I Miss My 3DS

I Miss My 3DS

2013 was a good year for video games. The Last of Us, Grand Theft Auto V, Tomb Raider, Super Mario 3D World.

But when it came time to choose my game of the year, I found myself in a strange position. I found myself oscillating wildly between two games, both of which were on an unlikely platform. The games: A Link Between Worlds and Luigi’s Mansion 2. The platform: the humble 3DS.

Recently I made an effort to clear up the games drawer beneath my television. It’s a graveyard of cracked cases, charger cables, and stray battery packs for Xbox 360 controllers I no longer use. Underneath it all — squidged between a faded copy of FIFA 14 and PES 2013 — my once prized 3DS XL. Covered and dust and scratches. Unplayed. Uncharged. Curious, I pushed the game in the cartridge slot, I wonder what the last game I played was?

Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds.

A tragic realisation: I haven’t seriously played my 3DS since the tail-end of 2013. Since that incredible break-out year, back when the 3DS was arguably the most compelling console in the universe.

What the hell happened?

Since 2013 the 3DS has gone from a must have console to a piece of hardware in cruise control and I have no idea why.

Maybe it’s just my personal preferences, maybe it’s because I don’t like Animal Crossing or Pokemon. But I’ve struggled to find a compelling reason to turn on my 3DS in almost two years. Two years. And I am someone who loves Nintendo games, loves Nintendo platforms.

There was Majora’s Mask, an overdue remake one might argue, but not really a must-play title, even for Zelda fans. There was Super Smash Bros. — I’d rather play the big boy version on the Wii U. Pokemon? Not my thing.

More recently? The Legend of Zelda: Tri-Force heroes piqued my interest and by all accounts was very, very good — but that was a game that focused exclusively on multiplayer. I’m a grown man. I don’t have three friends willing to sit in my living room and play a Zelda spin-off cobbled together from old textures from A Link Between Worlds. That’s just not gonna happen. Particularly when gaming time is limited and Fallout 4, Bloodborne and Metal Gear Solid V exist.

It seems like the 3DS just stopped being a compelling games device — like all of sudden. It wasn’t a slow, downward spiral — more like a calculated leap off a cliff. Overnight the 3DS went from the best games console in the world to a clunky, unloved hunk of plastic gathering dust.

The 3DS went from Super Mario 3D Land, A Link Between Worlds, Mario Kart 7 and Luigi’s Mansion 2 to Yo-Kai Watch and Animal Crossing spin-offs almost overnight. Kinda like Nintendo rushed out its requisite brand names, dusted their collective hands and said, “whelp, looks like we’re done here”.

You could argue that I should play [insert your favourite 3DS game here] — that I’m being a stubborn curmudgeon who hates Pokemon and therefore fun — but the truth is that Nintendo hasn’t made a world-class, must-play game for its most popular platform in a strangely sustained amount of time.

What the hell gives? There are well over 50 million 3DS units in the wild. By any measure, particularly compared to the Wii U, that’s a staggering success. Why ignore that? Why not support the 3DS in the way it deserves to be supported. Maybe it was battlestations in an attempt to rescue the Wii U, maybe it’s amiibo — maybe Nintendo is funneling development resources to the Nintendo NX. But regardless, the 3DS feels like an abandoned platform at this point, and that’s incredibly disappointing.

Worse: there’s no relief from the drought, at least that I can see. Metroid Prime: Federation Force? That’s what we get? Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam? Like that is literally what 3DS owners have to look forward to at this point.

Here’s the crazy thing: if someone were to ask me today if they should buy a 3DS? I’d say absolutely. It has an incredible and varied back catalogue. Some of the best games released in the last five years are on the 3DS. But for people like me? People who were there from day dot? The 3DS is something we talk about in the past tense.

And that makes me sad. I miss my 3DS.


  • Me too. I have a pile of shame growing for my 3DS. Last game I played on it was Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate.

    Hopefully Ace Attorney next year changes that, assuming it heads west…

  • I got mine late, had like 2 years of absolutely loving it (your articles led me to buy it, thanks Mark!) but like you I haven’t used mine in a long time. Not as long as 2013 though, I enjoyed the pokemon games, bravely default, fire emblem and I had a back log of DS titles I hadn’t played to occupy me too (still need to play the last layton and phoenix wright but I got burnt out playing those series all in one go). I’m not giving up hope though, I’ve got Yo Kai Watch coming, then there will be the next fire emblem and the next bravely default. I also have a Vita and that’s a console that’s been a huge let down for me (I know some people love all the jrpgs and while I found I enjoyed some they tend to have good gameplay but be in genres that I’m not as in to).

    I find it odd you didn’t mention the new fire emblem or bravely second in your article here though or did you mean to talk only about Nintendo franchises?

