Last year at Unite 2015 Tokyo, the Unity development team announced their intention to bring the popular engine software to the New Nintendo 3DS and New Nintendo 3DS XL. That goal has now been achieved. Currently, some Unity features, namely Shadow Maps, have not been implemented due to hardware limitations. However, Unity version 5.2 is on the way and will offer additional improvements. There is no set release date for 5.2, as distribution will only occur “once it’s proved itself by getting a game through Nintendo’s mastering system,” according to the development team.
New version aside, would-be developers can already acquire and use the Unity software as is by joining Nintendo’s Developer Program at their portal site. For those without a New 3DS, the engine will supposedly run on older 3DS models, though not as easily. The Unity team strongly advises using a New 3DS to run the software. They have also created a blog post detailing all the current engine’s features, plus tips on getting user-made games ready for official release.
The main points to consider when making a Unity game for 3DS are the fact that the portable system has a touch screen, which may take some work getting menus and other options onto that lower screen. The other possible issue is the graphical limitation and reduced memory of the hardware compared to PC and Mac systems; however, this issue is easily mitigated by slightly downsizing texture resolution.
It took quite a while, but Nintendo is finally beginning to demonstrate serious indie support. Licenses for Nintendo systems have been available for purchase before, but having access to it for free also opens the door for fans to show off their own software creation skills. Some additional hardware, mainly development kits, are purchasable from the developer portal, and may be necessary for some parts of the process. Even so, this is an exciting time for individuals and small studios alike who can’t wait to see their creations played by gamers everywhere on a real Nintendo system.
Matt Eschbach is a PC, Mac and Android indie game developer and fiction writer. His works have won multiple monetary awards from various contests. Graduating college in 2012 with a major in Game Design, Matt spends his time making stuff up and then building it. His favorite hobby… is sleeping.