Emulating console games on one’s smartphone is pretty commonplace nowadays as it provides IAP-free gaming and a large selection of good titles to choose from. In line with New Year’s celebrations, we have some good news for emulation on smartphones as Citra is now closer than ever to releasing their 3DS emulator on Android and is promising some pretty exciting stuff!
Citra on Android’s current state & the unofficial ports
Before going into what the Citra Team is promising, it’s important to state what they’ve already achieved which is a pretty good deal even though they haven’t been as vocal as other emulators about it. Among the things that have been achieved during the closed-doors development process include:
An ARM64 JIT Compiler by Sachin-v which goes a long way in improving game performance
Compared to modern smartphones, the 2/3DS isn’t nowhere as powerful but it’s still not easy to emulate. However, the Citra folks have done a great deal of progress and they’re even dabbling in New 3DS emulation among other features!
A memory technique called fastmem which allows the aforementioned JIT to directly access memory which gives pretty good FPS boosts
Multi-core support since modern ARM SoCs come with a high number of lower-powered cores rather than fewer more-powerful cores like desktop CPU
It’s important to state that this is still work-in-progress so it hasn’t been perfected yet
Support for playing with a game controller which is undoubtedly a huge feature since not everybody loves touch controls!
While the above sounds like more than enough for an official release, Citra’s Team noted that the Android port is not yet finished and as a result, it needs more work before a good quality release can be rolled out. As a result of this, some individuals have released unofficial Citra ports, such as the MMJ builds, which make use of some code developed behind closed doors, and often breaking the GPL license, while implementing their own hacks in order to provide better performance. Due to this and other factors, Citra’s Team refrained from publicly sharing the source code of their WIP Android port but promise to release all the code when they officially release the Android application thus allowing other developers to contribute.
What’s left to be done & the team’s promise about performance
As the previous section has explained, the Citra Team have achieved a great deal on Android and they describe the port as being in ‘pretty good shape already’ meaning that their intention of a full release in early 2020 has a very high chance of being coming true!
In some recent unofficial builds, titles like Mario Kart 7 are already running @ 60FPS on high-end SoCs like the SnapDragon 855 so Citra’s promise seems pretty realistic! [Image from a video by MasterKillua]
However, a few things still need to be strained out which include:
Improving the Android application in order to provide a better user experience
Further testing of the improvements that have been implemented
Implementing more performance improvements in order to eliminate slowdowns on lower-end hardware
Towards its end, the progress report culminates in a promise stating that the official release should provide full speed emulation in the most popular titles on medium to high-end Android devices with a somewhat playable experience being provided on lower-end ones. Without a doubt, this is a pretty big promise and if it’s indeed true, Citra could cement its place as the de facto 3DS emulator on Android similar to DraStic’s position which is slated to become open-source later this year.
It’s important to keep in mind that Android phones come in a wide variety of hardware configurations so not all may provide good performance when the Citra port is officially released. However, the Citra Team seem to be putting a good deal of effort into the port so hopefully, we’ll be seeing a good deal of support even after the initial release!
I'm a girl that's liked technology from day 1. Mostly interested in the PSVita/PSP scene but I've always modded my stuff when it's possible, that is :)Contact me via DM at @KawaiiAuroraA on Twitter if you have any questions/concerns about my articles or if you have any article requests.