Nintendo DS on the PSVita starts again – Rinnegatamante currently porting melonDS to the PSVita

Back in August 2016, when HENkaku was just released, the PSVita received its first DS emulator. However, as most people know, this emulator didn’t perform well enough to run any games at a playable speed and development on it was abandoned shortly after. Now, Rinnegatamante seems to be working on reviving DS emulation on the Vita with him porting melonDS to it!

What is melonDS? What has Rinnegatamante showed us?

melonDS is a pretty recent Nintendo DS emulator on which work was started sometime in 2016. The person behind it is StapleButter and the emulator’s main goals are to be fast and provide accurate emulation (like most emulators).

Mario Kart DS running on the PSVita’s melonDS port via Vita3K!

While development on melonDS slowed down in the first half of this year, active development started again in July and now, it has reached the point of rendering some games, like Mario Kart DS, almost perfectly with good performance not to mention online multiplayer support.

Now, Rinnegatmante is currently porting this promising emulator to the PSVita. This news came in two tweets in which Rinnegatamante demonstrates melonDS running in Vita3K, a WIP Vita emulator. From recent tweets, the port’s current status is at:

  • melonDS starts and outputs a picture
    • Mario Kart DS seems to render pretty well.. in Vita3K at least
  • Some initial work has been done on getting audio working
  • It has the ability to position the DS’ screens horizontally so that they fit better on the Vita’s screen
  • Apparently, some DS games that crash when run on real hardware don’t crash when run in Vita 3K
  • It seems that Rinnegatamante is using a GUI solution with menus to manage emulator settings

What to expect?

Right now, it wouldn’t be a good idea to expect too much because DS emulation is somewhat demanding on the CPU. As a result, older or slower ARM-based systems struggle to emulate the DS (unless you’re using the  closed source DraStic emulator on Android). For example, the Nintendo Switch needs to be overclocked for it to run some DS games at full speed with melonDS.

Maybe less-demanding DS games, like RPGs, could run at an accepatable framerate on the PSVita some day! (Final Fantasy A2 shown in screenshot; the framerate shown isn’t the actual one so don’t get your hopes up high just yet)

However, things may be promising for melonDS on the Vita because:

  • StapleButter is currently working on creating a hardware-accelerated renderer for melonDS which will greatly improve performance on lower-powered systems like the Nintendo Switch and Android devices.
    • Rinnegatamante was the person behind VitaGL which allows for GPU acceleration in certain homebrew. This means that he may be able to port melonDS’ promised OpenGL renderer to the Vita for improved performance.
  • The PSVita’s CPU can be overclocked to 494MHz (which wasn’t possible until a few months ago)
    • This can provide small performance boosts which could drag some DS games from being unplayable to being just fast enough to be playable.
  • Nowadays, Vita homebrew can access more memory than they could in August 2016 due to some developments earlier this year
  • Rinnegatamante might work on optimising melonDS’ code for the PSVita which could yield some promising results.


As of right now, there’s no VPK to install on your PSVita but you’re free to compile the code that Rinnegatamante’s been working on. Hopefully, something substantial will come out of this port as the PSVita’s touchscreen will no doubt work really well with a DS emulator 😉

GitHub page:

Rinnegatmante’s Twitter (future updates):