I have a Pi 3 working fine with Retropie and mame, snes, gba roms e.t.c... I'm trying to run roms for the Nintendo DS, so far unsuccessfully. I read here there is a nds emulator for Retropie called "desmume".

People say that to run that kind of roms (.nds files) there are 2 problems with the Pi:

  • The first is, the Pi 3 does not have enough processing power to have a good experience running nds games. It seems it gives a very low FPS. (I don't know because it didn't worked for me yet).
  • Secondly, you need a X server and Desktop Environment to run it.

Not sure about the second point... I read here you can set up desmume using cli. I followed the steps described there... I installed "desmume" using sudo apt-get install desmume. I already created the nds folder on config and roms directory, I put nds roms there, I added to /etc/emulationstation/es_systems.cfg the code:

    <fullname>Nintendo DS (exp)</fullname>
    <extension>.nds .NDS</extension>
    <command>/opt/retropie/supplementary/runcommand/runcommand.sh 0 _SYS_ nds %ROM%</command>

And I did the trick suggested there to use desmume-cli instead of desmume to avoid the need to have a X system. I added a retroarch.cfg file copied from other emulator directory and added on it:

input_remapping_directory = "/opt/retropie/configs/nds/"

And also added the emulators.cfg file with this content:

desmume="/usr/games/desmume-cli %ROM%"

Now I can see the Nintendo DS with the roms on Emulationstation menues but it didn't worked for me. Any advice from anybody who made it work? Where can I see some kind of log to see what is happenning? Thanks.

  • Can anybody put nds and desmume tag on this? I have not enough reputation :D Commented Jan 1, 2017 at 12:33

4 Answers 4


Firstly, if you plan to actually play .nds games on the Raspberry Pi 3, you can forget it :( I've tried many games on my overclocked Pi3 and none of them are even close to playable (unlike psp, which has some perfectly playable titles).

If you have a spare SD card, I recommend giving RetroPie a try. After loading up the image, there's a script to install desmume (under 'experimental'. You can the play your .nds files in /home/pi/RetroPie/roms/nds/.

Good luck.

  • Yeah, I already have retropie installed. I already installed desmume, can't remember now, maybe I installed it using apt-get. I'll dive into experimental options to search for it. Thank you. Then, If finally I can get it working (even if they are unplayable... to play is not the point... I want to see if able to load), I'll get back to this to mark as resolved. Commented Feb 7, 2017 at 8:03

I have installed and tested Super Mario Brothers and it runs really well on my Pi3 overclocked to 1.4 GHz. I will be testing more games, but I expect them to run quite well. Make sure you reduce the resolution for emulators to make games run nicer, it is needed especially for emulators of the Dreamcast and PSP.


You'll probably have to write your own emulator for the DS as current emulators availible (especially Desmume) are generally very poor and unoptimised. Power of the computer itself is not really an issue since the DS' specs are very close to the N64, and that can be emulated with very few problems on this system. EDIT: The emulator "drastic" has been ported to the RPi and actually runs with (somewhat) decent performance (even better if you turn off screen scaling). I tried Sonic Rush and it works fine!


No, it is perfectly possible:

  • Go to the RetroPie menu,
  • Press Setup Retropie
  • Go to Manage packages
  • Select Manage experimental packages
  • Select Drastic
  • Click Install from binary
  • Then upload ROMs.

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