The 3DS eShop may be dead, but the system's best emulator is back from the grave

Luigi's Mansion for 3DS
(Image credit: Nintendo)

There haven't been any public updates on the development of 3DS emulator Citra since 2020, but the software isn't dead - in fact, the devs have just posted a massive progress report following the shutdown of the official 3DS eShop.

Perhaps the most notable addition is support for separate windows, letting you move the displays of the two 3DS screens wherever you like on your desktop. That will, for example, let you spread the dual screens across two separate desktop monitors, for the weirdest sort of authenticity. There's now an automatic controller binding feature, so you won't have to manually configure most major controller types. There's also streamlined support for motion controls.

All these changes have already been implemented over the past few years, but if you weren't regularly updating the client and paying close attention to the menus, many of them likely would've slipped your notice. Many other changes are much more technical - you can read about them in the full progress report - but there's one newly announced technical change that's worth calling out.

Vulkan support for Citra is now in development. If you're not deep in on PC gaming tech, Vulkan is an alternative set of tools to let games give instructions to your graphics card. Citra currently uses OpenGL for this process, which broadly works fine, but in many cases Vulkan is more efficient at handling 3D graphics. In other words, Vulkan could make Citra run better, depending on the particulars of your hardware.

Whether or not the timing of this announcement with the official 3DS eShop shutdown was intentional, it's still worth noting, as Nintendo has just cut off the only legal path to access hundreds of digital 3DS games. Meanwhile, historians are working on preserving these games and changing the law so that they can open free, legal digital game lending libraries. Continued development on emulators like Citra will be essential to ensuring a wide audience has access to accurate versions of these games in the future.

The best 3DS games are set to stand the test of time.

Dustin Bailey
Staff Writer

Dustin Bailey joined the GamesRadar team as a Staff Writer in May 2022, and is currently based in Missouri. He's been covering games (with occasional dalliances in the worlds of anime and pro wrestling) since 2015, first as a freelancer, then as a news writer at PCGamesN for nearly five years. His love for games was sparked somewhere between Metal Gear Solid 2 and Knights of the Old Republic, and these days you can usually find him splitting his entertainment time between retro gaming, the latest big action-adventure title, or a long haul in American Truck Simulator.