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Nintendo Games You Should Buy Before The 3DS And Wii U Shops Close

Nintendo is starting to make a lot of gamers upset. In what is being seen as a shady move from Nintendo, the company has made the controversial decision to shut down its digital storefronts for the 3DS and Wii U as of March 2023. Making this decision worse, it turns out a majority of players will not be able to easily and conveniently download games from these eShops due to restrictions on adding payment information. Beginning on May 23, 2022 (via Nintendo), it will no longer be possible to use a credit card to add funds directly to an account on the 3DS or Wii U. This means that if you forget to put money into your account before that date, you'll need to purchase an eShop gift card to make any purchases — at least until that functionality is shut down on August 29, 2022. Needless to say, this announcement sent fans into a mad frenzy.

With the end date effectively around the corner, now is the best time to pick up some gems that are going to be lost (or at least impossible to come by). For this list of recommendations we are taking that into account as a predominant factor. Major 3DS releases like "A Link Between Worlds" have physical editions that are slightly more available, even if the prices go up over time. Some fantastic games, like "Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney: Dual Destinies," can also be found on the iOS and Android stores. But the following Nintendo games are either going to disappear forever or become extremely difficult to get your hands on once the eShops close down.

Pushmo

The eShop was a playground for some of Nintendo's best internal teams. Intelligent Systems, the developer of the "Fire Emblem" series, crafted something rather special with the "Pushmo" games on 3DS and Wii U. The first "Pushmo" (or "Pullblox," as it's called in Europe and Australia) is an excellent little puzzle game with easy-to-grasp mechanics and a difficulty curve that ramps up at a steady, delightful pace.

You play as the adorable Mallo solving an increasingly complex series of puzzles in which you push and pull blocks. The levels combine the appeal of "Picross" with some light 3D platforming, resulting in an enthralling puzzler that is easy to play in bite-sized sessions. It's serious fun and if you find yourself falling in love with "Pushmo," you'll be delighted to hear there are three sequels, all of which are exclusive to the eShops. "Crashmo" and "Stretchmo" are available to download on 3DS, while "Pushmo World" is exclusive to the Wii U shop.

  • Release Date: October 5, 2011
  • Available On: 3DS
  • Genre: Puzzle
  • Game modes: Single-player
  • Metacritic: 90

Pocket Card Jockey

One developer who went outside its comfort zone to astounding results on 3DS was Game Freak. The "Pokemon" developer made an innovative take on Solitaire with "Pocket Card Jockey." In order to make sure your Jockey wins the horse race on the top screen of the DS, you must play a Solitaire/Golf style card game on the bottom screen. Reviewers like PC Mag's Will Greenwald were impressed by the game's genre blending ability to combine classic solo card games with tactics and RPG elements. 

The most "Pokemon"-like aspect of "Pocket Card Jockey" is the bond between you and your horses. As you win more races, you will become close with your horse, which increases its stats. Once they reach retirement age, you can send them to the farm to have offspring. This gameplay loop is reminiscent of breeding Pokemon in that series, meaning "Pocket Card Jockey" could be a great way to pass the days as you wait for "Pokemon Scarlet" and "Violet."

  • Release Date: May 5, 2016
  • Available On: 3DS
  • Genre: Strategy, Card Game
  • Game modes: Single-player
  • Metacritic: 83

Crimson Shroud

From "Etrian Odyssey" to "Shin Megami Tensei 4," the 3DS was home to a variety of excellent JRPGs and dungeon crawlers. "Crimson Shroud" stands out as a creative take on the genre, taking heavy influence from "D&D" and dice-based tabletop games in its turn-based combat.

In 2012, Level-5 Studios allowed a handful of well known Japanese game designers to make small titles for a compilation entitled "GUILD 01." The first of the two "GUILD" projects featured five games from different developers, including "Final Fantasy 12" and "Vagrant Story" designer Yasumi Matsuno, who made "Crimson Shroud." While other titles from this first collection offer fun experiences, "Crimson Shroud" is by far the deepest and most substantial offering.

The writing seems to take inspiration from tabletop games, with descriptions that read like something straight out of the "Dungeon Master's Guide." You control a trio of adventurers progressing through a dungeon full of goblins and rare loot. With no traditional leveling system, "Crimson Shroud" instead places an emphasis on trying out different gear to give your characters distinct skills and magic abilities. You can complete it in seven hours, but the interplay of these systems and the inclusion of a New Game+ mode that expands on the story make this novel experiment a blast to replay.

