On March 27, the Nintendo 3DS and Wii U eShops will go offline. Here are some exclusive 3DS and Wii U titles to consider adding to your library while you still can.
A sad day is coming for those of us who are interested in retro gaming and game preservation or just owners of the Nintendo Wii U or 3DS: on March 27, Nintendo is shuttering the eShop for these outdated consoles, making further purchases impossible.
This has been a long time coming. Nintendo has already been turning off the lights, first by revoking the ability to add funds to your account via credit card on these systems, then doing the same for prepaid cards. There is still a workaround if you add funds to your Nintendo Switch, link your Switch and 3DS/Wii U accounts, then use the Merge Funds option in your account settings—more details on that here.
But in just one month from now, users will be unable to expand their digital libraries for these brilliant platforms any further. This means some digital-exclusive experiences on the eShop will essentially become unavailable, unlike physical copies. If you already own them, you’ll still be able to re-download them, as well as any existing updates for physical titles, for the foreseeable future.
We already took a look at 5 Virtual Console Games to Grab on 3DS/Wii U back when this move was announced, but as the final deadline draws nigh, it’s worth one last look at some of the digital-only experiences that will become unavailable when the Nintendo’s last-gen eShop closes.
Here are some 3DS and Wii U titles to consider getting while you still can:
Fire Emblem Fates (and Awakening)
Fortunately, we won’t lose the excellent Fire Emblem Fates and Fire Emblem Awakening outright when the 3DS eShop shuts down. The DLC for these titles, however, will be unattainable if you don’t already own them, and that can hamstring the entire Fates experience.
Fire Emblem Fates took a page from Pokémon in a way, launching in two separate editions: Birthright and Conquest. Each took a different path through the game with radically different stories and units, placing the protagonist on either side of the conflict. A third path, Revelation, was released later purely as DLC. You only needed to buy one version, though and could play the other two paths as paid DLC. Arguably, the “true” way to experience Fates was by playing both scenarios, then the third for the “canon” conclusion.
After March 27, if you don’t already own the DLC, you’ll still be able to play the two original scenarios if you have either of the physical versions—but the final scenario will be locked out. The same goes for any other DLC in Fire Emblem Fates and Fire Emblem Awakening, which each had a respectable smattering of postlaunch content added to the eShop. Otherwise, you’ll have to hope for a Switch port to play the full experience since no “complete” physical cartridges were ever produced.
Streetpass Mii Plaza DLC
In general, it might be worth checking your library of 3DS or Wii U games before March 27 to see if there’s any missing DLC on the eShop that you might want to access down the line—and this holds true even for StreetPass Mii Plaza, the built-in minigame collection that helped keep the 3DS community mobile before the Pokémon Go revolution.
The default minigames “Find Mii” and “Puzzle Swap” were the core of the StreetPass experience, but over the 3DS’ lifetime Nintendo infused several more involved titles like “Warrior’s Way” and “Monster’s Manor” via eShop downloads. Some may be more worthwhile than others, and getting a StreetPass tag on your daily routine is a pretty rare occurrence already, but if you ever enjoyed this feature, this is the last call to expand your plaza’s offerings. You never know, some people are keeping the StreetPass torch lit, and video game events can still bring in a couple new visitors.
Jupiter’s Picross series is a silent guardian, an underappreciated bastion of puzzle goodness on Nintendo systems, with about 8 titles on the Switch chock-full of nonogram puzzle challenges per entry. Its history stretches back to the Game Boy and Super Famicom but arguably reached a peak during the 3DS era, when touch/stylus controls really rounded out the experience of filling in each puzzle.
Between Picross e through Picross e8, Pokémon Picross, Picross 3D Round 2, a Sanrio spin-off, and three titles exclusive to Club Nintendo (if you were lucky enough to pick those up), there’s up to 16 titles on the 3DS eShop, all with their unique hoards of content. These puzzles make a great way to either wind-down or start up your day, or just chill out during a lunch break—that unique niche of puzzle game that uses your brain without taxing it.
Let’s face it, games on the NES were hard—either by design, or by consequence, or simply because they feel harder to control today than they did back then—and not every modern gamer has the stomach for 8-bit games. Some don’t hold up well without the glue of nostalgia holding them together. But what if you’d still like to experience classics like the original Legend of Zelda or Metroid without the nuisances between major moments?
NES Remix offered a brilliant solution for this problem and a great challenge for veterans, with two installments on the Wii U eShop. These compilations dropped players into excerpted moments from hall-of-fame NES titles and posed challenges like beating a boss, accumulating a certain score in a short time, or finishing a stage. It’s a great way to “learn” the mechanics of these titles and experience their core events, so you don’t have to play the rest of the original game to understand cultural references or to relive your childhood—all in very digestible bite-sized chunks.
Where things get really interesting is the remix stages, which alter the circumstances of the original games. Graphical elements might change or disappear entirely. You might have to fight the Wispy Woods boss as Kirby while Boos from Mario approach, or save Princess Peach in Super Mario Bros 3 while playing as Princess Peach from Super Mario Bros 2. You might be good at the Egg Catcher mini-game from Kirby’s Adventure, but can you clear it when the screen zooms in every time you catch an egg?
There are scarce physical editions floating around on both Wii U and 3DS if you’re desperate to check it out after March 27, but this is one case where I’d contend that a digital download on Wii U is preferable.
3D Classics: Kirby’s Adventure
Speaking of Kirby’s Adventure, as one of the NES’ last blockbusters, it’s earned a spot on almost every Virtual Console and system Nintendo has put out since, in one form or another. However, even the Switch Online’s port fails to correct one glaring issue that has plagued this masterpiece since its first release: the horrible slowdown that pops up often when the action gets too hot.
Enter 3D Classics: Kirby’s Adventure. Exclusive to the 3DS eShop, this Arika-developed port is notable not for the addition of the system’s stereoscopic 3D effect but for the fact that it’s the only version of the NES game that rebuilt it from the ground up instead of emulating it. This removes the slowdown that would plague the player at common moments, like when using the Spark ability or getting hit by a fire attack and turned into a flaming ball.
Arika’s 3D Classics series, in general, is pretty great at that, particularly Excitebike and Kid Icarus, and even Sega’s own line, including Sonic the Hedgehog 2. Unfortunately, only six installments were ever released, despite tech demos of many more classics being shown at E3 2010, or we’d have a lot more games to grab on the eShop before they’re yanked away forever.
There’s plenty of other great software to recommend on both platforms, so act fast if there’s anything else you want to add to your digital library. So long, Wii U and 3DS, and thanks for all the fish in the early 2010s.