Nintendo DS & 3DS

Nintendo DS & 3DS

I wanted to provide basic information on the newer Nintendo handhelds, as well as show ways to play the older handheld games on the newer systems.  Also, as an FYI, all Nintendo systems from NDS-on have factory-installed backlit screens.

Backward Compatibility

– The Nintendo DS and DS Lite systems can play Game Boy Advance games, but not Game Boy or Game Boy Color.  Also, the DS Lite was a significant improvement over the DS, as it’s much lighter and has a larger, clearer screen. Here’s a good site that showcases the differences in screens:

– The Nintendo DSi and DSi XL are only compatible with DS games and do not have a GBA cartridge slot.

– The Nintendo 3DS and New 3DS systems (as well as the “XL” versions) can only play DS and 3DS cartridges.  GB, GBC and GBA games are available on the 3DS’ virtual console.

Virtual Console

The 3DS virtual console offers games from all of Nintendo’s handheld systems, as well as other handhelds and consoles.  The games are usually very close to the original and are an excellent choice if you own a 3DS and only want to play a few of the original games.

One tip:  When you start the game (immediately after launching the icon on the 3DS menu), hold down Start & Select to launch the game in the original resolution.  Unfortunately, the 3DS’ extremely low resolution of 400×240 isn’t able to double even the original Game Boy’s resolution of 160×144.  If you don’t launch in original mode, the screen will look blurry, since the resolution is being upscaled to an odd percentage.  Also, one cool feature of the “original” mode:  If you turn on the 3D mode of your 3DS, it will create the illusion that the GB/GBC screen in “behind” the border from the original GB.

Also, on a 3DS XL, the screen in “original” mode is actaully the exact same as the original GBC (3DS non-XL models will obviously be smaller) = W: 43mm T: 39mm  As an FYI, full screen, “stretched” resolution on a 3DS XL is W: 71mm T: 64mm.  Click for full-sized:

There are video-out kits available for both the DS and 3DS, however they’re tricky to find and often out of stock:

Emulation / Flash Cards

– There are many ways to play DS roms on both DS and 3DS systems.  In some situations, you can even load emulators to play roms from older handhelds, as well as NES, SNES, etc.  There’s so much information on DS flash cards available on the web (try, that I’d rather not even list anything here.

– 3DS homebrew is much trickier and DS flash cards will NOT play 3DS games.  Try this:


I’ll update this page if there are any major updates or products released, but this was only meant to be a quick reference page.

Please click here to go back to the main Game Boy page, or check out the main page for more retro-awesomeness.