  • Release Date: Dec 13, 2012
  • Available On: 3DS
  • Genre: RPG, Dungeon Crawler
  • Game modes: Single-player
  • Metacritic: 76

Rhythm Heaven Megamix

This greatest hits collection for the "Rhythm Heaven" series was only released as a digital download in the States. It's a shame this one won't be available in the region after next March, considering how many of the series' greatest mini-games are included in this 3DS offering. In its review, Game Informer called this "the best and most complete 'Rhythm Heaven' to date."

Like the "WarioWare" franchise, "Rhythm Heaven" is made up of loads of microgames. These quick rhythm-based games test your ability to think on your feet, but "Megamix" is no mere mini-game collection. In fact, it is the first entry in the series to have a story. Loose as it is, the ​​tale of sending Tibby the Bear back to heaven matches the irreverent humor "Rhythm Heaven" is known for. With 60 returning microgames and a more than dozen new inclusions, "Megamix" will provide hours of silly rhythmic fun to anyone with a 3DS.

  • Release Date: Jun 25, 2016
  • Available On: 3DS
  • Genre: Rhythm, Party
  • Game modes: Single-player, Multiplayer
  • Metacritic: 83

Picross 3D Round 2

There are plenty of "Picross" puzzle games available for the 3DS, but "Picross 3D Round 2" is the cream of the crop. The original 3D take on nonograms was released for the DS in 2010 to critical acclaim. Five years later, developer HAL Laboratory (best known for the "Kirby" series) decided to refine the formula for 3DS to even greater success.

Released on cartridge in all territories except the United States, "Picross 3D Round 2" is a perfect handheld puzzler. The gameplay hook is simple: You solve Sudoku-esque cubed puzzles to reveal a hidden object. Much like how regular "Picross" puzzles form an image, the joy in "Picross 3D" isn't just about testing your brain, but also finding out which adorable creature is hanging out within. A free demo for the game is available, so you have absolutely no reason not to give it a try.

  • Release Date: Sept 1, 2016
  • Available On: 3DS
  • Genre: Puzzle
  • Game modes: Single-player
  • Metacritic: 86

BoxBoy!

On the topic of HAL Laboratory, it's impossible to move on without talking about "BoxBoy!" This minimalistic puzzler has you playing as Qbby (get it?), the titular boy made of boxes, using his ability to duplicate his box-y body to solve each stage. This simple premise takes this super-cheap downloadable title and makes it one of the best values on the eShop. Both the first "BoxBoy!" and its two 3DS exclusive sequels can be purchased for $5 each.

Players will lead Qbby through a series of worlds that will test their spatial reasoning skills, unlocking plenty of sweet little outfits for the guy. While it's not plot-heavy, there is a cute nod at a story that features BoxBoy's love interest, BoxGirl. These characters continue on together all the way until the final game in the series, "BoxBoy! + BoxGirl!" for the Wii U.

  • Release Date: April 2, 2015
  • Available On: 3DS
  • Genre: Puzzle
  • Game modes: Single-player
  • Metacritic: 80

Attack of the Friday Monsters! A Tokyo Tale

Level-5's "GUILD" collection — which included "Crimson Shroud" — eventually received a follow-up called "GUILD 2." This time, the games in this collection were only available as digital downloads in all regions this time, and while the hit rate wasn't as high, the one that did hit is truly a special title. "Attack of the Friday Monsters! A Tokyo Tale" is a send-up of Japanese kaiju shows like "Ultraman" by way of a heartwarming Studio Ghibli movie. It also happens to be a card battling deck-builder on top of all of this, making for one of the most unique experiences on 3DS.

You play as Sohta, a young boy whose family just moved to a new town. As the new kid on the block, you spend time talking to other kids (and some strange adults) and battling them with the game's Monster Cards. As you explore, you'll pick up Monster Glims that allow you to expand your card roster.

The real reason to play "Attack of the Friday Monsters" is the story and its down-to-earth writing style. Blurring the line between childhood fantasy and monster-fighting epic, you must help defend your beloved town from an impending attack. It is ultimately a deeply heartfelt and personal story.

