Want to know which Nintendo 3DS games feature local multiplayer Download Play? Here’s our updated guide.
As we move into 2018 most gamers are now focused on the Nintendo Switch. However, despite the console’s phenomenal success, the Japanese gaming giant hasn’t given up on the 3DS just yet.
Last year saw the release of the 2DS XL console, plus there some big games released in the shape of Metroid Samus Returns, and Pokémon UltraSun and UltraMoon. And there’s more to come in the next year with WarioWare Gold, and a remake of Mario and Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story.
Technologically, the 3DS is a little long in the tooth, but it remains the perfect, and affrodable, entry point for younger gamers. It’s a sturdy piece of hardware in all its iterations, and has a spectacular software library with a large number of excellent games across all genres.
One of the most overlooked features of the 3DS – and one that it shares with its DS predecessor – is Download Play, the ability to play local multiplayer using one copy of a game. The gameplay experience is sometimes a little stripped down, but it’s a great feature, especially when friends and families get together for the holidays.
Download Play isn’t as ubiquitous on the 3DS as it was on the original DS, but it is included in many of Nintendo’s first-party titles, plus a few more besides. Here’s our pick of the best 3DS Download Play games and a round-up of other games that support it.
Kirby: Planet Robobot
The game’s Team Kirby Clash mode is available for Download Play.
The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes
Nintendo’s multiplayer-focused Zelda adventure really shines in local co-op. You’ll need three players, and there are restrictions on the number of costumes guest players can acquire, but it’s an full-featured and enjoyable experience that’s both collaborative and joyously competitive.
Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon
You can only play the game’s co-op focused ScareScraper mode via Download Play but it’s a good one. Players have to explore randomly generated floors and complete a specified objective within a time limit. It’s almost the the Ghostbusters game you’ve always dreamed of.
Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games
In Download Play players can play any event in a Highlight Match or a limited version of Medley Match called Party Mix Demo DL Medley.
Mario Kart 7
Perhaps the quintessential Nintendo local multi-player game.The Download Play experience in Mario Kart 7 is extremely robust and features every single track. The only downside is that guest players can only play as a Shy Guy, but in the heat of the race it’s no big problem.
Mario Party Island Tour & Mario Party Star Rush
The 3DS Mario Party games generously give access to almost the entire game via Download Play. The only omissions are the Bowser and Challenge Towers. The system-to-system download can take a while but it’s worth the wait.
Mario Tennis Open
Anyone for Tennis? Mario Tennis Open is a relatively slender single-player game but its competitive multiplayer mode is perfect for some quick, no-thrills sporting action.
Rhythm Heaven Megamix
Up to four players can take part in the game’s Challenge Train mode.
Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed
Compared to Mario Kart 7, Sonic’s mascot racer feels lacking. There’s only one track to share and there’s no character select option but it’s technically impressive and fun in short bursts. More of a demo than a true multiplayer experience.
Star Fox 64 3D
Star Fox 64 3D features a four player Battle Mode via Download Play. Rather amusingly, the internal camera of the 3DS is used to display a live feed of your opponent’s face during battle.
Super Mario Bros. 3 (Virtual Console)
Play Super Mario Bros. 3 in two player mode, just like you did in the early ‘90s.
Super Street Fighter IV: 3D Edition
An oldie but a goodie. Guest players can only fight using Ryu but there are worse things in life.
Tetris Ultimate lives up to its name by making all of its multiplayer content available for Download Play.
Yoshi’s New Island
Yoshi’s New Island isn’t a particularly memorable game – it’s nowhere near as fun as Yoshi’s Woolly World, for instance – but there’s plenty of enjoyment to be had with its Download Play compatible party games.
Full list of 3DS Download Play titles
There are a plenty of other games that offer Download Play modes. Your mileage may vary with some these releases but Super Monkey Ball 3D and Freaky Forms Deluxe warrant a look.
- Arc Style: Baseball 3D
- Balloon Fight
- Carps & Dragons
- Cartoon Network: Punch Time Explosion
- Cooking Mama 4
- Darts Up 3D
- Deca Sports Extreme
- Freakyforms Deluxe: Your Creations, Alive!
- Ice Climber
- Kirby: Planet Robobot
- Kirby Fighters Deluxe
- Kirby Triple Deluxe
- The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes
- Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon
- Mahjong Cub3d
- Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games
- Mario and Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games
- Mario Kart 7
- Mario Party Island Tour
- Mario Party Star Rush
- Mario Tennis Open
- Metroid Prime: Federation Force
- Pac-Man Party
- Rhythm Heaven Megamix
- Snow Moto Racing
- Soccer Up Online
- Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed
- Sonic Lost World
- Star Fox 64 3D
- Super Street Fighter IV: 3D Edition
- Super Mario Brothers 3
- Super Monkey Ball 3D
- Tank Troopers
- Tecmo Bowl
- Tetris Axis
- Tetris Ultimate
- Yoshi’s New Island
If you still have the original Nintendo DS there’s an even larger library of Download Play games to enjoy. You can see the full list here.
More from Thumbsticks
- The complete list of Nintendo Switch game demos
- The 3D Super Mario games ranked, from worst to best
- 11 things the Nintendo Wii gave video games
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