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Do Game Boy Advance Games (GBA) Work with the Nintendo 3DS? Can they Play on the 3DS?

Updated on June 22, 2011

Nintendo's newest hand held console, the 3DS will no doubt be just as popular as the original DS. However, with all it's advaned features, will the nintendo 3DS be able to play Game Boy Advanc (GBA) games like the previous versions of the DS?

EDIT: The 3DS has launched world wide! Get yours at Amazon!

Will GBA games still work on the 3DS?

The quick answer is Yes and No. the Nintendo 3DS will not support Game Boy advance game cartridges. According to the information known about the 3DS so far it appears that the final version will not have the GBA slot. The Nintendo DSi already lost it's ability to play GBA games via a GBA slot and Nintendo has said that it likes to be backwards compatible with the last generation. Nintendo considers the 3DS a completely new device and therefore only is considering compatibility for the with the DS and DSi.

That being said. Nintendo has announced a that a whole host of games from previous nintendo consoles will be available to download online via nintendo's ware store. Not all GBA games are likely to make the cut though.

Many Nintendo fans out there may be sad to hear that this is the case. The GBA slot that was part of the Original DS and DS lite will not be included in the new 3DS. But keep in mind all the other wonderful features that will be available on the new Nintendo 3DS. Getting rid of the Game Boy Advance cartridge slot on the 3DS has freed up space for nintendo to add all sorts of sexy features.

3DS Feature Breakdown:

  1. A larger top screen and higher resolution for both screens.
  2. Much more powerful hardware packed inside the tiny device. The 3DS's onboard hardware may be comparable to Nintendo's Wii console.
  3. 3D technology will allow you to play games in 3D on the go, without the need for 3D glasses.
  4. A new joystick, known as the "slide-pad" has been added.

For more information about the 3DS please check out the links below.

Downloadable Game Boy Advance Games?

One more feature that the 3DS will have is the ability to download games and applications from its online shop, accessibly on the go. Some of the best games found on the GBA will most certainly be available for download on the 3DS.

So, via the 3DS online shop, you may be able to download and play GBA games on your 3DS. You just wont be able to use your already purchased GBA games. There are also likely to be many other classic games available from previous consoles.

GBA Emulators 3DS

One method to get GBA games on your 3DS may be through a GBA emulator. On the DS NES, SNES and Game Boy color games were made available through downloadable emulators. A homebrew memory micro SD card had to be used in the DS game slot. Games and emulators would then be downloaded on to the card and were able to be run on the DS. This practice however is ethically suspect and illegal because you will be using downloaded copies of games, and not paying for them. However if you own physical copies of games, some have argued that it is perfectly acceptable to have copies of those games. 

The 3DS will no doubt have some method available to it to get emulators and illegal copies of games. While I do not advocate it, this method is another way to get your much loved Game Boy Advacned games onto your 3DS. 

What about DS and DSi games?

DS and DSi games will most definitely work on the Nintendo 3DS. In fact the 3DS is designed to use the same game cartridge as the DS and DSi. There are a few exceptions that will not work. These are games or software that require use of the GBA port found on board the original DS. Games like Guitar Hero on Tour and Space Invaders that ship with an extra input device that's designed to be inserted into the GBA slot will not work fully. Also the DS had a rudimentary internet browser that required a hardware expansion which was inserted into the GBA slot. This will not work at all with the 3DS.

Update: Pokémon games for the DS and DSi work fully with the 3DS. However, these games had a feature which required the user to insert GBA pokémon games into the slot so that all pokémon could be unlocked on the DS pokémon games. If the game was not inserted some of the pokémon in the DS version could not be caught. This feauture will not extend to the 3DS because of the lack of the GBA slot.

Don't want to give up your beloved GBA games?

If you are sad to see the GBA compatibility go, don't be. There are a whole plethora of games coming out for the 3DS that look absolutely amazing. Just check out the video on the right showing the trailer for the upcoming 3DS exclusive Kid Icarus.

It's time to let those GBA games retire. But, if you are still truly in love with some Game Boy advance classics, then I suggest you simply hold on to your old realiable DS, or simply buy a used one. As the launch date for the 3DS draws near Amazon and other stores will be hit with a flood of used Nintendo DS's.


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    • ashraf_2003 profile image

      ashraf_2003 5 years ago from Palesetine

      It's bad that there is no backward compatibility, but there are always ideas to bring classic games back to life .

    • profile image

      mel 5 years ago

      ah but i wish there was still a slot for the old cartilages, that's too bad...i kind of liked that feature, just like the gba can play gb/gbcolor games i always thought that was just beyond awesome...oh well, at least i never got rid of my gba...all those pokémon games lol

    • profile image

      jordan 5 years ago

      i hope the gameboy games that make it are good and not sucky.

    • profile image

      Live or die 6 years ago

      Well if theres way to get some of the gba from the 3ds store app it might be ok. Still it would have been better if they had a gba slot im sure they could have found some place to put it.

    • profile image

      Kayroe 6 years ago

      Do you think i should trade in my DS then??

    • profile image

      the revoloution 6 years ago

      i like the nintendo 3ds but it would have been even better if they had the pokémon feature because i love pokémon, its a game that i grew u[ with ad i would hate to see the transference and the connection between pokémon and the 3ds gone

    • vaguesan profile image

      vaguesan 7 years ago from Osaka, Japan

      Well, their will be some released on nintendo's market place for sure.

    • profile image

      SeriousGaming 7 years ago

      i'm so disapointed that were not able to play GBA games on the 3DS :(

    • profile image

      Shadow95 7 years ago


      Looks awesome:)


      Se ve impresionante:)