Can You Play DS Games on Switch? [Childhood Nostalgia Guide]

Dejan Cvetnarevic
Dejan Cvetnarevic

Updated · Mar 27, 2023


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Can you play DS games on Switch? 

Nintendo’s official answer is no, but if you want to play DS games on your Switch there are some things you can try.

Depending on your Switch model, you may be able to jailbreak the console and install an emulator which will allow you to play your favorite DS classics on Switch. 

Here’s how to do that.

How To Play DS Games On Nintendo Switch

With the average age of American gamers being 34, it wouldn't be a surprise if some of them want to relieve their good old DS days through the new Nintendo Switch.

But unlike previous Nintendo consoles, DS and 3DS games are not compatible with Nintendo Switch. Due to obvious business reasons, their cartridges are different sizes so they can’t be plugged into Switch consoles. 

Fortunately, for those who have an unpatched version of the Switch console, there is a way to make DS games work.

For that, you’ll need custom homebrew– another word for software that’s unauthorized by Nintendo– which essentially means jailbreaking your Nintendo Switch.

To run homebrew and get DS games on your Nintendo Switch, you’ll also need custom firmware, which is a piece of software that will help to patch up the OS.

But, this doesn’t come without risks.

Note that homebrewing falls under “hacking” in Nintendo's Terms of Service. If Nintendo detects that you’ve modified your device and are using custom firmware, you could be permanently banned from its online network. This means you will no longer be able to play online, update your Switch, or access the eShop.

Also, modifying your device to play DS games on Switch will void any warranty you might have and you won’t be able to have your Nintendo Switch fixed without additional expenses. 

What’s more, modding a Switch might leave the device “bricked” and render it permanently unusable.

What Do You Need To Mod Your Switch?

If you still decide to mod your Nintendo Switch so you can play DS games, here’s what you’ll need:

  • Micro SD card: You’ll need an SD card that is at least 64GB. You can also use a smaller SD card, but the process would be less safe.
  • An unpatched (vulnerable) Nintendo Switch: The device has to be vulnerable to the exploit you’ll use.
  • A USB cable to connect the Nintendo Switch to your PC: You’ll also need a USB-C to connect your Switch to your computer or Android device (USB-C or USB-A).

How To Identify a Vulnerable Nintendo Switch Console

Despite the resources available on the web, modding a Nintendo Switch is far from a simple process.

Modding only works on consoles that are unpatched. There’s no way to play DS games on Switch that are patched.

To make things worse – at least for those who are willing to take the risk– most Nintendo Switch models that you can find on the market are patched, meaning you’ll need to have an older version to try.

If your device ticks all of the boxes, you’ll then need an exploit to launch the custom firmware (CFW) you need to run the homebrew software.

For now, the best exploit you can find for this purpose is Fuseé Geleé.

To check whether your Switch is vulnerable to the exploit, you’ll need to find the serial number for your Nintendo Switch. The number should be on the sticker at the bottom of your console but if you don't have one or you peeled it off, you can find it in System>Serial Information on your Switch.

Once you have the serial number,  you can check the list that was put together by the Homebrew community to find out if your Switch can be modded.

Is Playing DS Games on Nintendo Switch Illegal?

The legality surrounding emulators and ROMs is complicated.

For the most part, emulators don’t automatically fall under any copyright infringement, but that depends on their purpose. According to the U.S. Copyright Office, you can legally emulate any game for backup as long as you don’t use it for commercial use.

Hosting ROM games can be a form of copyright infringement if the emulator has software of some of the code from the console that they run on. If the entity that owns these games, in this case, Nintendo, has not authorized their use, the company has grounds for a lawsuit.

And the company has acted on this in the past. In 2018, Nintendo sued at least one person for breaking the Digital Millennium Copyright Act by selling NES Classic Edition systems that came with 800 pirated games.

So if you think of getting a NES Classic Edition system as a gift, be careful not to get yourself in trouble.

Downloading these games is likely illegal, even if you already own them on a disc or an old cartridge. That said, companies rarely go after individual downloaders. But it wouldn't be unwise to be precautious when you’re pirating from one of the largest video game companies.

Jailbreaking is different. It is not illegal, but it goes against Nintendo’s rules and can result in an instant ban.

Bottom Line

Playing DS games on Switch is possible, but your options are limited. You’ll need an older Switch version and would have to modify (jailbreak) your device, which is complicated and extremely risky (considering the pros and cons).


Can Switch play DS games?

The classic DS games are not compatible with the Nintendo Switch models.

Do DS games work on Switch?

To get Nintendo DS games on your Switch device (if possible), you’ll have to jailbreak it.

Do 3DS games work on Switch?

Nintendo Switch doesn’t come with backward compatibility, meaning you can’t play DS or 3DS games on it unless you hack the device.

Can you play DS games on Switch?

The only way to play DS games on Switch is to modify your device and run an emulator, but that’s only possible on unpatched Switch models.


Dejan Cvetnarevic

Dejan Cvetnarevic

Dejan is a techie at heart who always dreamed of turning his fascination with gaming into a career. He finds working for TechJury a perfect opportunity to express his views of all kinds of different software. Being an avid reader, particularly of fantasy and sci-fi, Dejan pursued a degree in English Language and Literature. When not at his computer, he’s watching sports or playing tabletop games.

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