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You need to get this oddball Zelda game for free before the 3DS eShop closes

The day of reckoning is fast approaching: The Nintendo 3DS and Wii U eShop isclosing down on March 27. When that happens, you’ll no longer be able to make any digital purchases on those systems. Considering that several games on each platform only ever got digital releases, it’s creating a bit of a preservation nightmare. Hidden gems that never came to another platform, like Affordable Space Adventures, will be totally lost to time.

But it isn’t just obscure indies that are impacted by that change: One of Nintendo’s biggest franchises is about to lose a piece of its storied history. You’ve only got just over a week to grab a certain Legend of Zelda game before it disappears forever — though it’s probably not one you’re expecting.

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That lost game? My Nintendo Picross: The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess.

A picross puzzle in My Nintendo Picross: The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess.

The 3DS-exclusive puzzle game (which I refuse to refer to by its full title henceforth) is the very definition of an oddity. It’s a traditional collection of picross puzzles, which have players drawing a picture by filling in squares on a grid. The twist is that the puzzles are themed around The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, which had just gotten an HD Wii U remaster weeks before its March 20, 2016, launch. It was a cute marketing tie-in, but it didn’t just exist to sell Twilight Princess HD.

The left-field release was a marketing trick to get fans to sign up to My Nintendo, which replaced the publisher’s beloved Club Nintendo service that year. The rewards platform would connect Nintendo’s various systems and mobile games in one place, allowing players to collect coins and redeem them for digital goodies. As a way to celebrate the launch, Nintendo offered the Zelda Picross game as a freebie for subscribers. All they had to do was make an account, accrue 1,000 platinum points, and redeem their code.

Unfortunately, that long-running promotion will finally come to an end on March 27. Codes for the game will no longer be redeemable after the closure, which means it’ll disappear permanently. That means you’ll need to move fast if you want it. To get your copy, log into your My Nintendo account (or create one) and click the Earn Points button on the main page. Scroll to the bottom and you’ll see a long list of ways to earn points, many of which involve going to game websites and completing an easy mission. You can also get points through a few website Easter eggs, like clicking the coin box in the website’s footer.

Once you have enough points, go back to the main page and click Redeem Points. Click “Nintendo 3DS/Wii U software/digital content” and you’ll see Zelda Picross at the top of the list. Get your code and redeem it in the 3DS eShop to rescue it from the abyss of history.

OK. look: As far as Zelda games go, this is certainly the most low-stakes one we could lose to time. It’s a fairly light, standard picross game that only contains 45 Zelda-themed puzzles. Even so, it’s a shame to lose such an oddball freebie forever. Not only is it a strange piece of Zelda history, but it represents a fun moment in Nintendo’s past. It was technically a launch game for My Nintendo, and it’s only exclusive. It’s always a shame to lose something like that.

If you want to hold on to that institutional knowledge, head over to My Nintendo now before it’s too late. Otherwise, log out now and forever hold your peace.

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Nintendo’s eShop closures are a necessary, but messy move
A Nintendo Wii U gamepad flat on a table.

Nintendo last week announced its intentions to shut down the Wii U and 3DS eShops, the systems' digital storefronts, in March 2023. This decision was disappointing for hardcore fans who stuck with Nintendo during that rocky era and extremely worrying as many of the games available on the platforms won't be preserved.
More significant Wii U games and a handful of 3DS titles were ported to Switch, but many titles are still stuck on those systems and can’t be ported. Once the digital storefront shutdowns, digital-only titles will be gone forever, and physical copies of these titles will get more expensive and harder to experience. Fans and game preservationists have not been pleased by this decision, with the Video Game History Foundation giving the most candid response.
Following this announcement, Digital Trends spoke to an industry analyst and game preservationists to get a better idea of what exactly caused Nintendo to shut down these stores and to learn how it could do a better job at preserving its legacy.
Why is Nintendo shutting down the 3DS and Wii eShops?
Officially, Nintendo’s FAQ on the eShop closures says “this is part of the natural life cycle for any product line as it becomes less used by consumers over time." The answer doesn’t get into specifics and might confuse those still playing games on the system or fans of games only available on Wii U or 3DS. Omdia Principal Analyst Matthew Bailey explains Nintendo’s user base argument in more detail, highlighting the massive gap between the number of people playing the Switch as opposed to the Wii U.
“While Omdia expects the number of Switch consoles in active use to exceed 90 million on a global basis this year, the Wii U’s global active installed base will drop under one million in 2022,” he explains. “Even when you include the more enduring 3DS family of consoles into the equation, the Switch still comfortably accounts for over 90% of Nintendo’s total active console install base.”
If one is going off just the numbers, it’s sensible that Nintendo would want to focus on the majority of its players. Bailey admits that “Switch users are already reaping the benefits of Nintendo’s singular first-party development focus on one platform.” Still, one might argue that Nintendo should just let the eShops remain up even if it isn’t actively updating or maintaining them.

Unfortunately, Nintendo doesn’t see that as possible due to cost and security issues. Game Over Thrity, a Twitter user with over 20 years of experience working on IT projects and infrastructure, shed some light on what might have influenced Nintendo’s decision-making in a thread.
“As these systems age, they require patches, security, special contracts, updates, and personnel that know how they were built (and maintained),” his Twitter thread explains. “As time goes on, there are security holes, servers, code, infrastructure, etc., that can’t be brought up to modern standards. It becomes a constant struggle between maintaining legacy systems, paying people to do so, and trying to keep up with global regulations. It’s not cheap by any means. They can’t just ‘leave the lights on’ and stop supporting them. What if someone hacked the payment processor?”
With every passing year, the Wii U and 3DS eShops likely became more expensive to maintain and an increased security risk for the video game publisher. Instead of investing the time and resources into pleasing a smaller amount of players, the easier option is to turn everything off entirely. While he isn’t affiliated with Nintendo, Game Over Thirty’s assessment aligns with what we’ve heard from Nintendo and Omdia.
"The Wii U’s global active installed base will drop under one million in 2022."

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