Since its release in 2004, the Nintendo DS handheld console has seen four iterations (original, Lite, DSi, DSi-XL) but some of them haven’t included certain features that one might expect from a handheld device with touchscreen functionality. The Nintendo DS is capable of functioning as a PDA or handheld multimedia device, but Nintendo has chosen to keep it mostly focused on video games.
Meanwhile the Sony PSP, a direct competitor to the DS, has the ability to not only play games, but watch movies, play music, and more. This has left some Nintendo DS owners feeling a little left out.
This article will explain basically how to turn your DS into a MP3 player so that you can add music playing functionality to your beloved dual-screened handheld console, so you may not need to buy that shiny new iPod.
Although the new Nintendo DSi does have native support for AAC, users with the older iterations or those wishing to play MP3s are left in the dust. However, there is a relatively easy way to unlock the hidden potential of the Nintendo DS.
Buy a Flash Card
The first thing you will need to do is buy a flash card to use with your DS. A flash card is a game card containing flash memory that you plug in as if you were playing any other game. It enables you to add more functions, such as running the application that lets you play MP3s, Ogg Vorbis, and AAC files. The nice thing about flash cards is their convenience, ease of use, and they won’t void your warranty like some other methods do since it’s just a card and no hardware modification is required. With that said, Nintendo does not condone the use of flash cards, so do it at your own risk.
There are many different brands of DS flash cards and all of them have their own set of features and quality. Notable brands include the CycloDS, the M3, and Acekard. In this tutorial, we will use the Acekard 2i, which is known for being an inexpensive quality card. Acekard’s official web site has a list ofto buy from. Unless you already have a MicroSD card to use, I suggest you purchase a package that contains both the MicroSD card and the Acekard.
I bought my whole kit for less than $35, which is around the price of one game. The kit will include simple instructions to prepare the card for the DS, which is basically just downloading and copying some files onto the card using the included USB stick.
Download & Install Moonshell
Now that you’ve got the flash card, you need an application to play the music. This is where Moonshell comes in. Moonshell is an unofficial multimedia player for the Nintendo DS. It can be used to play music, watch videos, view photos, read text, and some other things.
To install Moonshell, follow these instructions:
- Mount your MicroSD card into your PC using the USB loader from the Acekard kit.
- Download Moonshell from the
- Run or unzip the files to a directory and then run the setup.exe file. It will ask you to select a language.
- Choose your mounted card. For me, it’s “Removable Disk J:”.
- It will begin to copy the files.
After it’s finished, you can also go ahead and copy over a MP3 to the Removable Disk as well. Then safely eject the USB reader and card.
- Plug the Acekard into your DS and power on. Choose to load the Acekard from the main menu.
- Select the Moonshell program to run it. On your first boot, it will ask you to select a language.
- After it loads (takes a few seconds) you’ll see a file explorer on the bottom screen where you can select the MP3 you want to play. On the top screen you’ll see instructions for how to play tracks, change volume, and so on.
- Now simply select the song you want to play, and if all goes well, it will begin to play immediately. Continue to add more MP3s to your SD card as needed. You can organize them using file directories, just like you would on your PC. Note: With Moonshell version 2.10, I’ve noticed MP3s with very high bit-rates may not play correctly, but most MP3s work fine.
Was this tutorial easy to follow? Have you used your Nintendo DS to play music? Do you have any tips to improve the experience? If so, please leave us a comment below!