How to Collect Your 20 Free 3DS Games (And Maybe a Little Cash On the Side)

Own a Nintendo 3DS or plan on getting one in the next couple of weeks? Congratulations you're now a Nintendo 3DS Ambassador and that means you get 20 free games. Right? Maybe.


Nintendo's 3DS Ambassador program isn't exactly clear cut, so we hit up Nintendo to walk us through the intricacies of the program.

Earlier this week, Nintendo announced that they were dropping the price of their 3DS from $250 to $170. To make it up to all of those early adopters of the portable gaming system, Nintendo also kicked off the ambassador program.

The program entitles members to 20 free downloadable games from the Nintendo eShop, half of them NES games and half Game Boy Advance titles.

But it's not automatic.

You need to sign on to the eShop with your 3DS before the Aug. 12 price drop kicks in. No Internet? Sorry, you may be out of luck. Once you do, or if you already have, then your system is signed up for the program. I say your system, because the program is tied to the device, not the user. If you were, for instance, to have registered the 3DS and then sold it, you've also essentially sold those 20 free games to whoever buys that system from you.


It remains unclear, even with the clarification help, whether you'll be able to somehow retain those games if your system breaks or if down the line you decide to buy a new 3DS, say one with a different color.


Now about those games.

The release says that those free games will include 10 NES Virtual Console titles, which will later go on sale, and 10 Game Boy Advance Virtual Console games, which won't.

I went to Nintendo to try and clarify a bit about those games. This is what I learned:

The full list of games has not yet been determined, aside from the five examples that Nintendo announced for NES and GBA. While it hasn't been announced yet, it's possible that there may only 10 GBA and 10 NES games total coming to the virtual console total. That's an educated guess though.


The announced examples for the NES are: Super Mario Bros., Donkey Kong Jr., Balloon Fight, Ice Climber and The Legend of Zelda. The GBA examples are: Yoshi's Island: Super Mario Advance 3, Mario Kart: Super Circuit, Metroid Fusion, WarioWare, Inc.: Mega Microgame$ and Mario vs. Donkey Kong.

While we know that the NES games will become available starting Sept. 1, and the GBA games by the end of the year, we don't yet know is how long a person will have to redeem those free games. I expect we'll be learning more about then once the program goes live.


So can you take advantage of this ambassador program? Sure, but it's a bit of a gamble. Since the registration is tied to the console it means you're going to want to go to a retail store that price matches (like Best Buy) but is still selling these systems at the inflated prices. Make sure the 3DS will qualify before you buy it. Once the drop hits go back and get your partial refund.

It may sound a bit skeevy, but I figure that any retailer that is knowingly selling hardware at a price that will drop in a couple of weeks, deserves the extra heat.


You can contact Brian Crecente, the author of this post, at You can also find him on Twitter, Facebook, and lurking around our #tips page.

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