List of Consoles

From Golden Sun Universe
(Redirected from Nintendo 3DS)

This is a list of the various consoles that can be used to play the Golden Sun series.

Game Boy Advance

The original GameBoy Advance

The Game Boy Advance (often shortened to GBA) is a 32-bit handheld video game console developed, manufactured and marketed by Nintendo and released in 2001. The original design of GBA did not feature backlighting and required batteries. Both Golden Sun and Golden Sun: The Lost Age were originally released as part of the GBA's library.

Game Boy Advance SP

Two models of the GBA were released in the following years. In 2003 a laptop-like model named the Game Boy Advance SP was released, featuring frontlighting and a rechargeable lithium ion battery. Two years later a near-identical model named the Game Boy Advance SP+ was released, which this time featured backlighting.

Game Boy Micro

In 2005, Nintendo released an even smaller backlit GBA model named the Game Boy Micro. This version did not have a large impact on the market because, unlike the other GBA models, it could not play older Game Boy games and was released a year AFTER the Nintendo DS. The Game Boy Micro was a large part of Nintendo's "Three Pillar" strategy to produce games for the GameCube, Game Boy Advance family of systems, AND the Nintendo DS, but after the Micro's failure and with the impending launch of the Wii, Nintendo switched gears to consider the Nintendo DS in fact a successor to the GBA. The Micro is the smallest device that any Golden Sun has officially been made playable for.

Nintendo GameCube

Released simultaneously with the Game Boy Advance in 2001, the Nintendo GameCube was Nintendo's Sixth-Generation video game console, to succeed the Nintendo 64. When Golden Sun development moved from N64 to Game Boy Advance to help promote the new system, players initially could not play any Golden Sun games on their television screens. This would soon change with the release of the GameCube add-on known as the Game Boy Player, detailed below.

Game Boy Player

The Game Boy Player is an add-on style device that fits onto the bottom of a Nintendo GameCube. This device, which is essentially comprised of the hardware inside the Game Boy Advance and has a cartridge slot at its front end, enables Game Boy Advance cartridges, as well as Game Boy and Game Boy Color cartridges, to be played on a television with a GameCube controller. (A GBA system connected into the first controller port via a Game Link Cable is also usable as a controller). It requires the use of an included boot disc to access the hardware and turn on the software.

Golden Sun: The Lost Age was one of the titles the Player's marketing campaign specifically advertised as recommended to play on a full screen with the Player, alongside Pokemon Ruby & Sapphire and Fire Emblem.

Nintendo DS

The Original Nintendo DS, featuring backwards compatibility.

The Nintendo DS was Nintendo's next major handheld console, released in 2004, initially considered as a third-pillar companion to the GBA and GameCube systems until their respective retirements in 2006. Golden Sun: Dark Dawn was designed for the Nintendo DS, and released in 2010 as part of the system's library.

The most obvious features of this clamshell-designed device are its two equally-sized screens, with the bottom screen specially designed as a "touch screen" that works with a provided stylus for screen-pressing gameplay alongside traditional buttons. The DS also has microphone that can recognize the player's voice. The system has open slots for both a DS game card (akin to that of an Macro SD card) and a Game Boy Advance cartridge, allowing both libraries of games to be played (although Game Boy and Game Boy Color cartridges are incompatible), and some DS games respond to the GBA game that's currently inserted into the GBA slot. A GBA game played on the system will display on one of the two screens, with the default setting on the top screen. The system has a backlight that can be toggled on or off and has a rechargeable lithium ion battery. Unlike the GBA models, its connectivity with other DS systems (as well as Nintendo's Wii) is entirely wireless, and supports online connectivity and even web browsing. As the DS lacks compatibility with the Game Boy Advance Game Link Cable, when playing on this hardware only the Password feature can be used for Data transfer between the two GBA titles.

Nintendo DS Lite

The second version of the DS family was released in early 2006, the Nintendo DS Lite, and now was considered a direct upgrade and successor to the GBA. A slimmer and more lightweight redesign, the DS Lite is very similar to the original but has four levels of brightness for its LCD display (though the backlight can not be turned off now). GBA cartridges now protrude out of the bottom of the system by roughly a centimeter, but they are at least still playable, unlike on future models.

Nintendo DSi

In 2008 Nintendo released a third version of the DS called the Nintendo DSi. Although the revision gained many new features such as a camera, SD card slot, and a download capabilities for a DSiWare Virtual Store, the device lost its backwards compatibility as it has no GBA slot in order to conserve space. Unfortunately the loss of backwards compatibility means Golden Sun and Golden Sun: The Lost Age will no longer be playable.

