Augmented Reality DS Emulator is the trippiest way to play games

An image of an augmented reality DS emulator being played on top of a Nintendo switch

An image of an augmented reality DS emulator being played on top of a Nintendo switch

An augmented reality Nintendo DS emulator has been created to project classic Nintendo handheld games into your real-world environment. Yes, it looks just as trippy as you imagine it does.

Created by developer Zhuowei Zhang, the augmented reality DS emulator is an experimental tool that turns the handheld’s games into holographic projections above the user’s phone.

Based on the iOS version of MelonDS, Zhang’s emulator extracts 3D models from games while they’re being played to display fully 3D environments that you can look around. While viewing the game, you can play with a connected controller, although you can’t use the touchscreen.

In a video shared on Twitter, Zhang shows two examples of the augmented reality DS emulator in action: Mario Kart DS and Pokémon Black. Both games show their fair amount of issues, and the way in which the DS hardware culls visuals doesn’t make them particularly pleasing in augmented reality. Nevertheless, the tech is pretty neat.

Zhang is clear to note that the current version of the emulator is just a prototype. At the time of writing, transparency effects don’t work, you can’t select which rom you want to use and the software suffers from a memory leak issue. 

While VR ports of games such as Star Wars: Jedi Outcast can truly overhaul a title into something brand new, sometimes better, AR ports don’t seem to have that same appeal. However, Zhang’s work on bringing the Nintendo DS to AR is certainly impressive, and we’re excited to see how the technology evolves into the future.

Zhang’s work already has a number of detractors in its announcement tweet. Some comment on the rough-looking nature of holographic emulation, a fair criticism, whereas others slate the proof of concept as a “gimmick”.

At the end of the day, Zhang’s DS emulator concept is still cool, even if it ultimately isn’t an experience that many will want to use. Now, let’s see what other systems look like with augmented reality.

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