Nintendo 3DS System Update Adds Save Transfer Tool

By Ishaan . March 26, 2013 . 4:10pm

A Nintendo 3DS system update released last night in the U.S. adds a couple of new features to the device, Nintendo have announced. Here are the two main features the update adds:


  • A tool that allows Nintendo 3DS users to transfer save data from the packaged version of a game to the downloadable version. Players that originally purchased a physical version of a game will be able to pick up right where they left off with their save data if they decide to purchase the digital version of the same game. Save data that is transferred to a digital game cannot be moved back to the physical version.


  • An improvement to the feature that downloads items in the background when the Nintendo 3DS system is in Sleep Mode. Items will now download when the Nintendo eShop is running. Users can simply close the system cover to activate the "Download Later" feature and the game or application will begin to download.


A major update that is expected to be released for the 3DS in the future will add Nintendo’s Miiverse social network to the device. However, Nintendo have not yet detailed the features of this update or announced a release window.


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  • PaulMeat

    “Save data that is transferred to a digital game cannot be moved back to the physical version.”

    Always something weird like this from Nintendo…

    • I agree, this is.. Odd XD

    • Because they know eventually the save game encryption will be reverse engineered and they don’t want people feeding hacked data to cartridges. Pokemon games, for example, would be devastated by this.

      • AuraGuyChris

        …Free Arceus for everyone, then?
        Oh, I see how that’d be disastrous. Nintendo is like the only company that has games where trading precious stuff to others is a common thing.

    • neo_firenze

      This is utter garbage, and stands out as a glaring weakness in comparison to the competition (it’s quite easy to manage save data on Vita and PSP). Probably not quite as egregious as lack of a unified user account across systems, or the fact that VC games you buy on Wii/WiiU can’t be played on 3DS (compared to Sony’s buy once, use on any device policy for PS1 classics). But still a frustratingly poor way to handle things.

      It’s really infuriating how bad Nintendo is with technology. They’re just so consistently bad about designing their core system applications to be ponderous and badly integrated. WiiU’s painfully slow system navigation (which cripples some inspired ideas like Nintendo TVii). Consistently clunky eShops that are slow and badly organized. Inefficient save management. WiiU backwards compatibility requiring extra waiting to launch a whole Wii environment instead of integrating into the WiiU menus. Friend codes. It’s just annoyance after annoyance.

      Hasn’t been enough to stop me from buying a WiiU, 3DS, and 3DS XL on day 1… but it’s building up. Especially when you see the competition making a much stronger effort to have smoothly integrated system apps and good uses of modern technology.

      • ShawnOtakuSomething


      • Mir Teiwaz

        The major difference here is that physical 3DS games save to the cartridge. PSVita and PSP games save to a memory card.

        It makes sense that you can’t transfer a save from a digital copy to a physical copy because you have no reason for a cartridge if you own the digital version.

        Now, there are things Nintendo really needs to work on, don’t get me wrong. I’m just sayin’ that this save transfer thing really isn’t that big a deal.

        • neo_firenze

          I agree that this isn’t a huge issue in the grand scheme of things, and you’re right that saving to the 3DS cartridge causes the issue. But that was a design decision – they certainly could have designed the platform from the beginning with saves to SD card or internal memory, but they didn’t. It’s just another example of Nintendo seeming to not really put the best thought into anything related to online.

          I suspect it’s because Nintendo didn’t even realize these things would be an issue. They launched the 3DS with a half-baked online plan, then fleshed out their online infrastructure and eStore later. Eventually leading to them getting serious about downloadable versions of retail titles starting with NSMB2. Now it’s to the point where recent releases like Fire Emblem (and it appears Luigi’s Mansion 2 may be this way as well) are noticeably harder to find physical copies of than past Nintendo releases – feels like Nintendo actively encouraging digital sales through manufactured scarcity of the physical versions.

          Again, not just being a Nintendo-hater. I love my 3DS and bought it on day 1. But some of these decisions make me feel like they’re just being dragged kicking and screaming into the internet age that everyone else has already been living in for years.

          • Mir Teiwaz

            And here I thought people hated being forced to get a memory card just to save their game. The idea of saving your game to the same card it comes on always seemed like a positive thing for me.

            Though I s’pose since Nintendo was smart enough to go with SD cards and not some silly overpriced proprietary format of their own design (lookin’ at you, Sony), a memory card wouldn’t be all that bad.

