The Nintendo 3DS eShop is cutting off purchases on March 27, 2023 and closing, leaving precious few days remaining for you to buy games on the service. Looking to do some last-minute shopping? Here are Siliconera’s recommendations for what to pick up.
The Heavy Hitter Exclusives
You’ve probably heard of most of these 3DS games, but we can’t miss the opportunity to recommend these before they disappear from the eShop.
Rhythm Heaven Megamix
We’re sad that the Rhythm Heaven franchise has remained quiet during the Switch years. Still, Megamix’s combination of the series’ best and some new ideas of its own remains its best offering and a wildly enjoyable experience. That it never saw the physical release in America that it did in other territories? It’s a real shame, but not any indication of quality.
The BoxBoy franchise was a standout on the eShop, and with good reason! HAL Laboratory, which has a long history of making good box games, used a minimal aesthetic to make a traversal puzzle game memorable and distinct as well as delightfully brain-bending. The franchise continues, but the three 3DS games all have their own puzzles and are worth picking up on the eShop.
The other standout 3DS download series, Pushmo, is fun puzzling as well as a nice showcase for the system’s 3D display. Each game, from Crashmo to Stretchmo, added its own spin to creations. But honestly? The most lasting impression we have from these games is just how vibrant and adorable its characters and world manage to be in what could simply have been a vanilla puzzler.
We’re always fascinated when Game Freak releases side projects between the gargantuan development tasks of making Pokemon games. HarmoKnight is certainly one of the most successful, as a rhythm game lightly disguising itself as a platform action title. It takes a cult classic subgenre that’s been around since Vib-Ribbon and makes it much more accessible, opening the concept to new players.
Fire Emblem Fates: Revelation
The other two Fates games, Conquest and Birthright, may have gotten physical releases, but the third? Nope. Revelation is intended as a sort of “golden route,” allowing you to keep most characters alive and have what-if interactions. The story is kind of a mess, and it’s generally not recommended as a starting point for Fates players. But there’s some fun stuff in there!
Honorable mentions: We’d have absolutely put Pocket Card Jockey on this list just a few months ago, but its re-emergence on Apple Arcade means it’s still available for new players. Also we probably don’t need to tell you about the brilliance of the Picross e series, but there are a whole nine of ‘em and they still control best with a stylus.
The Overlooked 3DS eShop Gems
These titles didn’t get the love they deserved. Grab these before it’s too late.
The Denpa Men 3: The Rise of Digitoll
Denpa Men franchise developer Genius Sonority is most widely known for its work on Pokemon side games. That experience with what makes collection and simple combat compelling shines through in Denpa, a game that’s essentially Monster Rancher but with wi-fi signals instead of discs to generate new creatures. They’re simple beings, with limited characteristics and abilities, so the game has you build larger parties than a usual RPG to bring in more dungeon-crawling complexity. The third game is the most fully-featured, making it our top recommendation, but all of them are fun.
Attack of the Friday Monsters: A Tokyo Tale
We’re finally starting to see some of the Boku no Natsuyasumi games make it to English-speaking audiences, but for a long time, Attack was all we had. And it’s a great distillation of the franchise’s concepts, showing the appeal and nostalgia of a “slow life” adventure. It’s the standout release of the Level-5 Guild series, which bundled smaller experiences from different creators with a lot of personality and experimentation.
The Gotta Protectors games are retro-inspired co-op action-tower-defense games, all for different platforms with their own takes on the idea. That might be a bit confusing for some! Understandably so. But if you sit down with some pals and play one, you’ll quickly get the appeal. While we love the Switch release in the franchise, the DS installment — if we’re crowning a favorite — takes the title with its depth, customization and care.
While the Inazuma Eleven series saw a lot of releases and success in Japan and Europe, North America got just one game: an enhanced 3DS remake of the original on the eShop. The good thing is that it’s totally a captivating and fun experience by itself!
Honorable mentions: We called out what we think is the most can’t-miss in the line, but all of Level-5’s Guild franchise is worth a look. They’re all quirky and memorable! And in terms of Nintendo-published releases, you can’t go wrong with the Punch-Out!!-like slashing action of Sakura Samurai: Art of the Sword.
The Rare Physical Releases
These aren’t 3DS eShop exclusive games, but with how hard it is to find the cartridges? They might as well be.
Yo-kai Watch 3
As the popularity of Yo-kai Watch waned (both in Japan and the West), it just so happened that the games kept getting better. So this, the last English release, is phenomenally rare, and enough people knew it would be at launch that it essentially never landed on store shelves at all. So the eShop is kind of your only option.
Rhythm Thief & the Emperor’s Treasure
While most rare 3DS games were later releases, this early Sega rhythm title bucks that trend. Rhythm Thief has a ton of ideas, landing somewhere in the space between Rhythm Heaven, HarmoKnight and Professor Layton in the handheld’s library. There was a compromised iOS port that’s also unavailable these days, but — at least for a few more days — the ideal version’s still there for you.
There’s finally a true sequel on the way, but the original Fantasy Life still has a lot to offer. It’s a life sim, it has combat action and the writing is just plain charming! Also worth mentioning: the crucial Origin Island DLC, which adds a lot to the experience and will disappear with the eShop as well.
Yo-kai Watch Blasters
There’s a lot of Level-5 fare on this list, huh? Nevertheless, this action-heavy take on the Yo-kai Watch franchise regularly tops the list of rarest games on the platform.
Honorable mentions: There’s an increasingly large pool of 3DS games too expensive to easily acquire, like Style Savvy: Fashion Forward and excellent Sega RPG 7th Dragon III: Code: VFD. Oh, and yeah, another Level-5 game, Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy, should be on your radar too.
What do you think are the best 3DS eShop games? What other gems did we miss? Let us know in the comments.