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A common problem for Nintendo 2/3DS games is that they offer just one save game. I'm looking at you, Pokemon. If you want to start a new game, you need to erase all progress of the last one. This creates a problem if there is just one copy of a game, but several people who would like to play it.

If the game is on a cartridge, you're out of luck. But what about if you bought it on eShop and installed on an SD card? Can you take 2 SD cards (cheap these days), download the game on each of them (using the same console) and effectively get 2 save slots? Whoever wants to play just pops in their own SD card and continues where they left off?

Reading other answers here and on the Internet seems to suggest that this is possible, but I couldn't find any outright confirmation. Can anyone confirm if this works?

If it matters, my particular console is the New 2DS XL.

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So, I have finally gathered my courage and tried this and can confirm - yes, this works! I now have two SD cards with the same game downloaded on both of them, and I can play them independently.

Update: Spoke too soon. While this does work with some (most?) games, others have protection SPECIFICALLY against this. In particular:

  • Pokemon Mystery Dungeons - works fine
  • Pokemon Ultra Sun - doesn't work

It appears that Ultra Sun stores an encryption key within the DS itself and regenerates it every time the savegame is deleted. Thus the old savegame on the other SD card becomes unusable.

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To clarify, you are asking if you had one pokemon cartridge - let's say Pokémon X. And you want to be able to have two different save files for the game on two different SD cards that you would swap out in your 2DS? I do not believe this would work with pokemon games as I believe they save to the cartridge, unfortunately. I found two forum threads here and here that seem to confirm my beliefs.

There is still hope, though! Depending on your willingness to hack your 2DS, you could simply put a rom of any 3DS game you want on multiple SD cards, and swap them out and play that way? Check out reddit.com/r/3dshacks as well as https://3ds.hacks.guide/ for more info (I am in no way condoning piracy, but if you own a pokemon game physically I see no reason against putting a rom of it onto two SD cards so that you and a friend can essentially have 2 save files.)

I hope this helps.

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  • Vilx was asking about a scenario where Pokemon X was purchased digitally, not on a physical cartridge.
    – Alex Myers
    Jun 12, 2019 at 20:43
  • Exactly. I have the game bought on eShop, I don't have a cartridge. The game has been on an SD card since day one, completely legally and without any hacking.
    – Vilx-
    Jun 12, 2019 at 20:43

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