I purchased the Animal Crossing New Leaf 3DS XL as my entrance into the system & its games.

I've recently procured a Zelda themed 3DS XL (Link Between Worlds bundle) and wanted to start playing on that one instead of the Animal Crossing one.

The game is pre-loaded on the machine and didn't come with a download code, cartridge, or e-shop code/receipt/whatever.

If I wanted to swap over to the newer 3DS I bought, would I just have to switch over the SD card or is there some special way to get my Animal Crossing to the new system? I was told there is a way but it'd wipe my Animal Crossing save - which is not an option I'm going to even consider.

2 Answers 2


What you need to do is a System Tranfer

And Nintendo says in their guide

Pre-installed games, such as Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate, will be available to redownload from the Nintendo eShop on the target system after the system transfer has been completed.

Here you can watch a complete walkthrough on how to perform a system transfer.

Keep in mind that when you do a System Transfer, your Animal Crossing 3DS must be logged to your Nintendo Network ID and your Zelda 3DS must be without an account. If the Zelda 3DS comes with a pre-loaded game, log in with your NNID to link the game to your account, then format it and proceed with the system transfer.

Some things to have in mind while doing a system transfer are specified here

For the most part, information on the target system (system being transferred to) will be overwritten by the information on the source system (system being transferred from)

  • Save data associated to DSiWare and Nintendo 3DS Downloads
  • Data associated with any pre-installed applications (Face Raiders, StreetPass Mii Plaza, etc.). Only the data associated with the source system is retained.
    • Pre-installed games (Mario Kart 7, Super Mario 3D Land, etc.) are treated as a standard Nintendo eShop game license. The license will be on the target system once the transfer is complete

Here is a picture that shows in an illustrative what is transferred and what not

Transfering data


So all your saved data will be transferred to your Zelda 3DS XL, but keep in mind that all of your data from the Animal Crossing 3DS XL will be erased but accesible from your Zelda 3DS XL (audios and photos are the only exception, so make a backup of those before transferring).

  • So you're saying that when I do the transfer, the pre-installed game is treated as an eshop game and I will be able to re-download it again (From the eShop I assume) and the save data will be present all by just using the linked system transfer process you outlined? Also, if what you say is correct about the pre-installed game, you may want to give an answer to this question
    – Mkalafut
    Commented Jun 18, 2019 at 14:10
  • 1
    Yes, according to Nintendo, when you log in with your NNID the games are treated as eshop games. And also yes, your saved data is preserved if you make a system transfer.
    – carlos.p
    Commented Jun 18, 2019 at 14:16
  • 1
    Thanks again for the detailed answer and finding this information. I'll give it a go later and report back.
    – Mkalafut
    Commented Jun 18, 2019 at 14:21
  • 1
    Here is an image (you can also find it in the 3rd link I provided) that show in a really simple way what you transfer and what you don't. nintendo.com/consumer/assets/media/images/3ds/en/…
    – carlos.p
    Commented Jun 18, 2019 at 14:28
  • That is a REALLY helpful image. Would you mind editing it into your answer? I will try all of this later after work. Thanks again for your sleuthing!
    – Mkalafut
    Commented Jun 18, 2019 at 14:33

When a game is pre-loaded through a bundle, it's basically just loaded onto the SD card without you having to do anything. So swapping the SD card would work. But is your new 3DS pre-loaded with LBW in the same way? That could make life tough, as I know how to move all files from an old card to a new one, but not how to move some files and not others...

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