Is DS Gameplay Actually Good On The Anbernic RG351?

The Anbernic RG351P is an oldie but a goodie when it comes to the world of retro handhelds. 

This device was first released back in 2020 and since then we have had a ton of other retro handhelds come out from multiple different companies. 

Each year these handhelds get a little more powerful, so why is it that I keep going back to the Anbernic RG351P? 

Well, honestly it’s just the fact that this is a reliable little handheld with a lot of charm. I love the design and feel of it. Plus the 351P covers about 95% of the retro games that I want to play since it handles pretty much every game from the NES era to N64. 

I am finding myself going back to the 351P time and time again despite having purchased more powerful handhelds like the Retroid Pocket 3+

After pulling together a mix of my favorite DS games of all time (Plus the general public’s favorite games of all time) I tested them out on the Anbernic RG351P. Here are my thoughts. 

How To Play DS Games On The Anbernic RG351P

Before we get into the games, let’s briefly talk about the setup I used to play these games on the 351P. 

I installed the AmberElec custom firmware. If you are curious about how to set up this firmware, I recommend checking out this guide from Retro Game Corps (It’s the exact guide I used). This guide mentions setting up 351Elec, just keep in mind this is the same as AmberElec, just an older name for it. 

The AmberElec firmware is going to have the DraStic emulator for DS preinstalled. This is the emulator I used for all my DS testing. 

Also, I should note that I did not change any settings on DraStic, I played it as it’s configured on setup. 

DS Gameplay On The Anbernic RG351P: Is It Good? 

Let me start off by saying this, DS gameplay on the Anbernic RG351P is buttery smooth but functionally limiting. 

What do I mean by that? 

Well, pretty much every game I played, the gameplay itself has no lag at all (Except for one tiny bug but we’ll get into that later). Everything pretty much played like you would expect from the original hardware.

However, the RG351P is not touch screen and does not have 2 screens which makes some DS games a pain to play. 

Two Screen Layout

Not having two screens can be problematic for some games.

For example, in Contra 4 your character will switch from the bottom to the top screen and vice versa depending on the map. The developers wanted to utilize both screens and this was a way to do that. 

If you play with both screens on in the horizontal layout, not only are your screens really small but it’s awkward when your character switches to the top screen because he’s actually moving into a screen on the right or left instead of this fluid movement to the top screen. 

You have the option to set the entire screen to either the top screen or the bottom screen and then switch between the two. For a lot of games, such as Pokemon Soulsilver, this is not a problem. But for games that require a lot of attention to both screens, switching back and forth can be annoying. 

You should really limit yourself to games that don’t require quick changes from top to bottom screen. Play games that focus mainly on one screen and then have the other screen as like a map or menu. 

No Touch Screen

The other major issue with functionality is not having a touch screen. 

What you do instead is use the right analog stick to move around the stylus and then hit A or press on R3 to “tap”. This stylus is super difficult to control and as you can imagine, games that rely heavily on the touch screen are going to be way too painful to actually play. 

Quick side note, for Pokémon Heart Gold, when it came down to picking my starter, the A button with the stylus wouldn’t work like it had been working with all my other games. I finally realized that I had to press the right stick down to select the Pokéball in this one example. 

Never happened again which was really weird. I honestly thought I would be stuck in the game unable to progress. 

Gameplay choppiness bug 

Early I mentioned a bug when it came to the smoothness of the gameplay. 

Well basically, when you switch from a double-screen orientation to a single-screen orientation, sometimes the frame rate will just drop and look choppy.

It seems to happen randomly when switching screens, I couldn’t find any pattern. 

To fix it, simply switch back and forth between single screen and double screen orientation until the choppiness goes away.  

Sleep mode does not work with DS gameplay on the 351P

Another thing you cannot do while playing DS games on the 351P is putting the console into sleep mode. 

Doing this will shut off all the controls when you leave sleep mode. You’ll have to reset the console in order to go back to the main menu on AmberElec and restart the DS game. 


Overall, DS gameplay works great on the rg351P as long as you are playing games that don’t rely too much on using both screens and games that don’t use frequent touchscreen controls. 

If you are looking for a retro handheld specifically to play DS games, the Anbernic 351P is not a good option. But, if you love playing other systems like NES, SNES, GBA, and PS1 with some DS mixed in, then I still highly recommend it. 

For more information on the Anbernic rg351P check out our 100-hour review on the device where I tested the 351P for 100 hours of gameplay!

Leave a Comment