  • I think the 3DS is one of those things that you get out of the habit of playing.
    Once you pick it up again though, you realise how crappy most mobile games are by comparison, and it ends up back in your kit-bag again. Some of the newer titles I played this year.

    Code Name: S.T.E.A.M
    Shovel Knight
    Super Smash Bros
    Majora’s mask
    Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate
    Professor Layton vs Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney
    Retro City Rampage DX

  • I’ve never played a pokemon game though, I really should check it out one day, but it doesn’t look like something I’d enjoy

      • What is the basic game mechanic, I know nothing about it other than little creatures live in egg things and you have to catch them all.

        • Basically a simple jrpg where you walk around fighting your pokemon against random wild pokemon that you can catch and add to your team or fight against other NPC’s trained teams, you level yours up, build a team with good strengths and beat NPC boss characters pokemon teams to advance the story. It’s like the early final fantasy games if you could catch your enemies and add them to your party.

          • Exactly this @poita. Not hard to get into but if you are a sucker for JRPGs then you’ll be hooked 😛

          • Plus if you get really in to it there’s more in depth things like breeding and trying to catch certain special types for that, and trading and online matches and the like.

          • I wouldn’t go quite that far. I’m heavily into JRPGs myself and never really got into the Pokemon games; mostly because I’ve never been an enthusiast for “monster breeder” style games. I gave up on Ni no Kuni well before finishing it for pretty much the same reason.

            If you like JRPGs with a collecting/breeding mechanic, the Pokemon is probably the best example out there (although Ni no Kuni probably has a more interesting plot.)

          • I never saw it as the hunting breeding type though. Well hunting yes, but it just happens on the way through. Never got into the really crazy stuff like shinies, breeding etc etc.

  • This would still be the case if it was region free, too.

    You can’t discuss the 3DS and its place in the here and now, or its place in history, especially on a gaming site without talking about mobile.

    This year I’ve sunk a lot of time into my 3DS, but it’s been for ‘grazing’ and bite-sized chunks here and there. The Pc and consoles – for better or worse – take up the lion’s share of my gaming time too and there are too many good titles on all the handhelds/mobiles that I am missing out on because of this.

    A weird problem to have.

  • ummm…. Fire Emblem? Im sure playing the shizz out of that… and Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam looks awesome! I do see where your coming from, the 3DS’s prime is probably past us, but hey, it was a good run, and I bet there’ll still be a couple of surprises down the road.

  • Agreed Mark. I recently picked up my 3DS to do my yearly Chrono Trigger playthrough, but it has been gathering dust otherwise.

    I had a brief look at the 3DS store the other night, and there was nothing new worthy of my time. It’s like a shovelware graveyard.

  • I take mine to work everyday to get random streetpasses, then I collect my puzzle pieces and play Streetpass Quest, but that’s about it. Playing proper games on the bus doesn’t work too well when it’s a bumpy ride, it shakes the screen too much. Plus there hasn’t been much worth playing lately.

  • Agreed.

    For the reasons you listed above, they have pretty much abandoned the system. NeXt.

    I think the only games that got me to carry my 3DS on me this year were Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate and the eShop title Block Boy. In past years you’d never catch me without it.

  • Been in a similar state too. The last time I really sunk my teeth into a 3DS game was with Monster Hunter 4 at the start of the year. Then pretty much ignored it until PAX came along demanding StreetPass attention. At least Shovel Knight’s now got me using it again.

    Chibi Robo, Tri Force Heroes, Codename STEAM, Majora… all of them picked up this year, all of them untouched. Looking at what I played last year, it looks like mostly just catching up on the previous year’s stuff I didn’t get to. Link Between Worlds, Pokemon Y. Grabbed but didn’t play Kirby. Then Smash came along, and got a bit of attention but not a whole lot.

    Where did all the games go?

    • Yep. That’s why we’re only getting “filler” games such as Tri-Force Heroes and Federation Force, instead of actual sequels. They’ll be saving all the good stuff for the new console.

  • Worse: there’s no relief from the drought, at least that I can see.

    Fire Emblem: Fates? Bravely Second? Dragon Quest VII and VIII? New Layton, Phoenix Wright games? Monster Hunter X? Shin Megami Tensei IV Final if that ever arrives here?

    It’s not a great outlook but it’s not a complete wasteland. There were some okay games in 2014 and 2015 too.

    For me and the sorts of games I play the Vita has far and away the better library as a portable, but the 3DS does have stuff periodically. Fire Emblem alone is huge – Awakening single-handedly justified owning the platform for me. I had a lot of buyer’s remorse over the 3DS before that.

    • Don’t forget Etrian Odyssey: Knight Of Fafnir, Hyrule Warriors, Yo-Kai Watch, Story of Seasons, Pokemon Mystery Dungeon, Project X Zone 2, and Final Fantasy Explorers amongst others will also help revitalise a parched land.

