Nintendo 3DS emulation is now viable on Android with an unofficial Citra port

Nintendo 3DS emulation is now viable on Android with an unofficial Citra port

Many months ago, we talked about an unofficial Citra port which allowed you to play Nintendo 3DS games on your Android smartphone. While that specific build saw few updates, there’s a new build that just got released by the developer of Dolphin MMJ, and it runs a whole lot better than before. On high-end devices, games like Pokemon X/Y and Persona Q are very playable, with very few visual bugs and minimal lag. It’s obviously not perfect yet, but it’s certainly on its way. I ran some tests to see what games work and don’t work, and the results may surprise you. To use the Citra for Android emulator, you will need a smartphone with top of the line specifications at the moment. A Snapdragon 855 is basically a requirement to even get playable framerates.


Note: This is an unofficial build. We are not testing for raw performance at the moment as it wouldn’t be fair to any of the developers involved in the project, as it may give off a false assumption that 3DS games are unplayable on current-gen Android smartphones. It’s may be possible to emulate 3DS games flawlessly in the future with more optimization. On the contrary, it may never be.

Citra for Android is still unofficial

So, first things first, this is still an unofficial port. It’s not officially endorsed by the developers of Citra, and until recently, was actually plagued with ethical concerns over its violation of the GPL. That has been rectified since its published source code to GitHub, but it’s something to keep in mind as well to the legitimacy of it all. It works, but if you’d rather wait for an official release from the Citra developers (which has apparently been in the works for a long time now) then you can wait for that. If you want to start using it now though, it’s extremely simple to use and navigate. There are a lot more features than that older port allowed as well, including actually useful features such as internal resolution scaling, emulation regions, and more. You can check out the screenshots below to see all of that.

Fire Emblem: Awakening

This title was the first that our Editor-in-Chief, Mishaal Rahman, tested on Citra. He tested it on the ASUS ROG Phone II which launched just recently, with the game more or less completely playable. Some parts may suffer frustrating slowdowns, but for a first port, it’s nothing short of amazing. Fire Emblem: Awakening probably fared the best in our tests, as its problems were kept to a minimum. You can check out the video of which Mishaal recorded down below to get a feel for how the game runs on the ASUS ROG Phone II.

Animal Crossing: New Leaf

One of my favorite titles from the Nintendo 3DS, I was excited at the prospect of playing this game on my smartphone. Sadly it wasn’t meant to be, as the frame rates are basically unplayable. It runs at 50% speed most of the time when in the overworld, and even lags quite a bit during the opening intro sequence with Rover. It runs well though, and if you can bear the horrible framerates, it does appear to be functional. I’m super excited for the future of this title in particular, as playing it on a smartphone would be incredible. It’s worth noting that the screen flashing is because of the screen recorder, as disabling it also stops the flickering. This happens on both the OPPO Reno 10x Zoom and the OnePlus 7 Pro, though Mishaal Rahman didn’t see it happen on the ASUS ROG Phone II.

Pokemon X

One of the best-selling titles from the Nintendo 3DS, fans of the Pokemon series will be clamoring to see if it runs on Android. I’ve seen people using emulators solely to play Pokemon games, so I would be surprised if people were any different with Pokemon X. Just like other Pokemon games, Pokemon X is one of the least intensive games on the system, and runs surprisingly well. Again, the flickering appears to be caused by my screen recorder as it goes away once I stop the recording. It’s a surprisingly playable game, though it’s worth mentioning that there’s no music yet due to the audio’s file format. The game also allows you to actually complete the intro sequence, a problem which plagued the last Citra for Android port that we tested a few months back.

How to download Citra for Android

You can download Citra for Android from Github, but keep in mind it’s certainly not in its best state yet. It has a number of issues and the performance is poor in most games, though it might be worth checking out anyway! You can download it below. Note that Citra can only play decrypted files with the “.cci” file extension, which you can get by decrypting the games using your hacked Nintendo 3DS. If you decrypt your games to a .3ds file format, you can just rename it to .cci.

Citra for Nintendo 3DS

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