The best Nintendo Wii U and 3DS games to buy before the eShop shuts down
Ahead of the imminent shutdown of the Wii U and 3DS eShops, here’s a comprehensive list of soon-to-be-lost titles that are still worth buying.
This month marks a time of mourning for video game preservationists. On March 27, the Nintendo Wii U and 3DS eShops will be shut down, making it impossible to purchase digital games and download free content after that date.
It’s a disappointing inevitability considering how outdated both consoles are but any games you’ve already bought can be redownloaded forever, so there’s no need to worry about losing them.
However, there are a lot of titles that are currently unavailable anywhere else and will be lost forever following the shutdown. As such, a common question on Nintendo fans’ lips is which games are still worth buying?
It took a while, but we trawled both the Wii U and 3DS’ library to narrow down the best or most noteworthy games still available.
For context, we focused on titles that are otherwise unavailable on modern platforms or at least difficult to acquire physically. This also includes any standout retro games from older consoles available via the Virtual Console.
Best Nintendo Wii U games available on the eShop
Advance Wars: Dual Strike
While the original two Advance Wars titles have been remade for Nintendo Switch and will finally launch next month, we’re not as optimistic about the DS sequel seeing the same treatment someday.
This would be a shame since it’s another fantastic strategy game that continues the series’ storyline while introducing new mechanics and taking full advantage of the DS’ two screens.
Affordable Space Adventures
A lot of Wii U indie titles are thankfully available on other platforms, but puzzle game Affordable Space Adventures has never seen a port, due to being built with the console’s GamePad in mind.
It’s easily one of the best uses for the bulky controller, as you exploring a hostile alien world on the TV while the GamePad acts as a ‘heads down display’ for your spaceship.
While Game Boy Advance games are now available for the Switch online service, there’s no guarantee all the ones on Wii U will jump over to the newer hardware. So, we highly recommend you grab Drill Dozer just in case – especially as the original version was never released in Europe.
One of the few non-Pokémon games to come out of Game Freak, it’s a lovely 2D action platformer where you use a giant mechanical drill. It was included on that leaked list from last year of GBA games for Switch but there’s no guarantee that’s accurate.
Final Fantasy Tactics Advance
Rumours of the Final Fantasy Tactics games making a comeback have yet to bear fruit so you may as well snap up this Game Boy Advnce spin-off before it becomes lost to the void.
Aside from being a layered and in-depth tactical role-player, it offers an incredibly mature story that sees a group of kids from the ‘real world’ teleported to Ivalice, the setting of the original Final Fantasy Tactics.
Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon
Since the original NES game saw a limited Switch release, newer Fire Emblem fans will likely be interested in this remake of that very first entry in the series.
Starring Super Smash Bros. regular Marth, it’s the easiest way of playing the first Fire Emblem. Be warned though: it lacks a lot of the newbie friendly options from recent entries.
Mario & Luigi: Partners In Time
While it’s not as well regarded as Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga, this DS sequel is still worth experiencing as it sees the brothers team up with their baby counterparts on a time travelling adventure to stop an alien invasion. Also ,it’s not as if Alpha Dream will make a new Mario role-player any time soon.
Mario Kart DS
If you somehow get tired of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe (which’d be difficult given all the DLC it’s getting), the DS entry has enough going for it to justify still playing it in 2023.
There’s a reason it’s the third best-selling entry in the series, since it’s the first entry to include online multiplayer and it offers single-player content outside of the usual Grands Prix, with a neat mission mode.
Metroid Prime Trilogy
Although it’s heavily rumoured that the entire Metroid Prime Trilogy will become available on Switch at some point, anyone unwilling to risk it will want to snap up this re-release of the Wii versions of the games.
The original was perfect then and it’s perfect now but the other two are still highly recommended if you enjoyed the Switch remaster, even if they aren’t quite as good.
Metroid Zero Mission
A Game Boy Advance remake of the very first Metroid game, its updated visuals and mechanics make this the ideal method of experiencing Samus Aran’s debut. It comes with an extended and very challenging epilogue section, and its short but sweet length makes it perfect for speedrunning.
Some may dismiss this as a simple tech demo, to demonstrate the Wii U GamePad’s capabilities, but Nintendo Land’s collection of mini-games (all themed around existing franchises) are a ton of fun if played with friends.
