Let me preface this guide by saying here at Okay Geek, we do not condone or suggest you pirate your Nintendo DS games, however, we realize it’s an option which many people decide to take advantage of. We’re showing you how to do it easily, but it’s up to you if you want to dive into the world of downloading DS games. It’s your choice.
What are the advantages of dowloading my DS games?
First of all, each cartridge you buy from the store contains one fantastic game. By downloading your games onto a microSD card, you can fit as many as your card will allowed, and microSD cards can fit quite a few games on them. This eliminates the need to carry around 50 cartridges at a time.
Secondly, we’ve all been there where you buy a game that looks awesome and turns out to be worth only 5 minutes of your time. Downloading the game allows you to download, play, and delete. No buyer’s remorse. Lastly, backing up and transferring game saves is easy as dragging and dropping a file. Want to show off your level 100 Charizard? No problem… just don’t trade it.
How it Works
In our guide, we’ll be mainly focusing on how to Download games for the Nintendo DSi, although the method should be fairly similar across the different versions, including the 3DS.
Here’s how Downloaded games work on the DS. There’s no “jailbreaking” or “custom firmwares” involved at all. In fact, you just throw some software and game ROMs onto a microSD card and stick that sucker in the adaptor card (commonly known as an “R4”), which you then shove into the game cartridge slot on your device. It’s that simple, so just follow along for a brief walkthrough on each step.
1. Buy an adaptor card (R4)
You can visit dozens of online forums and each one will tell you that one adaptor card is better than the other. The keyword is adaptor. That’s right. You’re not getting any type of sophisticated machinery but only something allowing the microSD to interface with the DS. However, there are a couple of things to look out for.
The molds used in manufacturing these illegal cards are definitely not as precise as those used to make legitimate DS game cartridges. As a result, some of the cheaper adaptor cards won’t necessarily fit well in your DS and you may have trouble inserting the microSD card. In our case, we went for one of the cheapest ones possible and it worked fine. That said, it all depends on where you buy the card. Images on shadier sites don’t accurately represent the actual product. By the way, we used an R4i-SDHC (red box) for this tutorial.
2. Download card software
As we mentioned in the previous step, the adaptor card is only an adaptor and thus doesn’t have any software built into it, so for now it’s just a hunk of plastic. You’ll have to do some digging around on the internet for the specific firmware to use with your card. Software versions do matter but don’t fret about having the latest version. Just find one that works and stick to it.
3. Download games
We can’t supply the websites or torrents used for DS ROMs, however, we can tell you where to save them after downloading and also how large you should expect them to be.
The average New Super Mario Bros. or Mario Kart game is around 32 MB, while Pokemon SoulSilver and Grand Theft Auto Chinatown Wars reside at a meatier 128 MB. The latter are the largest we’ve encountered so don’t worry about getting the largest SD card unless you want to carry around every single DS game ever invented at once.
Copy the files directly to the memory card, no sub-folders are needed. It’s surprisingly easy.
4. How to Use
When it comes to running programs off of an SD card, users generally search for the highest class cards possible to optimize performance. In our usage, even a Class 2 card would work fine. As far as storage goes, it will all depend on what your adaptor card supports (ours supported SDHC cards hence the name “R4i-SDHC”).
When you insert the game cartridge, do not be alarmed if a Star Wars game shows up in the preview box. This is to prevent adaptor card detection by the console. Once you launch the “game,” you are automatically entered into the R4 interface, which you can customize with downloadable skins.
As with all hacks, make sure you DO NOT update your DS’s firmware as there is no telling how the updates will break compatibility with these cards. Good luck and make sure to give back a little to the developers.
Please, Give back to developers
These developers work hard on the games you want to download and play, and you’d be a douche for not paying attention to that. What we recommend is once you download a game, and you really think it’s awesome, go out to the store and buy it. Since you already have the game, give the physical copy to a friend, or save it as a gift for someone. It will help keep a clear conscience, and maybe make someone’s day.