            As someone who doesn’t really play handheld systems, I was unaware of physical copies for their big titles being hard to find. Nintendo does have this thing about waiting until they KNOW something is proven versus being the pioneer when it comes to new tech. They waited a full console cycle longer than anyone else to go online, they waited another full console cycle after that to go HD, and it took them equally as long to get to an almost good online structure with the Nintendo Network.

          • neo_firenze

            You hit the nail on the head saying Nintendo going with SD cards was a very smart decision. That’s the kind of thing that makes it so frustrating, they just failed to take that extra step and integrate it to save game management system-wide (instead of just for downloaded versions of games). If they had anticipated digital versions of their big games being a major thing, they could have designed for that by allowing saves to system memory and the widely used (and cheap) SD card format. It works that way for their digital versions now.

            And make no mistake, Nintendo focusing on digital versions of their full “retail” games is not going away. I can’t imagine they dislike having (1) less risk of excess inventory, (2) less costs of physical production/distribution, (3) fewer used games out there to take potential revenue that goes to them, and (4) less middlemen in the distribution/retail chain taking their cut on each piece of software sold.

          • Mir Teiwaz

            I suppose my question is: If you have a physical copy, why do you WANT to save your game to a separate card? If you have a digital copy of the game why would you WANT to transfer it to a physical copy?

            In the case of the physical copy, I find it silly to want to be tied to having a separate card for saving. In the case of the digital copy, you’re stuck with it. You can’t trade the game to someone else without giving away the entire system…so why do you want the save file to be separate?

            If Nintendo allowed you to have your Nintendo Network ID on more than one 3DS or WiiU, I could see the argument for having saves separated…but the way things are now I see no point to it.

      • Definitely have to agree about Nintendo’s software design. The eShop has dozens of confusing subcategories to feature about ten different games.

  • I had a weird issue with “Cannot Read the SD Card” messages showing up that this system update seemed to fix. While I don’t know exactly what caused it, I suspect this update might have also fixed some niche bugs under the hood.

    Glad it got released though. I can enjoy MH3U on the go once again! :3

    • creid8

      I actually had a similar problem when I bought a new SD card. I assumed it was the card, and the replacement didn’t have the same problem. Might want to check the card if the problem doesn’t stay fixed.

      • The card worked fine for a couple months. It was only when I picked up a Circle Pad Pro and right when I picked up MH3U that stuff went haywire. If I continue to see the problem i’ll attribute it to the memory stick, but in the meantime the fact that it has stopped has me thinking it was some wonky issue with either the CPP or a system update.

    • gamerdude

      That thing gets dislodged from it’s slot quite easily. Just take it out and push it back in until you hear a click.

      This is especially annoying when it happens mid-game.

  • Tylor Boreas Makimoto

    Bill Trinen said something was being added to the NA release of AC:NL, which I assume may have something to do with Miiverse. Of course, he said it while talking about the Streetpass part of the game, but who knows…
    I mean, how much longer do they need? They announced it at E3 last year, and we’re almost at the next E3.

    • Miiverse will probably be prepped in time for Pokémon. (And maybe Monster Hunter 4 in Japan)

  • Visa Vang

    How about a un-region lock? *(>.-) wink*

    • Barrylocke89

      Or at least some sort of account system for the 3DS. Region locking sucks but it mainly is a bad thing for specific areas of the world, and fans of import titles. The lack of an account system just hurts everyone, especially as Nintendo continues to push their eShop as a viable purchasing option.

  • Oh that’s nice…right after I got a XL and lost my Fire Emblem data. Ahaha…

  • Ben Sylvia

    Aw, was hoping for more hats in Streetpass plaza. sad face

  • ShawnOtakuSomething

    I posted this……meh awesome yay I they already upgraded the internet browser a little, i it runs a bit faster

  • MrSirFeatherFang

    I feared the save data would only be a one way transfer only. I didn’t start my FE Awakening preinstalled on my 3DS because I thought this would happen. Oh well, time to hunt down a physical copy.

  • Sardorim


    Now give us an option to play games that never come overseas.

    Super Robot Wars demands freedom from Region Locks!

  • gamerdude

    I hope the miiverse adds new ways to meet new people other than the bark mode.

    I love puzzle swap and street pass quest but I hate the fact that there’s nobody here that would carry their 3ds with them.

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