3DS eShop – What To Buy Before The Service Ends

With Nintendo confirming an end date to eShop purchases for the Nintendo 3DS and Wii U, we now have a limited time to load up on some of the titles released throughout its lifespan. With most of these games likely never seeing the light of day anytime soon on a current Nintendo system, and just how many games are available, it could feel a bit overwhelming as to what is offered and what would be best to purchase.

I’m going to go over a list of games that span throughout as many genres as possible, that I feel are the best of the best when it comes to eShop releases on this platform. I highly encourage you all to do the same in the comments below, with what you feel are the “must buy” games available. These are a mix of retro games, as well as system titles released digitally. I won’t be limiting myself to a handful of games, but will go all-out with what I feel are all worth your time. I’ll name my highest recommendations of the bunch as a *GALARIAN PICKS. Many of these have physical copies, although there are plenty out there who rather deal with digital downloads, so this might be more for you, but still informative to anyone with a 3DS (not to mention how inflated some physical copies are in price).

This guide is built under the assumption that the reader owns a Nintendo Switch, so games featured on that console are not featured here for the most part. Also, links to each game in the eShop are provided in the game titles. You could opt to wait for some sales, but I wouldn’t recommend waiting long.

Please check out my Wii U eShop buyers guide as well for some digital gems that I highly recommend for the console.

Virtual Console

Donkey Kong
Current price: $5.99

*GALARIAN PICKS The original Game Boy Donkey Kong was one of the best titles released on the handheld. With added moves and a myriad of puzzles and obstacles abound, Donkey Kong offers some of the most enjoyable, and even thought-provoking gameplay, that the Game Boy ever saw. My highest recommendation on the Virtual Console side of things.

Kirby’s Dream Land
Current price: $3.99

Although this is one of the easiest games I have ever played, Kirby’s Dream Land is still a fun little romp through an imaginative world. Sometimes a super simple experience is desirable, and one that plays as well as this one are well worth your time, especially at that price.

The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening DX
Current price: $5.99

*GALARIAN PICKS If the choppy remake of the same name turned you off, I highly recommend giving it another chance in its purest form. One of the greatest Nintendo handheld games released, Link’s Awakening is a full sized offering that fits in your pocket. The DX version is the colorized version released originally on the Game Boy Color.

The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons & Oracle of Ages
Current price: $5.99 each

Another outstanding classic Zelda game, these two titles have different playstyles. Oracle of Seasons focuses more on action, while Oracle of Seasons has a heavier slant towards solving puzzles. Two lesser played adventures of Link that are super cheap, and with no Game Boy Nintendo Switch Online on the horizon, should probably be scooped up before the shop closes.

Metroid II: Return of Samus
Current price: $3.99

This one can be hit or miss for some, but I feel that Metroid II: Return of Samus is still a rock solid offering to the franchise, and one you won’t likely see on the Switch. Of course the 3DS remake will be popping up a little later in this guide, but in due time.

Pokemon Gold, Silver & Crystal
Current price: $9.99 each

Without a Game Boy Advance Nintendo Switch Online offering, these Pokemon titles are definitely worth recommending. While I have not personally played through these offerings, the fact that these will not be available in any other form from Nintendo for the foreseeable future, gives reason to investing in a purchase of one of these titles, especially if you’ve enjoyed the Pokemon releases on the Switch over the last few years.

Pokemon Trading Card Game
Current price: $5.99

A quirky TCG originally released on the Game Boy Color, Pokemon Trading Card Game offers something not seen very often throughout these eShop games. If you’re into video game based TCG, give this one a look-see.

3DS Digital (retail & eShop)

3D Streets of Rage 2
Current price: $5.99

*GALARIAN PICKS While Streets of Rage 2 is available on the Sega Genesis portion of the Nintendo Switch Online package, 3D Streets of Rage 2 is…Streets of Rage 2, but in 3D via the handhelds stereoscopic 3D. The implementation of the 3D to the overall experience actually feels proper, adding a sense of depth to a number of things you’ll see in game. There are a number of 3D enhanced Sega Genesis and NES games on the eShop that range in quality, but for sure Streets of Rage 2 stands out in the pack.