Nintendo DSi XL

The Nintendo DSi XL (DSi LL in Japan), is the fourth version of the Nintendo DS, released in 2009. By large, it has the same features as the standard DSi, with the exception of a few distinct alterations. These alterations include a larger body and screen, longer battery life, and pre-installed software. As with its smaller sibling, only Golden Sun: Dark Dawn is playable on this hardware. In fact, this was the hardware system the game was designed to be played on, given its release only a year after this device.

Nintendo 3DS

The Nintendo 3DS, released in early 2011, is the Eighth Generation handheld console, a successor rather than revision of the Nintendo DS. It features a stereoscopic 3D pop-out effect without the need for special glasses. It looks similar to the predecessor DS, retains a (single) touch screen at the bottom, and has a slightly wider screen that depicts the stereoscopic 3D, which can be adjusted from high to low to complete off. The 3DS also has two forward-facing cameras, enabling it to take pictures and video in 3D. The cameras are also used for Augmented-Reality (AR) games, akin to the later Pokémon GO on smartphones. The system features all of the same buttons from the DS but also adds a slide analog stick. The 3DS retains the Macro SD Card-esque cartridge based system of the DS, but with an additional notch to ensure you can't get the 3DS cart into one of the Nintendo DS systems.

The 3DS maintain backwards compatibility with the DS, and its internal hardware possesses the capacity to play GBA games if the rom were accessible, but treats them as if they were played on a DS or DS lite switching into GBA mode. This compatibility is most notable with the handful of GBA titles released exclusively as a thank-you for early adopters of the system before a holiday 2011 price cut intended to increase sales. The 3DS has an eShop that includes DSiWare titles, digital-purchase exclusive titles including remakes of old games with stereoscopic 3D, a Virtual Console backcatalog of NES, Game Boy, Game Boy Color, and SEGA Game Gear titles, and most notably, fully digital-purchase of full 3DS titles simultaneously released on 3DS carts. In addition, the 3DS eShop library included several 3D films that were be viewable on the 3DS in full 3D.

The 3DS eShop closed in March 2023, and its online connectivity will be shut down in April 2024 with the exception of redownloading your previously purchased software and the use of certain Pokémon-series transfer applications (allowing a connectivity link for that series between DS and Switch via the 3DS).

Nintendo 3DS XL

This larger revision, much like the DSi XL before it, was released a year after the initial model in 2012, but other than a larger device with a larger screen, the Nintendo 3DS XL functioned identically to its predecessor.

Nintendo 2DS

A third member of the 3DS family of systems was released in 2013 to serve as a cheaper alternative to its elder siblings. The Nintendo 2DS, as you might expect, lacks the stereoscopic 3D of the 3DS models, and it also lacks the clam-shell design that had been the norm since the Nintendo DS in 2004, opting instead to go with a larger, singular "writing slate" type design that only fits the largest of pockets.

new Nintendo 3DS

In winter 2014-2015, Nintendo released a mid-generation upgrade called the new Nintendo 3DS, roughly analogous to the mid-generation upgrades of the Game Boy Color, Game Boy Advance SP, and Nintendo DSi. The new 3DS features a more stable head-tracking stereoscopic 3D functionality, and also adds a second analog stick akin in form to an old laptop mouse-nub and ZL and ZR buttons. The new 3DS also has a good-chunk more processing power than the original models, and thus can play games exclusive to the hardware such as Xenoblade Chronicles 3D, as well as titles for all 3DS family hardware but with a lot more stability (most notably for the near-unplayable-on-original-hardware Super Smash Bros. for 3DS and Hyrule Warriors Legends 3D). In addition, as a thank you for players who upgraded to the new 3DS system, Super Nintendo titles were added to the 3DS Virtual Console, but are unplayable on original 3DS, 3DS XL, or 2DS hardware.

