1. Main
  2. Guide
  3. Everything You Should Know About DeSmuME And Game Emulation

Everything You Should Know About DeSmuME And Game Emulation

Last update: Sep 24, 2020

DeSmuME Emulation

What is a game emulator?

A game emulator can be a piece of hardware or software that can emitate (or emulate) a gaming console. By using video game emulators, it's possible to use your computer to play the old Sony, Nintendo, or Sega games. Its main purpose is to help bring the original gaming console experience to different platforms and play games, developed by fans.

Such game emulators have been created mostly by console fans, but even such a gaming giant like Nintendo has also created emulators like NES and SNES Classic to use in its own systems.

What is DeSmuME then?

In this tutorial, we'll learn more about the Windows version of DeSmuME — a Nintendo DS console emulator. I'll show you some cool features and share a step-by-step guide on how to use it on your PC. So what's inside of DeSmuME?

A quick overview

DeSmuME is a top emulator for the Nintendo DS. It's free and can be used on Linux, Wii, OS X, Windows, and AmigaOS 4. Its name is basically the combination of emu (short form of emulator), DS, and ME.

DeSmuME has a basic set of features almost every simple emulator includes: better game performance, quick access to cheatcodes, better graphics quality, and so on. What's cool about DeSmuME in particular is that it has some nice options for working dual screens of the DS's on just one computer monitor. What's not so good about this emulator is its game compatibility but still, it's okay and it's getting better all the time.

Should you use DeSmuME?

Good question. With so much to offer from game emulator developers, DeSmuME may not be the first obvious option to choose nowadays. For example, melonDS is thought to be the top-1 Nintendo DS emulator at least because it supports complex 3D graphics. DeSmuME can do this too but only if you download a specific modified version of it. However, melonDS indeed has one issue that's just ruining all the vibe: it doesn't support a full-screen mode. Say whaaa?

In contrast with melonDS and other game emulators, DeSmuME can be a best option in terms of a greater number of features. A full-screen mode is available too. DeSmuME is a perfect choice for somewhat lazy people like me who want an emulator to just work. Immediately. That's why you probably won't like melonDS as it requires pre-installations and some work to be done beforehand. Still, you shouldn't miss out on any of these emulators. Try them both to feel this emulation experience better.

DeSmuME 64-bit and 32-bit versions

Before you download DeSmuME, you'll need to choose between the two versions: 64-bit and 32-bit. How do you choose between them? Putting it in a nutshell: those are simply the Windows system types. A 64-bit version is "younger" and works faster. A 32-bit version is slower and older. If you have a 64-bit version of Windows, you'll need to download, guess what, a 64-bit version of DeSmuME. The same works for a 32-bit version.

Since 32-bit computers haven't been produced since 2017, you're probably using a 64-bit machine. If you don't know which Windows version you have, you can check it right away:

use DeSmuME

  1. Go to "Search the web and Windows" on the bottom left corner and look for "64-bit".
  2. The popup will appear: “See if you have a 32-bit or 64-bit version of Windows”. Click on it.
  3. Then, search for “System type”. If it says “64-bit operating system”, then congrats, it's a 64-bit Windows version. The same for a 32-bit one.

Installing DeSmuME

DeSmuME is an independent (or standalone) program and it's quite simple to install:

  1. Extract DeSmuME from its zip file. Remember: DeSmuME has to be located in a standard folder of your computer. This can be Downloads, Documents, or simply the on that you've created on your desktop. If you place DeSmuME somewhere else on a C drive, you'll only get read-only access.
  2. To open DeSmuME, double-click on or “x32” for the 32-bit version.

That was pretty straightforward, don't you think? That's another perk of DeSmuME: it just works out of the box.

Setting up a gamepad or a keyboard

To set up a keyboard or connect a gamepad, click on "Config" and then "Control Config". You'll see this:

Control Config

Here are the keys already set up to specific buttons of the virtual Nintendo DS gamepad. To replace any button and assign it to a different keyboard key or a button on your gamepad, click on it (see the green highlight) and press the new keyboard key or gamepad button. DeSmuME doesn't offer any auto-configuration so you'll need to do it manually every time you want to reconfigure buttons.

Launching a game via DeSmuME

There's a Roms folder inside of DeSmuME. It's better if you collect and keep all your games in there but it's not obligatory. Just remember that DeSmuME supports ROM's of all the most widespread compression formats like RAR, GZ, ZIP, and 7Z. FYI, 7Z is mostly used for distributing Nintendo DS ROMs.

So how you launch the game?

launch the game

  1. Go to File > Open ROM.
  2. The pop-up window with the “Roms” folder will appear in view mode. There, choose the game you want to play, click on it — and Open again.

The game will launch right away.

Some of the cool features of DeSmuME

Now that you know what basically DeSmuME is, how to download the emulator and launch games there, we can talk about its top features that makes DeSmuME stand out.

LCD layouts

Since Nintendo DS has two screens, working on a Nintendo DS emulation can feel somewhat awkward. Luckily, DeSmuME can give us some options. For instance, you can modify the second screen arrangement. By the way, you can simply use just one screen by hiding the second one! Below, you can see some of the examples.

LCD layouts

You can change a screen layout by clicking on View > LCDs layout.

change a screen layout

Since all the newest computer displays are widescreen, you should probably change the layout to horizontal.

A full-screen mode

To enter a full-screen mode, use the shortcut Alt+Enter. To go back to the window mode, press Alt+Enter once again. Please remember that you can't use the top menu in a full-screen mode. To do so, you'll need to go back to window mode.

