With yesterday’s Nintendo Direct, the last chance of new 3DS games being announced has probably passed. It’s been three months since the last major release in the form of Persona Q2, and there are zero first-party games on the horizon. While we still have Shovel Knight: King of Cards on the way, there’s really nothing else. It seems like Nintendo has wholly shifted focus onto the Switch. SNES games were announced for their online service and the Japanese Youtube service also closed a few days ago, so it really does seem like things are winding down. It’s a great time to look back at the 3DS’s legacy and take a look at what the powerful little handheld brought to the world of videogames.
The European and North American Youtube channels are still in operation, but it’s probably only a matter of time until they close down too. The anime channel (which was great for watching the Pokemon Anime) closed over a year ago, so there are very few things to do on the 3DS now, apart from play games. The 3DS can list many achievements through its lifespan, including saving Fire Emblem (with the highly successful Fire Emblem: Awakening and reintroducing Kid Icarus to modern gamers.
The Days of Miiverse
The 3DS had a great run. Over eight years of both first and third party support and a variety of great titles. Although the console was slightly less powerful than the Gamecube, it was the first Nintendo handheld that could run a 3D Pokemon game and handle an enhanced port of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. Then there was Miiverse, a form of social media where gamers could post screenshots of their gameplay and chat with fellow users. Miiverse was shared with the Wii U and was oddly addictive to customize your homepage. But, the legacy of the 3DS must just be the sheer wealth and depth of its library. From budget titles to retro virtual console games to AAA titles it certainly hit a sweet spot.
Best Pokemon and Zelda Games?
So with the Nintendo Direct earlier in the week, it seems as if it’s finally time to put the 3DS into retirement, but no matter which version you own, the little powerhouse is still the best place for Pokemon and Zelda games. Many franchises have already made the transition over to the Switch, including Pokemon and Fire Emblem, and also a definitive version of Xenoblade Chronicles was revealed at the latest Nintendo Direct. SNES titles on Switch will be great (although I actually want a true Virtual Console). But who knows, there might be a small chance we’ll get one last 3DS game in the future.
As we’ve said, with the release of the Switch, many 3DS titles are being ported over which makes exclusive 3DS titles a bit of a rarity. There are a handful exclusives that are left including Pokemon X and Y, Super Mario 3D Land and Zelda: Link Between Worlds. The dual-screen set-up of the 3DS makes it good for certain types of games, and the touchscreen gives another input method which makes the console great for RPG’s. It’s the exclusive hidden gems that I want to highlight here though, games like Heroes of Ruin, Final Fantasy Explorers and Codename: Steam. Heroes of Ruin is a great online dungeon crawler, with an engaging story, great music, and satisfying combat. If you want a Diablo-style game in your pocket, Heroes of Ruin isn’t a bad option.
Retro Gaming Paradise?
The 3DS Virtual Console is another feature of the long-lived handheld which is a real gold mine, especially for retro Game Boy games. While you could always dig around and dust off your old GBA SP, the 3DS has a higher-quality screen, and it’s so much more convenient. The 3DS Virtual Console includes Game Boy, NES, SNES, and even Sega Game Gear games. This makes it still the best place to go for classic handheld games. Super Mario Land 2: Six Golden Coins is available, a game well ahead of its time that is still (apart from Mario 64) my favorite Mario game.
Although Nintendo liked to charge a premium for the Game Boy Pokemon games on 3DS ($9.99 in comparison to $4.99), they still hold up really well and are as addictive as always. While the graphics are simple, it’s the same formula as all mainline Pokemon games. That’s another great aspect of the 3DS. Sticking to tried and tested formulas in its major franchises. While there are always certain aspects in terms of innovation, the Mario, Zelda, Pokemon and Monster Hunter games stick to the same general formula.
The 3DS went through several iterations, and while I still have my original from launch day, there are both budget and premium versions available. The ‘new’ versions of the 3DS are slightly more powerful and have better screens. They are the best way to play 3DS games. The 2DS is more of a budget kid-friendly option, with a form factor that lets it get thrown around without damage. Overall, 80 million units of the 3DS have been sold, making it a moderate success for Nintendo. While not doing the same amount of numbers as the Game Boy or Nintendo DS, the 3DS still did well during the dark days of the Wii U.
As a console capable of gorgeous 3D graphics, the N64/Gamecube ports on the system are a real highlight. I found the remake of Majora’s Mask the best version available anywhere with controls greatly refined and some dodgy areas streamlined. In fact, Majora’s Mask 3D is my favorite game on the system. I still haven’t played the Luigi’s Mansion remake, but it looks good and might be the last game I pick up for the 3DS.
While the actual 3D feature of the 3DS wasn’t as popular as Nintendo would have liked (it was phased out with the 2DS and 2DS XL) it was a cool gimmick and really did add depth to games like Super Mario 3D Land and Zelda: Link Between Worlds. Speaking of flops, probably the most disappointing title was Metroid Prime: Federation Force, which really shouldn’t have been a Metroid game. Its cutesy graphics didn’t go down well with fans, and while it’s one of the only FPS games on 3DS, it should have been a new IP.
Ongoing Third-Party Support?
So, now we’ve had the September 4th Nintendo Direct, and the 3DS wasn’t mentioned. This was the last event that I had any hope for a 3DS Indian summer so, although it hurts me to say it, I think the console has been put to bed by Nintendo. If only a third-party developer would take a chance on the system and try to make smaller-scale titles for the system. Even the PS Vita still get third party games. Overall though the 3DS was a brilliant handheld that was a marvel if you like Nintendo games or RPG’s.
I feel it’s too soon to say goodbye to the system, but I guess Nintendo has decided to go all-in on the Switch. It’s the first time ever Nintendo has had to develop for only one system. I’ll leave it for you to decide whether that’s a good thing or not.
What do you think about the 3DS’ legacy? Have you already put yours into retirement? Please post your thoughts in the comments.
Hi, I’ve played games since the 16-bit era and really enjoy indie games. That part of the industry has really blossomed in recent years and we’re getting different takes on established genres. I also really love Nintendo games. I’m currently studying for an MSc.