Can the Nintendo 3DS Play DS Games?

The 3DS runs higher resolution games than the DS

An illustration of a Nintendo 3DS user trying to play Nintendo DS games in the system.


If you just upgraded and bought a Nintendo 3DS to replace your Nintendo DS, you'll be happy to hear the 3DS is backward compatible with almost all the games in your DS library. You can play your Nintendo DS games as you remember them: crisp and clean.

However, as nice as it'd be to play Nintendo DS games on a 3DS with the full power of the newer device, there are some things that you'll miss out on when playing a game meant for the DS.

With that being said, one feature that does work is Wi-Fi. If the DS game supports it, you can use your Nintendo 3DS to connect with other players regardless of the device they're using to play; they can be on a DS, 3DS, DSi XL, etc.

Have a Nintendo 3DS XL? You can play DS games on it, too.

How to Do It

Fortunately, there really isn't anything to it; you don't have to enable a special function to make it work, or update your Nintendo 3DS or DS device or games to play older DS titles on your 3DS.

  1. Plug your Nintendo DS game into the 3DS cartridge slot.

  2. Tap the game cartridge icon from the bottom menu on your 3DS, and away you go!


The Nintendo 3DS utilizes a higher screen resolution than the Nintendo DS. As a result, any Nintendo DS game that you play on the 3DS might look a bit stretched out and blurry.

However, it is possible to boot your Nintendo DS games in their original resolution:

  1. Before selecting your Nintendo DS game from the bottom menu, hold either the Start or Select button.

  2. Tap the icon for the game cartridge, but keep holding the button down.

  3. If the game boots at a lower resolution than normal for 3DS games, you've done it correctly and you can release the button.

There are some other caveats when playing DS games on the 3DS:

  • Your DS and DSi games won't display in 3D on your Nintendo 3DS. While the 3DS does support 3D gameplay, that's only true for 3DS games specifically. Playing a non-3D DS game does not mean that it will be "converted" to a 3D game.
  • You can't access the Home menu while playing Nintendo DS games on the 3DS.
  • Your 3DS cannot access features or use accessories that accessed the Game Boy Advance game slot on the Nintendo DS (slot 2).
  • DS games are not compatible with SpotPass or StreetPass.
  • A few DS games required the use of the AGB slot. Those games are not compatible with the 3DS.
  • If a Nintendo DSi game was purchased outside of the PAL region, and the 3DS purchased from the PAL region, the game might not work properly.