The end is nigh – Animal Crossing and Mario Kart fans flock to the online modes of their favorite Nintendo 3DS and Wii U games as the service shutdown nears

Animal Crossing: New Leaf
(Image credit: Nintendo)

It's a rather sad time to be a Nintendo fan nostalgic for the 3DS and Wii U era of games. In less than three weeks, the online servers for all games on the consoles will be shut down for good, making an enormous number of online modes for fan-favorite games unplayable forever.

It's now almost 13 years since the first 3DS model launched, and nearly 12 since the Wii U, so it's fair to say that their online functionality had a good run, even if so many incredible games are about to become a lot less playable. Some of the most popular ones that'll be affected by this include Animal Crossing: New Leaf, Mario Kart 7 and 8 (the non-deluxe Wii U version), and the first Splatoon. In New Leaf, for example, players will no longer be able to visit others' towns online or play minigames over the internet on Tortimer's Island, while Mario Kart players will be stuck playing against CPU racers and friends in local play for the rest of time.

Needless to say, for anyone still playing these games regularly, or even just those who like to revisit them on occasion, it's a huge loss, and many fans are dusting off their consoles to make the most of the functionality while they can.

"Playing Animal Crossing: New Leaf for the last few weeks Nintendo's online servers [are] still available for 3DS. Trying to grind out badges I never finished in its [heyday]," one Twitter user writes, referring to the in-game achievements that'll soon be impossible to achieve if you've not got them by the time the servers shut down.

"For one last hurrah, me and @Lukario31 raced on every Mario Kart 7 track before the 3DS online shuts down," says another. 

"Two of my closest friends are going to play New Leaf with me counting down to the last moments of its online features and it’s going to be the most bittersweet feeling we ever witness, I fear," an Animal Crossing fan posts

If you also want to get in on the online action before the shutdown, functionality is set to end on April 8, 2024. It'll still be possible to download update data as well as games previously purchased from the eShop, and the Pokemon Bank and Transporter apps (which are required to transfer your old Pokemon to Nintendo Switch) will remain in operation. Otherwise, all other online functionality will be gone, in what really feels like the end of an era. 

Looking for more new Nintendo games to play? Be sure to check out our list of the best Nintendo Switch games.

Catherine Lewis
News Writer

I'm one of GamesRadar+'s news writers, who works alongside the rest of the news team to deliver cool gaming stories that we love. After spending more hours than I can count filling The University of Sheffield's student newspaper with Pokemon and indie game content, and picking up a degree in Journalism Studies, I started my career at GAMINGbible where I worked as a journalist for over a year and a half. I then became TechRadar Gaming's news writer, where I sourced stories and wrote about all sorts of intriguing topics. In my spare time, you're sure to find me on my Nintendo Switch or PS5 playing through story-driven RPGs like Xenoblade Chronicles and Persona 5 Royal, nuzlocking old Pokemon games, or going for a Victory Royale in Fortnite.