The best Nintendo 3DS eShop exclusive games to buy before they’re gone forever
The long, slow march to the great console graveyard in the sky has begun for Nintendo 3DS, with Nintendo announcing that the 3D-enabled handheld’s eShop for digital downloads will close permanently in March 2023. Purchases made by In-store credit cards will stop being accepted after May 23, 2022, and the same will stop accepting eShop gift cards from August 29, 2022. And, if you have a Wii U, those dates will change. also apply to the Wii U eShop, which is also about to close.
While the best of the Wii U has slowly made its way to the Nintendo Switch, we’re dropping one for the Nintendo 3DS here in particular, as many games unique to that console will be lost when the store closes. There are about 1,000 eShop-exclusive titles, unavailable elsewhere, that won’t be accessible (by legal means, anyway) once Nintendo closes stores for good. And while many great 3DS games are available in physical cartridge form, they’re increasingly rare on store shelves and online, driving up the price of ownership at the collectibles level.
It is sure to once again raise arguments about where ownership of digital games comes from, and also fuel those advocating for better preservation of historic games. But for now, time is running out: these are the exclusive Nintendo 3DS eShop games you simply can’t afford to miss. Catch them while you can.
Draw box / Pushmo
This one is definitely too cute to kill, Nintendo! Pullbox (known as Pushmo in the US) mixes platforming with puzzle solving, as you play as Mallo, a little…pig thingy(?) who has to physically shoot the world that pulls him. surrounds to create the necessary platforms to achieve its goals. He made great use of the 3D screen and should have seen Mallo become a star. Alas, no – that’s what the limits of eShop exclusivity would do to your mascot heroes.
Be sure to check out sequels Fallblox (AKA Crashmo) and Fullblox (AKA Stretchmo), while a Wii U exclusive (Pullbox World) is also ready for the chop on the latest-gen home console from Nintendo.
The 3DS eShop, as you can see, was the secret home of many great puzzlers, and BoxBoy! was one of the best. Its simple monochrome line art belies a devilishly clever puzzle, seeing you summon boxes to navigate the array of traps and chasms between you and a level’s exit.
A Japan-exclusive physical release did occur – but it was only made in small numbers, with the cartridge locked in Japan. On top of that, it came bundled with perhaps the rarest of all amiibo, Qbby, which means the resale value of the game is exorbitant and probably forever beyond the reach of all but collectors. the most ardent. So grab it while you can – and grab the excellent BoxBoxBoy and Bye-Bye BoxBoy sequels, too.
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Fates / Spirit of Justice
The Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney series is safe, happily living its best life on all sorts of different platforms these days, from iPads to Nintendo Switch. However, two deep cuts – Dual Destinies and Spirit of Justice, are about to be lost to the nuke eShop.
Strong continuations of the series’ basic deduction loop for case solving, they admittedly serve die-hard series fans best. But the darker plot of Dual Destinies and the super-eerie (court-admissible) supernatural memory pool of Spirit Justice are oddities worth at least a cursory glance.
Friday Monster Attack
You might know developer Level-5 best for its Professor Layton puzzle games, but it’s used the Nintendo 3DS for more than Sherlock Holmes-inspired puzzles. Level-5’s ‘Guild Series’ was one of the most ambitious and exciting endeavors from a mainstream developer at the time, releasing a compilation of smaller, more experimental titles for the 3DS.
Our pick of the bunch is Attack of the Friday Monsters. Somewhere between an RPG, a visual novel, and a card battle, this short adventure sees you play as a kid whose hometown lives in the shadow of regular kaiju (giant monster) battles. It’s cute and heartfelt, and a really interesting premise – just what Is continue in the minds of those who run in fear between the enormous feet of Godzilla? We would like to see the premise revived.
Although Japan saw the physical release of the Guild01 and 02 compilations, bringing together a few of the games from the Guild series, they never hit brick and mortar stores in the rest of the world, meaning these curious titles will be practically lost in the west.
Nintendo Pocket Football Club is the Japanese company’s own take on the popular football manager simulation genre – and it’s a real winner.
You start by selecting your own flag, kit, and team name, and are tasked with building a team that can climb the ranks and win the championship. You’ll be able to tinker with formations, recruit new players, and train your team in hopes of turning them from a sad bunch of amateurs into world-class pros.
Matches play out in a surprisingly rich, fast-paced version of the beautiful game that shows every team battling it out, including crowd reactions, goal replays, and more.
Nintendo Pocket Football Club might seem like a watered down version of Football Manager at first glance, but make no mistake – it’s just as addictive as other management sims, and a must-have for any 3DS owner who even has the less interest in football (or soccer, as it is also called).
Pick it up before it’s consigned to the annals of history in March 2023.
The 3DS also allowed Pokemon developers Game Freak to spread their wings repeatedly with certain experimental titles. HarmoKnight might be the funniest game on this list – or at least the funniest 3DS game you’ve ever heard of. Blending rhythm-action elements with platforming tropes, you’ll perform jumps and sword swipes through an Adventure Time-like fantasy land, keeping your jumps and attacks in time with the fantasy soundtrack . It wasn’t really over-sung when it was released, making it a hidden gem in the 3DS catalog.
3D Nintendo Classics
We are grouping this lot together because they are all worthy of themselves. Over the lifespan of the Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo has used the console to introduce (or reintroduce) gamers to classic cuts from its back catalog. The majority of these games hail from the heady days of the NES, but have been updated to use the 3D effect that was the hallmark of the handheld. Excitebike, Kid Icarus, Kirby’s Adventure, TwinBee, Urban Champion, and the only arcade title, Xevious, have all been reworked to account for stereoscopic 3D effects. The 2D pixel-art nature of the games meant that these proved to be surprisingly successful, breathing new life into old games with some great depth effects. Excitebike is particularly good – no other consoles offer 3D functionality, it’s sad to see they actually work for good.
It wasn’t just Nintendo revisiting its classics on 3DS, but Sega too. He also reworked many classic titles to take advantage of the 3D effect. Around 30 titles received the update treatment, and while a good chunk of them remain Japanese exclusives, the majority, including classics like Sonic the Hedgehog, Space Harrier, and Echo the Dolphin, have become global.
Our pick of the bunch, however, has to be Out-Run 3D. Based on the Master System version of the arcade racing game, it gave an already lightning-fast driving game a positive nitro feel by making it feel like you were literally driving on the 3DS screen. Great stuff.
Dillon’s Rolling Western
A really weird theme – weird was a bit of an eShop theme, really – Dillon’s Rolling Western mixes 3D exploration with tower defense mechanics. I’ll be blunt here and state that I’m not sure Dillon’s Rolling Western is really that good – I’m not usually a fan of tower defense, but the mix of strategy and adventure doesn’t gel so well. However, published by Nintendo, it’s worth saving, if only to remember a time when Nintendo was willing to put their money behind some really weird stuff to see what would be left on their relatively new console . It celebrates its tenth anniversary today!
Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Rising Stars
Even Nintendo superstars Mario and Donkey Kong aren’t immune to the eShop chop. While it’s not either character’s best-known role, Mario vs. Donkey Kong is still a fun puzzler in its own right. That’s pretty much Nintendo’s take on Lemmings, with Mario guiding toy versions of Nintendo characters to safety through a level by placing ramps and bridges across obstacles.
This one also got a Wii U version, and was Nintendo’s first attempt at cross-buy allowances – buy it for one machine, get a version for the other. Too bad the two are soon to be lost for good.