  • Release Date: July 18, 2013
  • Available On: 3DS
  • Genre: Adventure, Card Game
  • Game modes: Single-player
  • Metacritic: 77

Kid Icarus: Uprising

"Kid Icarus" is one of Nintendo's most neglected franchises. While most fans of the company's library will recognize winged hero Pit from "Super Smash Bros Ultimate" and previous iterations of the fighting game series, "Kid Icarus: Uprising" is the only modern entry in Pit's home franchise. Released for the 3DS, the game reinvented the platformer by introducing on-rails airborne action and on-the-ground shooting. It's ultimately a linear rollercoaster, but one that never lets up. Nintendo Life called it "a master class in adrenaline-fueled gaming action" and praised its self-referential humor and fourth-wall breaking story.

"Uprising" isn't just here because it's fun, though. Lately, physical copies of the game have been skyrocketing in price, going for upwards of $60 on the low end. This is sure to trend further upwards following the closure of the eShop. You might want to pick up this first-party gem digitally for $34.99 while you still have the choice.

  • Release Date: March 23, 2012
  • Available On: 3DS
  • Genre: Action-Adventure, Fantasy
  • Game modes: Single-player, Multiplayer
  • Metacritic: 83

Mario and Donkey Kong: Minis on the Move

The fifth entry in the "Mario vs. Donkey Kong" series was relegated to eShop exclusivity. This is a shame, because "Minis on the Move" is a fast, chaotic puzzle game featuring some of gaming's most classic characters. It iterates on the series formula in interesting ways, all while bringing "Mario and Donkey Kong" to a 3D plane for the first time.

While it includes a variety of fun mini-games, the main mode in "Minis on the Move" has you playing a "Pipe Dreams"-esque game on the bottom screen, which helps to guide your "minis" on the top screen through the stages. The Puzzle Palace and Mini Mayhem modes offer different types of puzzles to mix up the pace. While it wasn't a commercial darling, critics like IGN's Lucas M. Thomas praised it for including a slick level editor that added immensely to replay value.

  • Release Date: May 9, 2013
  • Available On: 3DS
  • Genre: Puzzle, Platformer
  • Game modes: Single-player
  • Metacritic: 78

Dillon's Rolling Western

Admittedly, "Dillon's Rolling Western" wasn't Nintendo's biggest 3DS hit, but it did well enough to spawn a couple sequels. This Western-influenced action game starring Dillon the armadillo was one of the weirder titles to be published by Nintendo in this era. With over two dozen hours of content, "Dillon's Rolling Western" is one of the heftier action offerings on the digital storefront.

As ranger Dillon, it is your job to protect a local town from rock-like enemies called (what else?) Grocks. Thankfully for you, the villagers have helped by setting up defensive towers outside the town at night. Players customize these towers and equip them with new weapons to grow Dillon's defenses. Combining combat abilities with this extra strategic layer sets "Dillon's Rolling Western" apart. If you recognize Dillon as a "Super Smash Bros." Assist Trophy, it might be worth the nominal fee to see the character's origins.

  • Release Date: Feb 22, 2012
  • Available On: 3DS
  • Genre: Action, Tower Defense
  • Game modes: Single-player
  • Metacritic: 65

Metroid Prime Trilogy

If you own a Wii U, the most valuable game you can download is actually not a Wii U game at all. The "Metroid Prime Trilogy" collection was originally released on the Wii, packing in re-tooled versions of "Metroid Prime" 1 and 2 as well as a patched "Metroid Prime 3: Corruption." Not even taking into account the price of the separate GameCube titles, physical copies of the Wii "Trilogy" goes for over $100 complete in box — and more than double that if you desire a mint copy.

Retro Studios' reinvention of the "Metroid" series took the franchise's 2D action-platforming to a new dimension, fitting neatly between first-person shooter and action-adventure conventions. The Wii versions added Wiimote and Nunchuck controls to "Prime" and "Prime 2: Echoes" and made changes to the UI. All three games have slight differences from the original versions (per IGN), but this is still a spectacular deal that includes three incredibly well reviewed games (via IGN) in one $20 collection.

Recently, there have been rumors that the trilogy is getting ported to the Nintendo Switch, but we still have yet to see any official evidence to back up the claim.

