It’s official: at 4:00 PM PDT on April 8th 2024, online play and other online communications for both the Nintendo 3DS and the Nintendo Wii U will be shut off for good. That gives you just a couple of months to squeeze out whatever online joy you were hoping to get from those consoles, and while I’m not really well-equipped to do a list of Wii U games to check out in that time, I’m certainly able to give you some advice about the Nintendo 3DS library. It might come as a surprise to some, but there are a lot of great online experiences to be had on the platform. I’m narrowing the list down to ten for brevity’s sake, but if people want to see more I can assuredly provide. In no particular order, here are ten Nintendo 3DS games I think you should play online before you can’t anymore.
Animal Crossing: New Leaf
One of the big criticism of Animal Crossing: New Horizons at launch was that it didn’t have nearly as much to do in it as this previous game, and you know what? That’s fair. The thing is, between what it launched with and what arrived with the huge free update years after the fact, it’s really hard to match what you get in Animal Crossing: New Leaf. But you won’t be able to do it all once the online functions are shut off. Most notably, you won’t be able to visit dream towns at all. You also won’t be able to visit your friends’ towns unless they’re in the same room as you. Best to soak it all up now, especially since you won’t be able to get Dream Badges anymore and therefore will be unable to fully complete the badge set.
Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate
Before Monster Hunter World: Iceborne, Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate was the best game in the series, and a true technical showcase for the New 3DS system with support for higher frame rates and better textures. It remains the system’s best exclusive, and I really feel bad that it hasn’t been brought to any modern platform. While there are new Monster Hunter games, Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate was special, and the online was an absolute joy. If you do own it, go hunt for old time’s sake while you still can in one of Capcom’s greatest games of all time. -Mikhail Madnani
The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes
Look, this isn’t the best game in the series by any means, but it is still a Legend of Zelda game. And between you, me, and the wall, it’s pretty fun if you play it with others who aren’t goofing off too much. You can play this game by yourself, but it’s kind of a pain and isn’t nearly as enjoyable. You can also play with others in the same room, but that can be a little tough to set up. No, if you want to enjoy this game to its fullest, you’ll have to seize the day and get online while that’s still an option.
Mario Kart 7
One of the obvious picks, but there’s a reason for that. Mario Kart 7 is a ton of fun to play online, and it has retained a healthy online population for well over a decade now. Sure, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is no slouch, but there’s just something about this seventh game that gives it an appeal all its own. You’ll still be able to race against others locally in the future, but at least one of the unlockable kart pieces is considerably easier to get online than via its other method. And hey, it’s also just a lot of fun to play the game with others. No rubber-banding, except that which you make with your own hands.
When I played Fantasy Life from Level-5, it felt like a 3DS take on an MMORPG with a ton of charm across the board. I enjoyed the various classes (life options) and the story, but it really was a joy to play with friends online. I won’t forget us taking on some of the end-game bosses and chatting on the phone. It was one of the best experiences I’ve had online on 3DS, and I hope the new entry on Switch does the series justice. Just keep in mind that there’s DLC that changes things because people who own the DLC can only play with others who also own the DLC. With the 3DS eShop having shut down for new purchases, you can’t buy the DLC anymore.-Mikhail Madnani
Pokemon Ultra Sun & Ultra Moon
Online Pokemon battles. Need I say any more? I do if I want to fulfill my word count for this piece, I suppose. While you’ll still be able to move your Pokemon via the internet after the shut down (provided you had the foresight to download Pokemon Bank and what-not before the eShop closed), but if you want to battle others over long distances within this game, you’ll have to get your fill of it in the next couple of months. You can substitute any of the other 3DS Pokemon games here, if you prefer.
Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS
Here’s the other really obvious pick. You might think that this game wouldn’t be very busy with its successor having been out for so long, but it’s still one of the more populated games on the 3DS. I expect when the service is shut off, the last 3DS game being played will either be Mario Kart 7 or this. What can be said? While it doesn’t have nearly as much stuffed into as the Switch game, there’s still an awful lot of enjoyment packed into this fan-service brawler. Just go easy on your Circle Pad; it would be a shame to break it this late in the game.
Mario Golf: World Tour & Mario Tennis Open
Look, I cheated! Two games in one entry! It will be a shame to see this pair of sports games lose their online features, as I feel neither of the follow-ups to them on the Switch have quite the same oomph. Aside from just enjoying the online play, Mario Tennis Open has some characters and costumes that you can only unlock via QR codes that will presumably not work anymore once online communications are turned off. Mario Golf: World Tour doesn’t have anything like that, but its online play is very satisfying for those looking to scratch that golfing itch.
Kid Icarus: Uprising
It can be pretty hard to find other players online in this one, but I’m hoping the fact that things are going to be wrapping up soon will lead to a bit of a revival on this one. This game offers a lot of things to do, and its online battle mode is one of the best in the bunch. After all, everyone is dealing with the same awkward controls. There isn’t a whole lot like this on the Nintendo 3DS, and if you’ve never played the wild multiplayer modes you really should. Enjoy the rest of the game while you’re at it, too. I really hope this game gets ported someday, but I sure wouldn’t count on it. Get while the getting is good.
Metroid Prime: Federation Force
Okay, so this is a terrible Metroid game. I’m not going to defend it on that basis. But as a multiplayer shooter, there isn’t much else similar to it on the Nintendo 3DS. Moreover, this is a game that really isn’t much fun at all single-player. So you’re either getting online now and enjoying it for what it is, or you’re making the hard decision to simply never play Federation Force at all. Look, Metroid‘s in a good place again. It’s okay to have some fun with this before it’s too late.
And that’s the list. Again, you have until April the 8th at 4:00 PM PDT to play these games online. Not a second past that. Pull them out of that giant backlog and dig in while the opportunity is still open to you. And if you want to see more Nintendo 3DS games you can and should play online before the deadline, let me know in the comments below. Thanks for reading!