Can You Play DS Games On Nintendo Switch?

Nintendo is not quite user-friendly. Rather, it’s not quick or eager to add new features. For example, we’re looking at how to play DS games on Nintendo Switch, which should be an easy process. And it’s not. 

You can’t play Nintendo DS games on the newer console in official terms. The fact is DS games, and Switch games have different cartridges. In other words, even though the Switch could technically run any game in the DS family, the Switch has no cartridge slot for DS titles. 

Moreover, the console doesn’t allow you to digitally buy DS or Nintendo 3DS games.

However, there’re third-party apps that could enable you to do just that. We’re talking about the ones you’d find in the Homebrew app store. In essence, these are unofficial emulators for the Nintendo Switch, so they would allow you to run a DS emulator to load games. 

It sounds complex and illegal, and it is. It requires hacking the Nintendo Switch. And because Nintendo keeps fighting against Homebrew apps, you’d rather buy a Nintendo 3DS, which is backward-compatible with any DS family title.

Can You Play DS Games on Nintendo Switch?

nintendo ds games on nintendo switch

You can play DS games on Switch, but it takes a bit of work as DS titles can’t integrate into the Switch system. So, you wouldn’t be able to plug your older Pokemon titles into the newer console.

Hence, you need to use a “homebrew,” which is not the name of an app. Instead, it’s the common affix for third-party solutions other developers put together to run older Nintendo programs. 

Yet, it depends on your Nintendo Switch model. If your Switch console is patched, you can’t exploit it by any means. In other words, you won’t be able to run DS games on your console. Most Nintendo Switch on the market are patched. 

On the contrary, if your Nintendo Switch is unpatched, it’s vulnerable to exploits, therefore able to install the Homebrew App Store.

Bear in mind Nintendo’s position is clear. They have repeated DS games that are not compatible with the Switch. If you decide to “jailbreak” your console, it’s at your own risk.

How to Play DS Games on Nintendo Switch?

Homebrew” refers to all homemade or non-official software made by amateur and enthusiast developers.

In particular, there’s a Homebrew App Store, a third-party software you can install into the Nintendo Switch via non-official methods. There are various tools, emulators, games, themes, wallpapers, and other apps for the console within this app.

Nintendo does allow some of these apps but generally bans their usage. In fact, downloading DS games onto the Switch via Homebrew is piracy under their guidelines.

So, downloading an emulator has a risk, including Nintendo banning your console. Here’s the official info; feel free to check it out if you’re considering this solution.

In particular, Nintendo could either erase your apps, your DS games or ban your console. If they ban your console, it means you will no longer get access to Nintendo’s online services. However, you can still play your games, play new physical games, and download new emulators.

Either way, there’s a plethora of emulators to choose from. One of those is Lakka, an efficient emulator that allows playing 3DS, DS, Wii, Dreamcast, PSP, and PS1 games on the Switch. Unfortunately, DS-family games will play with a shortened screen to meet its original resolution.

Another possible emulator is MelonDS. It gives a larger display, and it has a touchscreen menu to browse and choose games and settings.


We cannot explain it any further. But we know you’re going to do your research, so, before you go away, please note you need these three things to play DS games on Nintendo Switch:

  • Jailbreaking the Nintendo Switch
  • Downloading an emulator to the Nintendo Switch
  • Adding a ROM into the Nintendo Switch

Can You Download an Emulator to the Nintendo Switch?

You can download a DS emulator for the Switch, but not through the store. Quite the contrary. The process requires jailbreaking the console through a method known as Fuseé Geleé.

Fusée Gelée is an exploit available on most Nintendo Switch consoles. In 2018, hackers failOverflow and Kate Temik discovered the Nintendo vulnerability. They shared their research on an online and public document.

The exploit affects every Nintendo Switch using Nvidia’s SoC Tegra X1 processor. In essence, it allows you to install the Homebrew App Store directly into the Nintendo’s SD card by using your PC.

Unfortunately, we can’t guide you further through the process of playing DS games on the Nintendo Switch.

