In April 2024, Nintendo will discontinue online services across its Wii U and 3DS consoles. While the eShops for both systems were shut down in March 2023, this will remove the online functionality of many apps and games, making gaming on either of these platforms an almost entirely offline experience. As a result, many games on those systems will lose important features and never be quite the same to play afterward. So, you’ll need to get some gaming time in by next April if you want to refresh and preserve the memories of playing online on these two underdog Nintendo platforms.
While the aforementioned eShop closures make it impossible to buy new games digitally, plenty of games that you likely already own physical copies of or already had downloaded have online features that won’t work properly come April 2024. As such, we recommend you play the following games online before the discontinuation of those services next year.
Kid Icarus Uprising is mostly remembered for its entertaining story, charismatic characters, and odd controls, but it also features a surprisingly fun multiplayer experience in Together Mode. In multiplayer, up to six players can use powerful weapons and abilities from the main adventure in one of two modes. Free-for-all lets players loose on a map, tasking them with racking up the most kills within a set time limit. Light vs. Dark is more complex, as two teams of three face off until enough players are defeated that one respawns as an angel; when that powered-up angel is killed, the match is over.
While far from balanced, Kid Icarus Uprising’s Together Mode is one of the most entertaining competitive multiplayer experiences exclusive to 3DS. It can be played locally, using bots to fill in empty spots, so thankfully it won’t stop working entirely. Still, it’s not easy in 2023 to come across multiple people near you who have copies of Kid Icarus Uprising and want to play. As such, check out this cult classic 3DS game’s hidden gem of a mode before praying that the rumors of a remaster eventually become true.
You probably downloaded Nintendo Badge Arcade from the eShop at some point to spruce up your 3DS menus with some badges based on Nintendo characters. Sadly, unlike the other games on this list, Nintendo Badge Arcade is a game that won’t be accessible at all after April 2024. A support page dedicated to its closure explains that “if Nintendo Badge Arcade is launched after service ends, an error screen will be displayed, and it will not be possible to use the software,” and that it “no longer be possible to place badges in the badge box.” This means that players only have until next April to unlock and place all the badges they want in the Badge Box.
After that, those are the only badges you’ll have to customize your 3DS menus with. It’s always disappointing when an online game or application shuts down entirely, preventing people from being able to experience what it has to offer . This closure, in particular, removes a notable user customization feature from the system. Check to see if you have Nintendo Badge Arcade installed or available to download, and unlock a couple of badges before April 2024 so you can continue to customize and make your 3DS feel unique, even after online services go away entirely.
The 3DS can play more mainline Pokémon games than any other Nintendo system, and every one of those games will lose some functionality when the 3DS’ online services go away. Pokémon X, Y, Omega Ruby, Alpha Sapphire, Sun, Moon, Ultra Sun, and Ultra Moon will all lose functionality that comes with the Player Search System for online trading, battles, and communication. Since trading and battling other players is such a core part of the Pokemon experience, it’s unfortunate that people will only be able to do so locally for all these games after April 2024.
Thankfully, Poké Transporter and Pokemon Bank will still work, allowing players to transfer Pokemon from any of the aforementioned games, the Virtual Console versions of Red, Blue, Yellow, Gold, Silver, and Crystal, and even the DS titles to one place (and then to Pokémon Home). Still, even the support page explaining that those will stay open admits that they “may also end at some point in the future.” If you have Pokémon from these older games that you want to send forward to Pokémon Home or want to experience any of these games in their most complete form, then you’ll need to play them within the next six months.
Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and 3DS are still distinct titles with their own game feel and dedicated competitive communities, even if Super Smash Bros. Ultimate built on and improved the formula established by these games in almost every way. Online matchmaking even worked differently for these games, as players could enter the more casual “For Fun” or more hardcore “For Glory” modes. It’s a setup that’s unique to this game and something no one will be able to experience again when Wii U games no longer work online.
Once online services for Wii U and 3DS go away, any multiplayer matches a player wants to do will have to be done locally. While many hardcore players probably prefer that, as the game’s netcode was never fantastic, it’s still pretty isolating for those who want to get better at these games competitively, but no longer have a way to challenge others easily. It’s probably time for anyone still sticking around these games to move on to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.
Later in the 3DS’ life span, Nintendo released two games that worked much better in multiplayer for two of its core franchises. The Legend of Zelda: Triforce Heroes lets three Links explore and complete puzzles together, while Metroid Prime: Federation Force is a co-op sci-fi shooter for up to four players. While both of these games can be played offline and locally, the removal of any online support significantly worsens both experiences.
It’ll be much more complicated to play Triforce Heroes with others now if you don’t live near any interested players with 3DS systems. Even if both of these games’ communities are far past their prime, it’s unfortunate that these games will be much less appealing options for 3DS owners going forward.
Super Mario Maker might have been the best game on Wii U. It took full advantage of the GamePad by letting people create their own Mario levels and had a vibrant online community full of creatively made stages. While it got a sequel on Nintendo Switch, there are still so many levels that only exist in this version of the game. Nintendo already disabled the ability to create new Super Mario Maker levels in 2021, but once online services shut off in April 2024, even the ability to easily play new stages will go away entirely.
After that date, Super Mario Maker for Wii U will become a level editor connected to nothing for most players. Make sure you go and download as many Super Mario Maker levels as you need to before online services shut down because after April 2024, it will no longer be possible to go online and search for levels in the Wii U version of Super Mario Maker. The fact that one of the Wii U’s best games will be a sad shell of its former self shows how disappointing a loss shutting down these services is.