Update: We’ve added ten more recommendations to the list below, including a couple of absolute winners that got physical releases in Europe but were digital-only in North America.
There’s still plenty of time to grab games from the 3DS eShop before they’re removed, but you don’t want to leave it until the last minute, do you? Get browsing while you can, all leisurely-like…
The 3DS eShop is closing down, after over a decade of service. It’s not a huge surprise, but it is a huge bummer, because that means that we only have until March 2023 to purchase some of the best games on the console — the ones that were only ever available on the 3DS eShop.
While the 3DS ship begins to slowly sink, though, we’ve compiled our pick of the very best cargo to save, so that you can grab it and run.
Just be aware that you can’t use credit cards to pay for 3DS eShop games after May 23rd, 2022, and you won’t be able to add funds via gift cards at all past August 29th, 2022 (although if you have your Nintendo Network ID linked to your Nintendo Account, the pooled funds will still be accessible on the closing stores until March 2023). So, now’s the time to load up on gift cards while you can — and, if you fancy, get a nifty 10% off with our eShop gift card discount code. Details below!
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Once you’re loaded up on cash and ready to spend, check out our top 29 games that you should buy off the eShop before it’s too late…
Publisher: Nintendo / Developer: HAL Laboratory
You absolutely need to get BoxBoy and all of its sequels on 3DS, and you won’t even have to shell out that much for these seminal puzzle-platformers: Each game in the trilogy (BoxBoy, BoxBoxBoy, and Bye-Bye BoxBoy) is under $5 / £5.
There is a physical release of BoxBoy, but you’re never going to get it — it’s a Japan exclusive, and it’ll cost you several hundred bucks, even without shipping. Also, it’s region-locked. It does come with Japan-exclusive, super-rare amiibo Qbby, though, so maybe it’s worth it?
Publisher: Nintendo / Developer: Intelligent Systems
You absolutely need to get Pullblox (or Pushmo in North America) on your 3DS, stat. This innovative little puzzle-platforming game is all about pushing and pulling blocks to create the platforms yourself, and it’s a lot trickier than it sounds. It’s also cute as heck, with bright colours, and a chunky little player-character called Mallo, who squashes, stretches, and bounces around each level like a little marshmallow.
There’s also Pullblox World (Pushmo World) on Wii U eShop, but that’s for another list.
Level-5’s 3DS days were, in hindsight, some of their best work. Liberation Maiden is a collaboration between their publishing arm and Suda51’s Grasshopper Manufacture as the developers, as part of the Guild01 compilation in Japan that also included Aero Porter, Crimson Shroud, and Weapon Shop de Omasse (all of which are on this list, naturally).
Liberation Maiden is a short-but-sweet mech-shooter in which you play as a schoolgirl who is elected President after her father (the former President) gets assassinated. And then, as the President is usually expected to do, she has to fight an invading force. In a mech suit. Did we mention that it’s a Suda51 game?
Publisher: Nintendo / Developer: Game Freak
Every now and again, Game Freak gets let out of the Pokémon cage for a quick run around the park, and in that time they make some weird and wonderful games. HarmoKnight is one of their best: A rhythm-platformer created by James Turner, who you might remember as the first Westerner to create official Pokémon designs and the Art Director for Sword and Shield… or more simply as “the guy who invented that ice-cream Pokémon”.
HarmoKnight is great. Go play HarmoKnight.
Poor Pit! He hasn’t been acknowledged by Nintendo (other than in Smash Bros., which doesn’t count) in ten years. Well, at least you can play the original Kid Icarus on 3DS, and show the lil guy some love.
This isn’t the only way to play Kid Icarus, of course, but it did modify Pit’s jumping physics ever-so-slightly to make this the best version of the NES game bar none. All of the 3D Classics series added stereoscopic 3D, too, making them unique emulations that can’t be experienced in quite the same way on any other platform — even though a lot of them are on the Nintendo Switch Online service. And with that in mind…
Publisher: Nintendo / Developer: HAL Laboratory
…You should probably download this 3D remaster of Kirby’s Adventure, too! This early Kirb-platformer is not the best use of 3D, and it doesn’t use the bottom screen at all — which is a wasted opportunity, if you ask us — but it’s still a brilliant game, and it’s worth grabbing to hang out with the old-school pink puffball and having popping out at you a bit. Also, it has a pink border! Pink!!
Remember how we said that Game Freak sometimes gets let out of the Pokémon cage? Here’s another example: The incredible, weird Solitaire-meets-horse racing game that is Pocket Card Jockey. It’s a simple, yet addictive premise, accompanied by appealingly chibi visuals, and also you get to play a horse matchmaker and give your horses hilarious names like ‘Obi-Ham Baloney’.
What’s not to love?
Picross!! Everyone loves it. And everyone also loves Zelda. What if they got squished together?
That’s the idea here in this My Nintendo-only game that takes iconic images from Twilight Princess and turns them into Picross puzzles. If you have a ton of Platinum Points, you should spend 1,000 of them on this, and then hope that Nintendo makes more strange crossovers like it in the future.
Poor Phoenix, and poor Apollo — their digital-only exploits are soon to be lost forever, locked away in the prison that is the 3DS eShop. Dual Destinies marks a fantastic turn in the Ace Attorney series towards glossy 3D visuals and dark storytelling, plus the introduction of new lawyer Athena Cykes and that one case where you have to defend an orca that’s been accused of murder.
If only they’d re-release this one, eh? HINT HINT HINT
Another game in Level-5’s game jam-like Guild collection that was released as a standalone in the West, Attack of the Friday Monsters is a peek into rural Japanese life in the 1970s that you simply won’t find elsewhere — except for designer Kaz Ayabe’s other series, Boku no Natsuyasumi, but that’s Japan-only.
If you love the pastoral magical realism of Ghibli movies like My Neighbor Totoro, you have to give Attack of the Friday Monsters a try.