  • Release Date: August 24, 2009
  • Available On: Wii, Wii U
  • Genre: Action, Adventure, Platformer
  • Game modes: Single-player, Online Multiplayer
  • Metacritic: 91

Affordable Space Adventures

The Wii U eShop was unfortunately not as rife with hidden gems as the 3DS, likely due to the flop of the console itself, which led to low sales of its best games (per IGN). However, there is one small game that Wii U owners should put on their radar before the shop shuts down. "Affordable Space Adventures" is an immersive sci-fi exploration title in which you control a small craft stranded on the planet Spectaculon. As you explore the planet, you'll fight against the elements, scan foreign objects, and solve environmental puzzles.

The best thing about "Affordable Space Adventures," however, is its stellar use of the Wii U GamePad. You use the GamePad to manage your ship's systems and vitals while you fly around on the big screen. This adds a layer of immersion to a game already oozing with atmosphere. In its review, Destructoid praised the game by saying, "GamePad and Miiverse integration are perfect, and I'm not sure that sentence has been made before."

  • Release Date: April 9, 2015
  • Available On: Wii U
  • Genre: Action, Shooter
  • Game modes: Single-player, Online Multiplayer
  • Metacritic: 81

NES Remix

This unique take on a retro game compilation is quite novel when compared to the way modern game companies, like SEGA, repackage their classics. Instead of remastering or porting the best NES games to Wii U (and later to 3DS with "Ultimate NES Remix"), "NES Remix" provides players a variety of challenges and re-tooled versions of specific scenarios and levels from the NES library. The collection includes remixes of "The Legend of Zelda," "Super Mario Bros.," "Donkey Kong," "Excitebike," and a dozen others. 

Some of the basic "NES Remix" levels include completing specific sections of games or defeating a certain number of enemies in a given amount of time. The most creative stages took this idea a step further, adding modern elements that weren't present in the NES era. The only way to buy the game physically is to get the "NES Remix Pack," which bundles "Remix" and its sequel together. These go from somewhere between $35 and $70 for a copy, so picking them up for a measly $10 a piece on the eShop is a no brainer if you have a love for retro games.

  • Release Date: Dec 18, 2013
  • Available On: Wii U
  • Genre: Platformer, Arcade, Action
  • Game modes: Single-player
  • Metacritic: 71

Game & Wario

Before Yoshio Sakamoto went on to become the legendary director of "Super Metroid" and its GBA sequels, he began work at Nintendo with the Game & Watch series. It only makes sense that the designer would return to his roots by leading the design team on the Wii U's only "WarioWare" title, "Game & Wario." This mini-game collection was an attempt to show off the GamePad's functionality, and it hit the market to mixed results.

For starters, "Game & Wario" was a shift away from the series' short and snappy microgames. Instead, the game contains 16 full mini-games that force you to split your attention between the TV and handheld. Due to this dedication to the GamePad, though, a majority of the games are single-player only. This might be disappointing to fans who have fond memories of playing "WarioWare" with their buddies. Still, very few games even attempted creative uses of the Wii U's features and this makes "Game & Wario" a standout all these years later. The Game Informer review called it "a humorous and fun title that is perfect for showing off why the Wii U is special."

  • Release Date: Jun 23, 2013
  • Available On: Wii U
  • Genre: Party
  • Game modes: Single-player, Local Multiplayer
  • Metacritic: 61

Kirby and the Rainbow Curse

"Kirby and the Rainbow Curse" might not be the best "Kirby" game, but it is about to become one of the hardest to get your hands on. The sequel to the DS' "Canvas Curse" improved upon that games' touchscreen controls. Using the Wii U's GamePad, you make paths and ramps that allow the pink puffball to get from one end of the level to the other. You can even enlist some friends to pick up your spare Wiimotes (if you still have them!) and join for local co-op.

"The Rainbow Curse" is a solid entry in one of Nintendo's longest running franchises. If you are a "Kirby" fan or Nintendo completionist, it might be worth picking this one up for $40 digitally — before it becomes impossible to find for under $60. Wild to think fans almost didn't get Kirby as a video game character all those years ago, and now he's such an important part of gaming.

  • Release Date: Feb 20, 2015
  • Available On: Wii U
  • Genre: Platformer
  • Game modes: Single-player, Local Multiplayer
  • Metacritic: 73