5 Crazy Ways to Put Your Nintendo DS Back to Work

By Dan Ketchum

Updated June 26, 2017

The Nintendo DS is officially retro-chic tech.
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In its numerous iterations – from the wonky silver brick of the original DS to sleek and slim DSi – Nintendo’s dual-screened portable is the second best-selling video game platform in history, trailing just behind Sony’s PlayStation 2. At 154 million units sold, there’s a pretty decent chance you can find a DS floating around, whether it’s in your sock drawer or available for the price of a single game at your local GameStop.

Though the DS was home to nearly 2,000 games, we’re going to put it back to work a little more creatively, with some quirky software you never knew existed. And since the DS is more than 10 years old now, you don’t have to be embarrassed to whip one out of your pocket – it’s officially retro-chic tech.

Produce Your Own Synth Album

How: 'Korg DS-10 Synthesizer' from Xseed and Korg

Known across the music industry for its synthesizers, Korg cemented the DS’s unlikely place in the music scene by releasing a digital version of its classic MS-10 pocket synth on Nintendo’s handheld in 2007. Called Korg DS-10, this software features a four-channel drum sequencer, two unique keyboard synth channels, a 16-step song sequencer, and plenty of audio effects to layer onto your creations. Unlike the retro hardware, DS-10 also features touchscreen controls, which let you do everything from tweak knobs to play the keyboard, and allows you to save your digital creations.

Also unlike the MS-10, which is a piece of vintage kit that now sell for about $450, you can snag the DS-10 synth online for under $15. Now all you need is an auxiliary cable, some glow sticks, and a PA, and you’re ready for the club.

Read Some Classic eBooks

How: '100 Classic Books' from Nintendo

Released in 2010, Nintendo’s own 100 Classic Books cartridge was their pitch to “transform the Nintendo DS family of products into a library of timeless literature.” Though it pre-dates the e-reader boon, the DS’s touchscreen enables all the features you’d expect, like adjusting the size of the text and placing specific bookmarks. Since the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection for Wii and DS shut down in 2014, you won’t be able to download any new books – one of the software’s key selling points, originally – but 100 digital classics from authors like Shakespeare, Verne, Austen, and Twain is nothing to sneeze at. Still available on Amazon for $20 or less, 100 Classic Books turns your DS into the only e-reader that also plays Pokemon.

Learn to Cook

How: 'Personal Trainer: Cooking' from Nintendo

On the DS, Nintendo struck gold with the game-ified educational software, Brain Age: Train Your Brain in Minutes a Day. In the same vein, its Personal Trainer series for DS aims to appeal to non-gamers by using gaming tech in a life-enriching way. Currently available on Amazon for about $7.50, Personal Trainer: Cooking features an interactive chef who guides through more than 245 recipes from over 30 countries around the globe. This educational software also packs in tons of video tutorials, ingredient factoids, expert advice, and calorie counts – it even features a modifiable shopping list, saving on paper and giving you a reason to game at the grocery store. The DS’s stylus controls and this software's voice command compatibility help keep your console clean while you cook, too.

Teach Your Kid Spanish

How: 'My Spanish Coach' from Ubisoft

Edutainment makes up a substantial subgenre on the DS, but it’s hard to separate the wheat from the chaff. Ubisoft’s My Spanish Coach – easily had online for under $10 with a little eBay scouring – keeps it simple by catering to kids. Pass your little one the DS for 20 minutes a day, and colorful cartoon characters teach her 10,000 words and 400 phrases’ worth of word usage, grammar, and construction via mini-games. The DS’s built-in mic checks pronunciation while progress tracking keeps the My Spanish Coach experience nice and game-y.

Go for a Walk

How: 'Personal Trainer: Walking' from Nintendo

You’ve got to give Nintendo credit for predating some pretty huge tech trends all low-key like. For about a tenth of the cost of a fancy Fitbit, you can grab 2009’s Personal Trainer: Walking from Amazon, complete with two included Activity Meter accessories (one in black and one in white). Like trendy fitness trackers, these clippable meters record every step you take and send the data to your DS, tracking what Nintendo calls your “life rhythm” via interactive touchscreen graphs. Walking encourages you to set goals for yourself and give the second clip to a friend or family member – or even clip it on to your dog’s collar – to encourage a little bit of health-friendly competition. Way friendlier than any heated game of Mario Kart we’ve ever seen, that’s for sure.