The State Of The 3DS And Vita In 2016

Art: Sam Woolley

Dedicated handheld consoles have taken some beatings over the years — thanks, Steve Jobs — but as 2016 comes to a close, the 3DS is still thriving. And the Vita... well, uh, I love the Vita.

Truth is, not much has changed this year for either the 3DS or Vita. The 3DS remains a portable powerhouse, packed full of Nintendo-developed gems like Pokemon Sun and Moon (the best games yet, by many accounts) and BoxBoxBoy (a puzzle-platforming masterpiece). The new Fire Emblem didn't live up to the standards set by 2013's Awakening, but Stephen has nothing but good things to say about Kirby: Planet Robobot. This year the 3DS got a bunch of weird games, some neat StreetPass improvements, and, perhaps most importantly, Picross 3D 2. (Also a treat: SNES games on Virtual Console, if you have a New 3DS.)

Even as Nintendo focuses on the Switch, the exciting portable-console hybrid that's expected to launch in March, they're promising to support the 3DS for at least the next year or two. Games like Dragon Quest VIII, Ever Oasis, and a new Pikmin spin-off will help fill out 2017 — although it's safe to expect that new 3DS software will taper off after that.

Meanwhile, Sony continues to pretend that the Vita doesn't exist, mentioning it most frequently as a footnote to other, more important announcements. Oh yes, this game is also coming to Vita. Sometimes even Sony's own marketing ignores the Vita, portraying a game like Full Throttle, coming next year to both Vita and PS4, as a PS4 exclusive.

Still, if you're into indies and Japanese games like Dragon Quest Builders or Steins;Gate 0, the Vita is humming along this year. I haven't played nearly enough Trails of Cold Steel II or World of Final Fantasy yet, but it's nice to know they're both there. And there's plenty more on the horizon, like Danganronpa v3 and Cosmic Star Heroine. It helps that the spunky little handheld is still selling fairly well in Japan. Sony's baffling decisions and long-festering neglect haven't killed the Vita — just crippled it a little.

This is part of our 2016 "State of" series, a look at how the major consoles, VR platforms, and PC are doing this year.


    There is a pretty healthy Vita homebrew scene, version 3.60 can be "jailbroken" and i am using mine as a nvidia shield device which works pretty decently.

    Just bought a new 3DS for Pokemon Sun - So far its worth every cent, for that game alone!

    My morning/evening commutes are something i look forward to!

    At some point I bought a 3DS to see what all the fuzz is about. It's not for me.

      Same. Sold my Vita to get the amazing New 3DS on launch. Turns out it wasn't for me. Sold it and purchased another Vita.

    The 3DS was a traditional games device (ie, you buy the games, and you plug/play, what's in there is all yours) but then iterated upon, and tried to approximate what we expect from a modern fully-fledged HD console - with mixed results.

    The Vita was always treated like the poor cousin, and what it "was" was constantly rebooted and also, its reason for existing.

    Both have had their identity crises, but the 3DS is/was always built with that traditional mindset at the fore-front. I still think there's something to be said for having no account systems - your device is your ecosystem ie the PS2, the Wii, the old DS.

    The Vita looks really good, I'd get it and stay completely dis-connected from the ecosystem or integration Sony tried to push on to it. I don't necessarily want to learn and have to love another ethereal collection of content when I've already got half a dozen other media libraries I'm already having headaches over.

    There's always going to be a peak for mobile games (perhaps we have hit it?) but the possibilities for handheld gaming are endless. The Switch proved that and it isn't even out yet.

    Last edited 13/12/16 4:27 pm

    Vita is pretty mint for JRPG's and Indie stuff. Great for the daily commute

      I have so many RPGs on my Vita that I literally cannot even finish one of them.

    I make serious use of the cross save functionality the vita offers. Sure it means for bigger titles I have to buy the same game twice but hey, I already own a vita so burning money is something I'm accustomed too :p

    I still use my Vita and 3DS every day and in roughly equal measure mainly because I'm a huge JRPG fan and both systems are still getting a regular flow of them. If I wasn't then I think I'd only have ever bought a Vita. I get far more utility from it than the 3DS and the non-JRPG library is more appealing to me.

    He's right about one thing.
    BoxBoy and BoxBoxBoy are great. Can't wait for the third.

    I have both but they tend to gather dust till a game I want comes out, e.g. both my 3ds and vita have bene gathering dust till pokemon came out but I don't know of anything on the vita anytime soon that I want but since it was pointed out above full throttle is going to vita that will make me dust it off again. (I still have my original copy of full throttle on CD in the 'Lucasarts collection buddle pack 2' which came with day of the tentacle and monkey island and others.

    I got a Vita, it was a waste of money until I got no-man's sky and being able to play it in bed with the PS4 downstairs was awesome.... Until some bastards broke into my house and stole all my Sony consoles an XBOX 360, SNES, N64, and a 3DO arcade stick. I think the Vita needs some love from Sony, that crash bandicoot remake would be a good fit for it... *hint hint*.

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