Can I Play Nintendo 3DS Games on the Wii U?

The Wii U and 3DS are compatible with other games but not each other

Wii U
Wikimedia Commons

If you are hoping to save money by playing your favorite Nintendo 3DS games on your Wii U, you are going to be disappointed. You can't play Nintendo 3DS games on the Wii U. However, the two systems do share some commonality between them, and there is a way to play those 3DS games on your computer.

3DS and Wii U Compatibility

You can use the same Miiverse and Nintendo Network ID on the Wii U and the Nintendo 3DS, and your Nintendo points balance can be shared between them.

Both the Wii U and the Nintendo 3DS are capable of playing games from other systems—just not each other's games. The Wii U can play Wii discs as well as games from several retro systems through the Wii U Virtual Console.

The Nintendo 3DS can play Nintendo DS game cards and is capable of downloading Game Boy and NES games via the Nintendo 3DS Virtual Console. The 3DS can also technically play Game Boy Advance games, but those games aren't widely available.

How to Emulate 3DS Games on Your Computer

Although the Wii U can't play 3DS games, your computer can with the help of an emulator. Not all 3DS games are available in a form that an emulator can open, but many are.

The free program Citra is an open-source emulator for the Nintendo 3DS that works on Windows, Linux, and macOS computers. The program can open 3DS executable files such as 3DS, 3DSX, ELF, AXF, CCI, CXI, and APP files. TronDS is another option for playing 3DS games on your PC.