The smaller model of new 3DS was released in Japan, Australia, and New Zealand in 2014, and in early 2015 in Europe, but only much later in Fall 2015 in North America, more than half a year after the worldwide release of its XL-sized variant, the new Nintendo 3DS XL, in February 2015. The XL model features much larger lower touch and upper 3D screens.

new Nintendo 2DS XL

In July 2017, months after the release of their successor console/handheld hybrid, Nintendo issued one final variant for the Nintendo 3DS family: the new Nintendo 2DS XL. Like the Nintendo 2DS, it lacks the stereoscopic 3D effect, and thus was able to be released at a cheaper price point than the new 3DS XL. But in all other ways, the new 2DS XL is more akin to the new 3DS XL – returning to the clamshell design, the much larger screens, the more powerful hardware. There was no small model for the new 2DS, as this model was intended as an upgrade for those already playing on Nintendo 2DS, to give another couple years of life to the aging 3DS library. 3DS titles would continue to be released by Nintendo and their partners through 2019, and 3rd parties would continue to sell titles on the eShop through 2022, but all 3DS family hardware would cease production and sale in 2020.

Nintendo Wii U

In 2012, Nintendo released the Nintendo Wii U, a successor to their wildly-successful Nintendo Wii (itself released in 2006 to replace the Nintendo GameCube). The Wii U featured a sort of dual-screen akin to a Nintendo DS or 3DS – while most play would occur on your television screen, a large stylus-type touchscreen was incorporated into the main Nintendo Wii U Gamepad controller. For multiplayer, the console was compatible with Wii Remotes, wireless Pro Controllers, and eventually even released a GameCube controller adapter alongside the newest iteration of Super Smash Bros. in 2014. The console also allowed the transfer of some games off the TV screen onto the Wii U Gamepad's touch screen, so that the TV could be used for other purposes, like if your family want to watch the sports game. Originally, the Wii U was supposed to support its own TV Cable service called Nintendo TVii, and even included a button specifically for TVii on the Wii U Gamepad, but this feature was quietly cancelled after multiple delays and licensing fall-outs. The console transitioned Nintendo to HD for the first time, with support for 1080p and 1080i output, had access to Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, and other streaming services available on their eShop, and was fully backwards compatible with the Nintendo Wii. The eShop continued the tradition of including retro titles for individual purchase via the Virtual Console, this time making select NES, Super NES, Nintendo 64, Game Boy Advance, Nintendo DS, and Nintendo Wii titles available. The GBA Virtual Console included Golden Sun in April 2014 and Golden Sun: The Lost Age in August 2015, complete with a save state functionality to pause at any time and return to the game later. However, the games lacked connectivity support and thus for Data transfer purposes, only the Password system is functional, and the Battle Arena lacks the ability to dual your friends.

Via Wii emulation within the system, even the Wii Shop Channel (with its own catalog of Virtual Console and WiiWare titles) was functional until its closure in 2019. The Wii U eShop itself was shut down alongside the 3DS eShop in 2023, and online play for the Wii U will likewise shutdown alongside the 3DS' in 2024. Production of Wii U hardware had already ceased in 2017 in anticipation for its more-successful successor…

Nintendo Switch

Released in Spring 2017, the Nintendo Switch represents the unification of Nintendo's separate efforts in the console and handheld gaming industries. The system itself resembles a straightforward tablet with a central LCD-backlit touchscreen surrounded looking akin to the GBA or more so like a PlayStation Vita, but the detachable Joy-Con controllers on either side of the tablet and a TV-connected dock allow the Switch to be played either as a handheld device, a tabletop device, or as a full console large-screen device. The Switch JoyCons include motion control akin to Wii Remote controllers, but lack the infrared sensor bar used by both the Wii and Wii U. As the Switch needs to be docked to push its gameplay onto the television screen, it lacks dual-screen functionality, and is not backwards compatible with either the 3DS nor the Wii U. However, several Game Boy Advance, GameCube, DS, Wii, 3DS, and Wii U titles have been ported, remastered, or even remade to function within the new hardware limitations and advantages of the Nintendo Switch.

The Switch's premium subscription service, Nintendo Switch Online, not only allows online multiplayer for various Switch titles, but also adds several Netflix-like retro hardware apps, allowing classics games to be downloaded and played on the system as long as the membership is renewed, without a separate purchase charge (as opposed to the buy-per-game model of previous systems' Virtual Console). Various new titles have been drip-released on these apps over the course of the years since their rollout. Some titles have never previously been available for emulation on official hardware, and many of these games also have new online multiplayer added to unlock new possibilities of play.

Two tiers for NSO exist: Nintendo Switch Online ($20/year for a solo membership, or $35/year for a family membership), and Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack ($50/year for solo membership, or $70/year for family membership). Family memberships allow multiple Switches within a family unit to have access to online services, much as family membership tiers for video stream apps like Netflix. Included in the base tier are retro libraries for the NES, Super NES, and Game Boy (including Game Boy Color), alongside online multiplayer. In the Expansion Pack tier, retro libraries for Nintendo 64, Game Boy Advance, and SEGA Genesis are available, and the expansion passes for several popular multiplayer games such as Splatoon, Mario Kart, and Animal Crossing, have also been included in the subscription (these expansion passes can be purchases separately).