      • It seems alright if you’re into RPGs and the like. Of all those (and what Neg mentioned) I’m only mildly interested in Hyrule Warriors, pretty much.

        I guess there’s always backlog.

  • Finally started using my 3DS again last week after probably an 18 month break. Fired up Pokemon Y and started again. 2 hours in (on the plane) and my girlfriend stole it off me when I wasn’t looking. I think she’s clocked up 75% of the gametime now hahaha.

  • This is probably part of the reality of why I’ve now reset Pokémon games over 70,000 times in the last year trying to catch shinies.

    Because there’s nothing really else to play. Nothing big.

      • Indeed. We’ve got the week between Christmas and new year daily clear, need to have some board games fun times.

        • I am at krikket on Boxing Day; other than that, no plans. Drop me an email at charlie at (my username) point org for exchangement of contact details, or suggest somewhere to catch up over the next couple of weeks for a natter… 🙂

  • Only had mine 2 weeks. 🙂 Pokemon Y is fun. Bravely Default is stunning. Monster Hunter 4 I’m enjoying a lot.

    I love my Vita but I’m paranoid when I carry it around. The 3DS goes in a pocket when I’m walking around. It gets opened when I’ve got 10 mins to do a quick battle or look at Streetpass. It’s awesome.

  • I’ve been finishing off my DS backlog. Finished the Castlevania games properly, going to go onto Final Fantasy A2 next and finally finish all the quests instead of fluffing around buying up whole countries.

  • A link between worlds was the last 3ds game I played through properly. I’ve picked it up every now and then since then, but haven’t played anything through like I did with link between worlds.

  • Worse: there’s no relief from the drought, at least that I can see. Metroid Prime: Federation Force? That’s what we get? Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam? Like that is literally what 3DS owners have to look forward to at this point.

    I’m sure there’s more, but there’s also the new Fire Emblem coming out. The last one was amazing, so it’s certainly worth keeping an eye out for.

  • It’s always frustrating to read articles like this because what the author is always saying is “There are no games on X platform that I want to play.” As many people have said, the upcoming games for the 3DS are many and varied and the only reason to think it’s losing appeal is because you personally have no interest in the upcoming games.

    I think the real interesting observation here is what happened to the New 3DS. Apart from a few articles on how certain games play better on it, there’s been absolutely no games developed exclusively for it other than Xenoblade Chronicles.

  • I only pull my 3DS XL out whenever a new Pokemon game comes out.

    So far I have 2 games so my 3DS but I still think it was money well spent.

    I got a few hundred hours out of it at least!

  • I think the real reason for this is that Nintendo are no longer concentrating on big games for 3DS. They’re focusing on “Free to start” experiences: basically falling into a standard mobile style of limited play without constant pay. It’s a bit sad, and I don’t think that it’s going to change with the move into the new generation. If anything, they’re going to start moving it to consoles 🙁

  • Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam? Like that is literally what 3DS owners have to look forward to at this point.

    And if I said this is my most hyped game of the year… 😛 To me at least it would be worth buying a 3DS for!

  • I think I’d use my 3DS if I had one of the new XL’s, but I just struggle with the tiny screens. I can’t game very long on handheld devices so I’ve kind of lost interest. I just can’t justify an upgrade because I know the new one would suffer the same fate.

  • Burned out on Animal Crossing and my wife wanted her 3DS back. She played Luigi’s Mansion 2 for a week or two before setting it aside. I told myself I wanted to play Pokémon, but couldn’t actually be bothered. It gathers dust.

  • I kinda think it’s less “I miss my 3DS” and more “I miss great handheld gaming”. I love playing handheld games while watching through TV series, so I’m hanging out for those 4 or 5 big RPGs coming at the start of next year. But yeah, mobile seems to have punched handheld in the gut.

    As an aside, box boy! Was pretty good.

  • I couldn’t disagree more, but then I like Pokemon. Like many others have said Monster Hunter 4U is great, totally a must play game. But then I guess I’m an optimist, the only person on the planet it seems that enjoyed Happy Home Designer.

    • Monster Hunter was good, but it’s been nearly 10 months since it was released. Even Splatoon couldn’t hold my attention for that long, and it’s become one of my most played games ever.

  • I’m carrying my 3DS around everywhere and playing on my daily commute, but it seems like no one else is any more. I’m getting StreetPasses less and less frequently 🙁

    • This. Where did everyone go??

      I used to get at least half a dozen every day on the trip to and from work. Now about a year later I’m back at the same place doing the same trip and am lucky to be getting one or two each day.

  • I was all like “Me too…” then I went and got my 3DS, loaded up a new game of Shovel Knight and now I’m neglecting the rest of my life.

    Thanks a lot.

  • Sounds like they are prepping for the Nintendo NX to be both handheld and home gaming console. Just less games for it, a slowing down of releases and the direct resources elsewhere.

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