Nintendo is one of the best-known names in the gaming industry. They were there at the very start of electronic gaming. What’s more, their early hits like Donkey Kong helped to cultivate a popularity that would spark an entire industry.
Nintendo has been releasing hit game after hit game over the course of about four decades. And one of the most important parts of Nintendo’s strategy has come from innovation.
Nintendo has experimented with hardware designs in a way that no other video game company has ever dared.
This has had some amazing hits. For example, the Nintendo DS innovated with a dual-screen technology that took the world by storm.
It even featured a touchscreen about three years before the iPhone popularized the concept.
The 3DS carried that concept further and provided backward compatibility with DS games.
But at the moment most of those games are locked to the DS and 3DS as modern single-screen devices are seldom a great match for them.
Of course, not all of Nintendo’s experiments have been a huge success. The Wii U was in many ways a melding of two hit Nintendo styles.
Nintendo’s Wii U was essentially a souped-up Wii with a gamepad that featured a full touchscreen display.
The platform had a lot of potential and some amazing games. But it never really caught the world by storm in the way the Nintendo DS did. This has left a large number of great Wii U games essentially lost to time.
Nintendo’s most recent console, the Switch, has been both innovative and successful. Like the DS it even made it easy for gamers to take the hobby with them no matter where they were heading off to.
The Switch’s large screen connected to a controller also reminded a lot of people of the Wii U.
This brings up some important questions about compatibility between all of Nintendo’s systems.
Is it possible to once again play the seemingly lost games of the DS and Wii U on Nintendo’s Switch?
Is Nintendo Switch Backwards Compatible With Other Nintendo Consoles?
The short answer to this question is that Nintendo Switch is not compatible for playing games of previous Nintendo models.
However, Nintendo has a long history of backward compatibility. And this is especially true for anything related to mobile platforms.
The Game Boy was released in 1989. The follow-up, the Game Boy Color, was released in 1998. The Game Boy Color had full backward compatibility with Game Boy games.
And when the Game Boy Advance was released in 2001 it featured full compatibility with both Game Boy and Game Boy Color games. And that’s only the tip of the iceberg.
Nintendo has released a wide variety of accessories that provide their consoles with the ability to play games from other Nintendo systems.
For example, the Super Nintendo’s Super Game Boy accessory lets people play Game Boy games on their TV. And the Game Boy Player added support for Game Boy, Game Boy Color, and Game Boy Advance games to the GameCube.
The Wii and Wii U also had an extensive library of games for their “Virtual Console” which reached back into almost every other system Nintendo made.
And the Wii could play GameCube games, while the Wii U had support for the Wii. Though the Wii U also had unofficial support for the GameCube as well.
This led to a lot of speculation when the Switch was released. People were expecting a huge amount of backward compatibility.
But most people have found the results to be somewhat disappointing as the Switch is the first model that does not officially support backwards compatibility with previous models. Or at least that’s the case without leveraging third-party efforts.
Can You Play Nintendo DS Games On Switch?
People were initially excited about the possibility of playing DS or even 3DS games on the Switch.
It made sense that Nintendo would add in support for the Nintendo DS given the hardware similarities. However, unfortunately you can’t play Nintendo DS Games on Switch (at least officially).
Both systems are highly portable. And both systems have a touchscreen. Even the DS’s dual-screen setup isn’t much of a problem since the Switch’s larger size means it can easily give a nice view of the entirety of a DS’s display.
While the Switch can’t support the DS’s carts, people assumed the system might have a DS-centered Virtual Console.
After all, the Wii U had some DS games on its Virtual Console. And the Switch is in many ways better suited to DS games thanks to its portability.
However, at the moment Nintendo hasn’t shown any interest in supporting DS games on the Switch.
So the unfortunate answer is that there’s no way to play Nintendo DS games on a Switch without using a third-party solution. But those solutions have matured to the point of viability.
The Switch can be modded to allow third-party code to be executed on it. This essentially allows any programmer to write or port code to the platform.
The resulting games and programs are known as homebrew. Homebrew development to enable DS games on the Switch began shortly after the first successful mods.
It’s taken some time, but Nintendo DS emulation is now fully possible on the Switch thanks to an emulator called MelonDS.
This emulator essentially recreates a software-based DS inside the switch so that it can understand DS game code.
The downside to using homebrew stems from the fact that it’s only usable on modded Switches.
The modding process tends to be fairly complex. Nintendo also generally tries to remove the software vulnerabilities that make modding possible in the first place.
Can you play Nintendo Wii U games on Switch?
No, you can’t play Nintendo Wii U games on Switch.
As with the DS, there’s a lot of interest in playing Wii U games on the Switch. The Wii U was Nintendo’s previous home console before the Switch.
Up until this point backward compatibility with previous generations had been the norm. The Wii U was backward compatible with the Wii. And the Wii was backward compatible with the GameCube.
Unfortunately, there’s one big problem with the Switch’s potential for backward compatibility with the Wii U.
The GameCube, Wii, and Wii U all had similar internal architecture. But the Switch uses a radically different computational system.
On top of that, the Wii U is too advanced for emulation to really be a viable option. This makes a homebrew solution unlikely.
The only real hope for Wii U games on the Switch comes from Nintendo themselves.
They’re not averse to remasters. And in fact, quite a few Wii U games have been remastered and released on Switch.
Some of these even use emulation. However, the emulation used highlights the fact that standard Wii U or even Wii emulation on the Switch probably isn’t possible.
For example, Nintendo used a combination of emulation and recoding of content within the GameCube and Wii games contained in Mario 3D All Stars. This strongly suggests that the Switch just isn’t fast enough to offer true emulation of the Wii U or Wii.
Can I Transfer Games From Older Systems to Nintendo Switch?
Unfortunately, there’s also no way to transfer games from older systems onto the Nintendo Switch. At least without using homebrew emulation options.
The major hiccup with older games on the Switch comes from Nintendo’s lack of a successor to the Wii and Wii U’s Virtual Console.
On a technical level the Switch is more than capable of playing the older 8-bit and 16-bit titles found on the Wii/Wii U’s Virtual Console.
But at the moment Nintendo doesn’t seem interested in recreating that system for the Switch. They’re instead concentrating on the Nintendo Switch Online service.
This service has a small selection of games for the Nes, SNES, N64 and Genesis/Mega Drive. But it doesn’t provide users with any options to transfer their previously purchased retro-games to the Switch.