DraStic DS Emulator
April 24, 2020
May 31, 2022
Drastically smooth Nintendo DS emulation... for a drastic price!
The innovative Nintendo handheld that kids craved back in 2004 introduced a plethora of revolutionary features (back in the day) such as wireless connectivity, a microphone, and two LCDs (yes, you read correctly, two!) with one supporting stylus input.
DraStic is far from being the first DS emulator on Android, but it's been one of the most popular ones and the most complete and feature-packed of the bunch. It should not be surprising, considering its original hefty price tag of $7.99.
Back in the day, it was the best performing emulator, so the price could have been more or less justified (though I'm still not very convinced). However, in light of current hardware and software advancements, a discount was overdue, and the price effectively decreased by nearly half of its original value.
But DraStic had something going for it. Not only was the performance butter smooth, but the interface was drastically (pun intended) similar to the original DS user experience, save for the obvious form factor discrepancies and the lack of a dual-screen.
About that dual-screen, the emulator has gone out of its way to allow players to activate the second screen, so you can view both screens at once, with the possibility of adjusting the layout. On a somewhat unrelated note, this dual-screen perk was not included on the newest Nintendo Switch (and probably for a good reason).
Hands down, this emulator offers one of the best user experiences out of any Android emulator ever, and I'm not exaggerating. It feels premium and the developers showed that they cared about every aspect of the app. You can even set your nickname, birthday, and favorite color, all in good Nintendo fashion. All of this may not be ultimately useful in offline play, but it's a nice touch regardless.
Did I just mention offline play? That's because it's all you'll have for now. Unfortunately, online multiplayer (one of the DS' best-selling points) is not supported here, which is a shame all things considered. It would be selfish of me to nitpick on this since, in all other respects, this emulator shines, but it's no small omission when we realize how other emulators offer these features for a much lower price.
Finally, we must talk about the compatibility list because, in short, you should have no problem playing most games released on the platform. Whereas emulators such as Nds4droid would struggle to run games like Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver, DraStic would run it almost flawlessly. I was able to play resource-heavy games like Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies like they were nothing.
Now, this doesn't mean that the experience will be perfect always. Emulation is seldom meant to totally replicate the original experience. However, considering the capabilities of the DS, the translation done by DraStic is close to perfect, and kudos should be given to the devs who still, to this day, support this app.
DraStic - DS Emulator is a Nintendo DS emulator, meaning that it's set to imitate the functionalities of the Nintendo DS hardware and software. Emulators are, roughly speaking, software programs that attempt to gather instructions designed for specific dedicated hardware and translate them into a language that your system can work with.
When you this emulator, you will not find any playable game included. The games must be obtained by other means, and it's basically up to you to look for them.
To legally obtain ROMs, you would have to "dump" the ones you own using various devices such as a Slot 2 and a Flash cart or similar. You can find lots of tutorials online on how to do it. I heavily discourage ROMs from sites, since the games dumped are mostly copyrighted and you'll be engaging in illegal activity. It's very unlikely that you'll get a summon from Nintendo or the game developer, but you never know!
Fortunately, you won't need to a BIOS since DraStic developers included a custom one that improves compatibility. This is a nice update, as you did need to obtain one back in the day. The BIOS is, to put it bluntly, the essential operating system of the console, much like the BIOS you can boot into on PCs to regulate basic aspects of its performance.
Once you've obtained your ROM, you can load it from the main menu. Just select "load new game" and you'll be prompted to an in-built file browser (you'd only have to memorize where you put it). You'll be directed initially to the "rom" folder, which is the emulator's game directory by default.
You can also tweak the video, audio, virtual gamepad, and external controller settings, as well as those related to the system itself. Moreover, the settings menu enables you to adjust various quality-of-life features such as auto-save, save/savestate cloud backups (via Google Drive), a frames-per-second (FPS) counter, or fast-forward speeds.
Oh, yes, I forgot that you can create savestates, which are, essentially, points in your playthrough that you can go back to anytime. This feature is a staple feature in most emulators, though, so this is not exactly a crowning achievement.
The video settings are pretty straightforward, but you can utilize a myriad of different shaders (or filters) to enhance the visuals of your games. You may use the ones provided by the developers themselves, or you can opt for downloading custom shaders from reputable sources (the best one is the DraStic forum itself). You can find tons of them uploaded , but keep in mind that you have to sift through a bunch of posts to find the ones you may need.
Finally, the DraStic emulator supports many external controllers, and you may be capable of mapping the buttons as you wish. If you have no external controller, the emulator offers virtual on-screen buttons, which can be difficult to get used to. You can also enable "stylus mode", which grants more control over the lower touchscreen.
DraStic - DS Emulator is definitely worth a try. I would have wished that it came with a free lite version for people who simply want a more "bare-bones" Nintendo DS experience (for lack of a better term) but, alas, we didn't get one.
Did you already try out this amazing emulator? Let us know in the comments section below!
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