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Emu author
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I would not consider SNES lighter than DS. GBA, on the other hand, is a very good primer because its hardware is essentially a subset of what's available on Nintendo DS.

The performance difference you cited could be somewhat of a pathological case. Emulators will often optimize in such a way that typical games are boosted but unlikely scenarios may be much worse. This is usually the result of some form of caching. The goal of caching is to store a lot of generated state in an intermediate or more local representation when a primary state changes. If the primary state changes a significant enough percentage that the secondary state is accessed then the cache will probably be defeated and you'll get worse performance instead of better.

Unfortunately one can't give any real insight into what's actually happening without access to the source code of No$ and performing some kind of profiling to see where it's spending all of its time, followed by a good bit of ROM analysis to see why it's spending its time there. As well as a good understanding of the overall structure of the emulator, and the platform itself.

If you want to talk more about emulation stuff you can feel free to IM me on one of the accounts listed in my profile.
 
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