Emulators on 3DS

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Nintendo 3DS
Developer Nintendo
Type Handheld game console
Generation Eighth generation
Release date 2011
Discontinued 2020
Predecessor Nintendo DS

Because of the homebrewing scene the 3DS has had, you can install a variety of emulators. Currently, the New 3DS is capable of running much faster than the older models, making it a much more ideal platform for emulation, but despite this there are still some emulators that have issues regardless. For more information on how to homebrew your 3DS, visit here 3ds.hacks.guide.



There are preliminary 3DS ports





Available cores
Cores Game/System Working? Notes
FinalBurn Alpha 2012 Arcade
  • Uses FBA v0.2.97.30 ROM sets
  • Main core (fbalpha2012_libretro) does not work, but platform-specific cores run at full speed
FinalBurn Neo NeoGeo A few games are unable to be loaded due to memory constraints
FinalBurn Alpha CPS1
FinalBurn Alpha CPS2
FinalBurn Alpha CPS3 ~ most games are too slow to run even on New 3DS, though JoJo runs almost full speed
Gambatte Game Boy / Color
mGBA GameBoy Advance acceptable with Pokemon Ruby/Sapphire, but some games are slow to use, even on New 3DS, at present
gpSP ~50-60 FPS with dynarec
Mednafen VB Virtual Boy ~ ~25-30 FPS
Mednafen PCE fast PCE / CD / SuperGrafx
Mednafen NGP NeoGeo Pocket / Color
Mednafen WS WonderSwan / Color
Nestopia ~55-60 FPS, use FCEUmm instead
NXEngine Cave Story
PCSX-ReARMed PlayStation ~50-60 FPS at standard resolution
PicoDrive MD / Gen / SMS / CD / 32X 2D games run full speed, 3D games run about 30 FPS or less
Genesis Plus GX MD / Gen / SMS / CD / 32X / SG-1000 Redbook audio hangs when suspending or pausing RetroArch
Snes9x 2002 (PocketSNES) SNES less compatible than CATSFC, but can actually run many special chip games at full speed
Snes9x 2005 (CATSFC) ~55-60 FPS on standard games, ~50 FPS on Super FX games
Snes9x 2005+ (CATSFC Plus) Same as Snes9x 2005 but with better sound, at the cost of a few FPS, has more accurate audio, slower
Snes9x 2010 (Snes9x Next) Most accurate but slowest SNES core (~40 FPS),too slow to use even on New 3DS at present

Using current exploits, the New 3DS is capable of running most of these cores at or nearly at full speed on most games. The only cores the older 3DS can reliably run at full speed are 2048, Gambatte, QuickNES, NXEngine, and some older Sega games using PicoDrive. Opposed to normal use of RetroArch, these are all self-contained emulators, albeit sharing the same automatic configuration. Screenshot-taking is broken. Upon exiting RetroArch 3DS, press the Start button.

RetroArch (unofficial)[edit]

Unofficial 3DS builds

New3DS performance
Core Game/System Working? Notes
TGB Dual Game Boy / Color ~60fps
GW Game & Watch ~58fps
FUSE ZX Spectrum ~60fps
VecX Vectrex ~55fps
O2EM Odyssey ² ~60fps
Stella Atari2600 ~60fps
Atari800 Atari5200 ~60fps
ProSystem Atari7800 ~60fps
Handy Atari Lynx ~60fps
FinalBurn Alpha CPS3 Arcade ~ ~35fps/~50fps
FinalBurn Neo NeoGeo ~ ~40fps/~50fps
Virtul Jaguar Atari Jaguar ~10fps (Technically works but is unplayably slow)
Yabause Sega Saturn ~5fps (Technically works but is unplayably slow)
4DO 3DO ~8fps (Technically works but is unplayably slow)

Ultimate 3DS emupack[edit]

Version git FLOSS ✓ Recommended
Supported Emulators
  • Nintendo 64 : DaedalusX64 0.2
  • SNES : Snes9X 1.30
  • NES : VirtuaNES 1.02
  • TurboGrafx/PC Engine : TemperPCE 1.02
  • MasterSystem/MegaDrive/Sega CD/32x : PicoDrive 0.94
  • CHIP-8 : CHIP-3DS
  • Atari 2600 : z26 3DS
  • GB/GBC : GameYob 1.0.8
  • GBA : mGBA 0.8.4



Name Version Accuracy FLOSS Active Citra Recommended
VirtuaNES for 3DS git Mid (New3DS)
3DNES git0.2 Low-Mid
FCEUmm3DS 2015/05/07 Mid ?


