On Monday, I showed you what you needed to have in order to play Nintendo DS backup games. Before we can proceed to discuss homebrewed apps and emulation, you’ll need to have a compatible flash card and storage device. Got that handy? Okay.
Let’s move on.
Just to recap, homebrew software is the catch-all term given to fan-made games and tools for platforms that are not usually open to development. The Nintendo DS is no exception and has its own fair share of tools and software that vastly enhance the handheld’s capabilities.
Whilst a lot of homebrew projects appear to have fallen by the wayside, there’s still plenty of killer applications that will keep you busy for hours.
If you want to use your DS as a media device then MoonShell is the app you want. There’s a good possibility your firmware will come preloaded with MoonShell (mine did) or a derivative ““ if not, download and enjoy.
MoonShell supports video in DPG format (which you can convert with the bundled converter or SUPER), a host of audio formats including MP3, OGG, WMA and low bitrate AAC and non-progressive JPEG, GIF, BMP and PNG images as well as plain text files. It is the last word in media playback on the DS.
There are simply too many homebrew applications to mention (DSLinux anyone?), with plenty of games and apps for all kinds of users. If you’re interested in trying out some hobbyist creations then you’ll find an exhastive list of NDS homebrew over at the Nintendo DS Homebrew Hive and DS-Xtra.
Recently I’ve been testing every emulator I can get my hands on. Here are my top 6:
A fairly well-behaved Sega Mega Drive (or Genesis, as it was known in the US) emulator that has now been discontinued (amidst claims the author helped Sega port a certain hedgehog to the DS). Despite no updates for a while, game support is generally good with a great number of titles working 100%.
There’s a couple of extra features and options including two save state slots (which do work, but work best if you pause the game first) and the option for a 6-button joypad.
Working titles include the first three Sonic games and Streets of Rage 1 & 2 ““ now that’s an afternoon.
Emulating the 8bit charm of the original Nintendo Entertainment System, nesDS is a cracking little emulator that’s handled pretty much everything I’ve thrown at it.
In fact I’ve been playing with nesDS for a week or so now and am pleased to say it’s probably the single finest emulator on the DS platform. Each ROM is given its own save state slot, there’s the ability to reverse or advance the ROM and the controls really couldn’t be much closer to the original rectangular beast that was the NES joypad.
nesDS shoves the fluffy Nintendo 8bit sounds and sprites of years gone by into the palms of your hands.
A fully-featured Gameboy and Gameboy Color emulator with support for a huge number of games at full speed. This emulator also supports larger ROMs in excess of 2MB and provides save state support that works.
There’s also a nifty original Gameboy colour palette which attempts to emulate the pale green of Nintendo’s old LCD display. Emulate handhelds on your handheld with Lameboy DS.
A DS port of the popular Snemul SNES emulator, SnemulDS has limited support for a number of games and a fair few options for getting everything looking the way you want it.
Despite not having great compatibility (and save state just crashes the DS) this emulator will run the odd classic (Super Mario All-Stars being one) with all but a few problems. Worth a go if you’re a die-hard SNES fanatic, easily the best Super Nintendo emulator for the DS.
MarcaDS [ ]
Every platform needs an arcade emulator, and MarcaDS is the MAME equivalent on the Nintendo DS. Due to the somewhat limited processing power and available RAM for the DS, the emulator manages simple arcade games best, with a compatibility list on the download page (above).
Compatible games include Pac-Man, Frogger and Galaga making this one for the retro gamers.
An official port of the SCUMMVM point-and-click adventure game emulator, SCUMMVM DS provides an impressive compatibility list and brings touch controls to the classics. Working (100%) titles include: The Secret of Monkey Island, Simon the Sorcerer and Flight of the Amazon Queen.
You also get full save/load support and two innovative and refreshing ways to make use of the DS touchscreen. A must have!
If you’ve got a DS and still don’t have a flash card then I’d urge you to consider one soon. The way things are going it won’t be long till these devices will be banned altogether (if they aren’t already) due to their ability to play Nintendo DS ROMs.
Just remember that downloading and playing games you don’t legally own is against the law, mmkay?
Any killer emulators I’ve not mentioned here? Got any favourite homebrew? Let us know in the comments.