Android is a great platform for emulating various game consoles like the Sony PlayStation, Nintendo 3DS, SNES, GBA to name a few. The Nintendo DS was a very popular handheld gaming device.
Up until recently, the Drastic DS Emulator was the only way to play Nintendo DS games on Android phones and tablets. The problem is it is a paid app, and a pricey one at that. I bought it many years ago and have no regrets about it.
Drastic DS free alternative for Android
If you are looking for a free alternative to Drastic DS, we have some good news for you. The MelonDS Android port is now available on the Google Play Store.
This is a free and open source app which is a frontend fork of the original MelonDS for computers. I have been using the mobile version of the emulator for a few months, and even wrote an article on how to fix games not being detected by the emulator. The app has been updated many times since, and has evolved into a reliable emulator.
How to set up MelonDS emulator on your Android phone
MelonDS comes with its own bios, so you don’t need to download one from the internet. Just install the app, run it and it will ask you to select your rom folder. Navigate to the location where your NDS games are stored and tap “Use this folder”. You don’t need to extract your games from archives, because the emulator supports ZIP files.
That’s it, the MelonDS emulator will detect your rom files. Tap on the game that you want to play and have fun.
MelonDS emulator Pros and Cons
- Open Source
- Customizable button layout and backgrounds
- No ads
- Supports controllers
- Supports Save State, Cheats, Fast-Forward
- Still not as feature-rich as Drastic DS (lacks graphics settings like 2x/4x resolution, scaling etc.)
MeldonDS emulator features
MelonDS is easy to use, and supports portrait and landscape modes. The Nintedo DS emulator has various buttons on the screen including a D-Pad, which serves as your on-screen controls.
If you have difficulty using it, you will be happy to learn that MelonDS for Android supports gamepads, just connect your controller to your phone, and start using it, instead of the touch screen controls.
The on-screen buttons can be customized, so feel free to move them around per your requirements. The emulator allows you to set custom backgrounds, to change the appearance slightly. You may set the vibration strength, opacity of the button, toggle an FPS counter to see the frame rate, and more from the app’s settings.
MelonDS is ad-free, so you can enjoy games without distractions. Tired of slow cutscenes and loading screens? Use the fast-forward option to jump ahead and get to playing the game.
The emulator supports save states, which means you can save your game anywhere, though I would still recommend saving the game using the in-game save points from time to time. If you want to use cheats, you can do so from the emulator’s menu.