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Can Game Boy Games Be Played On Nintendo DS?

Many people want to play GB games on DS due to the entertainment they provide and the memories they hold. But is there a way to make it happen? Let’s find out. click here

In this guide, we will see:

  • Can you play Game Boy games on DS?
  • Do Game Boy Color games work on DS?
  • games commonly launched on both platforms 
  • and finally, answer some FAQs about the subject. 

Can you play Game Boy games on DS?

The Nintendo 64 ruled the world before the Game Boy handhelds came out. These retro gaming handheld consoles changed the world of gaming for real. We have all seen these devices being passed around during our childhood. Due to the nostalgia attached to Game Boy consoles, many people want to relive their memories on their newer consoles, like the DS.

But a question may arise: Can you play original Gameboy games on DS?

The short answer is no. But let’s get into the details and find a middle way.

What Nintendo DS can play:

  • Game Boy Advance (GBA) games and videos
  • GBA games in single-player mode only

What Nintendo DS cannot play:

  • Original Game Boy (GB) games
  • Game Boy Color (GBC) games
  • Game Boy Advance (GBA) games in multiplayer mode

These limitations are also applicable to the Nintendo DS Lite, DSi, DSi XL, and 3DS. But, you can play original Game Boy games on:

  • Game Boy
  • Game Boy Pocket
  • Game Boy Color
  • Game Boy Advance
  • Game Boy Advance SP

Do Game Boy Color games work on DS?

Unfortunately, the Nintendo DS supports the Game Boy Advance games in single-player mode only. The Game Boy Color or original Gameboy games do not work on the DS. The GBC games will only work on:

  • Game Boy Color
  • Game Boy Advance
  • Gameboy Advance SP

The DS, DS Lite, or DSi do not support GBC games.

So, do Gameboy advance games work on DS? Yes. But, can you play Game Boy games on DS? No.

Let’s find out why.

Why can’t the DS play Gameboy games?

As mentioned above, you can play Game Boy Advance games on the DS but cannot play GB games on DS. But, why so? There are two reasons why we cannot play Game Boy games on DS.

Designed for Wireless Play

The Nintendo DS was designed for wireless play, so it lacks the link cable port. Most retro games are not designed for wireless features. For instance, they cannot communicate in multi-player games. Due to this, Gameboy games are incompatible with the DS.

Lack of Special Processor

The Nintendo DS has advanced software, and it lacks the special processor required for playing retro games. The Game Boy processor was a complicated one, and it was not added to the newer consoles. So, the Nintendo DS lacks a processor, which makes it incompatible with the Game Boy.

Game Boy Backward Compatibility

Initially, Nintendo offered backward compatibility on its older consoles which allowed gamers to play their favorite games on different systems. It means players could easily play the Gameboy games on Gameboy Color. Players could also play GB and GBC games on the GBA system.

However, this policy of backward compatibility only lasted till the Game Boy was discontinued. Since the arrival of the newer generation of consoles, Nintendo stopped offering backward compatibility. The primary reason for this decision was that the older and newer consoles had extensively different features. It means:

  • Original Game Boy Games – compatible with GameBoy, Gameboy Pocket, Gameboy Color, Game Boy Advance, and Game Boy Advance SP
  • Game Boy Color Games – compatible with GameBoy Color, Game Boy Advance, and Game Boy Advance SP
  • Game Boy Advance Games – compatible with GameBoy Micro, Game Boy Advance, Game Boy Advance SP, DS, and DS Lite

We have established that we cannot play Gameboy games on DS, but we can play GameBoy Advance games on the DS. So, let’s see how to make the Nintendo DS play Gameboy Advance games.

How to Play GBA Games On Your Nintendo DS

Learning how to play Game Boy games on DS is not possible since the two consoles are not compatible. However, it is easy to play Game Boy Advance games on the Nintendo DS device. Here is the step-by-step tutorial for how you can play Game Boy Advance games on the Nintendo DS device:

  1. Remove an already inserted cartridge from your Nintendo DS.
  2. Turn the device on by pushing the power slider on the right side of the DS.
  3. Once the DS turns on, click on the small DS symbol located at the bottom of the touch screen. Then, click the purple wrench.
  4. Click on the small GBA symbol that appears on the screen. Then, set the top or bottom screen that you want to play on.
  5. Go to the start-up settings on the DS under the purple settings section.
  6. Select Manual Mode or the DS will play any previously inserted game on Auto Mode.
  7. A window will open on the device asking to be powered off. Let the device turn off by clicking Yes or pressing the A button instead of manually turning it off.
  8. Insert the Game Boy Advance cartridge into the Slot-2 at the bottom of the DS.
  9. The screen will light up, so touch the Start GBA game on the touch screen.
  10. Enjoy the retro Game Boy Advance games on your Nintendo DS console.

Nintendo DS Games with GBA Connectivity

After learning how to play GBA games on your Nintendo DS, you may be wondering about some linked games. We have got you covered.

Below, we have mentioned some Game Boy Advance games having a special linkage function with the Nintendo DS:

FAQs – Game Boy Games on DS

Our detailed guide about playing Gameboy games on DS must have clarified your ambiguities. However, if you still have questions about this subject, please continue reading the FAQs below:

Best Nintendo DS to play Gameboy games on?

If you seek the best Nintendo DS system to play Gameboy games, the DS and DS Lite can be considered. But they can only play Game Boy Advance games and are not compatible with the original Gameboy or Game Boy Color games. Moreover, the DSi doesn’t play any GB or GBA games. So, technically, only Game Boy Advance is backward-compatible with old Gameboy games.

Does the Nintendo DS have a Gameboy slot?

Unfortunately, the Nintendo DS doesn’t have a slot-2, so it cannot take the Gameboy cartridges. The Nintendo DS and DS Lite have a Game Pack slot beside the original DS game slot. It can be used for playing GBA games but not original Gameboy games. The DSi also has a DS game slot and an SD card slot but no Gameboy games slot.

Can I use the Nintendo DS touch screen if I enable GBA games?

It is not possible to use the touch screen feature on the Nintendo DS for playing Game Boy Advance games. It is because the original GBA console does not have a touch screen, so its games are not adapted for touch screens. Gamers can use the A and B buttons on the DS to play GBA games.

Can you play multiplayer GBA games on the DS?

Playing multiplayer GBA games, like the Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventure, on your DS console, is not possible. It is because, unlike the Game Boy Advance console, the Nintendo DS does not have a multiplayer mode. Moreover, the DS doesn’t have a link cable connector to allow playing on multiple systems. So, you can only enjoy single-player GBA games on the DS.

Can the GBA emulator DS?

Technically, emulators only operate for the gaming system they were built for. It means your emulator will only run the games for the system it was designed for unless mentioned otherwise. So, if you have an emulator for Nintendo DS, it will only run the DS games. You can use an emulator for the Game Boy Advance to play the GBA games.


Playing Game Boy games on DS may not be possible, but you can always enjoy your favorite Game Boy games on a Game Boy device. On the other hand, you can enjoy Game Boy Advance games on a Nintendo DS system. So, get out your devices and retro games to start enjoying your childhood memories here.

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