A Reddit user took use of some smart hardware methods and emulation software to supersize the 3DS—without the 3D.
Believe it or not, the Nintendo 3DS XL was once considered a huge handheld, but it is no longer when compared to current portable systems like the Switch. The 3DS XL is currently very little, which appears to have been an issue for one enthusiast, who devised a way to supersize it—dual screens and all—by utilizing another, beefier handheld: the Steam Deck.
This isn’t the first time Reddit user ‘rising tony’ has attempted to reproduce the Nintendo 3Ds on a bigger scale utilizing the Steam Deck and its touchscreen, lacking the titular 3D effect. They released a video on Reddit a few weeks ago of a different setup that employed the Citra 3DS emulator running on a gaming PC, with a desktop display simulating the handheld’s top screen and a Steam Deck replicating the touchscreen and physical game controllers. Although the performance was excellent, it lacked the 3DS’s second best feature: portability.
‘rising tony’ uploaded a video yesterday of a new configuration that was entirely portable and completely wonderful, despite adding even more weight to the already heavy 1.5-pound Steam Deck. A unique 3D-printed connection was used to attach an 8-inch Samsung tablet directly to the Steam Deck, replacing the desktop monitor.
Citra now handles all 3DS emulation on the Steam Deck, which has well than enough processing power to do so but making the dual screen arrangement work needed some ingenious workarounds. Using a linked USB-C dongle, a “dummy HDMI connector” was made to “push the steam deck to generate a second display that expands the desktop vertically.” The Steam Deck broadcasts the second fake display to the linked Samsung Tablet, which is running the Steam Link Android software.
Streaming video always causes delay, but in this case, the Samsung tablet was connected to the Steam Deck through the same USB-C dongle as before, and tethering was enabled. This meant that the console and tablet were both connected to the same physical network, allowing for streaming rates of up to 100 mb/s. That lowered latency and lag to the point where it was practically invisible, and “even the shooting gallery minigames in Ocarina of Time remain unaffected, and with motion controls, they are a breeze,” according to ‘rising tony.’
Despite the fact that neither hardware nor software was altered to make this work, we’re delighted to call it an exceptionally creative hack and yet another reason to consider purchasing a Steam Deck.