The Nintendo DS is a classic handheld gaming system that has many well-loved games that are still exclusive to the system. Many gamers therefore search for a way to play their DS games on another one of Nintendo’s portable consoles — the Switch. So, is it possible to play DS games on a Nintendo Switch?
In order to play the DS’s full library of games on your Switch, you’ll need to mod your Switch and install an emulator on it. However, doing this improperly could get your Switch banned. If you’re not up for the risk, stick to the DS games that have official ports to the Switch.
If this sounds a bit confusing, don’t worry. Let’s take a closer look at the possibility of playing DS games on your Nintendo Switch so that you can determine the best way to proceed.
What Are DS Games?
If you’re relatively new to the gaming scene, you may not even know what a DS game is (though if you do know, feel free to skip to the next section). So, what exactly are these games and why would you want to play them on your Nintendo Switch?
A DS game is a video game that was originally developed for the Nintendo DS handheld console, which was released back in 2004. The final game released for the DS was Big Hero 6: Battle in the Bay, in 2014, so it’s safe to say that Nintendo is no longer supporting the DS, although we’ve discussed how to locate your Nintendo Network ID on the 3DS and in other posts (which may also be relevant here).
This console was unique in the sense that it had two screens with one on top of the other, hence the name DS (Dual Screen). The top screen was a small 3-inch LCD while the bottom screen was a small touch screen. Although it was a touch screen, you were actually meant to control the bottom screen using a special stylus that came with the handheld.
This dual screen and stylus combo led to many unique gaming experiences on the DS that would be difficult to port over to other consoles. For this reason, many DS games have remained exclusive to the DS and have not been moved to more modern hardware.
There are actually two different methods to play DS games on your Nintendo Switch. You can play official ports of any DS games that have been released for Switch, or you can use homebrew to install an emulator on your Switch.
Let’s quickly go through both of these options.
A video game port is when a game from one console gets brought over to another console. For example, The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword was once only available for the Nintendo Wii, but Nintendo eventually re-released the game for the Nintendo Switch under the name “The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD.” In this case, Skyward Sword HD is a port of the original Skyward Sword.
For older Nintendo consoles like the NES, SNES, Nintendo 64, Gameboy, and Gameboy Advance, Nintendo has actually directly ported over several of their games to the Switch through their Nintendo Switch Online subscription service. However, as of the time of writing, they have yet to do anything like this for the Nintendo DS.
This means that if you want to play a port of a DS game on your Nintendo Switch, you’ll need to buy it individually. Unfortunately, relatively few DS games have been ported over to the Nintendo Switch.
These games include:
- Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy
- Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team DX
- Pokemon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl
- The World Ends with You: Final Remix
- Mega Man Zero/ZX Legacy Collection
- Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective
These are the only DS titles that have received official ports to the Nintendo Switch. If you want to play a DS game other than these on your Switch, you will need to follow our next method.
Now, before we get into the method, we should go through some warnings first. In order to install homebrew on your Switch, you will need to mod the device to allow you to install custom firmware on it. If done improperly, this could potentially get your whole console banned from Nintendo’s servers or even break your console entirely.
That being said, while it is possible that those things could happen to you, that chance is relatively low if you do it properly.
Before you can mod your Nintendo Switch, you need to make sure it’s even possible to mod your Switch in the first place. The thing that makes it possible to mod a Switch is a flaw in the Switch’s design that has been patched for newer releases of the console.
In order to check if your switch is moddable, you need to check the serial number either on the bottom of the Switch or by going to System Settings and then selecting ‘Serial Information.’ Once you have your serial number, compare it to the values in this table in order to determine if your Switch is moddable.
If your Switch is moddable, you will then need to gather some simple materials to get the job done. First off, you’ll need a computer and a USB-C cable in order to plug your Switch into the computer.
Next, you’ll need a Micro SD card. You can install the custom firmware using an SD card as small as a 4 GB one, but you won’t be able to install many games using that SD card, so it’s recommended that you get an SD card that can hold at least 64 GB. We recommend this 128 GB Micro SD card (on Amazon).
Finally, you’ll need an RCM Jig. This device (found here on Amazon) will be used to put your Switch into recovery mode, allowing you to plug it into your computer. If you don’t want to spend the money to buy one of these, you could also use a paperclip, though improperly inputting a paperclip is where much of the risk of breaking your Switch comes from.
Once you have all of these supplies, you’re finally ready to mod your Switch. The modding community has already put together this fantastic guide, so just follow it step by step to get your Switch properly modded. (To emulate DS games on your Switch, you will likely want to follow the “fusee-gelee” method for modding your Switch.)
Once you have a modded Switch, you just need to download and install melonDS onto your Switch’s SD card. The download link, as well as directions to install the emulator can be found here.
Tips for Playing DS Games on a Nintendo Switch
The Nintendo DS provides several different ways to control your games. For example, you can use gyro controls and a microphone, and certain games need to be held sideways. The melonDS emulator for Nintendo Switch is actually capable of doing all of these things through certain commands.
These commands are as follows:
- Gyro controls – Enable them through the Input settings, and then they should begin to work by rotating your Switch. Press ZL to calibrate your rotation.
- Microphone – Press down on the left stick to emulate a blowing noise into your game. The Switch doesn’t have a microphone, so it’s not possible to actually use the microphone.
- Rotating the Screen – You can rotate the screen through the emulator’s Display Settings.
Another important thing to consider when playing DS games on your Switch is to never download any .nsp files. These are usually pirated Nintendo Switch games, and playing them will usually result in your Switch getting banned from Nintendo’s servers.
The world of DS games is vast and varied, with countless titles to choose from, spanning a wide range of genres and styles. Among the most popular DS games of all time are from classic series like New Super Mario Bros., The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass, and Pokemon Black and White. These games have captivated gamers of all ages for years, with their engaging gameplay, memorable characters, and immersive storylines.
Other top DS titles include Brain Age, Animal Crossing: Wild World, and Mario Kart DS, which have all proven to be enduring favorites among fans. Whether you’re a seasoned gamer or just starting out, the DS offers an endless array of exciting games to explore.