Name Version Accuracy FLOSS Active Citra Recommended
SNES9x for 3DS git Mid (New3DS)
blargSNES 1.3bgit Mid ~
SNES9x for 3DS
  • Snes9x for 3DS - runs a good majority of games well, even on old 3DS/2DS's. It's recommended to use a New 3DS if you want to run games that uses the SuperFX or SA-1 chip properly
  • blargSNES - It works well, but lacks compatibility for games that require enhancement chips (SA1, SuperFX, etc.)

Game Boy / Color[edit]

Name Version Accuracy FLOSS Active Citra Recommended
PlutoBoy git Mid
GameYob 3DS 1.0.8 Mid
Cinoop git2015 Mid
  • GameYob - forked from a popular emulator used on the DS. Emulates the Game Boy and Game Boy Color. The original DS version is actually more polished than the 3DS port, so some of the more hardware pushing games won't work as well as the DS port.

Game Boy Advance[edit]

Name Version Accuracy FLOSS Active Citra Recommended
mGBA git Mid
CitrAGB (based on gpSP) 1.0git Low

The 3DS does include native firmware for a GBA mode which was mainly used to run ambassador releases instead of having to develop an emulator for them. Because it's technically running a "virtual" GBA, it can't provide features that are normally available on other emulators, such as savestates, screen filtering, or sleep mode, however it does have high compatibility with the exception of cartridges with special hardware. If you're using an old 3DS/2DS, this is the best option to play GBA games. There are two ways to take advantage of this firmware:

Name Version Accuracy FLOSS Active Citra Recommended
New Super Ultimate Injector (NSUI) Beta 27 Mid ? ? ?
open_agb_firm git Mid ?
GBARunner2 git Mid ?

Virtual Console Injection[edit]

Some have tried injecting alternate ROMs in the available Virtual Console releases (MD, GG, NES, GBA Ambassador, GBC, Japanese emulated SFC compilations) with varying degrees of success. The emulators used for Virtual Console are not as accurate as other emulators so compatibility isn't perfect (the only exception is GBA since it runs it natively, not emulation), Sega systems in particular have high compatibility however.
There's an easy tool that will convert and inject any supported ROM file as its associated VC application called New Super Ultimate Injector. It's an all in one tool and can even remotely install the injection provided your 3DS is connected to the same network. It's currently in beta, but it's still really useful.

  • New Super Ultimate Injector - There are other programs that can do injections, but this one is nice as it can do other Virtual Console injections and some forwarders for emulators. The only problem is each ROM must be injected and installed individually, including the save files, which makes the number of titles that can be installed restricted to the max the 3DS title limit (300 titles, not including pre-installed system titles).
Open agb firm
  • open_agb_firm (Name not finalized) - A custom FIRM payload that takes advantage of the built-in GBA firmware, it's still in early development but has an alpha build available. The major advantages of this compared to VC injection is that it performs faster and there aren't any issues with the sound, it utilizes the native hardware (even with VC injection there are issues with the sound, ex.: "Fire Emblem"). It can load the ROM through the SD card instead of having to convert and install them, but needs to be launched on boot instead of being able to use the 3DS HOME Menu (there's ways to make a forwarder for in on the HOME menu, but requires additional setup to get it to work). One major issue is there's a chance that it may not detect the correct save format or will corrupt the existing save file so make sure to backup your saves beforehand (they are currently trying fix it by having a better database for save detection, if you're interested you can help).
    • To install, simply put the .firm file in the /luma/payloads/ folder and hold START to load up the chainloader to launch it. There's no way of exiting out once the program starts, so you will need to turn it off and redo the step to load it if you wanted to change games.
  • GBARunner2 - a GBA hypervisor made for the DS(i), can only be ran through TWiLight Menu++ and is included by default with the program (see below). Compatiblity can be a hit-or-miss, but it's still in active development with plans to include interesting features such as gyro control emulation and local wireless multiplayer in the future.

Nintendo 64[edit]

Name Version Accuracy FLOSS Active Citra Recommended
DaedalusX64 3DS git Mid ~

DaedalusX64 - N64 has always been known to be a hard system to emulate, which is why many were skeptical about how feasible it would be to have an emulator for the system on the 3DS. While still in its beta stage, it has shown a lot of improvements thanks to using a dynamic recompiler, with some games running at a playable state. It also supports using stereoscopic 3D (at the cost of slower performance), which isn't a feature a lot of emulators have.

