A Guide To Running Spectrum Games on Your Nintendo DS

HomebrewIssue 48 of the excellent (but expensive, at least over here in Malaysia) Retro Gamer magazine did a spread on the Spectrum 128. It got me curious because you can hardly find one over here, and mentioning Spectrum will more likely conjure up colours of the rainbow than the thought of a computer.

Despite the scarcity, Google search results seem to indicate a large and dedicated Spectrum fanbase. There are even entire archives (legal!) of games available online. As the icing on a already yummy cake, there are also a couple of pretty impressive looking Spectrum emulators for the Nintendo DS, but each with its own caveats.

Lets look at the one that I got up and running (and playing games with): SpeccyDS.


Getting Spectrum games to run on the Nintendo DS is a pretty easy and straightforward affair. There are just several prerequisites:

  1. Download the SpeccyDS ROM from https://speccyds.wordpress.com/. The latest version is currently v.0.3
  2. Download a bunch of Spectrum ROMs, from https://www.worldofspectrum.org or somewhere else. Do keep in mind that SpeccyDS doesn’t support tape images, only memory snapshot files for the ZX Spectrum 48K.
  3. A flashcart (I’m using a Slot-1 R4DS) and a Nintendo DS.

Lock and Load

For good housekeeping, create a Spectrum folder in the root directory of the memory card that comes with your flashcart. This will be the location to store your Spectrum ROMs.

Copy over the SpeccyDS file (SpeccyDS.nds) into the root directory of the memory card and you are all set to go.


SpeccyDS only runs games for the ZX Spectrum 48K and not the 128, Not only that, it only supports .z80 and .sna file formats… so work that Google search box :). At least I got Thundercats (The video is not up yet, since Youtube is pretty slow today)


There is an alternative, and it’s another piece of homebrew software called DSpec. I can get it to run on the R4 but other than that, it can’t detect the ROMS in the system, despite me following the file structure provided by the developer. Maybe it’s because the DSpec.nds file is resistant to DLDI patching.

Other type of flashcart users might have a better time using DSpec, so do check it out at: https://dspec.eighttwelve.co.uk/download.php

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