The competitive games, such as Mario Chase and Luigi’s Ghost Mansion, are easily the highlight and like nothing else on any other format. Since they all require the GamePad to work it’s also very hard to imagine there being a Switch version.
Pikmin 1 + 2
With Pikmin 3 and the upcoming Pikmin 4 readily available on Switch, newer fans eager to complete their collection will want to grab these Wii ports of the two original GameCube titles.
The new Wii remote functionality offers a welcome alternative to ordering and throwing your Pikmin around and the reworked save system makes the games far less punishing, especially the first where you’re tasked with fixing Olimar’s ship in just 30 days.
Pokémon Pinball: Ruby & Sapphire
Perfect for that cross section of Pokémon and pinball fans, it’s very surprising that there has never been a follow-up since this one launched for the Game Boy Advance.
Seamlessly implementing several of Pokémon’s mechanics, like catching and evolving pokémon, into a pinball formula this is an enjoyable time sink even for those with little pinball experience.
Over the course of a few years, Nintendo released several quaint puzzle games under the Pullblox name (Pushmo in the US), with Pullblox World being the sole Wii U entry.
The simple premise of solving puzzles by pulling and pushing blocks to reach the top of a structure is still very satisfying and we found all of them to be very enjoyable for their easy to understand but difficult to master gameplay.
Star Fox Zero + Star Fox Guard
We enjoyed Star Fox Zero more than most and are still saddened that Nintendo never gave it a second chance on Switch, like so many other of its Wii U exclusives.
With Bayonetta studio PlatinumGames at the helm, this pseudo remake of Star Fox 64 offers finely honed action gameplay across all its different vehicles, plus some great boss fights. The tower defence spin-off, Star Fox Guard, isn’t half bad either and arguably uses the GamePad better than the main game.
Super Mario Galaxy 1 + 2
Why Nintendo has made two of Mario’s best platforming adventures so difficult to get hold of remains a mystery. If you missed your chance to get the Super Mario 3D All-Stars collection, Super Mario Galaxy remains a bona fide classic even 15+ years later.
Even if you do own the collection, Super Mario Galaxy 2 is just as deserving to be played for its extra mechanics and more challenging levels. In fact, it’s probably our favourite game of all time and we’re baffled as to why it wasn’t part of 3D All-Stars.
Super Mario RPG: Legend Of The Seven Stars
The predecessor of the Paper Mario games, this fan favourite SNES game has yet to be added to the Switch’s online service. Developed not by Nintendo but Squaresoft (before it became Square Enix), this is the first ever Mario role-playing game and introduced many hallmarks that would continue into the Paper Mario and Mario & Luigi games, like timed hits and Mario and Bowser teaming up to foil a new villain.
Super Mario RPG is also the game that introduced Geno, who left such an impact on fans that they’re still demanding he be put in Super Smash Bros. over 20 years later.
The Legend Of Zelda games
There are no less than four Legend Of Zelda games that you can play through the Wii U eShop and only two of them are believed to be getting Switch ports, and even that’s not confirmed. So, best get all of them to be on the safe side.
The Wii U HD remasters of The Wind Waker and Twilight Princess will probably turn up on Switch eventually but the DS games Phantom Hourglass and Spirit Tracks are currently only available on Wii U.
Wario Land 4
Our last Game Boy Advance entry, Wario Land 4 is less about jumping over obstacles and enemies and more about shoulder charging through them while grabbing as much treasure as you can.
If you enjoy this one, you may as well grab the Wii sequel, Wario Land: The Shake Dimension, which offers more of the same but dressed up in some expressive anime visuals.
Xenoblade Chronicles X
The odd duck of the Xenoblade series, it seems this mech focused spin-off is doomed to remain on Wii U, with not even Monolith Soft seeming to be interested in bringing it to Switch.
A considerably better game than Xenoblade Chronicles 2, it features a massive and intriguing open world to explore, some great customisation options, and did we mention you get to pilot giant mechs? It’s just a shame the game is half over before you get them.
Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros’ Treasure
One of the most original and inventive of the early third party Wii games, Capcom doesn’t really acknowledge it anymore, due to it selling very poorly, but fans of this cartoony puzzle game swear by it.
