Nintendo Shuts Down Online Services for Wii U and 3DS, but Fan Project Pretendo Is Keeping Them Alive

Nintendo Shuts Down Online Services for Wii U and 3DS, but Fan Project Pretendo Is Keeping Them Alive

Fans are mourning the loss of the Wii U and 3DS servers after Nintendo shut them down yesterday, but a fan-driven endeavor called Pretendo is offering a helping hand for those looking to get a few more Splatoon and Super Smash Bros. matches in.

Nintendo announced plans to shutter the servers last year. At the time, the Mario company said the move would mean the discontinuation of online cooperative play, ranking systems, and data distribution, with the only remaining services being Pokémon Bank and Poké Transporter. Although Wii U and 3DS owners are currently still able to download update data and re-download past purchases, the server shutdowns brought the end of an era.

Pretendo aims to fix that. Its website describes it as an “open-source project that aims to recreate Nintendo Network for the 3DS and Wii U using clean-room reverse engineering.” That means free, continued access to online features for Nintendo hardware that is planned to “exist long after the inevitable closure of Nintendo Network.”

Pretendo is, unfortunately, still very much a work in progress, and there are a handful of caveats to keep in mind if you’re someone who likes to revisit older hardware. If you’re looking to get the full, unofficial Nintendo online experience, you’ll need to hack your devices and install the proper software.

Although server shutdowns arrived yesterday, the Pretendo team is making good progress in bringing the project to life. Looking at its detailed progress page, gaming fans can see which games and features are supported and which kinks still need to be ironed out. Friends systems on Wii U and 3DS, for example, are working and support everything from sending friend requests to blocking users. Mario Kart 7, meanwhile, has VS Race rooms and Battle rooms but is missing Communities and Community rankings.

Pretendo isn’t available to the public. On an FAQ page, the developers explain that they aren’t sure when it will release.

“Lots of Pretendo’s features/services are developed independently (for example, Miiverse may be worked on by one developer while Accounts and Friends is being worked on by another) and therefore we cannot give an overall ETA for how long this will take,” the explanation says.

Although the Nintendo community has struggled to cope with the shuttering of the Wii U and 3DS servers, the shutdown has brought forth some fascinating community stories. The most notable revolves around Team 0%, a group of gamers who have spent the last few years completing every Mario Maker level ever made. They managed to achieve their goal just last month, mere weeks before the official servers were gone for good.

Michael Cripe is a freelance contributor with IGN. He started writing in the industry in 2017 and is best known for his work at outlets such as The Pitch, The Escapist, OnlySP, and Gameranx.

Be sure to give him a follow on Twitter @MikeCripe.

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