Emulation News: Neobrain unveils Mikage, a Nintendo 3DS emulator for Android, showing significant promise with a few commercial games already running – Vulkan renderer and JIT coming in the near future which will make many games playable in the coming months!
For years, Android has been the go-to platform for emulation on smartphones and tablets thanks to it not being locked down like iOS. A system that gets emulated a lot on Android is the Nintendo DS, with the non-free but great performing emulator DraStic, but now, its successor, the Nintendo 3DS, might also get an excellent emulator on Android with the name Mikage.
What is Mikage?
Mikage is a Nintendo 3DS emulator specifically designed for Android developed by neobrain, work on which started in 2016 but was only announced hours ago. For those doubting the legitimacy of its author, he provided ample proof that he’s the real deal in his announcement as he’s not only one of Citra’s (3DS emulator) original authors but has also done various contributions to PPSSPP (PSP emulator) and Dolphin (Game Cube/Wii emulator).
While Nintendo 3DS emulation on a portable device might sound like an unattainable feat, very promising results have already been achieved with some commercial games such as The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time 3D and Retro City Rampage already running albeit with presumably slow performance. Furthermore, homebrew is also supported with 3DSCraft and some demo homebrew shown up and running here.
As of right now, the emulator is still in early stages but in the FAQ, neobrain promises that in the coming months, performance and compatibility will be greatly improved and in about a year, “any game you throw at Mikage will work more likely than not” which, in my opinion, is a pretty big claim that I’m not willing to bet on but time will tell.
What’s promised in the future? How do I get it?
As Mikage is nowhere near finished, neobrain has laid out a rough plan of what he intends to do with emulator and this includes:
- Continuing his work on the ARM64 JIT compiler he’s developing which will surely grant the emulator huge performance boosts
- Implementing a fully functional Vulkan renderer which will be used for GPU acceleration
- With the above two points, he claims that Mikage will run at reasonable frame rates [given adequate hardware]
- In the more distant future, going beyond game emulation by adding support for applets like the Mii Maker as well as the Home Menu
Right now, there are no downloads available for Mikage but in the future, it will be purchasable from the Play Store meaning that it won’t be free. On the bright side, neobrain promises that most of its source code will be made public in the future in order to give something back to the community although not enough will be provided to build complete binaries.
This decision is said to have been made in order to thwart unofficial builds and poor-quality contributions although I believe there’s also the completely understandable reason which is monetary gain from Mikage as emulator development involves a colossal amount of work.
Similar to other emulators, Mikage also has its own Patreon (well, it’s Neobrain’s Patreon not Mikage’s) to which you can donate for weekly updates and access to alpha versions of the emulator. As always with such things, patience is key and remember, you’ll probably need a pretty good performing Android smartphone to run games at good frame rates.
If emulation on Android isn’t your thing, you can grab a 3DS for not much money from a local marketplace or eBay so make sure you consider those options to if you want to get into 3DS land 🙂
Side Note: A thing I’d like to see is a video preview of the emulator running so that we could see the state it is at now as screenshots aren’t representative of the whole picture.
Mikage’s Website: https://mikage.app/
Mikage’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/MikageEmu
Neobrain’s Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/mikage