As the titular pirate-in-training Zack, you use your monkey companion as a bell to transform nearby animals into different objects to solve various puzzles, all of which require using the Wii remote in different ways. It’s as delightfully quirky as it sounds.
Best Nintendo 3DS games available on the eShop
Attack Of The Friday Monsters
A grossly overlooked 3DS exclusive from Level-5, Attack Of The Friday Monsters offers some fantastic interactive storytelling as it tells its tale of a quiet Japanese town in the 70s being overrun by kaiju and giant superheroes every Friday.
There’s a simplistic card battling mini-game to enjoy throughout, but its story is the main reason to play this one. It’s only 10 hours long but this only helps it avoid outstaying its welcome.
This one’s something of an acquired taste, but if you love tabletop games, complex battle systems, and encounters that are just as reliant on luck as your own skill, you’ll probably get a kick out of Crimson Shroud.
When we call this one old school, we’re talking proper 80s/90s era old school that’ll most appeal to those who grew up playing games during that era.
Dragon Quest 7 + 8
Shockingly, despite both of these Dragon Quest games launching on PlayStation, neither are available on current PlayStation hardware, but they are on 3DS.
These 3DS remakes of Dragon Quest 7 and 8 are solid titles and useful entry points for new fans given how simplistic they are. At the very least, anyone who got into the series with Dragon Quest 11 will want to become acquainted with more of its history, although Dragon Quest 8 is available on iOS too.
Nintendo Pocket Football Club
It was never going to topple FIFA or Football Manager but this rare attempt by Nintendo to tackle the sport without any Mario style wackiness is a welcome novelty that, in some cases, does things better than its contemporaries.
Nintendo Pocket Football Club boasts charming minimalist visuals, simple to understand mechanics, and some surprisingly realistic artificial intelligence in its players.
The most obvious inclusion and the ones people are loudest about potentially losing forever, the original line-up of Pokémon games – Red, Blue, Yellow, Gold, Silver, and Crystal – will soon be as difficult to find as a shiny Suicune.
While definitely old fashioned and outdated in many ways, these Game Boy games are classics for a reason and worth playing if only for nostalgia. Gold, Silver, and Crystal especially since they remain the only games to let you explore two whole regions – Johto and Kanto – and a whopping 16 gyms, culminating in an epic battle with Red, the player character from the original games.
Professor Layton Vs. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney
To date one of the best video game crossovers ever made, Professor Layton Vs. Ace Attorney takes everything about both puzzle solving franchises and blends them together beautifully with an original story involving magic and witches.
A few aspects would find new life in The Great Ace Attorney, like interrogating multiple witnesses at once, but with Layton poised to make a comeback, we’d love to see Level-5 and Capcom collaborate once more on a sequel.
We already mentioned the Wii U entry but if you prefer your puzzle games on a handheld, the first Pullblox on 3DS is a fine enough title that’ll keep you entertained on your bus or train journeys.
Rhythm Paradise Mix
A greatest hits album for the Rhythm Paradise series, this jam packed collection of rhythm action mini-games is a joy from beginning to end. While established fans may be put off by all the reused games, that won’t be a problem for newcomers.
Rhythm Thief & The Emperor’s Treasure
Speaking of rhythm games, Rhythm Thief & The Emperor’s Treasure is the closest we’ve ever got to a new Elite Beat Agents.
Melded together with some Professor Layton style exploration, fun scenarios, and an amusingly over the top storyline involving a resurrected Napoleon Bonaparte, rhythm game fans won’t want to miss out on this one.
Shin Megami Tensei 4: Apocalypse
An alternate telling of the 2013 original, Shin Megami Tensei 4: Apocalypse is an improvement in every way – from combat and demon interactions to the overall story and even the user interface. Plus, it should keep you occupied until Persona 6 comes out.
A real GameCentral favourite, this dungeon crawler series is so old school it makes you fill in the map by hand on the touchscreen, which is awesome. The first three games are coming to Switch in a new remaster collection (because they were all originally DS games) but the jewel of the franchise is the superb Etrian Odyssey 4: Legends Of The Titan.
The two Etrian Odyssey Untold games are remakes of the first two DS titles and they’re not included in the collection either. Unless you’re already a fan we’d avoid Nexus and Etrian Odyssey 5 though, as they’re not nearly as good.
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