I was doing some cleaning last month and came across my old Nintendo DS Lite. I bought it back in 2006 to play games like Pokémon HeartGold, Animal Crossing: Wild World, and Brain Age. If I remember correctly, I only played it regularly for two or three years — it ended up in the cabinet under our TV, which is where it was when I found it again.
I go through these cycles with video games, which I mentioned on Mastodon a few weeks ago. I’m currently in the stage where I’m declaring the DS Lite as the best game console ever made. It’s not, of course, but it is really good. Especially when you consider what all it’s capable of thanks to the homebrew community.
I mentioned the R4 Gold flash cartridge that I bought for it already. I’ve been using the setup mentioned in Anton Retro’s video on the subject. Although I’ve simplified it quite a bit — I’m only using Lameboy for Game Boy emulation and S8DS for Game Gear and Sega Master System emulation.
There are other emulators available for the Nintendo DS — notably jEnesisDS for Sega Genesis, nesDS for Nintendo Entertainment System, and SNEmulDS for Super Nintendo — but they don’t run all that well. It’s a much better experience to just try and find ports of the games you want to play for another system that the DS can run better.
In addition to emulation, though, the R4 cartridge is also able to load Nintendo DS ROMs. Now I can play all of the games I own without having to swap cartridges. The games run just as they were running off of the original cartridge — I haven’t found any downsides at all.
When I first bought the R4, I was planning to run Game Boy Advance games through it , too. But I had some trouble with the emulator available — GBARunner2. No matter what I did, I couldn’t get any games to run on it. Maybe this is more for DSi or 3DS owners, I guess.
Instead, I decided to get a flash cartridge specifically for Game Boy Advance games — the EZ-Flash Omega, which comes with a separate shell so it can sit flush inside the DS Lite. The shell itself doesn’t hold up as well as I would have liked — every time I pulled it out of my DS, the front and back of the shell got out of alignment and I had to wiggle it all back in place.
I used a bit of super glue to try and keep it together better, which worked, but now it doesn’t sit as nicely in the cartridge slot as it should. I have a replacement shell coming from a different vendor that I hope I’ll have better luck with.
This seems to be the best Game Boy Advance flash cartridge on the market, though. And it works flawlessly. You can even load games with add-ons that let you use save states and cheats. I’ve mostly spent my time playing Crash Bandicoot: The Huge Adventure, but also plan to play the homebrew game Celeste Classic when I get a chance. And I’m sure I’ll end up playing a generation three Pokémon game as well.
I’ve had a lot of fun playing games on the DS Lite again. The hardware still feels good. It isn’t as capable as my Switch, of course, but I love how small it is by comparison. And even after sitting unused for all those years, the battery life is solid.
There have been a lot of new handheld emulation machines released over the past year or two. I follow a small number of gaming channels on YouTube and it seems like every few months one of them is reviewing a new one. Notably, there was the recent release of the Analogue Pocket — it’s such a slick piece of hardware.
I’m quite happy with my Nintendo DS Lite, though. It won’t run newer games and it’s emulation is basically limited to older, portable consoles. But that’s perfectly fine for me. I haven’t really paid attention to new games since the mid-2000s and access to the Game Boy Advance and DS catalog brings me just about as close to “modern” gaming as I need. At least until I get to the next step in the cycle of gaming.