The 3DS might be one of the best handheld systems I’ve ever owned. It has essential title after essential title, and third party games meant the console was an essential. No where else had Monster Hunter, in addition to a massive selection of JRPGs, Zelda games both old and new, a bunch of different Pokémon titles and way too much more to mention. If you’ve owned a 3DS, you’ve likely got a decent size game collection to prove it.
And it has been an amazing run, but sadly, I think it’s time we call it quits on the 3DS, and I think Nintendo agree.
Just looking at the hardware itself, it is starting to shows signs of age. Even the New 3DS, with a little bit more horsepower, isn’t exactly helping games look their best, even if the C-Stick nub is a welcome addition.
Fire Emblem Warriors was released as a New 3DS exclusive to avoid the framerate issues that plagued Hyrules Warriors Legends on the original 3DS, but still when compared to the Nintendo Switch version, even a smooth framerate can’t save Fire Emblem Warriors from looking plain ugly on older hardware. It’s even worse, now that the Switch is here with a handheld mode, making any advantages the 3DS used to have, like portability, completely mute.
Nintendo will struggle to get any more hardware iterations out of the 3DS at this point, too. 3DS, 3DS XL, New 3DS, New 3DS XL, 2DS, New 2DS XL… It’s been a hell of a hardware line up for a single system, and it begs the question where could Nintendo possibly go from here.
It seems like a dead end. Except for one possibility. As ill-conceived it may have been then, I actually think a PSP GO situation could work. Hated for the lack of a UMD reader, the PSP GO could only support digital games, and was therefore reviled. A bad idea then, but with a hefty discount laid across the entire eshop, and a decent sized eshop giftcard included with every console, I think a digital-only 3DS could do quite well. A New 3DS GO, or something with a better naming convention.
I say this because, although I’ve loved my 3DS, I can no longer earnestly recommend the system to friends. The Switch is here now, and unless you really want to go back for some cheaper, older titles, I don’t think the 3DS is the system I’d point them to anymore.
But with a more affordable system and much cheaper games, I could happily start telling people to pick up a 3DS console. It has a fantastic library, after all, it just needs that library to be accessible at an affordable price.
If you don’t believe it’s the end of the 3DS yet, then just take a look at the line up of games it has for 2018. Dragon Quest XI, and three Atlus RPGs. I’m as excited to play Strange Journey Redux and Radiant Historia as the next guy, okay, but really? This is the entire confirmed list for the next year?
I have no doubt Nintendo will still be releasing a few 3DS titles in the next year, no doubt at all, but they will be few and far between, with that gap only getting worse.
If haven’t moved on from the 3DS yet, you’ll still likely get a few games you enjoy next year, but after that, it just might be time to retire the dual screen wonder and finally put a big part of Nintendo’s history to rest.
Read more: all your Pocket Gamer chums are sharing their thoughts on the trends that will shape 2018. Here's Harry's opinion column from earlier in the week.