Lastly, we should add: doing a Fusée Gelée process has a common term: jailbreaking. You probably know what that means.

Is Playing Ds Games on Nintendo Switch Risky?

Nintendo has security features and constant updates because they want you to buy new games. They also don’t sell backward-compatible games because they want you to buy their other consoles.

But there’re systems out there bypassing Nintendo’s marketing plans. These may be good for the user indeed, but certainly, it’s not something Nintendo likes.

Therefore, using Homebrew apps has many functionality issues. One of these is how games can only run in portrait mode. Others include glitches, performance issues, and crashes.

Lastly, we repeat the risk of voiding your warranty or getting banned from Nintendo’s online systems.

Is Jailbreaking the Nintendo Switch Ilegal?

homebrew app store

Jailbreaking isn’t illegal, but we do not recommend doing it. It has many risks.

For example, your Nintendo console may have security firmware to prevent exploits. It would render your efforts useless, and it could cause a ban from Nintendo.

Additionally, jailbreaking the Switch cancels the warranty. So, if something goes wrong, you can’t expect Nintendo’s support. Also, you’re breaching Nintendo’s terms and conditions by jailbreaking the console.

Also, jailbreaking has different laws worldwide, depending on each country’s jurisdiction. For example, it’s under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act in the US. The law states it’s illegal to circumvent digital locks that protect copyrighted materials like work.

Now, emulating itself is legal, or rather, there’re no specific laws about it. You’re just emulating old software via a third-party amateur app.

However, we can’t go as far as telling you how to download the original Metroid and play it on the Switch. That would be illegal, and so the matter depends on you. However, please be cautious before placing an unofficial game into your DS emulator.

Sadly, Nintendo doesn’t sell ROMs or older games for the newer console. If you’re wondering, “ROM” means a read-only memory, so, in particular, it can be used to store older game archives.

Is Playing ROM Games Ilegal on the Nintendo Switch?

melonds roms

Playing ROM games is illegal on the Nintendo Switch. On Homebrew’ FAQ about actions that may ban your console, they list: 

  • Piracy
  • Installing homebrew NSP files

In specific, an NSP file is a game package common for Nintendo emulators. These archives can store multiple files, like game ROMs, JPG icons, updates, and metadata. 

Using the Homebrew App Store alone is part of their “Not a ban, so far.” So, using the Homebrew App store is legal. Again, check Homebrew’s official info.

Also, running other OS like Linux or Android through a Homebrew app is legal. That means you could use an Android emulator to run mobile games.

Why Is the Nintendo Switch Not Backward Compatible?

There’re various reasons why the Nintendo Switch doesn’t have retro compatibility with games from older Nintendo consoles.

The Switch has a physical cartridge tray hand-made for the Switch. Every other Nintendo cartridge has a different size and a different connection. We believe this follows business reasons.


You can’t, or maybe shouldn’t, play DS games on Nintendo Switch. DS games and the Switch are not officially compatible.

You can, but you shouldn’t play DS games on the hybrid console. It requires hacking the Nintendo Switch to add a third-party app store. Then, you have to download an emulator, download a ROM, and finally put the ROM into the console. It’s a risky process that could take you out of Nintendo’s servers and cancel your warranty.

We’re aware Nintendo has some of the best video-game IPs in the market, like Zelda. However, we’re sure jailbreaking the Switch wouldn’t exist if they started selling or sharing their older titles.

There’s a market for these titles, so there’re enthusiast developers trying to satisfy this market. Think of it as modders breathing fresh air into a game for years and years, like on Skyrim or Fallout.

Then again, Switch doesn’t even allow its users to mod their games, even though it’s perfectly legal under the developers, publishers, and other gaming platforms like Steam, Xbox, or PlayStation. For example, you would have to hack the Switch to mod Minecraft.

So, we’re not accusing you, the user, for trying to find a way to play your favorite Nintendo titles. Buying other consoles is not a choice for everyone, and it shouldn’t be the only option.

So, whether or not you use an emulator is up to you. We’re not the judge, but we can’t guide you either.

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