If you’re an upper secondary student, you’re probably already familiar with the Nspire CX calculator you use in math class. Sure, it’s a fancy calculator and all, but can it do more than just crunch numbers? The short answer: yes. In this article, we’ll show you how you can install emulators for retro games and other utility programs on your graphic calculator. (Math teachers, don’t hate us!)

First step: Install Ndless Jailbreak

This instruction is the simple version! If you need additional help, here is the detailed installation guide. Ndless is not a harmful program to your calculator at all; however, very few of the programs may be. We are not responsible if anything happens to your calculator, so read the instructions carefully! When you download new programs, always make to read the readme.txt.  *Note that Ndless is not supported on the TI Nspire CX II yet.

Go to ndless.me to find the installation files. Click the “Download Ndless” button.

On the github page, click on the “ndless.zip” asset to download the zip folder.

Unzip the file to access the installer. Ndless 4.5 is currently the latest version. Use only that one! Read the readme.txt for instructions.

To move .tns files to your calculator, you will need to use TI-Nspire computer link software. Note that you can only transfer .tns files onto your calculator. Also note that if you download a folder for a program, all other files other than the .tns are for instructions, licenses, etc. 

Install Ndless. Move the installer into a folder, and click on it to open it. After 20~30 seconds, the installation should be complete. Just wait patiently and it will be just fine.  It will say “Ndless installed!” on the top left when successful.

Note that Ndless will be uninstalled each time your calculator turns off. Installing Ndless again does not take long, so just remember to open the file to reinstall it each time you need it (you will need it to run your games).

Second Step: Find Games/Programs and Convert Your Own

There are online forums where hobbyists upload their programs designed for the calculators. Two of the biggest program collections are tiplanet.org and omnimaga.org. Tiplanet has more programs that are compatible with the Nspire CX series. There are already a large collection of programs and games on these websites, but you can add even more by converting your own game files! There are an infinite amount of games and programs you can run on your calculator. 

First: How does this work?

A bit of context: How do the games run inside your calculator? Inside old game cartridges or an arcade machine motherboard is a file called a ROM image. This is a copy of all data from the game. With a program called an ‘emulator’ it can simulate the environment required for opening the ROM file, and thus allowing it to run on devices it was not designed to be run on. In this case, you will need to download an emulator on your calculator, and the ROM files can be converted to be run on your calculator. (Keep in mind that downloading ROM files is a form of piracy!)

File Converters
Link to website

Converters modify the files so it is compatible with your calculator. With these, you can convert ROMs, images and PDF documents to .tns. They are available on tiplanet.org.

This error will pop up on many programs; just ignore it! It will work just fine. 

Below are some of the more interesting programs I recommend. The download links are hyperlinked in the program name.

nPDF: Document viewer

This is not a game, but a utility program. nPDF allows you to open and view .pdf, .xps and .cbz files on your calculator after converting them.  You can carry and view any pdf file on your calculator, including your entire textbook.

Crafti: Minecraft on Calculator!

Crafti is a port of Minecraft for the Nspire; however, it is missing many of the blocks and supports only creative mode. It does not have Ender World, but contains basic redstone components. Simply open the file to install and play.

Ndoom2: Classic Doom on Calculator!

Ndoom2 is the emulator’s name, and the ROM game files come along with it on tiplanet. Doom is a very classic FPS game, and  is a very highly regarded retro shooter. “DOOM was the breakthrough game of 1993” – IGN It is ranked as one of the best video games of all time by many sources, so check it out.

Gpsp Nspire: Gameboy Advance Emulator

Gpsp is an existing emulation system for the Gameboy Advance; this one ported to run on the TI Nspire. The emulator requires the Gameboy Advance BIOS file to run. (Read readme.txt for instructions.) It’s not hard at all to find online. After opening, you will select the ROM file to run and then the actual game will start.  As mentioned earlier, any ROM of a Gameboy Advance can be played after converting. Pictured are two games that are already available at tiplanet.

V-rally 3

V-rally is a racing game, and the ROM file is available on tiplanet.org. “With its incredible graphics, convincing handling, and satisfying challenge, V-Rally 3 for the Game Boy Advance is a very solid racing game.” – Gamespot

F-14 Tomcat

F-14 is an extremely basic flight simulator game. Not realistic at all, but fun for some arcade action. You control an F-14 to take down enemy planes, attack ground targets and more.

PocketSNES: Super Nintendo Emulator

PocketSNES is another emulator port for the Nspire, allowing you to play any SNES ROM files after conversion. This emulator does not require the BIOS. There are four different versions, some faster than others. You will have to choose one that is the most compatible. (Read readme.txt.) The games will not run very smoothly, but most of them are still playable. Some of our favorite games on SNES are Super Metroid, a platformer set inside a sci-fi world, and Legend of Zelda:  A Link to The Past, a top-down fantasy adventure game. This is another game considered one the greatest of all time, with over four million copies sold.

Bonus: Nover overclocker: Overclock Your Calculator!

Overclocking refers to making your processor run faster than its factory set limits, boosting your performance. Nover 3 allows you to overclock your calculator’s processor, resulting around 77% performance boost. The process is automatic, so it won’t break unless you mess with the settings. Always read the readme.txt! Be warned, using this voids your warranty and may permanently block your calculator if not careful. Otherwise, the performance of your calculator gets greatly improved, allowing you to play your games with smoother frames. 

Certainly, making use of your calculator to play games instead of doing math is great. However, do think about your grades before you start playing during class.