3DS eShop

The phrase “end of an era” could be considered an overused cliché, but there’s no denying that’s what the closure of the 3DS and Wii U eShops feels like. As of March 27, 2023, at 5:00 PM Pacific Time, both digital storefronts were officially taken offline, and it felt… a bit sad, to be quite honest.

We’ve known about Nintendo’s intention to close down the eShops for both of its Switch predecessors, but the time just seemed to come too soon. It’s a shame, really, because there was some original content on both platforms that could potentially die with those consoles and, very specifically, die with the 3DS and Wii U eShops.

One such example is Bomb Monkey, a quirky little puzzler from developer Renegade Kid. That same studio brought us Mutant Mudds, a rad 2D platformer that was also on Nintendo 3DS and eventually made its way to Switch and PlayStation 4. And while that’s great for that game, what about Bomb Monkey? Currently, that title is a 3DS eShop exclusive, so it is now essentially in a digital limbo for a now-defunct storefront.

Bomb Monkey is just one example. Maybe you’re not into silly puzzlers. Though this isn’t meant to knock Bomb Monkey, maybe that type of game simply doesn’t hold much value to some. But that was just one game that is, as of right now, essentially lost forever. Games like Dillon’s Rolling Western, an acclaimed strategy title, and the Pushmo series were exclusive to that era of Nintendo consoles too. Those games were praised for their inventive and entertaining gameplay, and their future is now practically nonexistent.

Attack of the Friday Monsters - Nintendo 3DS

The closure of the 3DS and Wii U eShops feels like a blow for some titles more than others. Developers experimented with touchscreen and dual-screen functionality, sure, but there was more to it than that. In some cases, games on these platforms didn’t always make innovative use of their touch capabilities, but that didn’t stop devs from getting inventive with their stories and concepts. Attack of the Friday Monsters! A Tokyo Tale, Crimson Shroud, and Sakura Samurai: Art of the Sword were lauded just for existing, and they delivered enjoyable adventures to those players who discovered them.

Of course, there were other games that received a lot of acclaim and that were built around the hardware designs of the 3DS and Wii U touchscreens. Liberation Maiden from Grasshopper Manufacture was an old school-inspired shoot-‘em-up that utilized the 3DS touchscreen. Kirby and the Rainbow Curse on Wii U mixed 2D platforming with touch controls to create a unique experience within the Kirby series. And while the latter is available in physical disc form, it will likely become a rare find over time.

Kirby and the Rainbow Curse Wii U

Then there’s the Virtual Console across both platforms. On 3DS, the Virtual Console featured a lot of really cool games, many of which will potentially make their way to the Nintendo Switch Online service. Still, Game Gear titles like Tails Adventure and Sonic Blast, as well as The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages and Oracle of Seasons for Game Boy, are currently unavailable on Nintendo Switch, so here’s hoping we don’t have to wait too long to see those on there.

The Wii U’s Virtual Console, however, was truly something special. Sure, it had Game Boy Advance titles like Wario Land 4 and The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap (which is available to Nintendo Switch Online Expansion Pack subscribers), but it also had Nintendo DS games. By combining the Wii U GamePad’s touchscreen and stylus with your TV screen, classic DS games like Yoshi’s Island DS, DK: Jungle Climber, Kirby Mass Attack, and Star Fox Command were able to live on.

The loss of the Virtual Console is a blow, for sure, and it spells definite uncertainty for the future of some of those games, especially the original DS titles. Without a second screen and stylus, there’s no telling how something like Yoshi Touch & Go or The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass could be resurrected without losing a big part of what made those games unique and innovative.

The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass - Nintendo DS

Aside from being a total bummer — and yes, it’s truly disheartening — the closure of the eShop on 3DS and Wii U is also somewhat unreal. It was especially surreal in the hours prior to the shutdown. I got on there and began purchasing as much stuff as I could, including some of the aforementioned titles like Sakura Samurai.

It was sad hearing the music for both eShops and knowing that this was the last time I would hear these songs while buying digital games on there. It was also disappointing to see that my purchase of Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Tipping Stars on Wii U no longer meant I could also get the 3DS version as a package deal.

What? You forgot all about that, did you? Yeah, some games (very few, mind you) gave you access to both the Wii U and 3DS versions so long as you purchased one or the other. Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Tipping Stars was one such game. If you got the Wii U version on the eShop, you’d receive a code to download the 3DS version for free and vice versa. While I still got a code for the 3DS version, it was no longer able to be redeemed as of the last day of the eShop.

As it would turn out, though, Nintendo added an extension to download codes on 3DS and Wii U a couple days after the closure. This extension is set to last about a week, though, so if you have some codes that still need redeeming on either of those legacy platforms, now would be the time to do so. Unfortunately, the eShops aren’t being reopened for actual purchasing of games, which kind of blows.

Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Tipping Stars - Wii U Version

The last game I purchased on the Wii U eShop, and this was right at 4:59, was Yoshi’s Island DS. I attempted to also snag Yoshi Touch & Go, too, but alas, it was too late. I was greeted by a screen informing me of an error caused by “connection issues or high traffic volume.” It was sad. It was surreal. And it truly felt like the end of something special.

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