Animal Crossing: New Leaf
Current price: $19.99

While Animal Crossing: New Horizons on the Switch might be the focus for many, if you’re new to the franchise and are not sure whether that’s a good place to start (and don’t own a 3DS), you could always try out New Leaf and pay quite a bit less. Sure, you may end up enjoying this and splurge on the Switch game, or maybe you’ll be too entranced by the 3DS version, that you’ll play nothing else. Nonetheless, this is an excellent first step into the world of Animal Crossing.

Bravely Default & Bravely Second: End Layer
Current price: $39.99 each

The Bravely series on the 3DS are some of the best portable JRPG’s you can come across. Featuring multiple classes available for characters to take jobs as, there’s a lot of variety with them, making gameplay (along with the Brave system of front loading more attacks at the cost of needing to wait out turns to have another turn) some of the most enjoyable in the genre.

Culdcept Revolt
Current price: $19.99

*GALARIAN PICKS – One of the most underappreciated franchises ever, Culdcept Revolt is the pinnacle of the series. Think Monopoly meets Magic: The Gathering, and you’ll get a better sense of what this is about. While the story is a bit nonsensical, the amount of storyline content is quite substantial, as well as the ability to create your own matches. Check out my review of this hidden gem. WARNING: the learning curve is pretty huge, and the difficulty can be maddeningly at times, but it’s well worth your time investment.

Dragon Quest VII: Fragments of the Forgotten Past
Current price: $19.99

Originally released on the PS1, Dragon Quest VII offers the tired and true DQ gameplay, with completion times that can exceed 100 hours. One in a literal truckload of RPG’s on the 3DS that are a must have for your collection.

Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King
Current price: $39.99

If you loved Dragon Quest VIII on the PS2, well, now you can put it in your pocket and take it with you anywhere you go! One of the PS2’s most enjoyable JRPG’s on the go? Yes please!

Each of the Fire Emblem games
Current price: $39.99

Turn based strategy RPG goodness. The Fire Emblem franchise does take some time to get used to and understand, but once you’re accustom to what is offered, they provide some of the most engaging and deep gaming experiences around. There are a few options to choose from (Birthright, Conquest and Revelation are a part of the same story arc), and if you’re a fan of musou type games (Dynasty Warriors), there’s Fire Emblem Warriors, a solid spinoff that’s also worth your time and attention.

Hyrule Warriors Legends
Current price: $39.99

I’m only recommending Hyrule Warrior Legends to those without a Wii U or a Switch, as there are versions on both platforms that look and perform vastly better than what is offered on the 3DS. If this is the only Nintendo platform you own, then if you enjoy musou type games, it’s an excellent take on that style, with multiple playable characters.

Kirby Epic Yarn
Current price: $39.99

Again, if you do not own a Wii U then definitely look into Kirby Epic Yarn on the 3DS. Visually striking with familiar Kirby gameplay to enjoy. This one isn’t talked about enough, and that’s a shame.

LEGO games
Current price: Ranges from $19.99 to $39.99

The LEGO games are wholesome fun. They might not be super deep, but they present an enjoyable time with any of the games you pick up. The two highlights for me are LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens and LEGO Marvel Avengers, but you really can’t go wrong with most any one you pick up.

All Mario & Luigi games
Current price: Ranges from $19.99 to $39.99

Although nothing ever followed up the immensely enjoyable Super Mario RPG directly, the Mario & Luigi franchise of RPG’s carve out their own niche, and are some of the best times you can have with a Mario game. There are several games to pick from, though Superstar Saga + Bowser’s Minions is a good starting point, as its a 3DS remake of the first game on the Game Boy Advance.

Mario Kart 7
Current price: $29.99

*GALARIAN PICKS Sure, Mario Kart 8 is all the rage these days, but the 3DS Mario Kart 7 is still fantastic get, with a strong line up of tracks to race on. The 3D elements don’t feel intrusive at all, although you don’t lose anything substantial with it off, if that’s how you prefer to play 3DS games.

Mega Man Legacy Collection
Current price: $14.99

*GALARIAN PICKS It’s only the first six games in the franchise, but it’s an absolute no-brainer to include this package anyway. Portable classic Mega Man is always a good thing, although if you own a Switch, you’d be better off with that version as it also has Legacy Collection 2 (specifically, Mega Man 10).

