Hacking my 2DS to Dump Games for Emulator

in Hive Gaminglast year

I got my 2DS with the internet money I earned in my online journey years ago. I didn't want to hack it when I first got it. I updated it to access the eShop, so I lost the ability to mod the firmware. Willingly so... I didn't have a reason to hack the device and I like the authentic experience.

I tried more than once however, to install homebrew on the system. Homebrew isn't as harmful as downloading illegal ROMs. I did access homebrew without hacking my 2DS* but most apps didn't work as intended.

Since the 3DS-family is utterly discontinued by Nintendo, I was okay with hacking my 2DS. I just didn't have a reason to do so, until recently:

Game Dumping

So, since you can't record/screenshot gameplay on a 2DS, I thought of playing the games on Emulator. I saw a mobile reviewer playing Citra Emulator on mobile, and I thought "My new mobile phone could run this too!"

So I downloaded Citra for Android. Then, I torrented one of the games I own. Citra wouldn't run it unless it was the decrypted version. How to get a decrypted Rom? By hacking your 3DS device, then dumping the Rom through it.

So I decided to hack my device. I followed this guide. I was surprised by how easy it is to use the exploit.

When I tried homebrew a few years ago, most exploits didn't work on my firmware version at the time, now the exploit works on all the 3ds family systems released by Nintendo!

I couldn't dump the game roms without a guide, despite how easy to follow the steps. I wouldn't be able to do it a second time without a guide. That's how long/complex the process is.


It took around half an hour minutes finalize the setup. I did so with a slow pace so it might take you less time if you focused only on hacking.

After that, I became able to use my 2DS as normal, but with the ability to do some hacks, and dump games! (I can access the eShop and should be able to buy games, but I haven't tested yet.)

I was actually happy that I needed to do it this way. Even if I own the game, torrenting it isn't the most ethical thing to do.


I dumped 3 of my games: Soul Hackers, Etrian Odyssey Untold & Pokemon Crystal. to test the emulator, and... It was disappointing!!

The dumping part was good. It takes around 15 minutes to dump a 2GB game, so the three games together took less than 20 mins. You have to have enough free space on SD Card, half of my 16GB SD was free...

The Emulation part? Was less than ideal... The games work but they run on %80 FPS at best, much less in the demanding screens. Even the low demanding GBC-port Pokemon Crystal can't maintain %100 FPS!!

Turns out you need a higher-end Android to emulate 3DS games with a stable performance. The reviewer I saw ran it on a slightly more powerful mobile. I made sure by going to Citra website. Yes, my Galaxy A51 is below the requirements. (Citra team stated that the app doesn't work well on Exynos CPUs...)

What do you think?

This was a good experiment. I'll test again when they update Citra Emulator for Android, or when I upgrade my mobile phone. Whatever happens first...

I'm glad I can dump my games now. It's a good feeling when you have a backup copy of all your games in an external-HDD. The 3DS eShop might get discontinued at any moment right now, so I had to do thins eventually/before that.

Hope my experience helped you or at least was fun! If you have anything to add please comment. I will tip the comments I like on this article!

  • This article is a crosspost here on HIVE and on Read.cash.
  • All images are taken by me using a Galaxy A51.