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Steam Deck mod makes it a gigantic Nintendo DS

steam deck nintendo DS modImage: Andrew, RetroHandhelds.gg

The Steam Deck is a portable game console…but it’s also a fully-fledged PC. That creates a lot of opportunities for modding shenanigans. One that seems to be gaining popularity is turning the thing into an absolutely massive Nintendo DS, a notoriously tricky game system to emulate thanks to its dual-screen setup.

Andrew of RetroHandhelds.gg gave it a shot after seeing a Reddit user’s attempt, combining a 7-inch USB-based display (roughly the same size as the Steam Deck’s) and a small USB-C dock with a shell case and some magnetic mounts to keep it all tidy. Getting the hardware together was a frustrating bit of trial and error, but he’s documented his progress (along with Amazon links) if you want to try it yourself.

The software side was comparatively easy. Andrew ran the Steam Deck’s Linux-based software in desktop mode to install and boot up the Citra Nintendo 3DS emulator (which might be a little hard to find at this point), making sure to set up the emulator’s output to separate into two different windows.

This is what trips up a lot of DS emulation: on a single screen you have to either squash two roughly square-shaped displays onto one, or set a hotkey to switch between them. But with an external display plugged into the Steam Deck, and its built-in display already a touchscreen to mimic the DS, you’re good to go.

The end result is pretty impressive…though Andrew said the physical setup was so frustrating that he wouldn’t do it again. After all, Citra works just fine on the Steam Deck without the external screen, and DS emulation fans are used to squashed displays and/or hotkey screen swapping. If you absolutely must have DS emulation, maybe the upcoming but rather pricey AyaNeo Flip DS is worth considering.

Michael is a former graphic designer who’s been building and tweaking desktop computers for longer than he cares to admit. His interests include folk music, football, science fiction, and salsa verde, in no particular order.

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