How to Play Nintendo 3DS Games on Your VR Headset

Nintendo’s one-of-a-kind 3D handheld returns from the grave with the help of virtual reality.

The Nintendo 3DS handheld blew us away when it was released in 2011 with its ability to produce stunning stereoscopic 3D effects without the need for glasses. Like many other consoles, 3DS is available to play as an emulator, but you will not be able to experience the 3D effect by emulating it on a normal screen.

However, using a VR headset, you can emulate the 3DS in all its stereoscopic 3D glory by just following a few simple steps.

Installing the 3DS Emulator

There are a handful of different 3DS emulators out there, but we’ll be using Citra for the purposes of this guide as it’s often considered the best. Navigate to the download page here and start downloading Citra for your operating system.

Open the downloaded file and you will be prompted to select an install destination. It will then give you the choice to install Citra Nightly and Citra Canary. Citra Nightly is the reliable tested version while Citra Canary is same as Citra Nightly but includes additional experimental features awaiting review.

We recommend installing both versions but using Citra Nightly as it is the most stable version; Only upgrade to Citra Canary when you encounter a ROM (a digital copy of a game) that doesn’t work as it should with Citra Nightly. If Citra Nightly and Citra Canary cannot run a particular ROM, chances are it is not compatible with the emulator.

Loading ROMs

Now that Citra is installed, we need to load ROMs to play. Click the “+” symbol in the main Citra window to add a destination folder for your ROMs. Try to keep all your ROMs in one place so they can be found and accessed easily.

Where to find ROMs, how to run them, and the legality of owning them are beyond the scope of this guide. However, if you do decide to download ROMs, be sure to do your homework beforehand as there are malicious ROM sites out there that will contain all kinds of nasty surprises with your download.

Also be sure to check out the Citra Game Compatibility List because some ROMs work better than others, while others just won’t work at all. Once you have your ROMs, this how-to video guide will show you how to make them work with Citra.

3DS Emulator Settings

Now that we have our emulator and ROMs, we’re almost ready to play, but first we need to get familiar with a few settings. Open Citra, go to “Emulation” then “Configure” and a window should open displaying emulation settings.

The “General” and “System” tabs allow us to modify the emulation speed and the clock speed of the processor. Changing these settings can cause all sorts of in-game glitches, so we recommend leaving them alone unless you know what you’re getting into.

The “Graphics” tab has a drop-down list called “Internal resolution” which will allow you to adjust the resolution to improve the visuals. Remember to increase the resolution only as much as your hardware allows. If the game is lagging, it’s worth dropping the resolution down a notch to see if that improves performance.

In the same “Charts” tab, go to “Screen layout” and select “Side by side”. Enabling this setting will horizontally mirror the Citra display and is essential for enjoying stereoscopic 3D. You can also play with the “Depth” setting (the higher the percentage, the greater the depth effect) and the “Screen Layout” according to your preferences.

Finally, there’s the “Controls” tab which is pretty self-explanatory and lets you map your controls to your chosen method of controlling the game.

Play 3DS in widescreen beta

If you do not have Widescreen Beta Already, it is available to download and use for free. Head to the Bigscreen website, select “Download” and choose your platform. Once installed, connect your headphones to the computer and charge Widescreen Beta. If this is your first time using Big screenyou will see a tutorial that we recommend you go through at least once.

Remove your headset and load a ROM using Citra in fullscreen mode (select “View” then “Fullscreen”). If you put your headset back on, you should see Citra featured on the Big screen cinema-like screen inside your helmet.

Finally, enter the Big screen From the “Home” menu, select “My Room” then “Desktop” and you should see an option called “3D Settings”. Make sure this is set to “SBS” which stands for side by side. Enabling 3D SBS will merge the two mirrored Citra screens into one giving you the 3D effect, and now you are good to go!

A final tip is to play around with the different environments that Big screen has to offer. For example, I got completely pissed off by changing the wooden environment so that I kind of feel like I’m sitting in the Kokiri forest while playing. Zelda.

Image credit: Tony Mowbray

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