We’ve already covered Nintendo 3DS emulation on Android numerous times, though earlier attempts were made possible by unofficial Android ports of the incredibly popular Citra emulator on PC. With the help of both developers of those unofficial ports, there’s now an official build of Citra for Android. What’s more, this Nintendo 3DS emulator is available on the Google Play Store for free!
There are a lot of features present in the official port released today that weren’t available in the initial port, and all of these features work to provide a rather full-fledged Nintendo 3DS emulation experience. That includes amiibo support, motion controls, microphone and camera support, and gamepad support, just to name a few. The team behind the Citra 3DS emulator documented and published the story of the entire development process on their website, which goes in-depth as to how the two previous unofficial ports affected the development of this official version. If you remember the first attempt at emulating 3DS games on Android, it barely worked as it was slow and had a lot of issues. The second (and ongoing) “MMJ” unofficial ports were much better in terms of performance, but the average user will likely want to stick with official builds that are now available.
I did some brief testing on the official build and found that Nintendo 3DS games like Mario Kart 7 and Animal Crossing: New Leaf ran extremely well on my OnePlus 8 Pro powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 865. We also played a bit of Fire Emblem: Fate on the OPPO Find X2 Pro powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 865, and it mostly ran at a stable 60fps. We’ll be doing some more in-depth testing over the weekend to see just how viable Citra is across a number of devices with different chipsets. Currently, the team behind Citra recommends that your device has the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 or better, though performance will also be heavily dependant on the device’s GPU drivers. In general, Qualcomm Snapdragon devices will run Citra better than Samsung Exynos or HiSilicon Kirin devices. Your smartphone must also be running Android 8.0 Oreo at minimum and support OpenGL ES 3.2. You may run into graphical glitches and other problems on unsupported devices.
Left: Bugged (Player is transparent) ||| Right: Working
You can download the Citra for Android app from the Google Play Store below. There is a $4.99 in-app purchase to unlock premium features that, for now, include a dark mode theme and a texture filtering option that increases the fidelity of the graphics. Although the base app is free, the Citra team asks that you support their development efforts by contributing to them on Patreon.
Here are the developers who worked to make this Android port of Citra possible:
- bunnei for leading the project
- The developers of the Dolphin emulator for the frontend (UI) that we heavily borrowed from and the
Aarch64 machine code emitter.
- BreadFish64 for OpenGL ES improvements, Motion Control support, and Texture Filtering.
- liushuyu for OpenGL ES bug fixes.
- SachinVin for originally repurposing the Dolphin UI, adding initial OpenGL ES support, and implementing most of the Aarch64 dynarmic backend.
- Tobi for Amiibo support, Mic support, translations, bug fixes, porting frontend changes from Dolphin upstream, and more.
- weihuoya for implementing AAC decoding for Android
- zhaowenlan1779 for the software keyboard applet and camera support implementation.
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