January 14, 2022

How to Play 3DS Games on PC

3DS games host a large library of games available on the Nintendo 3DS game console. Do you want to play 3DS games on your PC? There are many emulators available to do so. But Citra is ranked at the top and considered to be the best. Citra Emulator is preferred because the performance of the emulator while playing games like The Legend of Zelda, Pokemon X/Y & Fire Emblem: Fates is great. We bring to you a helpful guide that will teach you how to download, install and configure Citra Emulator to play 3DS games on PC.

How to Play 3DS Games on PC

How to Play 3DS Games on PC Using Citra Emulator

If you want to play these games on a computer, then you have to use an emulator like Citra. Citra Emulator is the best 3DS emulator for Windows PCs which is open-source and available for free download. Following are some noteworthy features of this emulator:

  • Citra Emulator also allows you to play with other wireless players over the Internet.
  • You can play in public rooms hosted by Citra in Public Room Browser.
  • It also allows you to host game rooms.
  • Additionally, you can make graphical tweaks within the game. For example, you can remove the black outlines from the character and environmental models for a better gaming experience.

There are two builds available:

  • Canary Build: It is the same as the Citra Nightly Build, the only difference is the additional features it offers. It is still under review.
  • Citra Nightly Build: It offers great features and unlike Canary Build, it is available for free use.

Requirements to Download & Use Citra Emulator

To download Citra 3DS emulator on your PC, your gaming device should meet the following requirements:

  • OpenGL 3.3 or above
  • 64-bit version Operating System
  • Windows 7 or above
  • Linux/macOS 10.13 High Sierra or above
  • Android Version 8.0

How to Download and Install Citra on Windows 10

To download and install Citra on your PC, follow the given steps:

1. Download Citra from its official website by clicking on Download for Windows x64 button shown highlighted.

Download Citra Emulator Windows x64

2. Open the downloaded citra-setup-windows.exe setup file, as shown.

Open the setup file

3. In the Citra Updater Setup window, click on the Next button.

In the Setup Window, click on the Next button. How to Play 3DS Games on PC

4A. Click on the Next button to install in the default installation directory in C drive.

Click on the Next button

4B. Alternately, click on the Browse… button to specify the desired directory where Citra will be installed.

click on the Browse… button to choose the file location. How to Play 3DS Games on PC

5. Select either or both components that you want to install by checking the box next to each:

  • Citra Canary
  • Citra Nightly

Check both the boxes, Citra Canary, Citra Nightly or check either one

6. Click on the Next button to proceed.

Click on the Next button to proceed. How to Play 3DS Games on PC

7. Click Next in the next two subsequent windows to accept the License Agreement and create Start Menu shortcuts.

Click Next in the next two subsequent Windows to accept the license and create a shortcut.

8. Finally, click on Finish to complete the installation.

Click on Finish to complete installation

Also Read: How to use MAME to Play Arcade Games on Windows PC

How to Use Citra Emulator

Implement the steps explained below to set up, customize and use Citra Emulator on your Windows 10 PC to play 3DS games.

Step I: Set Up Citra Emulator

Since you have just installed the Citra Emulator, you need to set the emulator to play as follows:

1. Press Windows + E keys together to open File Explorer.

2. Navigate to C:UsersAdminAppDataLocalCitra as shown.

Navigate to the following path. How to Play 3DS Games on PC

3. Create a folder named Roms inside the Citra Emulator directory to organize your game files.

Create a folder named Roms inside the Citra

4. Move your game .3DS ROM file to the Roms folder, as depicted below.

Move your decrypted game 3DS ROM file to Roms folder.

5. Next, launch Citra Emulator by clicking on Start Menu shortcut created during installation.

6. Double-click to add a new folder to the game list, as instructed on the screen.

Double-click as said on the screen to add games. How to Play 3DS Games on PC

7. Next, navigate to Roms folder created in Step 3 and double-click on it.

Open the Roms folder

8. Double-click the game file as it will load to play.

Also Read: 9 Best Android Emulators For Windows 10

Step II: Configure Controller

The next step in how to play 3DS games on PC guide is to configure the controller.

1. Launch Citra Emulator on your PC and click on the Emulation option from the menu bar.

Click on the Emulation. How to Play 3DS Games on PC

2. Choose Configure… from the dropdown menu, as shown.

Choose Configure…

3. Go to the Controls tab in the left pane.

Go to Controls tab on the left pane.

4. Map the buttons of your controller according to your convenience and click OK.

Note: The Emulator autodetects the controller, so it won’t take much time to connect the controller to the emulator.

