Why Do DS Games Freeze On 3DS?

When a game freezes, it stops responding to player input and the only way to fix this issue is by forcibly shutting down the game. Freezes can happen due to hardware failures, invalid data, glitches in the game code, and a variety of other reasons. In the case of old handheld consoles like the DS, cartridges are used- these tend to get dirty over time and might stop working until cleaned.

Why do DS games freeze on 3DS? It’s certainly not an issue with the 3DS’s design, as it is equipped with dedicated hardware to run DS cartridges. However, the cartridge itself might be at fault because there are gold contacts at the end which tend to collect dust and grime.

If you have another 3DS to test the game on, give it a try and see if your cartridge works on another console. If it does, your 3DS might need a firmware update to improve stability. Always check to see if you’re running the latest firmware and have the necessary game patches installed.

Why Do DS Games Freeze On 3DS?

Some DS cartridges tend to freeze no matter which console you’re running them on. I’ve seen people complain that their 3DS doesn’t work with a particular DS game, but can run other DS games. This indicates an issue with the specific game cartridge.

Other times, the 3DS will have issues with multiple DS games. Could be old firmware that isn’t equipped to deal with certain edge cases that occur within these games. Sometimes, anomalies within the game data/ player input can cause a console’s operating system to crash.

If you have access to another 3DS or 3DS XL, insert your DS game into those and see if it works. Basically, try every system that is capable of running a DS cartridge to narrow down the issue. If you’ve confirmed that it’s one particular console that can’t run the game, the problem might be in its firmware or cartridge slot.

Take a can of compressed air, and blow out any dust that has accumulated within the cartridge slot. You can also breathe into it, but I wouldn’t recommend that. Moisture from your breath can accumulate on the metal contacts, and particles of spit can also go in.

Old firmware generally tends to be less stable than newer versions. As exploits and bugs are discovered by the development team, they roll out patches to fix these issues. Make sure you have the latest firmware for your DS.

What To Do If A DS Game Freezes?

You must ensure that your 3DS is running the latest software. This won’t be an issue for someone who purchased their 3DS brand-new and keeps it connected to the home WiFi. Over time, updates to the firmware are downloaded automatically.

If you downloaded your game from the eShop, you must make sure that any relevant patches/ updates are installed. If you have installed the patches and your DS game is still crashing, try using the Nintendo 3DS Download Repair Tool. It will scan the downloaded files and replace/ repair anything that looks out of order.

Once you’ve fixed all potential software issues, it’s time to make sure that the cartridge isn’t dirty. This is especially important for old DS games (perhaps you got it on the used market).

Take a Q-tip and dip it in some 91% isopropyl alcohol. Then, gently rub it against the gold-plated contacts of your DS game cartridge. You can also use brass polish if you notice lots of scratches and decay on the contacts.

After using brass polish, wipe off the remains with some Q-tips dipped in rubbing alcohol. Let the cartridge dry for a minute, then insert it into your 3DS. If you haven’t already rebooted your 3DS, do so- then check to see if the issue persists.

Why Don’t Some DS Games Work On 3DS?

3DS has perfect backward compatibility with most DS games, apart from the fact that you get slightly blurry text and edges due to upscaling. However, this can be fixed by pressing down “Select” or “Start” while booting your DS game. If you do this, your DS game will boot up in its original resolution with black borders.

However, certain DS games that require the GBA slot or accessories that fit into the GBA slot will not work on 3DS. That’s because the 3DS has no GBA slot or hardware to emulate GBA functions. You also can’t “convert” DS games to 3D, so the 3D feature of your 3DS will only work with 3DS games.

How Do You Make DS Games Work On 3DS?

It’s as easy as taking your DS cartridge and putting it in the game slot. When you’re playing DS games on 3DS, the Home menu can’t be accessed. You can also force your 3DS to use the original DS resolution by holding down “Start” or “Select” as you boot up your DS game.

As a side note, users may notice glitches while trying to play DSi games purchased outside the PAL region on a 3DS purchased within the PAL region. You also can’t play any DS games that require accessories on the GBA slot (because 3DS has no GBA slot).

How Long Will DS Games Last?

DS cartridges contain both game data and player data (saves, character profiles, etc.). Game files are stored on a ROM chip, while save data is stored on flash memory/ EEPROM. Over time, the data stored in these chips will degrade and the cartridge will eventually die.

However, there is no exact data on how long this takes as the lifespan of these cartridges can vary wildly based on the ROM technology and storage conditions. Ideally, you want to keep them around 25°C in a dry space. Moisture and high temperature can kill a cartridge quickly.

Every flash chip also has a certain number of read/ write cycles before it starts throwing errors. So how frequently you use your DS game will also affect its lifespan. The minimum expected lifespan is one decade if you take care of your cartridges and store them under controlled conditions.

Are 3DS Games Discontinued?

The flow of new games for 3DS started drying up around 2017 after Nintendo announced their latest console- the Switch. However, a few indie titles and JRPGs have been released since then. The only game I can find that was released on 3DS after 2020, is Fragrant Story.

You’re unlikely to get any games for 3DS at this point because Nintendo officially dropped support in 2020. New consoles aren’t made anymore, and software updates will likely be stopped soon. The 3DS eShop has also been closed.


I hope this article helped you understand why DS games freeze on 3DS. It’s usually an issue with the cartridge or game slot within the console. Dust and grime accumulate on the metal contacts, preventing the proper transfer of data and power.

A simple Q-tip with some rubbing alcohol can fix this problem. You should also update the firmware on your 3DS, and download any patches available for the game you’re having issues with.


As long as I can remember myself I always enjoyed video games. I had amazing moments playing them and that's why I became a game developer, to create amazing experiences for the players. Read More About Me

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