Opinion: Nintendo Badge Arcade Is Dead, In The Worst Way Possible

The Nintendo Badge Arcade is a free application on 3DS, and it seems that Nintendo has pulled the plug from the service in the worst way possible. As of right now in Europe, whilst still completely functional, the Nintendo Badge Arcade is no longer offering free plays. It also isn’t rotating its selection of badges. Players can use the practice catcher to earn free plays, but they are limited to your skill and the RNG of the crane.

Previously, every day would come with two free plays of the machines, as well as any bonus plays you earned by scoring high or getting lucky in the practice badge catchers. The machines would also rotate every day between a variety of franchises, with characters and icons from both Nintendo titles and third party games.

nintendo badge arcade badges selection
The Nintendo Badge Arcade had a huge collection of badges to customize the 3DS home screen.

We expected changes to come to the Nintendo Badge Arcade as soon as we heard about the 3DS closure, but the fan community’s expectations were all over the place. Some of us thought Nintendo would keep the app alive and just remove the paid elements, especially considering that online play is going to remain active for the foreseeable future on 3DS. Others however speculated that the Nintendo Badge Arcade would be shut down for good, leaving its pink bunny owner without a job. What Nintendo has done, if it stays this way, is the worst of both worlds.

The best case scenario would of course be to keep the service around. The free plays were already given daily, so whilst online services remained for 3DS, it could just check us in daily to get the plays. Alternatively, as there is no longer any money to be made, Nintendo could well have just removed the limited free and paid plays all together, making every machine free to use for fun. Instead, Nintendo has opted to leave a pretty measly selection of badges around, but the only way to earn them is on the tedious practice catcher. Not only is it luck based how many free plays you can get, but the practice catcher only has four badges in, limiting the score you can get. Previous practice catchers have had lots of badges, giving you more chances to win.

nintendo badge arcade machine
The removal of free plays severely limits the inherent fun of the Arcade.

The alternative here would be to shut down the Nintendo Badge Arcade entirely. That’s certainly very sad, and as a long time fan of the service, I’d hate to see it go like that. However, at least this approach would make more sense. If Nintendo doesn’t want to support paid plays, it doesn’t want to offer free daily plays and it doesn’t want the software to be downloaded again, why not give the friendly Arcade Bunny his well-needed retirement? There are unearthed files in the game that show the Arcade Bunny saying farewell to the player for good, but this dialogue has never been used. If Nintendo really don’t care for the Nintendo Badge Arcade anymore, why keep it alive?

Letting the Nintendo Badge Arcade linger like this almost feels cruel. It’s a dangling carrot that there are full machines here with lots of badges, but your chance to earn them have been severely limited to the point of futility. Even if you do earn them, the vast majority of the badge machines are gone. The Nintendo Badge Arcade, once a bustling haven for 3DS customisation, is now nothing more than an abandoned and stagnant arcade.

nintendo badge arcade home screen
The Arcade Owner may still be around, but the soul of the Arcade is gone.

Let’s leave a disclaimer here that it’s still early days. Not every territory has seen the 3DS eShop closure yet, so perhaps something miraculous might happen tomorrow when it’s closed for everyone. The eShop listing for the Nintendo Badge Arcade in the PAL region does say that whilst paid plays are gone, it’s still possible to “play the practice catcher and use free plays.” Unfortunately these free plays don’t seem to be the ones automatically given to the player, but ones to be earned through a little skill and a lot of luck. This situation is an evolving one. Right now however, it seems that Nintendo has chosen the fate of the Nintendo Badge Arcade already, and it’s not pretty.

Were you using the Nintendo Badge Arcade? Are you happy with how Nintendo is handling the game after the eShop closure? Let us know in the comments below, and keep your eyes on GameLuster for more gaming news and opinions.

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Jayke R Huempfner
1 year ago

I had downloaded Badge Arcade in the days leading up to the closure as it was recommended as an app to get while you still could. So the only way I’ve had to experience Badge Arcade is the diminished state it’s in now. As a new player, I’d say I’m a bit disappointed, but also I went this long without these badges on my 3DS home page, so I guess I can keep going for the next XX years more.

H Hog
H Hog
1 year ago

I hadn’t started up the badge arcade in years until trying it out again just before the eShop closure, and once I did I immediately remembered why – the program takes like 5 whole minutes to start up, load data, handshake with Nintendo’s servers, check for updates, reticulate splines, etc. This hasn’t changed after the closure, either.

Last edited 1 year ago by H Hog