The eShops on the 3DS and Wii U will shut down on March 27, so players are splurging on great games that they want to pick up in the final days of each storefront’s life span. If you can’t drop any cash on games for these systems before then though, you’re probably wondering what’s available from them for free. For the most part, it’s demos, as the 3DS and Wii U weren’t really known for their free-to-play offerings. Even then, many of the available free-to-play games — or “free-to-start” titles as Nintendo called them in that era — won’t have much use after the eShops cease game sales because most of their content is gated by microtransactions.
Some might be a little more time-consuming due to in-game timers and other microtransactions, but are still worth checking out regardless. If you’re wondering what full games you can play on 3DS and Wii U for free ahead of the eShop storefronts’ discontinuation on March 27, we recommend checking out the following six titles.
Originally a minigame within Kirby: Planet Robobot, Team Kirby Clash Deluxe is a standalone release of the 2D action RPG. Its unique class-based system and focus on intense boss fights make it an enjoyable pick-up-and-play experience, and all the Gem Apple microtransactions don’t gate anything — they just speed up progression. Super Kirby Clash offers a very similar experience on Nintendo Switch, but if you prefer the smaller size and portability of the 3DS, it’s worth downloading Team Kirby Clash Deluxe for free and possibly even buying some Gem Apples before March 27.
This pair of Pokémon puzzles games were both free-to-play on Nintendo 3DS and are not available in any other format. Like its Twilight Princess counterpart, Pokémon Picross is a themed version of the classic number puzzle game, where all the images players create are of Pokémon. Meanwhile, Pokémon Shuffle is a match-three puzzle game where players line up icons of the same Pokémon so they can damage and ultimately try to catch their Pokémon opponent. Currency and wait-time gating does get worse for both of these titles as they go on, which is unfortunate as you’ll no longer be able to skip them with microtransactions after the eShop closes down. Still, fans of Pokémon and puzzle games will enjoy these themed takes on some very classic formats.
If you enjoy drawing with the 3DS stylus, then you’ll want to consider downloading Swapdoodle before the 3DS eShop stops working on March 27. An upgraded version of Pictochat from the Nintendo DS era or the Swapnote app on 3DS, Swapdoodle gives players more in-depth drawing tools. There are microtransactions if you want to use different-color shades or get drawing tutorials for various Nintendo characters and objects. Still, the default drawing tools and free Starter Pack give players more than enough to make Swapdoodle a fun little doodling app to gain access to before the 3DS eShop is gone.
For the amiibo collectors out there, we recommend downloading Mini Mario & Friends: amiibo Challenge for free before it goes away. It’s a simple puzzle platformer where players must guide little toylike figures to the end of the level. Using different amiibo allows players to unlock new characters, unique character abilities, and some special levels. It’s a simple, but charming experience that hasn’t been made obsolete by Nintendo Switch Online like Amiibo Tap: Nintendo’s Greatest Bits or by its poor quality like Animal Crossing: amiibo Festival. Mini Mario & Friends: amiibo Challenge is actually available for both Wii U and 3DS; if you have an older 3DS model, we’d recommend the Wii U version.
There are a few indie games available for free on the Wii U eShop, but the only one we found to be enjoyable was Daikon Set, a collection of three very simple games. There’s Chroma Star, where players try to defend a barrier from approaching ships by shooting them with color-corresponding bullets; Pink Mite, where players try to avoid continuously falling spikes and projectiles as a small bubble; and The Queen, where players try to protect the pink part of their rectangle from a bouncing pellet.
Daikon Set is not a must-play by any means, but if you enjoy very retro-feeling Atari-style games and want a pure representation of how weird the free offerings in this era of Nintendo systems were, then you can probably get a bit of enjoyment out of these simple, but fun games after the eShop closes.
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