Can a Nintendo Switch Play DS Games?

While the Switch has no inherent backward compatibility, using an emulator in conjunction with a third-party program can allow users to play DS games on the console.

I’ve owned a Nintendo Switch since it first came out, and continue to use it to this day. My hands-on experience with the machine, mixed with additional research on its backward compatibility, allowed me to figure out how to play DS games on the closed console.

This article expands on that by breaking down why the Switch won’t play older titles, how to overcome such obstacles, and the risks associated with that process.

Key Takeaways

  • You are able to play DS games on the Switch, but you need to use multiple third-party programs in order to do so.
  • When choosing firmware or an emulator in order to run DS games on your Switch, pick the most well-known or highest-rated options in order to avoid any malicious software.
  • Hacking into or jailbreaking your Switch, while effective, does void any warranties and exposes your Switch to additional risks.

A Closed, but Not Impenetrable, Nintendo System

For most gamers, backward compatibility is a big deal. Being able to play old games is becoming a rarity in today’s world, especially as technology continues to progress. Though most people always look to the next title, it can be extremely fun to go back into the archives. 

Unfortunately, that’s not always possible. While some systems allow you to play many games from the past, there is a good amount that only lets you play current titles. The Switch is one such example.

While the Nintendo console has a lot of bonuses, it’s one of the first machines from the company that doesn’t work with their past titles. There are some re-releases every now and then, but you can’t play Gamecube, Wii, or Wii-U games on it. That means no DS as well.

That’s a huge drawback for people who love playing their DS, and who still have a lot of games they want to revisit. However, just because Nintendo won’t allow DS games on the Switch doesn’t mean you can’t play them. It just takes some imagination.

Getting DS Games on the Switch

DS games do not naturally integrate with the Switch. That’s an obstacle, but it’s one that you can overcome. To do that, you have to combine third-party software that’s outside of the Nintendo brand with an emulator.

There are many options out there, but Homebrew is the most popular. Though installing it is not the simplest process, there are plenty of guides that walk you through the process. Once you follow those steps, all you need is an emulator and you’ll be good to go.

That two-step process takes a little bit of investment, technical know-how, and time. However, if you have access to all three and are patient with learning how they all come together, then it’s more than worth it for anyone who wants access to older titles.

Hacking into a Switch isn’t the cleanest solution from any standpoint, but it’s incredibly effective and will allow you to run just about any DS game you want.

It’s important to note that, if you want to try the above methods, you need a moddable console. Many Switch systems have been patched in order to prevent the use of third-party injectors. If you have one such system, there’s nothing you can do.

However, if you do have an open console then you can jailbreak it with a third-party app and get in an emulator. As with firmware, there are plenty of options out there. Choose a highly rated or well-known one and you shouldn’t have any issues.

The Drawbacks of Hacking Your Switch

Playing DS games on a Switch is a great way to enjoy some of your favorite non-supported titles. That being said, there are some downsides to the process as well. The biggest of those is the risk of certain functionality issues.

For instance, if you use the above methods you’ll only be able to play certain games in landscape or portrait mode but never both. That can make the images look smaller than they are, which can be annoying to deal with at times.

On top of that, it may be harder to get updates and you do expose yourself to more risk. That’s because there are some homebrew or emulators that are not protected. Always be careful when taking this route and ensure you aren’t doing anything too risky.

It’s also important to know that Nintendo will not cover your warranty if you’ve tinkered with your Switch. That won’t matter for everyone, but it’s critical that you understand that risk before downloading extra firmware.


This section looks at, and answers, a few of the most common questions Switch users ask about the DS and related topics.

Is the Switch Backwards Compatible?

Unfortunately, no. The Switch is one of the only Nintendo consoles that have no form of backward compatibility. You can only play self-contained games on the system.

Why Did Nintendo End the DS?

Though the system did sell well during its time on the market, Nintendo decided to end the DS due to the rise of smartphones. Mobile games became much more accessible, which in turn made the console not as useful as it once was.

How Many Nintendo DS Games Exist?

If you’re looking to play DS games on a Switch, you have plenty of options. There are 3,467 total games for the mobile system, with 1,791 released in the North American market.

Final Words

Playing DS games on the Switch is incredibly fun and opens up what you can do with the system. However, you do need to take some risks in order to do it. If those are worth being able to play some of your old favorite titles is completely up to you.

Do you play DS games on your Switch? What do you use to do it? Let us know in the comments below! 

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