It’s never easy seeing your heroes retire, and the Wii U and 3DS server closure feels much the same. After more than a decade of serving the masses, the 3DS and Wii U online services will no longer be supported by Nintendo so while the consoles can still be used, you will not be able to go online and make the most of the multiplayer experiences. Games like Super Mario Maker will be affected in additional ways, with no option to download levels designed by other players. As Nintendo shuts down 3DS and Wii U servers, we can’t say we’re surprised by the move—neither consoles enjoyed the kind of celebrity status we see the more recent gaming consoles enjoy today—but for those who have used the devices growing up, the nostalgia-dipped sadness will likely hit hard.

Nintendo shuts down 3DS and Wii U servers

Image: Nintendo 3DS and Super Mario World available of Nintendo Switch Online

Wii U and 3DS Server Closure Mark the End of an Era

The Nintendo Wii U and 3DS online services were discontinued at 5 pm PDT on April 8, 2024, with the company making a public announcement that “online play and other functionality that uses online communication was discontinued for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U software, including software exclusive to New Nintendo 3DS. This also includes online cooperative play, internet rankings, and data distribution.” The company thanked users for their patronage and provided a quick FAQ for those who had any questions regarding the termination. 

The termination of the 3DS and Wii U online services was announced late last year in October and the date for the shutdown was formally presented in January 2024. This gave users enough time to boot up their consoles and play their favorites online for the last time. The end of their life cycle followed a similar path that their predecessors, the Wii and the DS, took, which had online server support terminated back in 2014 according to The Gamer.

With the official Wii U and 3DS server closures, there might still be online play if fan servers continue to spring up, similar to what happened to the Wii. The consoles themselves will remain fully functional so it’s not like users will have to junk their devices following this news. Games like Kid Icarus Uprising and Animal Crossing New Leaf will still be playable, but achievements like multiplayer levels and town visits will no longer be accessible. 

3DS Wii U online services

Image: Nintendo 3DS

Will StreetPass and SpotPass No Longer Be Available after the Wii U and 3DS Servers Shutdown?

As Nintendo shuts down 3DS and Wii U servers, StreePass will still be available for users as it relies on local communication rather than online server access. Access between Nintendo 3DS family systems will still be possible without the online channels and users should be able to exchange data with those in close proximity to them. The SpotPass features will no longer be available due to its entire reliance on online connectivity. Wii U and 3DS will no longer auto-download updates and news for the players considering the lack of connectivity. 

Users of Pokémon Bank and Poké Transporter can rejoice considering these two 3DS applications will continue to be supported, allowing for transfers of Pokémon between devices.

Wii U and 3DS servers shutdown

Image: Wii U

Fan Responses to Wii U and 3DS Server Closure

In the lead-up to the Wii U and 3DS server closure, many have returned to games long left behind. YouTuber FromTheVoid Games created a comprehensive list of “DLCs, Spotpass, Unlocks & all Online stuff to be lost from 145 3DS/WiiU games” which allowed many players to go back and complete achievements and make purchases that would no longer be possible following the termination of 3DS and Wii U’s online services. With inputs from the community feeding back in the comments and other sources, it’s truly astounding to see just how much content will be affected by Nintendo’s latest move.

Users on Reddit began their own personal community projects to preserve the content that could be lost due to the shutdown, with the SpotPass Archival Project in full swing. Redditors have done what they could to find volunteers to donate their SpotPass data so they could create a replacement for the SpotPass, the “Pretendo Network” created for the Nintendo network. Fan efforts like this are what keep the gaming community alive and it seems it often falls to players themselves to archive game data when companies could be doing so much more to help them along.

The bittersweet farewells on Twitter/X and nostalgic reviews by The Verge and Engadget are enough to bring a tear to the eyes of the toughest gamers. Another conclusion to the Super Mario Maker legacy came as player sanyx91smm2 from Team 0% managed to clear the previously undefeated “Trimming the Herbs” player-created level by Ahoyo. The stage was long thought to be impossible to finish but just days before the shutdown, the level was officially complete, marking a satisfying end for the community. 

These stories are signs of how much of an impact the Wii U and 3DS had, despite their limited popularity and sales. The Switch is the only Nintendo console with online server access for now, which leaves the door open for a new device to take its place.