Top 3 Best Nintendo 3DS Emulators

Indeed, you’ve read that correctly; rather than inundating you with a lengthy list of emulators that barely function or software that seems pieced together, we’ve curated a selection of the top three Nintendo 3DS emulators available on the internet for your convenience!

Why spend your precious time sifting through Reddit or wading through numerous reviews when you can simply choose from the two emulators that genuinely deliver reliable and outstanding results? Consider how that time could be better spent playing Luigi’s Mansion 2 or crafting a Triforce-shaped cake for your significant other!

The Nintendo 3DS holds a special place in my heart, particularly for being the first handheld device to officially introduce Ocarina of Time to the gaming world. Alongside A Link Between Worlds, these games forever remain my all-time favourites on Nintendo’s now-discontinued handheld.

While the 3DS may have been discontinued, the top Nintendo 3DS emulators are here to ensure it lives on!

Honestly, there’s no need for an extensive top 10 list here; there are only three emulators that truly shine, and the one in the top spot began its journey back in 2013. In the world of emulation, that’s still considered relatively recent.

Of course, we’ll keep this article updated as more credible emulators emerge. For now, steer clear of imitations and choose a reliable program you can trust!

1. Citra

Get Citra Emulator

Citra stands out as the premier Nintendo 3DS emulator. While having only two reputable choices might seem limiting, Citra is an impressively sophisticated piece of software.

Notably, Citra has recently introduced an Android version of its emulator that works seamlessly. It’s fully equipped to run a wide range of titles, from the iconic Mario Kart to the enchanting A Link Between Worlds and beyond!

Everyone yearns to play Mario Kart and Pokémon on the go. Sure, they have their mobile apps, but they can’t compare to the offerings of the Nintendo 3DS.

Citra is also the brains behind Yuzu, the leading Nintendo Switch emulator. They’ve been refining their 3DS emulator since 2013, continuously improving the formula and making optimizations for the best possible gaming experience.

This open-source gem has seen contributions from over 150 individuals over the years. It operates under the GPLv2 license and pays homage to the 3DS’ original model number – CTR.

In terms of gameplay and graphics, Citra is the real deal. Keep in mind that there might be occasional lag and minor glitches, but the overall gaming experience is thoroughly enjoyable.

Citra doesn’t claim to be the finished product either. They understand that there’s work to be done, but just like with Yuzu, the gaming community stands firmly behind them, offering unwavering support.

Explore Citra and see how your favorite games perform on it. They provide a comprehensive compatibility list on their website, and the good news is that Fire Emblem Fates: Birthright plays perfectly!

2. RetroArch

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RetroArch secures the second position in this concise compilation of the finest Nintendo 3DS emulators of all time. Not only is this program highly regarded and one of the best in the business, but it also boasts captivating overlays that infuse your PC screen with a distinct theme.

Remember how Toys ‘R’ Us used to be the go-to destination for all your needs? Well, RetroArch serves as the digital equivalent, encompassing every console under one roof. It’s a one-stop emporium for emulators, eliminating the need to hunt down multiple emulators for various retro consoles.

If you’ve read our previous articles on the best Gameboy or N64 emulators, you might have encountered RetroArch before. Instead of focusing on a single emulator, it employs ‘cores’ to seamlessly integrate various emulators.

In essence, it’s like Captain America rallying the Avengers, except in this case, the Avengers are emulators.

And which core does RetroArch employ for 3DS emulation? None other than Citra!

So, to put it plainly, there’s essentially just one exceptional Nintendo 3DS emulator, and that’s Citra.

Glad we could clear that up!

3. Lemuroid

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Lemuroid, much like RetroArch, is an emulator that leverages cores to simulate different consoles.

And, you guessed it, it uses Citra as its core.

So, technically, Citra reigns supreme as the ultimate Nintendo 3DS emulator, right?

Through the Libretro core library, Lemuroid can emulate a wide range of consoles, from the NES to the 3DS, granting you access to a treasure trove of gaming options right on your Android device.

Notably, the control stick mimics on-screen movement just as it would on a DS handheld, ensuring you’re heading in the precise direction you intend rather than merely guessing.

Truth be told, Lemuroid is a well-crafted emulator. If you happen to have reservations about Citra or RetroArch, Lemuroid offers a user-friendly interface that won’t stress you out.

How Do Emulators Work?

Think of emulators as the Darth Vader of the gaming world. They make your chosen device mimic the actions and sounds of a gaming console, and they’re a breeze to download and use.

Alright, that comparison might be a bit of a stretch, even for me!

Emulators essentially transform any device into a gaming console by digitally replicating all the wires, chips, and processors typically found inside your favorite vintage machines.

Imagine how iTunes or Windows Media Player plays MP3s. Emulators work in a similar fashion, but instead of playing music files, they handle ROM files.

What Are ROMs?

ROMs are digital replicas of your cherished games. More and more players are employing software to extract game data files from their original cartridges and discs, enabling them to play these games on handheld devices or PC emulators.

Creating copies of your own games is perfectly legitimate, but distributing them online or downloading someone else’s ROMs is a strict no-no. Gaming companies are continually cracking down on ROM repository sites, and engaging in such activities could result in fines.

What Are the Advantages of Using the Best Nintendo 3DS Emulators?

While there may be only a couple of Nintendo 3DS Emulators in the spotlight, they underscore the enduring popularity of gaming on laptops or PCs, as mobile gaming continues to thrive.

Consider this: the 3DS is indeed a portable console, but how many of us want to lug around anything more than our smartphones these days, especially since phones are once again evolving into bulky bricks?

Nintendo 3DS emulators enable us to play on the go without juggling multiple chargers. They also offer additional features that cater to gamers keen on delving into emulation nuances and settings, catering even to speed runners.

Why Is Emulating a Nintendo 3DS So Challenging?

Nintendo 3DS emulation poses considerable challenges because the games are quite substantial. We’re not talking about replicating simple titles like Asterix and Obelix for the Master System; we’re dealing with complex games like A Link Between Worlds and Luigi’s Mansion 2.

Furthermore, laptops and 3DS systems differ significantly in terms of hardware. The processing power required to make some emulators function seamlessly is astronomical. Mobile phones more closely resemble handheld consoles, as evidenced by Citra’s new Android app, demonstrating that with sufficient effort, the emulation process can indeed be successful.

Plus, how many other handheld devices or PCs do you know that offer 3D functionality without the need for those pesky glasses?

How Do I Download the Best Nintendo 3DS Emulators?

We’ve provided links to all the emulators in the article above. Rest assured, downloading emulators or contributing your coding skills to assist in their upkeep is perfectly legal.

However, remember that sharing and downloading ROMs is illegal. Avoid legal troubles and embrace ethical gaming practices.

What Is the Ultimate Nintendo 3DS Emulator?

Without a doubt, Citra reigns supreme as the finest Nintendo 3DS emulator. It not only boasts reliability but has also undergone continuous improvement since its inception in 2013. Moreover, it serves as the core for numerous other emulators!

It doesn’t get fairer than that! Now that you know the crème de la crème, there’s no need to scour the web for the rest!


  1. Why I can’t download your games?

  2. Kionne Antonio McKinnie

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