|Platform(s)||Windows, Linux, Nintendo Switch|
melonDS is a work-in-progress Nintendo DS emulator aiming for better performance than DeSmuME and to emulate Wi-Fi and local multiplayer capabilities. It's developed by StapleButter, a former contributor to DeSmuME, and has been available as a libretro core since version 0.6.
- Official builds (Windows, Linux)
- Switch port (WIP) (Some games play at a playable frame rate, but is still far from perfect, don't except to play games at full speed. Is expected to improve when 0.8 is released)
As of 0.7.2, melonDS has had major improvements such as savestates, microphone support, the ability to simulate the close/open function of the console's lid, and better timing. Though it's still not at the same level of quality on some things as DeSmuME, it is getting very close with 0.8 expected to have decent OpenGL rendering, allowing for potential upscaling and better performance.
Even some of the additions that StapleButter introduced or plans to implement into melonDS such as increased accuracy of Wi-Fi networking emulation (and perhaps DSi mode in future) has forced its 'bigger brother', DeSmuME, to relapse and start their own implementations. The DeSmuME team, has for a very long time, been very reticent, to the point of blank stubbornness, to have any emulation of key NDS technology like Wi-Fi linking.
Like most emulators, development has been rocky with at one point the sole developer putting the project on a hiatus in May of 2018 leaving this to-do list for anyone who wished to contribute improving the emulator, which is still open-source. On July 2018 it was announced that development was going to continue for melonDS and has since showed high hopes for 2019.
The UI is still pretty barebones with very little to tweak in terms of improving performance, this is mainly due to developer goal of making a working emulation rather than provide game-specific hacks.
From the README on GitHub:
- melonDS requires BIOS/firmware copies from a DS. Files required:
- bios7.bin, 16KB: ARM7 BIOS
- bios9.bin, 4KB: ARM9 BIOS
- firmware.bin, 128/256/512KB: firmware
- Firmware boot requires a firmware dump from an original DS or DS Lite. DS firmwares dumped from a DSi or 3DS aren't bootable and only contain configuration data, thus they are only suitable when booting games directly.
- DS BIOS dumps from a 3DS can be used with no compatibility issues. DSi BIOS dumps should be usable too, provided they were dumped properly.
These files can be found here, just rename the BIOS to match.
To boot to the DS's system menu you can either go to System -> Run or Config -> Emu settings and uncheck "Boot game directly".