Nintendo DS[edit]

Name Version Accuracy FLOSS Active Recommended
TWiLight Menu++ git Mid
DeSmuME git Low
TWiLight Menu++
  • TWiLight Menu++ - Not technically an "emulator", rather it's a frontend for a separate program, nds-bootstrap, which allows for an NDS ROM to be loaded from an SD card. The program is originally designed for the DSi, however it's able to work on the 3DS by utilizing the virtual DSi (aka the TWL_FIRM or "DS Mode") that the 3DS has for backwards-compatibility. Compatibility isn't the same as using a flashcart, however it's still pretty high with only a few games having issues or triggering anti-piracy protections (newer versions now come with AP patches for most games and will patch them if needed at launch). It also comes pre-bundled with a variety of emulators used on the DS and a work-in-progress GBA hypervisor, GBARunner2, that works to some degree.

Includes a bunch of popular emulators, and can be found in The list includes:

Gameyob - (GB/GBC)
jEnesisDS - (Sega Megadrive/Genesis)
nestwl/nesds - (NES)
NitroGrafx - (PC-Engine)
S8DS - (GG/MS/SG-1000)
GBARunner2 (GBA)
NGPDS(Neo Geo Pocket)
PicoDriveTWL (Genesis/Megadrive)
StellaDS (Atari 2600)
A5200DS (Atari 5200)
A7800DS (Atari 7800 ProSystem)
  • DeSmuME - an experimental port of DeSmuME that has since been abandoned, it wasn't very compatible.


Because the firmware that the 3DS uses for backwards-compatibility is actually the same as the DSi, it's possible to inject DSiWare as an installable .cia file. There's two ways to do this:

Name Version Accuracy FLOSS Active Recommended
GodMode9 git Mid
DSiWare Conversion Script Script Mid ? ~
  • Version 1.8.0 and above has a script that can convert .nds to .cia, 3ds.hacks.guide has more information on how to update to the latest version if needed.
DSiWare Conversion Script
  • This script can be used to convert .bin files from your DSi's SD card to .nds which can then be used to convert into .cia.

These scripts will ONLY work for DSiWare, NOT NDS GAMES.

TWiLight Menu++ has support for two DSiWare as of v15.1.1 with a special preview of nds-bootstrap, Pop Island and Pop Island: Paperfield. These can also run on the DS.

Virtual Boy[edit]

Name Version Accuracy FLOSS Active Citra Recommended
r3Ddragon git Low ~ (slow)
  • r3Ddragon - It's kind of surprising that Nintendo never released a Virtual Console for the Virtual Boy on the 3DS, especially given how small the library of games were for the system and how both utilize 3D effects and cause eyestrain. What makes this emulator stand out is the fact that it's able to display the graphics in 3D the way it was intended, something that is almost impossible to do on other platforms, unfortunately compatibility is still low and requires a New 3DS to run. Development has since opened.

Pokémon Mini[edit]

Name Version Accuracy FLOSS Active Citra Recommended
PokeMini 3DS git Mid

Game & Watch[edit]

Name Version Accuracy FLOSS Active Citra Recommended
Game & Watch 3DS V1 Low-Mid ? ? ~



Name Version Accuracy FLOSS Active Recommended
PCSX-ReARMed (RetroArch) Nightly Mid
CTRX git0.9 Alpha Low
  • PCSX-ReARMed (RetroArch) - Thanks to the work of many developers, it is now possible to have full speed 60 FPS emulation for a majority of games and support for .CHD compression formats. Generally, 2D games will perform better than 3D, however you can get some better performance by tweaking the settings if necessary. The nightly builds have seen major improvements since the initial release and can even play some of the more demanding games at full speed (See here for some tips), so it's better to use that until the next stable release. NOTE: This emulator is mainly targeted for the New 3DS so don't expect the o3DS to run well if at all.


Name Version MD/Gen SMS/GG 32X CD Accuracy FLOSS Active Citra Recommended
PicoDrive for 3DS git Mid (New3DS)
3DSSMS 0.3 Mid ~

Atari inc.[edit]

Atari 2600[edit]

Name Version Accuracy FLOSS Active Citra Recommended
Z26 3DS 2.0git Mid

Atari 5200 / 800[edit]

Name Version Accuracy FLOSS Active Citra Recommended
Atari800 3DS 0.3.4 Mid

Atari Lynx[edit]

Name Version Accuracy FLOSS Active Citra Recommended
Handy 3DS 1.1bgit Mid ?