Metroid: Samus Returns
Current price: $39.99

A stellar, though quite difficult, remake of the original Game Boy release from about three decades ago. It’s more 2D Metroid, and that will never be a bad thing. Some of the new additions take time to get used to (melee being a factor to combat) but once you get into that groove, the gameplay flows so well.

Monster Hunter games
Current price: Ranges from $19.99 to $39.99

I’m not a Monster Hunter aficionado, as I’ve only really ever sat down with Rise at length, but if you’re a fan of the franchise, there are a few to choose between, such as 3 Ultimate, 4 Ultimate and Generations.

Persona Q & Persona Q2
Current price: $19.99 and $39.99 respectively

The Persona Q franchise mixes together protagonists from Persona 3, 4 and 5 (Q2) in a new adventure, one that hasn’t been ported anywhere else, and likely never will be. If you’re a fan of the Persona franchise, you’ll find plenty to love about these two.

Pokemon Ultra Sun & Moon, X & Y, Alpha Sapphire & Omega Ruby
Current price: $39.99 each

My first Pokemon that I played more than 5 minutes of was Pokemon Moon. I thoroughly enjoyed my experience with it, and with a handful of other Pokemon offerings on the 3DS that will never see the light of day on any other platform, if you’re big into the franchise, you may want to invest in these sooner, and not later.

Radiant Historia: Perfect Chronology
Current price: $39.99

Originally a DS title, Radiant Historia has a strong combat system, with a storyline loop that may tire some out from the repetition that comes from it. It’s worth sticking through it all though, and it’s another example of a game you’ll likely never see on the Switch or any other console or handheld down the line.

River City: Tokyo Rumble
Current price: $29.99

An installment of the famous Kunio Kun franchise (River City Ransom here), River City: Tokyo Rumble is a difficult, but fulfilling beat em up game that hearkens back to the good ol’ days of 8-bit generation.

Shin Megami Tensei games
Current price: Ranges from $19.99 to $39.99

Up to this point, the 3DS is the only machine to house Shin Megami Tensei IV and its updated version Apocalypse, so those playing through Shin Megami Tensi V on the Switch who are looking for something similar can look no further. There’s also the Devil Summoner installments and Strange Journey Redux. If you love an enjoyable, challenging JRPG, these are a must to purchase before the store closes for good, especially with how much hard copies can fetch.

Star Fox 64 3D
Current price: $19.99

A stereoscopic 3D port of the N64 classic, Star Fox 64 3D is a fantastic title to pick up. The 3D adds a layer of immersion to the experience – an experience that was already a thrill when it was released on the Nintendo 64.

The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth
Current price: $14.99

You can find The Binding of Isaac on a Texas Instrument calculator at this point, but it’s still worth the price of admission on the 3DS. The only bummer is that there’s zero 3D stereoscopic implementation, which would have been neat, although nothing major. As it is, it’s well worth the price, even if other versions might be a more complete package (though more expensive).

The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds
Current price: $19.99

*GALARIAN PICKS A somewhat “follow up” to A Link to the Past, A Link Between Worlds offers a familiar enough world, with a familiar enough gameplay structure, with an all new enjoyable storyline. The graphics look like such a natural evolution to what was seen before, retaining the charm but giving it a slick new paint job. If you’ve been wanting to play a classic Zelda game and have a choice between the Switch remake of Link’s Awakening or this, please go for A Link Between Worlds. You’ll thank me later.

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D & Majora’s Mask 3D
Current price: $19.99 each

Two all-time greats available with better overall visuals and excellent 3D stereoscopic integration. If the Nintendo 64 Nintendo Switch Online versions of these two games disappointed you, or even if you want a slightly prettier 3D version, go out of your way to pick these up. My highest recommendation on the 3DS retail side of things.

Theatrythm: Final Fantasy Curtain Call
Current price: $39.99

Theatrhythm: Final Fantasy is something that could pop up on the Switch, but that’s not a guarantee. This rhythm based game blends the majestic soundtrack of the Final Fantasy franchise into a rhythm type gameplay package, one that can get highly addictive, especially when there are over 200 songs available.

Yoshi’s New Island
Current price: $19.99

A step up from the disappointing Yoshi’s Island DS, Yoshi’s New Island, while it’s no where close to being as charming as the Super Nintendo installment, offers an enjoyable 2D platforming experience that only Nintendo is known for.

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