The Nintendo Switch has a lot of great games, but wouldn't it be awesome if there was Nintendo Switch DS or 3DS support? Imagine games like Zelda: A Link Between Worlds on Switch!. Wouldn't it be even lovelier if the Nintendo Switch was backwards compatible, so you could enjoy the all-time great games from previous consoles? Who wouldn't love a round of Goldeneye or Conker's Bad Fur Day on their Switch?
In a happy coincidence, as if someone actually plans these things, these are the very questions we'll be answering in this article. So whether or not you can play old games or 3DS games on the Switch, or whether it's nothing more than a fever dream, will soon be revealed.
Can the Nintendo Switch play DS or 3DS games?
The official line from Nintendo is that no, you can't play games from the DS or 3DS on the Nintendo Switch. There are some obvious reasons for this, namely the cartridges are a different size and shape. It'd be like trying to put a NES cartridge in a SNES. There are also issues with different internal hardware. This means Nintendo would have to develop an emulator for Nintendo Switch DS support. Unfortunately, they seem to have no interest in doing that.
Unofficially however, there are things one could do, if one felt so inclined. If someone really, really wanted to play DS and 3DS on a Switch, they would need to find an emulator. They'd also need to replace the native Switch software with something, ahem, unauthorised. This would jailbreak the console, allowing you to then run the emulator, and play those games. But be warned: this would certainly void any warranty, and could lead to Nintendo banning you from playing online.
While we can't explain how to do it here, modders have successfully gotten Android running on Nintendo Switch. If your Switch does have Android on it, you could install the Drastic DS emulator. For Nintendo Switch DS support, Drastic's fantastic performance should do the trick.
Is the Nintendo Switch backwards compatible?
So the Switch won't officially allow you to play Ds and 3DS games on it. But is there any backwards compatibility on the Switch, for other games? Once again, Nintendo has confirmed that Switch does "not include backwards compatibility with games from previous Nintendo platforms".
Disappointing as this may be, it likely comes down once again to issues around the architecture used to build the Switch, in comparison to older consoles like the Wii or Gamecube. Whether this is something Nintendo may look at in future, is anyone's guess.
But once more, that isn't quite the end of the story. Nintendo has recognised that there is a demand for retro games. And to that end, offer their online subscription service. This gives users access to a library of curated classic games from NES and SNES. This doesn't have the same degree of universality as say, an Xbox Series X or a PS5. But it is, nonetheless, some of the best 8-bit and 16-bit games that were ever made by Nintendo. At the moment, that's as good as it gets.