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I Miss My Nintendo DS

(How to Download and Play Entire Handheld Games from Your Childhood on Your Phone or Laptop for Free)

I loved my handheld devices as a kid. I didn’t have a smartphone until my freshman year of high school, and now, I honestly largely crave that stupid, blocky phone I had for so many years. I spent a lot of my time occupying myself with books and video games at the time: lots of Pokemon. I had this massive guidebook to the Platinum game and spend hours playing it. I even planned on including Pokemon in one of my list of my top ten favorite video games, but I was already rambling so much, I cut it short to five. I used to play a lot of Pokemon. So, here’s how to get those old games running on whatever device you have for free. I just wanted to share this with my friends if you’re bored, even if you never played any handheld games before. It’s fun, trust me. You don’t even need any cartridges.

  1. Download an emulator for whichever platform your desired game functioned on.

    This will emulate whichever platform you're trying to play on your given device. I'll suggest a Game Boy Advance emulator, just because the it's lightweight, functions well on most devices, and, admittedly, the GBA had so many iconic games. Nowadays, you can even get it functioning on an iPhone, which is quite cool. I'd love being able to play original Pokemon games on my iPhone. I hate the addictive, money-grubbing nature of most games you can find in the App Store. It's filled with trash. Bleh. Anyway, keep in mind that some emulators might not be practical for your device (such as the Nintendo DS's touchscreen on your Windows PC,) or might not have the technical capability to run the device you already have. I once tried to get a Playstation II emulator to work on my old HP laptop. Didn't work out very well. If you run into any problems, just look at the FAQ on the given website, or just Google it. Or give up. That's always an option.
  2. Download games.

    You can download originals, even though Nintendo has reclaimed many ROMs (Read-only Memory) that were once posted on major ROM-hosting websites. If you can't find the game you're looking for on the site I linked, just do a Google search for whichever game you want, including the word "ROM download" after it, or something. You can also download hacks of the original games, changed up and edited for a different experience. I like Pokemon Clover.
  3. Unzip everything and throw all of your desired objects (the emulator and the games) into a single folder, just for organization's sake.

    You never know when the web will come crumbling down. It's better safe than sorry to have a concrete backup for your most valuable pieces of data when the apocalypse comes. Because, of course, your most treasured information will obviously the ROM of your favorite retro video games. Of course. Anyway...
  4. Click on the .gba file directly, and your emulator of choice should start running with the desired game.

    If it doesn't, open up your emulator and then figure out where you can open files from. On your Mac, it should be on that bar across the top of your screen. If the game moves too slowly for you, by the way, I'm fairly certain you can speed up the speed of the movement in-game somewhere in the emulator's options. That's what I always did. Happy playing!

Note that this how-to does not cover how to run PC games on a Mac. I don't think that I implied that it did, but I should consider writing that up. I'll do it if I ever feel the need.