When Nintendo announced that it would have a method for transferring your DSiWare purchases to the Nintendo 3DS, we were elated. Did this mean that Nintendo was finally going to address the consumer-unfriendly practice of tying all downloadable games to the console or portable it was purchased on? This certainly put the damper on our desire to upgrade to a newer DS.
We weren't expecting the Apple iTunes model (buy once, transfer to all of your family's devices) but perhaps a limited transfer akin to the Xbox 360 license transfer tool, which you can run once a year. At long last, DSiWare transfers are a reality now - and a similar process for WiiWare is expected for the Wii U next year.
Here's how DSi transfers work (and, in some cases, don't):
- Download the free Nintendo 3DS Data Transfer Tool from the Nintendo DSi Shop on your Nintendo DSi. Also, make sure you have the most recent 3DS System Update, which enables reception of DSi data.
- Copy all items you want to move from SD Card to System Memory. Only items in System Memory can be transferred, though you can always come back for any items you skip.
- Make sure both devices are plugged in or at least well charged. Initiate the transfer on the 3DS from System Settings, Other Settings, System Transfer. Choose Full Transfer or Custom Transfer. Run the transfer tool you downloaded on the DSi from the main DSi Menu.
- Watch the Pikmin animation as your photos, sounds, Internet settings and DSiWare licenses are moved over. They will be removed from the DSi and your save data will be lost, so if you're close to finishing a DSi game you might want to postpone the transfer.
- Redownload any games you moved. Only the licenses are copied, you need to redownload the actual games from the DSi Shop to your 3DS once the licenses are moved over. They should be listed in eShop Settings, Other, Titles You've Downloaded once you've completed the license transfer.
Here's what's not so good about the deal:
Game saves are lost. As noted above, you'll lose your progress on any games that are moved though you can skip transferring them and come back for them later.
Not all software can be transferred. There were originally 19 titles that were unavailable, but since then Nintendo has added transfer support for several more of them. The current - and seemingly final - list of DSi locked titles includes FlipNote Studio (which is getting a 3DS version eventually) and the DSi Browser (replaced by the 3DS Browser) and these nine games you may have bought:
- Asphalt 4: Elite Racing
- Earthworm Jim
- Let's Golf
- Oregon Trail
- Real Soccer 2009
- Real Soccer 2010
- Sudoku Master
- Sudoku Sensei
- Sudoku Student
DSi Points already banked cannot be converted to 3DS currency or moved to your 3DS. You can still buy DSiWare on your old DSi and then transfer the license(s) assuming they are not on the list. So if you've bought a lot of DSi points, be sure to spend them before passing on your device since they're locked to it.
DSiWare games on 3DS look bad. Just like with native Nintendo DS titles, DSiWare looks best when set to original resolution and even then, not great. Hold Select and Start when you boot up a DS game to get it to load with black borders added rather than be stretched to fit the 3DS native resolution.
Let's hope the transition to Wii U isn't quite this painful...