Variety of screen filters

Magnification filters or just screen filters can help improve graphics to make them look even better than before. To do so, go to View and choose Magnification Filter, then select the desired filter. Below are only some of the filters that you can use. Pick your own!











DeSmuME 3D enhancement

Nintendo DS is a perfect match for 2D games. And what about 3D? Well, the graphics there look, erm, not so good. The DeSmuME developer hasn't come up with a solution to this issue yet. That's where DeSmuME fans are taking over the process.

So what should you do? Enter “DeSmuME X432R.” This is a slightly altered DeSmuME version. It brings 3D graphics into a higher resolution. Here's how it looks in comparison:

DeSmuME 3D enhancement

I know, right? This DeSmuME version is available online. Though, you should be aware that this DeSmuME X432R version isn't up-to-date. Now it's based on a 2015 DeSmuME build. But relax: DeSmuME has always been doing great as an emulator. There shouldn't be any trouble using a version this old.

So here's how you can access high-resolution 3D in DeSmuME X432R:

  1. Enlarge your screen. Click on View, then Window Size, and choose from 2x, 3x, or 4x — just like on the screenshot below.
  2. Click on Config, then High-Resolution 3D Renderer, and choose from X2, X3, or X4. So if you chose a 3x window size, then you should select an X3 renderer.
  3. When you enable the 3D graphics, there might be a lag. This option requires many resources like a fast-working computer. If you're experiencing lag with X3, for example, try X2 instead.

Fast forward

Fast forward helps you speed up the game. Press the Tab key to access this feature. Hold it and release it when you want to stop the fast forwarding.

If you want to have fast forward working permanently, simply press “+” several times. This increases the frame rate. If you press “-”, it will slow down the frame rate to a normal speed.

Taking screenshots

While your game is launched, use Ctrl+F12 to take a screenshot. If you want to name a screenshot, press F12 instead. DeSmuME will save it as a PNG file and drop it into the “Screenshots” folder. Please remember that the screenshot will be saved in the original 1x1 size and in the vertical layout.

Recording AVI movies via DeSmuME

You can even upload your own Nintendo DS gameplay videos to YouTube! Here's what you should do:

  1. Spot the point in a game you want to start recording from.
  2. Go to File and Record AVI.
  3. DeSmuME will direct you to a Save As window. Choose the name for your video and type it in, and click Save.
  4. DeSmuME will show the Video Compression window then. Make it “Full Frames (Uncompressed)” and click OK.
  5. The recording begins. DeSmuME will start running a bit worse but no worries! When you want to stop recording, go to File and Stop AVI.

That's pretty much it! When you play your movie, you'll notice that DeSmuME saved it in 1x1 size and with the vertical layout.

Save states in DeSmuME

What's this? Save states is a feature that helps you start from the exact spot you've saved in any of the games. This option can be used manually: either by going to the File menu or by using keyboard shortcuts.

Save states in DeSmuME

DeSmuME offers two ways to use save states. You have quick saves and save state files.

Quick saves

Quick saves are a great option for those who prefer instant gratification:

  • Enabling a quick save: go to File, then Save State, choose a slot. DeSmuME lets you have up to 10 different saves. For a quick save, there's a shortcut in slot 1 which is Shift+F1.
  • To launch a previously saved quick slot, go to File and then Load State and choose the desired slot you want to launch. Try to recall which one it was. To load a quick save from slot 1, there's a shortcut which is F1.

Save state files

Such files require an extra step but at the same time, they allow you to save a slot as a file with a customizable name:

  • To capture a save state, go to File and Save State As. Enter the name for this slot, click Save or press Enter.
  • If you want to load a previously saved slot, go to File and Load State From. Choose the save you want to launch. Please remember: DeSmuME can only load save states from DeSmuME. It can only load a save state from a specific ROM too. For instance, if you have the UK version of Final Fantasy IV, you won't be able to launch a US version of a slot.

Wrapping up

Phew! Too much information, huh? No worries about that! DeSmuME is pretty easy to install and use. I hope you'll enjoy your game emulation experience with this piece of gold. Stay tuned!


I also saved some FAQs for dessert. Hope you'll find the answers to any remaining questions here.

Can I transfer my saves to another emulator?

DeSmuME lets you save your game in two ways:

  • State States: they're exclusive to DeSmuME and can't be transferred to other Nintendo DS emulators.
  • Saved RAM: This is the internal save in games. They have a DSV file extension. DSV files can be transferred to other Nintendo DS emulators that also use the DSV format.

DeSmuME didn't save anything. Why?

If it's your first time using DeSmuME, try to figure out if you're facing all these issues:

  • Save states never work.
  • When you save your game and then close or reopen DeSmuME, the save slot is lost.
  • Those configurations that you've changed weren't saved. You have to make those changes again after you close or reopen DeSmuME.

If yes, then your problem is DeSmuME is currently running in a read-only mode or location on your computer. Move DeSmuME to a standard location such as Documents, Downloads, or to a folder on your desktop.

I got a save state error

First, let's answer these questions:

  1. Is this state from another emulator, not DeSmuME? If yes, that's your problem. DeSmuME only accepts DeSmuME saved slots.
  2. Are you trying to launch a save state from another game or different region? If yes, then this is a problem.

The only possible fix for the save state errors if those issues aren't what you have is to make sure you're running the latest version of DeSmuME. Older DeSmuME versions sometimes give errors with save states. DeSmuME is usually loading save states from the older versions quite well but the newest DeSmuME may reject save states from achaically old versions of DeSmuME.

You might also like