DeSmuME- Free Nintendo DS Emulator to Play NDS Games on PC

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Nintendo DS Lite + MonitorVarious console and handheld emulators have been developed – usually dedicated to supporting legacy, older generation systems. DeSmuME is a free cross-platform Nintendo DS emulator (the latest on Nintendo’s handheld line), letting you play DS games right from your computer. We’ll be showing you how to download and run DeSmuME, as well as basic functions it can perform.

Note that downloading retail .nds ROMs is of questionable (il)legality – more of a black area than gray as the games are still current generation – sold and marketed as of right now. If you want to stay on the legal side, use homebrew ROMs instead.

We’ll be covering the Windows version of DeSmuME. Fetch the latest Windows binary from their website.

You should have downloaded a zip archive. Extract it to its own folder, and you should see several files, including DeSmuME.exe, which is the Nintendo DS emulator itself.

Downloading Games

We can’t condone downloading the retail DS games’ ROMs, though we’re quite sure you know the common avenues. Your second option is to find homebrew DS ROMs – this website has a small collection of them, but you may need to click through to developer websites to see more of their own projects.

In the end, you’ll usually end up downloading an archive including an nds file – this file is the one you want. For our own purposes, we’ll be downloading “Yoshi’s Bad Brother,” a homebrew game, from this developer.

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Playing the Games

When all is downloaded and unarchived, you should end up with an nds file, and perhaps a readme or other files.

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Load up DeSmuME and File > Open ROM…

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Browse to your nds file, and hit Open.

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The game will load – the bottom half of the Nintendo DS emulator is for the “touchscreen” input, which you control with your mouse, and the top is the top screen of your “DS”.

You can find the various key bindings in the Config > Control Config.

Basic Functions

We’ll be outlining some of the basic functions of the emulator:


  • Save State As: Allows you to save the current exact state of the emulator – everything will be the way you left it when you load this file.
  • Load State As: Allows you to load the files made from Save State As.
  • Save State / Load State: Does the exact same thing as the above, except it uses numbers instead of forcing you to specify a file name.
  • Other functions in the File menu allow you to save screenshots, audio, and video captures.


  • Pause and Reset are self explanatory.
  • The Cheats menu will be explained in greater detail later.


  • The various options on the view menu allow you to change the emulator size, rotation, and screen separation. You can also display an FPS counter, among other things.

Cheating in DeSmuME

Cheating is quite rudimentary in DeSmuME. We’ll be showing a simple example using the game New Super Mario Bros.

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Head over to Emulation > Cheats > Search. A window will pop up, asking for the number of bytes and search type. For our example, we’ll stick with the defaults.

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You’ll be prompted to enter a value. Since we’re going to freeze the number of lives, we entered 10, which was our current number of lives.

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The window will tell you the number of results. Close the dialog (do not click Restart).

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Change the number of lives. We went in and lost a life to reduce the number of lives we had to 9. Go back to Emulation > Cheats > Search, and enter the new number (ours would be 9) and hit Search.

The number of results should have dropped significantly (I ended up with 4). You can either die again and search a new number to reduce the number of results again, or just add all the values. Either way, once you’re done, hit View, and select each value and click Add.

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You can either freeze the value, or change it. I opted to freeze it, and clicked Add. That’s all – for a more detailed guide, view DeSmuME’s guide.

That’s all the basic functions of DeSmuME. Download it at their website. If you have any questions or issues, please voice out in the comments.

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