compatibility. its just redirecting the flow from the cart slot to microSD. I say 'just' like it isn't a colossal accomplishment vs. flashcarts, but describing it in laymen terms.

    in the same way GBA injects native play using that arm cpu (which is a requirement of some DS games, if not for that and limited ambassador launch, it may not have been included in the hardware since Nintendo was never 'pleased' with the results of GBA on 3DS and left it out to dry). Though I only play GBA on my AGB101/AGS101 and GB Player / MiSTer.

    I find 3DS and Wii U to be the best bang for buck Nintendo systems though.

    as Wii U can natively play Wii and Gamecube with Nintendont on hacked vWii side.

    Three generations in one system, native play, is now unprecedented. We're lucky PS5 is even gonna have lots of PS4 compatibility.

    And that MS poured so much into OG xbox / 360 compatibility as well. Not enough to save the xbox one this generation, but I'll give them credit for trying

    --

    Retroarch cores for SNES/Genesis injects seems ok too in my very limited understanding + research on 3ds. I have spent exactly no time with emulation on Vita but I've read 3DS handles emulation better than that. That's fascinating to me ! the 3DS cpu is ... faster? Even though Vita can pump out more impressive graphics - could be messing that up but would love some explanation there since I originally thought Vita would be an emulation godsend.


    Also , LOVE my dual iPS N3ds and XL
     
    Last edited by playstays_shun, Aug 20, 2020
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  16. ImFire

    ImFire Advanced Member
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    If only someone would perfect an Arcade emulator for it and then my life would be complete.
     
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  17. SuperDan

    SuperDan Im Aware ... Im Unaware
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    There's always Retroarch... I just don't care for it too much... I hate the layout
     
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  18. Feffe

    Feffe GBAtemp Regular
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    For SNES games, remember to use @DarkAkuma's SFROM Tool alongside Asdolo's Injector. It greatly improves the compatibility. I recently re-played some SNES games on 3DS official emulator and they run really well.
     
    Last edited by Feffe, Aug 20, 2020
  19. SuperDan

    SuperDan Im Aware ... Im Unaware
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    I'm going to try that..
     
  20. ScarletDreamz

    ScarletDreamz [Debug Mode]
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    Robz be like:
    [​IMG]
     
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