Relive classic Nintendo DS games on Linux with emulation


Want to play Nintendo DS games on your Linux system but don’t know how? Back then, the Nintendo DS was a very popular handheld console with a huge collection of games. But over time, advanced consoles were introduced to the market, making DS obsolete.

Fortunately, there are several emulators available that allow you to play classic Nintendo DS games on your system. DeSmuMe is a great example of a stable Nintendo DS emulator for a Linux machine.

What does DeSmuMe do?

DeSmuMe is an emulator used to play DS games on a non-DS system. Simply put, it creates an environment on your system that acts like a Nintendo DS console.

DeSmuMe manages the inputs / outputs of your system and links them with the DS environment system. It can run any DS game on your computer as long as you have a legally owned game ROM.

Emulation is a powerful technology that is widely used in software testing and games. You can even run Android games on Linux using emulators.

Install DeSmuMe

DeSmuMe is a cross-platform application and is available on a number of operating systems, including Windows, macOS, and Linux. Since this is open source software, the source code of the application is made public by the developers.

Downloading and installing DeSmuMe on a Linux system is easy. The package is available on almost all official repositories and you can download it using the default package manager on your computer.

About Debian

If you have a Debian based distribution, you can install DeSmuMe using the Apt package manager. Type the command below into your terminal.

sudo apt install desmume

On the ark

Arch users can download DeSmuMe from official repositories using Pacman.

sudo pacman -S desmume

About Fedora

Unfortunately, the official Fedora repository does not have a package for DeSmuMe. However, you can install it on your system using the unofficial RPMFusion repository. RPMFusion is a software repository that provides additional packages for Fedora Linux distributions.

Start by adding the unofficial source to your system’s repository list.

sudo dnf install$(rpm -E %fedora).noarch.rpm$(rpm -E %fedora).noarch.rpm

To add the DeSmuMe package, type the following command in your terminal.

sudo dnf install desmume

Related: The Best Linux Games You Can Play For Free

Configure DeSmuMe on Linux

Now that you have successfully installed the app on your system, it is time to configure the emulator for the best performance.

Loading ROMs

You can extract game ROMs from your Nintendo DS console by backing up your games using a flash cartridge. Once you have your ROM, loading it into the emulator is pretty easy.

  1. Launch DeSmuMe on your system.

  2. Select the To file option located in the top menu.

    loading rom desmume

  3. Click on Open and choose your game ROM in the file explorer.

    selecting rom from files

DeSmuMe will load the ROM and start the game automatically.

Control mapping

By default, the A, B, R, L, X and Y buttons are associated with the X, Z, W, Q, S and A keys on your keyboard, respectively. The Start and Select buttons are also mapped to the Return and Shift keys.

While the default key mapping works fine, you can still change keyboard shortcuts using DeSmuMe configuration settings:

  1. Launch the DeSmuMe emulator.

  2. Select the Configuration menu option.

  3. Click on the Edit controls option.

    modify desmume controls

  4. To remap a key, click an entry, and then press the new key that you want to assign to the keymap.

    control remapping in desmume

  5. To select OK if a confirmation prompt appears.

As you may already know, many DS games use the console’s touchscreen functionality. Although you can use your keyboard and mouse in combination to play such games, it is not always the best option.

You can get the most out of touchscreen games using a joystick. If you have a joystick, just connect it to your computer and then map the commands by going to Modify configuration > Change the joystick controls.

Screen settings

Nintendo DS consoles have two screens aligned vertically next to each other. While some games only use one screen, others display the output on both. If you’re playing an NDS game that treats the two screens as independent, you can switch to a widescreen layout by aligning the two screens horizontally next to each other.

Go to Seen > Layout of LCD screens, then click Horizontal. The layout of the DeSmuMe window will change. You can also use shortcuts on your keyboard to do the same. hurry Ctrl + 1 to switch to the vertical layout and Ctrl + 2 for a horizontal.

change screen layout

You can also press Space on your keyboard to swap displays. This is useful when the output of one specific screen is more important than the other. When playing games that only require one screen, select the Single screen the option will be a much better choice. Alternatively, you can press Ctrl + 0 on your keyboard for the same.

If you have a high definition monitor, the in-game visuals won’t look appealing at all. You can quickly fix this problem by changing the screen size from settings. Head to View> Window Size, and choose a multiplier suitable for your display.

Note that higher multipliers will increase the screen size. The best way is to choose the Ladder to window option, and then resize the emulator window to fit your display.

change screen size

Performance fixes

Although DeSmuMe is a decently optimized emulator for playing Nintendo DS games, older systems still face a lot of performance issues. You can solve the majority of these problems by skipping images.

To do this, select the Frame jump option of Configuration submenu and choose the number of images you want to skip. Keep in mind that the amount of frameskip is directly proportional to the performance of the emulator.

frame jump settings

Playing Nintendo DS games on Linux

Enjoying some classic Nintendo DS games is a lot of fun. If you no longer own a Nintendo DS console or want to play the games on your Linux system, then DeSmuMe is the best choice.

DeSmuMe is a free and open source Nintendo DS emulator that provides you with all the features you need to run DS games. The emulator allows you to play classic and retro style games on your computer.


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