In January 2024, both Golden Sun and Golden Sun: The Lost Age were released onto NSO+Expansion Pack's Game Boy Advance retro console app. This new release of the Golden Sun GBA duology is supported by Nintendo Switch Online's Rewind function, allowing recently transpired points in the gameplay to be reloaded so that moment-to-moment choices can be taken back. They also support an emulated version of the Game Link Cable to easily allow for online competitive play with the Battle Mode's multiplayer component. While the link cable function also allows for password-free data transfer between the two games, it does not allow solo players to do so between the games on a single Switch; like the original Game Boy Advance hardware setup, it requires two physical Switches (and two separate NSO accounts!) to transfer data between. Like other GBA titles on NSO+Expansion Pack, the games can have their screen size readjusted to a resolution more akin to that of the GBA, and can be set to play with a special "pseudo-GBA screen" filter that emulates the games as if they were played on a GBA rather than on modern LCD and OLED screens, analogous to the "pseudo-CRT screen" filters provided in other NSO retro hardware apps. This filter allows the games' color palette, shadows, and pixel graphics to render in a way that captures the intended colors and shadows, unlike a more straight and clean pixel emulation (also available, if preferred).

Nintendo Switch lite

In 2019, Nintendo released a hardware variant of the Nintendo Switch that is handheld ONLY – the expectedly-smaller Nintendo Switch lite cannot connect to a dock and move gameplay onto a separate monitor. The Switch lite's stated intention was as a second Switch for younger siblings, or for players who only really want to play their games on the go and want a smaller, more manageable system that can even fit in large pockets (whereas the original Switch is more of a device to carry in a case in a handbag or backpack). Despite these restrictions, the device is perhaps the most analogous successor in form to the original 2001 Game Boy Advance, and is an excellent choice for playing the NSO releases of Golden Sun and Golden Sun: The Lost Age.

Nintendo Switch OLED

In 2021, after rampant rumors of a more powerful Switch Pro model, Nintendo released the more modest Nintendo Switch OLED model with a larger, OLED-backlit touchscreen. All benefits of this model go toward more-brilliant handheld and tabletop gameplay, as it lacks any sort of power upgrade akin to the DSi or new 3DS. The OLED screen, however, makes for a fantastic new way to experience Golden Sun and Golden Sun: The Lost Age, with a clarity unparalleled by other official releases of the titles.


The controversial, albeit widespread, practice of downloading ROM images of games such as Golden Sun and The Lost Age off the Internet for free and emulating them with programs to play these games on a personal computer just as if one was playing them on a physical console. The sale, download, or dumping of ROMs on the internet are all forms of piracy, and Nintendo's lawyers are particularly known for shutting down Video Game ROM-hosting websites and burying pirates under mountains of legal fees. Despite the risks involved, there continues a widespread practice of emulating games for cartridge-based platforms. In the years from 2008 thru 2014 and from 2017 thru 2023, there were no legal avenues for playing Golden Sun or Golden Sun: The Lost Age on then-current hardware, and in lieu of official avenues, emulation was often a risk fans of these games were willing to take.

Emulation also provides a greater capacity for players to manipulate their games than playing on original hardware. Features such as Save States allow one to essentially "bookmark" any point in time and space in a game which can be loaded and referred to at any time later, which can allow for a very effective form of "cheating" that does not use any form of code-based hacking utility (of course, codes as they would be used with devices like Action Replay and CodeBreaker can be input and made to work also). There are also features such as the ability to take snapshots of whatever is displayed on the "screen" of your program and create them as image files. Many of the in-game screenshots used on this wiki are taken using a snapshot feature of the VisualBoy Advance emulator. Many of these features are available on more-recent, official emulations such as the 2024 NSO releases, but they haven't always been, and documentation and analyses of these games have historically relied on these features of GBA emulation on PC.

Since emulation on a PC is based on a ROM Image file of a game that is thus composed of data and can be treated as data, a sub-practice known as ROM Hacking has surfaced, which allows one to essentially modify the contents of a game, and then play it. For Golden Sun: The Lost Age, a ROM hacking utility program called the Golden Sun: The Lost Age Editor has been released and is being revised. This allows one to, among other things, see the exact statistics of every single item, ability, class, and monster in the game.