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Can Nintendo Switch Play 3DS Games? Uncovering the Possibilities

The Nintendo Switch has revolutionized the gaming world with its hybrid design, allowing players to enjoy their favorite games both on-the-go and on the big screen. As a result, many gamers are curious about the compatibility of the Switch with games from previous Nintendo consoles, particularly the 3DS.

In this article, we will explore whether the Nintendo Switch can play 3DS games, discuss the reasons behind the compatibility limitations, and provide alternative options for those who wish to enjoy their favorite 3DS titles. So, let’s dive in and find out if the Nintendo Switch can truly bridge the gap between handheld and home gaming experiences.

Can Nintendo Switch Play 3DS Games?

Unfortunately, the Nintendo Switch cannot directly play 3DS games. The two consoles have different hardware and software, making them incompatible.

The Nintendo Switch and 3DS consoles have distinct hardware designs. The Switch uses game cartridges designed specifically for the system, while the 3DS utilizes its own unique game cartridges.

The Switch and 3DS also run on different operating systems, further complicating compatibility. Even if the hardware allowed for 3DS games to be inserted into the Switch, the software would not be able to run them.

Although the Nintendo Switch cannot natively play 3DS games, several original 3DS titles have been ported or remade for the Switch. Some of these games include:

  • Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate
  • Hyrule Warriors Legends (as Hyrule Warriors Definitive Edition on Switch)
  • Alliance Alive HD
  • Azure Striker Gunvolt: Striker Pack (includes Azure Striker Gunvolt 1 & 2)
  • Rune Factory 4
  • Yo-kai Watch

These official ports and remakes allow gamers to enjoy 3DS games on the Switch without compromising on quality or user experience.

Alternatives for Playing 3DS Games on Nintendo Switch


Emulators offer an alternative way to play 3DS games on the Nintendo Switch. The Citra 3DS emulator is a popular open-source project that began working on 3DS emulation for Android in 2013. It runs on the Switch’s native operating system, Horizon. However, to set up Citra on your Switch, you will need a moddable console and might have to overclock the CPU. Proceed at your own risk, as this could lead to the “blue screen of death” on your Switch.

Another method to play 3DS games on your Switch using Citra is to set up the emulator on a desktop OS (Windows or Linux) and use Switch Remote Play to stream the game to your console from your PC.

Virtual Console and Nintendo Switch Online

While the Switch cannot directly play 3DS games, it does have access to the Virtual Console and Nintendo Switch Online.

These services allow players to enjoy classic games from Nintendo’s earlier consoles, such as the NES, SNES, and N64.

While the selection does not include 3DS titles, it does offer a chance to experience some of Nintendo’s gaming history on the Switch.

The Future of 3DS Games on the Switch

There is no official announcement regarding the addition of 3DS games to the Nintendo Switch. However, the gaming community continues to speculate about the possibility of Nintendo releasing remastered versions of popular 3DS titles or adding support for 3DS games in the future.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, the Nintendo Switch cannot directly play 3DS games due to hardware and software differences. However, gamers can still enjoy a wide variety of classic titles through the Virtual Console and Nintendo Switch Online. The future of 3DS games on the Switch remains uncertain, but for now, playing on the original 3DS console or using emulators are the best alternatives.

Steven Carr

Steven is a certified IT professional and gaming enthusiast. He has been working in the tech industry for over 10 years, and specializes in all things Tech-related. When he's not geeking out over the latest hardware or software release, he can be found testing out the latest video game.

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