The 6 Best DS Emulators for Android of 2019

Play your favorite classic Nintendo DS games on your smartphone

A promotional photo of the original Nintendo DS

Wikipedia/Creative Commons

Nintendo DS emulators for Android make it possible to play DS games on your smartphone or tablet. There are several contenders for best DS emulator for Android, and most of them are completely free.

To play Nintendo DS games on Android, you must download ROMs. Video game ROMs are available on the web through torrent websites, but the legality of distributing such files varies from region to region. Make sure to install antivirus software before downloading files from the web.

01
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Best Open Source DS Emulator: NDS4Droid

Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow running on NDS4Droid for Android

What We Like

  • Open source with no ads.

  • Multilingual support.

  • Frame skip option helps offset performance issues.

What We Don't Like

  • Laggy performance and periodic crashes interrupt gameplay.

  • No fast forward feature.

NDS4droid has been around for a long time. Although it hasn't received any updates lately, the source code is readily available, and it's a treasure trove of information for developers interested in early DS emulation. NDS4droid includes many extra features, such as save states and built-in Action Replay cheats. It even supports games for the OUYA game console.

02
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Best Performing DS Emulator: My NDS Emulator for Android 6

Super Mario 64 running on My NDS Emulator For Android 6

What We Like

  • Resizeable screens.

  • Consistent frame rate.

What We Don't Like

  • Annoying ads that can't be removed.

  • Requires an internet connection to start up.

My NDS Emulator is designed to work with devices running Android 6.0 (Marshmallow) and up, but it also runs on Android 5.0 (Lollipop), so it's a decent option for older phones. Not only can you customize the on-screen controls, you can also connect controllers for other systems, such as the Nintendo Switch Joy-Cons, to play DS games on your Android device.

03
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Best Non-English DS Emuator: The N.DS Pocket of Simulator

Download DS games with the N.DS Pocket of Simulator for Android.

What We Like

  • Discover and download new games from the web.

  • Frequent updates to improve performance.

What We Don't Like

  • The cheats menu is in Chinese.

  • No option to customize the controls or interface.

This app was made in China, which you'll likely discover as you dig through the menus. Fortunately, it's intuitive enough for anyone to figure out. Best of all, it lets you search for ROMS from within the app. Of course, you can also upload your own ROMs. It's exceptionally stable and fast performing for a free app, and you don't even have to sit through ads.

04
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Best Multipurpose Emulator: RetroArch

The RetroArch video game emulator for Android

What We Like

  • Emulates multiple handheld and console video game systems.

  • Open source and ad-free.

What We Don't Like

  • Requires a little time and technical knowledge to set up.

  • The interface could be more user friendly.

RetroArch is a multipurpose video game emulator available for every platform, from Android to Linux. The Android version supports games for the Nintendo DS, Game Boy Advance, and the original Game Boy, as well as console games and non-Nintendo systems. That said, you must download the core for each individual emulator. You can even play and create your homebrew games for DS with the Libretro API.

05
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Best Looking DS Emulator: EmuBox

Zelda: Phantom Hour Glass running on the EmuBox DS emulator for Android

What We Like

  • Exceptional graphics.

  • Play in portrait or landscape mode.

What We Don't Like

  • Performance issues arise when too many cheats are active.

  • No option to remove ads.

Like Retroarch, EmuBox emulates a wide range of systems, including the NES and the PlayStation. Because it was coded using Google's Material Design language, EmuBox is able to reproduce the visuals of the DS flawlessly. Fortunately, there's an option to capture screenshots. On top of that, EmuBox gives you 20 save slots per ROM.

06
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Best Paid DS Emulator: DraStic DS Emulator

DraStic DS Emulator for Android

What We Like

  • Adjust the size and placement of screens.

  • Access your save data on multiple devices.

What We Don't Like

  • Only one save slot per ROM.

  • No free option.

For $4.99, the DraStic DS Emulator is a steal. It comes with hundreds of pre-loaded cheats, and it lets you back up save data directly to your Google Drive Cloud. There's even an option to enhance the graphics. It also includes every feature found in all of the other emulators on this list, such as external controller support. While DraStic DS works on most Android devices, it performs best on higher end phones and tablets.