How to Buy and Download Games on the Nintendo 3DS eShop

Nintendo eShop
Nintendo eShop. Image © Nintendo

If you have a Nintendo 3DS, your gaming experience isn't limited to the game cards you buy in the store and plug into the back of your system. The Nintendo eShop lets you use your 3DS to buy games and apps online from the downloadable DSiWare library. You can also access the Virtual Console and buy retro Game Boy, Game Boy Color, TurboGrafix, and Game Gear games!

Making eShop purchases

Keep in mind that the Nintendo 3DS eShop does not utilize Nintendo Points: All prices are listed in real cash denominations (USD).

  1. Make sure you have set up Wi-Fi on your Nintendo 3DS.
  2. You may need to perform a system update before you can utilize the Nintendo eShop.
  3. When your system is updated and you have a functional Wi-Fi connection, click on the Nintendo eShop icon on the 3DS's bottom screen—it looks like a shopping bag.
  4. Once you're in the Nintendo eShop, you can browse through games, including by category, genre, a keyword search. If you'd like to skip directly to buying retro handheld games, scroll until you see the Virtual Console icon and tap it.
  5. Select the game you want to purchase. A small profile for the game will pop up. Take note of the price (in USD), the ESRB rating, and the user ratings from previous buyers. Tap on the game's icon to read a paragraph explaining the game and its story. You can opt to Add the game to Your Wish List.
  6. To continue, tap Tap Here to Purchase. If necessary, add funds to your Nintendo 3DS account. You can use a credit card for a pre-paid Nintendo 3DS card. Note that the Nintendo eShop does not use Nintendo Points, unlike the virtual shopping channels on the Wii and the Nintendo DSi. Instead, all eShop transactions are done in real monetary denominations. You can add $5, $10, $20, and $50.
  1. A checkout summary screen will display the cost of the game, plus any taxes. It will also display your SD card space, which is represented as blocks. You can see how many blocks a download will take up and how many more remain on your SD card by scrolling the purchase summary with your stylus or by pressing down on the d-pad.
  2. When you're ready to complete the transaction, tap Purchase. Your download will commence (as long as you had sufficient blocks available); don't turn off the Nintendo 3DS or remove the SD card.
  3. When your download is complete, you can view the receipt or tap Continue to continue shopping in the eShop. Otherwise, press the Home button to return to the Nintendo 3DS main menu.
  4. Your new game will be on a new shelf on the bottom screen of your 3DS. Tap the present icon to open up your new game, and enjoy!

Virtual Console restore points

If you need to save a Virtual Console game quickly, you can create a restore point by tapping the bottom screen and bringing up the Virtual Console menu. Restore points let you resume a game exactly where you left off.