While the Nintendo eShop is no longer accessible on the Wii U and 3DS, the two systems can still access online multiplayer features — at least until April 2024. Before it’s too late, consider clocking in some time with these 10 best online Wii U and 3DS games the consoles had to offer.
Call of Duty: Black Ops II (Wii U)
Yessiree Bob, you can still find lobbies for Call of Duty: Black Ops II, mostly during daytime hours.
It’s a stellar entry altogether, featuring both a good campaign and zombies. And you know what’s even cooler? Online co-op. You can split the controls of the Wii U, with one player using the GamePad while another player uses the TV.
However, this version of CoD: Blacks Ops II is a very different beast. With the game essentially being left in the dust, it’s become a haven for “hackers.” This isn’t always a bad thing, at least not in Zombies mode. PVP will certainly have the occasional bozo, but if you play Zombies, you might just enter a custom map, which is actually pretty cool. It’s definitely worth trying out if you get the game dirt cheap.
The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes (3DS)
The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes is still a solid entry in the franchise as well as a spiritual successor to Four Swords.
It features some really clever puzzles and bosses (like stacking Links), an adorable art style, and has a bunch of costumes that grant special powers like Spin Attack, Big Bomb, and Fierce Deity.
While you’re more than welcome to play Tri Force Heroes solo, you should at least play through the game with a few buddies online or through local multiplayer. It’s honestly a lot easier when the other Links are controlled by people rather than you relying on Doppels.
One thing to note, however, is that you need at least two people other than yourself to get a match going.
Splatoon (Wii U)
Sure, Splatoon has had two sequels since its inception — both of which made their debut on the Nintendo Switch — but better late than never, right?
It’s still one of the best and most unique multiplayer experiences on the Wii U, and the Switch for that matter. Think of it as extreme paintball, but you’re a humanoid squid. Do you need any more reason than that?
Splatoon really shakes up the FPS meta with a more nuanced approach. It’s not enough to kill the other team; in fact, that’s a quick way to lose. You have to cover the field in ink, too, which forces you to juggle between coverage and kills.
Best of all is that the main game mode, Turf War, only needs eight players — 4 for each team — so you shouldn’t have too hard of a time finding other contestants.
Super Smash Bros. (Wii U, 3DS)
While Splatoon has one of the best first-person shooter experiences on the Wii U, Super Smash Bros. easily takes the cake as one of the best fighting games.
I’d even argue it’s one of the best multiplayer games on Wii U and 3DS of all time. And the best part? When online multiplayer is buried for good, you can still get together with your friends with local multiplayer.
To find another fighting game with such a diverse cast of characters, and one that’s also easily accessible to newcomers, is a tall order. Both versions do have their differences, but it mostly boils down to stage variety. There are a few exclusive game modes, like Smash Run and StreetSmash on 3DS and 8-player Smash and Special Smash on the Wii U, to name a few. Other than that, the roster is the same for both!
Fantasy Life (3DS)
I was searching far and wide for an RPG to really sink my teeth into and bought Fantasy Life on a whim. As luck would have it, the game is hands-down one of the best 3DS RPGs around.
The art style was immediately appealing, offering a cross between Dragon Quest and Animal Crossing. The gameplay mechanics are simple to, and yet surprisingly complex as you progress through the story.
Fantasy Life lets you customize your character, craft new gear, make potions, cast spells, and more. It’s all done through the game’s job system, or rather a ‘Life.’ Many of the jobs work in tandem, and you’ll find yourself dabbling in just about every Life. For example, you might need a particular ore to craft your next suit of armor, in which case you spend some time as a miner before switching over to being a blacksmith.
And remember how I mentioned Fantasy Life reminded me of Animal Crossing? I didn’t just mean artistically. With the Carpenter Life, you’ll be crafting your very own furniture to spruce up your home — of which there are several you can purchase throughout the game. Oh, and there’s multiplayer, so you and a couple buddies can go questing together.
Super Mario Maker (Wii U, 3DS)
Whether you’re playing the 3DS or Wii U port, Super Mario Maker is just dumb fun, plain and simple.
It’s more Super Mario unleashed onto the community to come up with the craziest and most sadistic levels they could imagine. How awesome is that? That said, the Wii U version is the superior port, hands down; the 3DS version is too stripped down (but still fun to play if that’s your only option).
Regardless of which option you choose, you should be aware that you cannot upload levels anymore. This is a bummer, but you do retain the ability to create levels. Additionally, levels that were uploaded already will stick around until the servers shut down.
I recommend buying some cheap USB storage devices and start downloading as many as you can. You could be set for months, maybe even years with the most ludicrous levels players have created before even thinking about Mario Maker 2.
Mario Kart 8 (Wii U)
Mario Kart 8, even on the Wii U, is still THE de facto racing game for me.
It’s easily accessible to kids, features almost three dozen tracks, and a great deal of customization options. I have a hard time finding other racing games with the same mix of fun and skill. You can get pretty slick with drifting and the items are always satisfying to use at the opportune time.
And, when it comes to map selection, Mario Kart 8 knocks it out of the park, even in the base version. You get 32 tracks to pick from, 16 of which are retro tracks recreated from past entries like Mario Circuit from Mario Kart: Super Circuit and Yoshi’s Valley from Mario Kart 64. If you’ve been a fan of the series for a while, it’ll be a blast from the past.
Animal Crossing: New Leaf (3DS)
Speaking of Animal Crossing, there’s no way we’d forget New Leaf.
In Animal Crossing: New Leaf, you aren’t just responsible for furnishing your own pad, but the town as well. Isabelle becomes your handy assistant, giving you tasks that unlock additional customization options for the town. For example, you’ll start off planting flowers and trees, but eventually move onto adding custom paths and fancy decorations like fountains.
While New Horizons pushed Animal Crossing further in terms of gameplay, New Leaf still offers a unique spin on the formula. It’s the only entry in the franchise that actually makes you the mayor, which comes with its own responsibilities.
Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate (Wii U, 3DS)
Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate is a great entry in the series, especially if you’ve never had the chance to play.
If the name hasn’t tipped you off, the gist of Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate is you setting out to hunt particular monsters — dragons, dinosaurs, fantasy creatures, and so on to be more specific. You’ll then harvest their corpse for crafting materials, which you can fashion into new weapons, armor, and potions.
Personally, the combat is by far the best part of the Monster Hunter series. There are a wide variety of weapons to choose from, each one tailored to a different playstyle. To name a few, you could go with a sword and shield for a nice balance between offense and defense, go ham with a greatsword, or deal damage from a distance with a bowgun or gunlance.
Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate is a bit of an oddball on this list as it’s one of the few titles that supports crossplay between the Wii U and 3DS, as well as local multiplayer. That means you’d still have an option to play with friends when online multiplayer is no longer an option. However, 3DS players are limited to local multiplayer only, so keep this in mind before you buy.
Any Pokemon Game (3DS)
You can dive into almost every generation up to Ultra Sun and Moon; even the original Pokemon Red and Blue, assuming you have a digital copy of the game already installed. Otherwise, there’s nothing stopping you from booting up Pokemon Diamond & Pearl one day and, my personal favorite, Pokemon X and Y on another.
That said, you’ll have the most luck finding people online playing the later titles like X and Y, ORAS, Sun and Moon, and the Ultra sequels. I booted up X and Y at the time of writing and still see dozens of people showing up in Passerbys, which takes into account worldwide players. So, go nuts with trading, battling, and making friends while you still can!