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How to Play Nintendo DS Games on Android

Anurag loves playing video games. His guides and listicles revolve around popular iOS, Android, PC, and console games.

Did you know that your Android device can play Nintendo DS games? With the help of an emulator app, it can. A few apps can run NDS games on your phone, including NDS4Droid, a free, open-source DS emulator available on Google Play.

NDS4Droid includes save states and Open GL rendering, but is still in its initial stages. Be aware that DS emulation, even on high-end phones, is slow, and some games like Pokémon are nearly unplayable. The good news is that the app is regularly updated with performance enhancement fixes.

In this guide, I will show you how to play Nintendo DS games on your Android device using this emulator.

NDS4Droid Emulates a Mario Game (Check Frame Rate)

NDS4Droid Emulates a Mario Game (Check Frame Rate)

Step 1:

Download the NDS4Droid emulator from Google Play. The application is free and can be downloaded directly on your phone without any problems.

You can also download the application's .apk file to your desktop computer, from a trusted site, and transfer it to your phone. To transfer it, connect your device to your PC via the USB cable. Navigate to My Computer and search for the phone’s SD card icon. Copy the .apk file from your PC desktop to the SD card. To install the emulator on your phone, use a third-party app like Andro Zip.

Step 2:

You will need a BIOS file. Now you won’t get this bundled with the app. Most developers are aware of the legal hassles involved with such files and so won’t include it with their app. Without it, you won’t be able to play any games on your emulator.

Step 3:

Besides installing the BIOS file, you will also need a ROM file of of your favorite game. (Make sure you have a genuine copy of the game.)

The file should have a “.nds” extension. The emulator supports .nds ROM format, but also has the ability to extract compressed archives such as .rar and .7z files.

Step 4:

You can move ROMs to a separate folder created on your SD card icon. You can use the phone's USB mass storage option to transfer game files.

Name your folder “NDS Games” to ensure ease in navigation. Next, open your emulator and navigate to the folder, find the ROM, and double-tap on it to play. You can control in-game characters via the virtual buttons.

Note: On your phone, most games emulated by NDS4Droid will run slow. This is not the app’s fault. It’s your phone's CPU. While newer high-end phones boast powerful CPUs, they still won’t run your favorite games at full speed. Even on a desktop, one needs 3 GHz Core 2 Duo CPU to run them at full speed.

Top Emulators for Playing NDS Games On an Android Device

Besides NDS4Droid, there are other apps that can play Nintendo DS games on your Android phone. All are in beta phase and are being constantly updated with fixes and enhancements to improve emulation. Here’s a rundown of some of the top NDS emulators available on Google Play:

1. DSDroid

This app was first developed as a plug-in to make games runs faster on entry-level Android phones. Now it has been converted into a full-fledged emulator. The app can run games like Pokémon, but with frame rates at 5-7 per second. The free emulator runs games in full-screen.

2. AndsEmu

Another great app, AndsEmu runs your favorite games. It has simple settings, including key graphical settings such as V-sync, ensuring smoother gameplay. The emulator is actually a modification of the NDS4Droid app and is pretty good performance-wise. You can play NDS games on both tablet PCs and phones using this application.

AndsEmu NDS Emulator

AndsEmu NDS Emulator

3. DSoid

This paid app comes with dynamic recompilation. The best part is that it can play games like Pokémon Diamond pretty well, although speed is still an issue. DSoid provides good performance when compared to free apps like DS Droid and AndsEmu. In future, the developer might add a microphone feature, to enable gamers to play games using voice commands.

All these apps can run NDS games on your phone, provided you follow the step-by-step instructions of this guide.

All screenshots courtesy of their respective android emulator developers.


Downloading ROMs and BIOS files is illegal. I don’t support piracy. This article is for entertainment purposes only. You must have a genuine copy of the Nintendo DS game and the hardware. Reader discretion is advised.


Lora123 on April 19, 2019:

Would like to recommend DraStic ( ). Way better than NDS4Droid, with save and load options and hack support.

:/ on April 25, 2013:

There is no NDS BIOS to generate in the app so called Any Emu Bios