PCE / CD / SuperGrafx[edit]

Name Version Accuracy FLOSS Active Citra Recommended
TemperPCE for 3DS git Mid (New3DS)


Name Version Accuracy FLOSS Active Citra Recommended
NP2/21 3DS 0.1.3 Mid ? ~



Name Version Accuracy FLOSS Active Citra Recommended
Vex3DS (based on vecx) 0.4git Mid ~

SNK Playmore[edit]

Neo Geo Pocket / Color[edit]

Name Version Accuracy FLOSS Active Citra Recommended
NeoPop-SDL 3DS git0.4 Mid
NeoPop 3DS 0.2git Low



Name Version Accuracy FLOSS Active Citra Recommended
3DOS 1.0 Low ?
  • 3DOS - Based on 8086tiny. Can only emulate 8086 CPUs.


mac 2.x[edit]

Name Version Accuracy FLOSS Active Citra Recommended
Mini vMac 3DS git Mid


ZX Spectrum[edit]

Name Version Accuracy FLOSS Active Citra Recommended
3DS Spectrum 0.1 Low-Mid ~
ZXDS 3DS 2.1.1 Low-Mid ~


Commodore 64 / 128[edit]

Name Version Accuracy FLOSS Active Citra Recommended
VICE3DS git Mid
VICE3DS-C128 0.1 Mid
Bread Box 1/06/16 Low-Mid ~


Name Version Accuracy FLOSS Active Citra Recommended
UAE3DSsng git Mid ? ?

Amiga 500[edit]

Name Version Accuracy FLOSS Active Citra Recommended
UAE3DS git Mid ~

Game engine[edit]

Name Latest Version Accuracy FLOSS Active Citra Recommended Supported game(s)
OpenLara git Mid ? ~ Tomb Raider 1-4
ScummVM 3DS 2.2.0 High ? LucasArt games
EasyRPG 3DS High ? RPG Maker games
OpenBOR 3DS git Mid .pak mod games
RPG Maker git Low ? RPG maker games

Lua Engine[edit]

Name Version Accuracy FLOSS Active Recommended
CtrµLua 3DS git Mid ~
LÖVE Potion 3DS git Mid ~
Lua Player Plus 3DS git Mid ~

Source ports[edit]

Name Latest Version Accuracy FLOSS Active Citra Recommended
Super Mario 64 Port gitfix Mid
ccleste git Mid ?
Sonic CD git Mid
Sonic 1 & 2 git Mid
Wolf4SDL git Mid ?
opentitus-3ds git Mid ?
cdogs-3ds git Mid ?
Quake2CTR git Mid ?
devilutionX-3ds git Mid ?
SpaceCadetPinball git Mid ?
open-supaplex git Mid ?
jfsw-3ds git Mid ?
prboom3ds git Mid ?
ctrDoom2D git Low ? ?
ctrHexenII git Low ? ?
Minicraft3DS git Low ? ?
ctrWolfen git Low ? ?
Hexahop-3ds git ? ? ?
MazeOfGalious-3DS git ? ? ?
ZeldaOLB git ? ? ?
Amphetamine git ? ? ?
Abbayedesmorts-3DS git ? ? ?
Meritous-3DS git ? ? ?
SM64 3DS port
  • SM64 3DS Port - Thanks to the decompilation project, you can now enjoy SM64 on the 3DS with *analog* support and native rendering (compared to the official DS port). Works pretty much at full speed on the New 3DS, the original model apparently has some slow downs but still playable. You can either build it yourself, or try finding pre-compiled build online (there are multiple versions, you can find some here but it's no longer up-to-date or a more up-to-date version with 3D support here).

Game Creation Systems (GCS)[edit]

Name Latest Version Accuracy FLOSS Active Citra Recommended
DigitalMZX git Mid ? ~

Fantasy Computers[edit]


Name Latest Version Accuracy FLOSS Active Citra Recommended
Fake-08 git3DS-pico-8 Mid


Name Latest Version Accuracy FLOSS Active Citra Recommended
TIC-80 git Mid



Name Version Accuracy FLOSS Active Citra Recommended
Wumiibo git Mid
  • Wumiibo - Emulates Amiibo functionality on the 3DS without needing an NFC reader or using tags. You can even use your own Amiibo data, after it's been decrypted, or a generic AmiiboID which are freely available and explains how to get them on the project page.


Name Version Accuracy FLOSS Active Citra Recommended
Cuzebox 3DS 0.0.1 Low ~

CC800 Simulator[edit]

Name Version Accuracy FLOSS Active Citra Recommended
Sim800CTR git Low ? ?


Name Version Accuracy FLOSS Active Citra Recommended
Chip-3DS 1.0 Mid ? ~
Chip8-2DS git ? ~
Chip8-CTRU 2014 ? ?
3DS-Chip8 0.1 ? ?
octochip-8 git ? ? ?

See also[edit]