How to Emulate Nintendo 3DS Games on Android

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How to Emulate Nintendo 3DS Games on Android

Emulation provides an accessible and inexpensive option for you to play older games that may be difficult to get these days. Most home and portable systems up to the fifth console generation can be emulated by an Android phone, although even Nintendo’s latest handhelds are no match for a current smartphone.

Let’s go through how to install and use a Nintendo 3DS emulator on your Android phone.

The Best Nintendo 3DS Emulator on Android

Of course, the first step is to choose an emulator. There are a surprising amount of possibilities, but the distinctions between the finest of them are determined by your particular tastes.

Citra and RetroArch are widely regarded as the greatest 3DS emulators available. Both are open-source and available on a wide range of systems.

RetroArch Emulator

RetroArch supports a wide range of platforms, including the 3DS, Wii, Wii U, GameBoy, PlayStation 1, PlayStation 2, SNES, Sega Genesis, and more. This is feasible because RetroArch functions as a type of hub for multiple emulators designed for different platforms.

It’s available for Windows, Linux, Android, macOS, and iOS, but it can also operate on other consoles, such as the GameCube. RetroArch’s website has a comprehensive list of supported systems. Our RetroArch Windows installation guide delves into its extensive configuration choices for additional information on its customizability.

Download: RetroArch (Free)

Citra Emulator

Citra was the first 3DS emulator designed for the PC. It is now available for Windows, Linux, macOS, and Android. The Citra team has a fantastic game compatibility list that categorizes supported titles on a scale of “not tested” to “perfect” so that users can track the progress of a game’s compatibility testing.

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While RetroArch has more platforms supported and is more widely available, we’ll be utilizing the 3DS-focused Citra for this post. Over the years, the Citra team has provided constant and considerable support, and the Android app is superbly optimized—it even has gamepad support!

Download: Citra Emulator (Free)

Warning! Regarding ROMs

It is our job to inform you that acquiring ROMs via methods other than extracting them from your own disc or cartridge is unlawful. You may only extract ROMs from games you own for your personal use, not for distribution. Nintendo is very rigorous about sharing and downloading ROMs, so be cautious.

However, as long as you are not selling ROMs, you should be basically legal. Before downloading ROMs from internet databases, be sure the source is credible and the contents are secure. ROMs are never EXE files, and they never request further access to your device.

How to Set Up and Use Citra on Your Android Phone

You’re just a few steps away from playing your favorite 3DS games after you’ve downloaded Citra on your Android phone.

Prepare Your Games for Emulation

You should have your game files saved in a suitable folder on your Android smartphone before opening the program. It’s much better if you make a new folder called 3DS Games or Citra Games.

This isn’t required before opening the software, but it will make your initial setup easier—when you first launch Citra, you’ll be requested to pick the folder from which your games will launch. At any moment, you may modify this by pressing the folder symbol in the top-right corner.

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The Nintendo 3DS has a CIA extension, but it must be encrypted before it can be used—this extracted file will use the 3DS extension. You can use a program like WinZip to extract the files, but Citra also enables you to extract a 3DS file from the CIA directly from the app’s home page. Tap the file icon, choose Install CIA, and then select the CIA file from your downloads. The rest is simple.

How to Play Games on Citra

You’re ready to play with a limited collection of 3DS games at your disposal.

  1. Start Citra and provide the needed permissions. It may seek microphone access—this is for DS games that make use of the microphone during gameplay.
  2. Tap Select this directory after selecting the games folder you created previously.
  3. Once you’ve chosen your encrypted game directory, the home screen will display a list of all of your games, each accompanied by an icon.
  4. To begin, tap on the game of your choosing. As the emulator loads the required shaders, a little loading window will display. After that, you’re all set.

The Best 3DS Emulator for Android

We picked two titles from Citra’s compatibility list to test: New Super Mario Bros. 2 and Resident Evil Revelations. On the compatibility list, the former was designated “excellent,” while the latter was branded “terrible.” Super Mario provided a generally enjoyable experience, with just the odd stutter. Resident Evil, on the other hand, suffered from texture and model issues, as well as a crash.

We have no question that Citra is a wonderful method to experience compatible games, and the team’s perseverance ensures us that they will only continue to extend and improve on the compatible titles that are now accessible. Citra comes highly recommended—perhaps it’s the finest option to imitate 3DS games.

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