Sponsored By

Here's how the Nintendo DS devkit worked

Here's how one big blue box let Nintendo DS developers debug and test their games.

Bryant Francis, Senior Editor

October 25, 2021

YouTube Channel Modern Vintage Gamer has posted a new video showcasing the IS Nitro Emulator--a developer kit used to test software for the Nintendo DS. It's a neat look inside a piece of hardware that many developers haven't had a chance to experience, and shows what challenges developers faced when preparing their games to be played on such a unique device.

MVG's video (seen above) dives into the basic mechanics of how the IS Nitro Emulator functioned. For someone who's never used this particular devkit, it's neat to see how the box moved the DS's two cartridge slots for the purpose of burning software to test cartridges that would be sent to Nintendo. 

This deep dive also gives a glimpse into how developers used Metrowerks CodeWarrior, a licensed integrated development environment, to write code for DS games. Compiled code would be sent to the IS Nitro Debugger, where it could be tested on DS hardware. (Developers sometimes also apparently coded games using Cygwin).

The "IS" in IS Nitro Emulator stands for Intelligent Systems--a branch of Nintendo most popularly known for developing the Fire Emblem series. But as MVG notes, the company also has a hardware branch dedicated to making devkits like the one showcased here.

MVG's video also shows how the IS Nitro Emulator is still relevant for retro game enthusiasts. Though Nintendo would probably prefer if all of these devkits made it back to HQ, a number of them have circulated on ebay and other online sellers over the years, making them tools for running DS games on larger monitors that can be played with DS hardware.

About the Author(s)

Bryant Francis

Senior Editor, GameDeveloper.com

Bryant Francis is a writer, journalist, and narrative designer based in Boston, MA. He currently writes for Game Developer, a leading B2B publication for the video game industry. His credits include Proxy Studios' upcoming 4X strategy game Zephon and Amplitude Studio's 2017 game Endless Space 2.

Daily news, dev blogs, and stories from Game Developer straight to your inbox

You May Also Like