Can the Nintendo Switch play 3DS games?

With the announcement of the Nintendo Switch Lite earlier today, more portable-focused gamers seem to have a reason to celebrate. The Switch Lite has no TV mode, dock, or Joy-Cons, but it has better battery life, looks sleeker, is cheaper, and is generally tailored for gaming on-the-go. As such, it’s the perfect portable-only replacement for anyone still holding onto a Nintendo 3DS, but is it backwards compatible? Can the Nintendo Switch play 3DS games, or can it only play Switch titles?

Can the Nintendo Switch play 3DS games or not?

You may have been waiting for a Nintendo Switch with a better battery life, or one more focused on portability rather than the slightly clunky current Switch, but the Switch Lite certainly makes for a compelling replacement for Nintendo’s aging 3DS, especially with the lower price point. But what about your current 3DS gaming library? Unfortunately, we hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the Nintendo Switch cannot play 3DS games. That goes for physical and digital titles.

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Why is there no backwards compatibility with Switch and 3DS?

So, why doesn’t Nintendo allow for us to play 3DS games on Nintendo Switch, either Lite or normal console? For physical Nintendo 3DS titles the answer is easy, as the cartridges are completely different sizes, but digital games aren’t compatible either. The answer comes, sadly, in the second screen. As the DS and 3DS have a second screen, which is an important part of most games on those systems, they would be difficult to replicate those experiences on Switch.

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It’s certainly not impossible, but will require more work than simply plugging in a 3DS cartridge. As no 3DS or DS games have even been re-released on Switch for sale, it’s probably more difficult than it might seem. For now then, you’ll have to keep your 3DS if you still need to finish Metroid: Samus Returns.