How to play free NES games on Nintendo Switch and 3DS?

If you have a Nintendo Switch or 3DS and want to play free NES games, just read our post here. We will give you instructions on playing Nintendo Entertainment Games on the 2 most popular Nintendo video game handhelds, the Virtual Console isn’t a must.

Can Nintendo Switch support NES games?

play NES games on Nintendo Switch

Yes, according to the latest news from Nintendo, the Nintendo Switch will support NES games via the Nintendo Switch Online Service. Nintendo just confirmed us one day ago, though no Virtual Console for Switch, users can still be able to play 20+ NES games after the releasing of Nintendo Switch Paid Online Service.

Officially this feature is called “NES – Nintendo Switch Online,” it will be a collection of 10 games to start , 10 more to come, and more added “on a regular basis.”Depending on the game, players can engage in online competitive or co-op multiplayer, or take turns controlling the action.

Friends can even watch each other play single-player games online, and “pass the controller” at any time. Every classic NES game will support voice chat via the Nintendo Switch Online smartphone app. It will also be possible to play these games offline.

The first 10 NES games for Nintendo Switch are : Balloon Fight, Dr. Mario and Super Mario Bros. 3, Donkey Kong, Ice Climber, The Legend of Zelda, Mario Bros., Soccer, Super Mario Bros. and Tennis.

How to play free NES games on Nintendo Switch?

So simple, just pay for the first-ever Nintendo Switch Online Memebership, then you can enjoy all the features of Nintendo Switch Online Service, including playing the free NES games. Here is the price policy of Nintendo Switch Paid Online Service.

The pricing is pretty much as expected ($20 per year), but the additions of online save game backups and NES games with added online multiplayer sweeten the deal. The $20 per year subscription will also be necessary starting in September for online play. It might be a bit much to ask if you don’t play a lot of Splatoon or Mario Kart 8 or aren’t so into retro NES games, but it’s sure cheaper than the competition. There is a $35 yearly option that lets you authorize up to 8 accounts though, for families with multiple users.

Can Nintendo 3DS support NES games?

play NES games on 3DS

The answer is Yes too. In addition, 3DS firmware console users can play NES games on their models with different methods. Here, introduce you 3 cheap and easy ways to play Nintendo Entertainment Games on a 3DS device.

A. Buy the NES games from 3DS Virtual Console.

The Virtual Console is a service for the Nintendo 3DS similar to the Virtual Console on the Wii, found on the Nintendo eShop. With it, players can download and play games for past console generations onto their Nintendo 3DS. Price always set at $4.99 unless otherwise noted. There were 10 NES games that have been released on September 1, 2011 that were free to 3DS Ambassadors.

NES titles began to be added to 3DS Virtual Console in early 2012. Till to now, there are 64 NES games available to buy in Virtual Console of Nintendo 3DS. When playing NES games on a Nintendo 3DS, by holding down the L and R buttons and pressing Y, you can switch between both controller port inputs for multiplayer, though some games support Download Play for multiplayer.

B. Homebrew the 3DS to play free NES games.

3DS Homebrew is the process of allowing user-made apps/games not sanctioned by Nintendo be able to be played on the device. After homebrewing the 3DS, you can do many things such as play emulaotrs, ROMHacks of current games, custom themes, and disable region-locking. To install Homebrews to a 3DS, you need a primary entry point. The most recommended one is Ninjhax, its latest version is 2.9.

Ninjhax 2.9 – It’s a free homebrew exploit is in the game Cubic Ninjia, run the game on your 3DS, scan some QR codes into the game and you can load right into the homebrew launcher.

C. Use R4 3DS card to emulate NES games on Nintendo 3DS.

R4 3DS card supports playing free NES roms on a 3DS with emulation. The R4 3DS is the ds game flashcard for Nintendo 3ds and dsi firmware consoles, but in the meanwhile, it supports GB/GBC/NES/SNES emulation too thanks to its compatibility for Homebrews. R4 3ds card works with a microsd card to play and hold multiple free NDS/NES/SNES/GB/GBC games, it even can work on the latest 3DS V11.6.0 and DSI V1.4.5. That’s to say, users of R4 3DS cards can download NDS/NES roms to any 3DS/DSI firmware console.

new 2ds xl 11.6 r4

R4 3DS-It’s a cheap flashcard to buy for Nintendo 3DS or NDS family handhelds, install the R4 3DS to your console and download NES emulator&roms to its microsd card, then you can use it to play free NES games on any 3DS.

How to play free NES games on 3DS?

  • Buy a genuine R4 3DS card from reliable seller like the SKY-3DS.COM. Also, choose a microsd card for it.
  • Format the Micro sd card for your R4i 3ds sdhc. Then connect it with PC via an usb reader.
  • Download the latest r4i-3ds kernel V1.84b from, you will get a zip file, decompress it.
  • Copy all the files in the folder to the root directoty of your micro sd card.
  • Download NES emulator which called NesDS.  It’s a freeware/homebrew program that works much like emulators on the PC work. You can find it by doing a google search for “download NesDS”.
  • Drag this file NesDS.nds also to the root directory of your sd card.
  • Then you can creat a folder named NES Games in the menu, download some NES game roms from online and put them into the folder.
  • Now take out the SD card from your PC. Insert it into R4i sdhc 3ds card, power on your 3DS/2DS XL/NEW 3DS XL console.
  • Put R4i 3ds sdhc rts card with Micro sd in your 3DS slot.
  • Load into R4I-3DS menu after click the icon.
  • Choose the game controller.
  • Click the NesDS Emulator.
  • Choose the NES games you want to play on your 3DS System.