With the launch of Nintendo's 3DS fast approaching, there's been some concern that DS games may not play well on the 3DS. The 3DS can play them, but people have been buzzing about extended load-times and diminished graphics for DS games on Nintendo's new system.

We tested several games on the 3DS, DSi and DS Lite. What's the deal? Do DS games run shoddily on the 3DS, or are the rumors so much bunk? The short answer is that these games run pretty well on the 3DS, with minimal problems, but there are some hitches... and some solutions.

Introducing The Black Screen of....Dread?

Take a look. Notice anything? Yeah, it's just a black screen — a screen you'll be eying for
anywhere from five to eight seconds every time you boot-up a DS game from the 3DS menu.


We're not sure why the black screen appears. It could be because the 3DS needs to adjust its resolution to accommodate the display-settings of standard DS titles. Whatever the reason, this appears to be the extended load-time people have been grumbling about.

However, don't throw down your cartridges in disgust just yet! While it might take longer to boot your DS games on the front end, the games we tested appeared to run just fine once we made it past the Black Screen of Dread.


In fact, performance was indistinguishable from the DS Lite to the 3DS; the time it took to load a save-file differed, on average, by only a tenth of a second!

Yeah, but how do DS games look?

They look just fine, thanks for asking. But you'll want to become familiar with some of the ins-and-outs of your 3DS if you want an ideal performance in the visual department.


There have been reports that DS titles running on the system appear blurry or pixelated — especially on the device's top screen — because they are stretched to fit the 3DS's wider dimensions. We found that any visual distortions were extremely insignificant; the original aspect-ratio for those DS titles that we tested was preserved, and if anything, games tended to look better and occasionally smoother than they did running on the DS Lite.

However, the 3DS does give users a handy way of bypassing the enlarged display: simultaneously holding down the start and select buttons while booting up a DS title will cause the 3DS to display the game in its native, albeit, somewhat dwarfish, resolution. (See that Pokémon pic up top for an example.)


A second area of concern reflected the 3DS's supposed-habit of causing the color palette of certain games to appear blanched or heavily desaturated.

We did notice that the colors displayed in games like Pokémon and Advance Wars: Dual Strike appeared perceptibly off. But after fiddling with the 3DS's brightness settings, we came out with a picture that was far more acceptable — brightness level three or four — and only fractionally different from what we saw on the DS Lite.


3DS on inferior brightness setting. (Brightness setting of five.)

3DS on preferred brightness setting. (Brightness setting of four.)

Bottom Line

Purists may want to hold on to their soon-to-be-classic DS models, but the majority of gamers should be perfectly satisfied with how DS titles play and appear on the 3DS.


So worry not if you've already traded your erstwhile DS Lite, or DSi, or DSwhatever toward your brand-spanking and sparkling new 3DS. Just be prepared to acquaint yourself with some of the less obvious functions of the new console, and to possibly mess with the brightness settings to get the display you are looking for.