Map the buttons of your controller convenience. Click OK after mapping. How to Play 3DS Games on PC

Also Read: How to Add Microsoft Games to Steam

Step III: Enhance Graphics

To play 3DS ROMs on a PC with better graphics quality, you will need to change the resolution of the emulator, as explained below:

1. Navigate to Citra Emulator > Emulation  > Configure… as earlier.

Choose Configure…

2. Click Graphics in the left pane of the Citra Configuration window.

Go to Graphics on the left pane. how to use Citra emulator

3. Choose the desired Internal Resolution from the given drop-down menu.

Note: Citra Emulator supports up to 10x resolution, but make sure that you choose a resolution according to the graphics card installed on your system.

From the Internal Resolution dropdown menu, choose your Resolution. How to Play 3DS Games on PC

4. Then, choose the required Texture Filter from its drop-down menu, as depicted below.

Now, Choose the Texture Filter from its dropdown. how to use Citra emulator

5. Click on OK to save these changes.

Click on OK in Citra Configuration. How to Play 3DS Games on PC

Also Read: How to Use Clubhouse on PC

Step IV: Perform Other Optimizations

After you configure 3DS emulator download for PC, make sure to optimize settings for better performance.

1. Go to Citra Emulator > Emulation  > Configure… as before.

Choose Configure…

2. In the General section, switch to the Debug tab.

In the General Window, go to Debug tab. how to use Citra emulator

3. Check the option marked Enable CPU JIT under Miscellaneous section, as shown.

Check the option Enable CPU JIT under Miscellaneous section. How to Play 3DS Games on PC

4. In the Advanced section of Graphics tab, ensure that these options are checked:

  • Use Disk Shader Cache
  • Enable VSync

Ensure that all the options are checked under the Advanced section to use Citra emulator. How to Play 3DS Games on PC

Also Read: The 150 Best Online Flash Games

How to Update or Uninstall Citra Emulator

To update Citra, you must reinstall it. Here’s how to uninstall then install Citra Emulator on Windows 10 again:

1. Press Windows + I keys to launch Settings.

2. Click on Apps from the given tiles.

select Apps in Windows Settings

3. Locate Citra in the app list and click on it.

Citra in app list apps and features

4. Click on Uninstall button for the app, as depicted.

Click Uninstall Citra Emulator apps and features

5. Click Uninstall again in the prompt to confirm the same.

Click uninstall this app and related info confirm

6. Maintain Citra Updater wizard will appear. You can choose to:

  • Add or remove components: To add or remove Citra Canary or Citra Nightly.
  • Update components: To update to the latest version.
  • Remove all components: To uninstall Citra emulator altogether.

7. Check Remove all components option and click on Next to uninstall it.

Maintain Citra Updater Add or remove components

8. Click on Uninstall button on Ready to Uninstall screen.

Click Uninstall Maintain Citra Updater

9. Lastly, click on Finish to complete the uninstallation.

Click Finish Maintain Citra Updater

Also Read: Top 10 Cute Minecraft House Ideas

Pro Tip: Compatibility of Games

Citra Emulator tests the compatibility of games for enhanced performance. Various colors indicate compatibility as:

  • Blue (Perfect): The game runs with no glitches and flawlessly. No workarounds are needed.
  • Green (Great): The game runs with a few audio or graphical glitches. So it usually needs some workarounds.
  • Olive Green (Okay): The game runs with major audio or graphical glitches but you can play from start to end.
  • Yellow (Bad): The game runs with major audio or graphical glitches and you cannot play from start to end as it is unable to progress through specific areas.
  • Red (Intro/Menu): The game won’t run due to major audio or graphical glitches, and the game will be stuck on the Start Screen.
  • Grey (Won’t Boot): The game crashes and won’t open during start-up.
  • Black (Not Tested): The game is yet to be tested.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q1. Why do we have to use only the decrypted 3DS file?

Ans. Encrypted 3DS file offers limited compatibility since it contains APs. These APs are removed in decrypted files, making them compatible with different devices.

Q2. Is Citra Emulator available for the Android version?

Ans. Yes, Citra Emulator is available for the Android version in Google Play Store.

Q3. Is Citra Emulator Safe?

Ans. Yes, it is safe and active. It is always recommended to update the latest version for enhanced performance and security. Activities like pirating 3DS games and downloading commercial games are illegal and unsafe. Thus, refrain from doing so.

Q4. What are the other free 3DS emulators available?

Ans. Other best available free 3DS emulators for Windows & Mac are:

  • R4 3DS Emulator,
  • RetroArch,
  • DeSmuME,
  • 3DMOO,
  • NO$GBA,
  • iDEAS Emulator,
  • Project64 Emulator,
  • DuoS Emulator, and
  • NeonDS Emulator.


We hope you learnt how to play 3DS games on PC using Citra Emulator. Keep visiting our page for more cool tips & tricks and leave your comments below.