The long, slow march to the great island graveyard in the sky began for the Nintendo 3dswith Nintendo announcing that the 3D-compatible handheld eShop for digital downloads will be permanently closed in March 2023. Purchases made with credit cards in-store will no longer be accepted after May 23, 2022, and the same will be the case for eShop gift cards starting August 29, 2022. And if you’re a Wii U owner, these dates also apply to the Wii U eShop, which must also be closed.
While the best of the Wii U slowly made its way to Nintendo Switch, we are releasing one for the Nintendo 3DS here in particular, as many games exclusive to that console will be lost when the store closes. There are around 1,000 eShop-exclusive titles unavailable elsewhere that will be unavailable for access (by legal means, at least) once Nintendo closes stores for good. And while many great 3DS games are available in physical cartridge form, they are increasingly rare on store shelves and online, pushing the price of ownership to collector’s item levels.
It will certainly raise arguments once again about the provenance of digital game ownership and also fuel those pushing for better preservation of historic games. But for now, time is of the essence – these are the exclusive Nintendo 3DS eShop games you just can’t miss. Grab them while you can.
Traction 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 star as Mallo, a squidgy little thing… . He made great use of the 3D screen and should have seen Mallo become a prominent star. Unfortunately, no – that’s what the limits of eShop exclusivity would do to your pet heroes.
Be sure to check out the soon-to-be-disappeared sequels as well Fallblox (AKA Crashmo) and Fullblox (AKA Stretchmo), while a Wii U exclusive (Pullbox World) is also set to release on Nintendo’s next-gen home console.
The 3DS eShop, as you can see, was the secret home of many great puzzles, and BoxBoy! it was one of the best. Its simple monochromatic line graphics belie a devilishly clever puzzler, seeing you summon crates to navigate the variety of traps and chasms between you and a level’s exit.
A Japan-exclusive physical release took place – but it was only made in small numbers, with the cartridge locked for Japan. Additionally, it shipped with what is now perhaps the rarest of all amiibo, Qbby, meaning that the game’s resale value is sky-high and likely forever beyond the reach of all but the most ardent collectors. So enjoy it while you can – and also grab the equally excellent BoxBoxBoy and Bye-Bye BoxBoy sequels.
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies / 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 slated to be lost to the eShop nuke.
Strong continuations of the series’ main deduction loop for case resolution, they’re admittedly best serving the series’ die-hard fans. But Dual Destinies’ darker plot and Spirit Justice’s set of super-weird (court admissible) supernatural memories are trivia worth a quick glance at the very least.
Friday Monster Attack
You might know developer Level-5 best for her Professor Layton puzzle games, but she used the Nintendo 3DS for more than just Sherlock Holmes-inspired puzzles. Level-5’s ‘Guild Series’ was one of the most ambitious and interesting moves by a mainstream developer at the time, releasing a compilation of smaller, more experimental titles for the 3DS.
Our group pick is Friday Monster Attack. Somewhere between an RPG, visual novel and card battle, this short adventure sees you playing as a child whose hometown lives in the shadow of regular kaiju (giant monster) battles. It’s cute and heartfelt, and a really interesting premise – exactly what he does goes in the minds of those who run scared between Godzilla’s huge feet? We’d love to see the premise resurrected.
While Japan saw the physical release of the Guild01 and 02 builds, bringing together some of the games in the Guild series, they never made it to physical stores in the rest of the world, meaning these curious titles will be pretty much lost in the west.
Nintendo Pocket Football Club is the Japanese company’s own take on the popular football manager simulator genre – and it’s a real winner.
You start by selecting your own flag, kit and team name, and are tasked with assembling a squad that can move up through the divisions and win the championship. You’ll be able to tinker with formations, sign new players and coach your squad in hopes of transforming them from a bunch of amateurs into world-class professionals.
Matches take place in a surprisingly rich, fast-paced version of the beautiful game that sees each team struggling, 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 don’t be fooled – it’s just as addictive as other management sims and a must-have for any 3DS owner with the slightest interest in football (or football, for that matter). is known).
Catch it before it’s relegated to the annals of history in March 2023.
The 3DS also allowed the developers of Pokémon Game Freak to spread their wings a few times with some experimental titles as well. HarmoKnight is perhaps the funniest game on this list – or at least the funniest 3DS game you’ve never heard of. Mixing elements of rhythmic action with platforming tropes, you’ll run with jumps and sword slashes through a fantasy land similar to Adventure Time, keeping your jumps and attacks in rhythm with the fantastical soundtrack. It wasn’t much sung on its release, making it a hidden gem of the 3DS catalogue.
Nintendo 3D Classics
We are putting it all together, as everyone is worthy in their own right. Over the lifetime of the Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo has used the console to introduce (or reintroduce) players to classic cuts from its back catalogue. Most of these games came from the heady days of the NES, but have been updated to make use of the 3D effect that was the handheld’s hallmark. Excitebike, Kid Icarus, Kirby’s Adventure, TwinBee, Urban Champion and the lone arcade title Xevious have all been reworked to include stereoscopic 3D effects. The 2D pixel-art nature of the games has made them surprisingly successful, breathing new life into old games with superb depth effects. The Excitebike is particularly good – with no other console offering the 3D feature, it’s sad to see that this actually works forever.
It wasn’t just Nintendo revisiting its classics on 3DS, but Sega as well. It also reworked many classic titles to take advantage of the 3D effect. About 30 titles have received the update treatment, and while a good chunk of them remain Japanese exclusives, most, including classics like Sonic the Hedgehog, Space Harrier, and Echo the Dolphin, have gone global.
Our pick of the bunch though, has to be Out-Run 3D. Based on the Master System version of the arcade racer, it made an already super-fast driving game feel positively nitro-powered, giving the impression that you were literally stepping into the 3DS screen. Good stuff.
Dillon’s Rolling Western
A really weird one this – weird was a bit of an eShop theme, actually – Dillon’s Rolling Western mixes 3D exploration with tower defense mechanics. I’m going to be blunt here and state that I’m not sure Dillon’s Rolling Western is actually that good – I’m not a fan of tower defense in general, but the mix of strategy and adventure doesn’t quite match up. However, published by Nintendo, it’s worth saving just to remember a time when Nintendo was prepared to put its money into some seriously weird stuff to see what would look like on its relatively new console. It celebrates its tenth anniversary today!
Mario vs Donkey Kong: Tipping Stars
Even Nintendo superstars Mario and Donkey Kong are not safe from the eShop. While not the most well-known role for any of the characters, Mario vs Donkey Kong remains a fun puzzle in its own right. It’s pretty much Nintendo’s take on Lemmings, with Mario guiding toy versions of Nintendo characters to safety through a level, placing ramps and bridges over obstacles.
This one was also released for the Wii U and was Nintendo’s first attempt at cross-buying subsidies – buy for one machine, get one version for the other. Too bad both will soon be lost forever.