Can You Play 3DS Games Without SD Card?

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By Ralph Torres

If you’re a Nintendo 3DS owner, you may have wondered whether it’s possible to play games without an SD card. The answer is no.

An SD card is required for most Nintendo 3DS games to save game progress and store downloaded content. Here’s why.

The Importance of an SD Card on the Nintendo 3DS

The Nintendo 3DS uses an SD (Secure Digital) card to store game data, pictures, and videos. Without the SD card, games cannot be saved and levels cannot be progressed through. The SD card also allows for additional content to be downloaded from the eShop such as DLC (downloadable content) and games.

Why You Can’t Play 3DS Games Without an SD Card

While some games may not require an SD card to start, they will eventually need one in order to save game progress. When a game is started without an SD card inserted, the user will receive an error message stating that there is no memory card detected.

What Happens If You Remove Your SD Card While Playing?

If you remove your SD card while playing a game on your 3DS, you will receive an error message stating that the system cannot access the memory card. Any progress or data saved since the last time the game was saved will be lost.

How Much Storage Do You Need?

The amount of storage needed depends on how many games and downloadable content you plan on having at any given time. Most standard-sized 3DS consoles come with a 4GB microSDHC (High Capacity) memory card included, which should provide enough storage for most users. However, if you plan on downloading multiple large games or lots of DLC, you may need to upgrade to a larger capacity memory card.


In summary, it is not possible to play Nintendo 3DS games without an SD card. The SD card is crucial for saving game progress and storing downloaded content.

While it may be possible to start some games without an SD card, they will eventually require one in order to save progress. So, if you plan on playing 3DS games, make sure to have an SD card inserted into your console at all times.