Early in the morning on September 17th, 2020 there was buzz on Twitter that Nintendo took off any mention of the 3DS on their Japanese language website. A little bit later, a spokesperson told Polygon that the system is being discontinued and will no longer be manufactured. As big of a bummer this is, the writing has been on the wall for the handheld’s demise since the announcement of the Switch. We all knew this was coming eventually, and it finally happened.
The 3DS has had a stellar 9 year run as a premier handheld console for Nintendo. Even with the rocky start it had back in 2011 with that insane $249 price tag, the system became a beloved handheld and sold a good 75.87 million units (across all models). Thanks to The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds, I started playing video games again and getting more and more into them. I was in a rut when the game came out, and the game eventually helped me out of it. My 3DS was also the system where I finally was able to experience gaming masterpieces like Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask thanks to 3DS remakes. It was also where I was introduced to the amazing Fire Emblem series with Fire Emblem: Awakening. For a good chunk of time, my 3DS was my main console. I was able to play Smash Bros. on it, Mario Kart 7 was amazing, and the new Pokemon games looked nothing short of gorgeous on the system. It truly felt like you had a real next gen console in the palm of your hands. The 3D gimmick is pretty cool but I found myself turning it off most of the time, mostly to save battery life since it would drain the battery quicker. Even when the glasses-less 3D effect lost its luster, games looked amazing on the system. One game I spent a ton of time playing was Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance and that game not only looked great, but it sounded great too. The sound on this system was top notch for a handheld and a big leap from the original DS. Sure some DS games had voice acting, but the 3DS pushed the envelope and took handheld gaming to the next level.
Even for retro gamers the handheld was neat and had a little something for everyone. On my personal one I’ve downloaded Super Mario Bros., The Legend of Zelda (original), Pokemon Red and Yellow versions, and got the Mega Man Legacy collection for dirt cheap. The Nintendo eShop had a ton of great NES titles for a great price and kept adding them over time. One big caveat that I have to mention is the lack of GBA games to all consumers minus those who were part of the ambassador program. For those who don’t know, when the 3DS first came out, the $249 price tag was a bit much and put off many gamers. Eventually Nintendo had something called the “Ambassador Program”. They were going to lower to price of the system but if you bought one before the price cut you would become a 3DS ambassador and got access to a whole slew of GBA games (one of them being Metroid: Fusion). Now we know the system is capable of running GBA games but the straight refusal to put those on the 3DS eShop and only on the Wii U shop is maddening to me. Also if you only have a original generation 3DS, then you’ll be out of luck if you wanted to download any SNES games that were added later down the line. Only new 3DS and new 2DS systems could run those, and even a few games like Xenoblade Chronicles were only compatible with the New Nintendo 3DS/2DS. Even with the nonexistence of GBA games to the shop, the selection of original NES, Game Boy, and Game Boy Color games aren’t half bad, they even include the nearly impossible to find game Shantae for the GBC. They also throw in a few SEGA Game Gear games as well. Being able to get the original versions of Gold, Silver, and Crystal for only $10 is a steal in my book and the best part is that they run great. Plus the 3DS is still backwards compatible with all DS games so even though consumers got a little screwed over on the GBA front, there was still a whole library of DS games they could play and enjoy.
All complaints aside, the 3DS was truly a remarkable system that has an amazing library of games that many still play to this day. I finally snagged a copy of Metroid: Samus Returns recently and am so excited to play it. Even though Nintendo won’t be making any more systems the eShop is still up and running and games for the system are still being sold at retailers. So the handheld may be on it’s last legs, but looking at it’s predecessors and how well they are doing on the retro market, the 3DS will probably still be around for a very long time to come.