The 3DS has been the go-to portable games machine of its time, testified by the sales of over 65 million units, and is a shining example of how to make a perfect handheld console. Its only other portable rival, the Playstation Vita is as good as dead these days, and mobile games don’t even come close to meeting the phenomenon that is the 3DS. It has a large and stable fanbase and its market dominance has been absolute for the past few years. Things weren’t always successful however, and early reception was poor to put it politely. When it first came out, all the way back in 2011, it’s major selling point was that it packed the 3D without the need for 3D-glasses. There weren’t really any great games on it at the time and the 3D tidbit was all Nintendo had going for it. Due to this, it was overshadowed by other consoles at the time and for a long time, bought units lay forgotten in dark bedroom corners collecting dust. To combat this, Nintendo decided to change their marketing strategy. They slashed the price so much, people claimed they were digging their own grave. They also stopped focusing on the 3D gimmick and started to work on actually making good games. Slowly but surely, the 3DS rose from its former position until it became Nintendo’s anthropomorphised golden boy. Arguable even more so than the Wii U when it was released.
For a portable console you can take anywhere, the 3DS has an insanely large collection of games. There is literally something for everyone with family friendly, light hearted games like Animal Crossing and hardcore games like Monster Hunter for the more serious gamer. Nintendo also played into nostalgia quite heavily by reintroducing old games such as Ocarina of Time and breathing fresh life into their old franchises like Fire Emblem: Awakening, the first entry of the series on the 3DS, breaking records and bringing in new fans. The games aren’t just pocket sized versions of the main console games, they are fresh and engaging experiences that stand in a league of their own.
At the end of the day, there’s basically a shit-ton of games you can play on the 3DS and regardless of which game you get, it’s almost certainly going to be good. With just over 1000 titles, there are multiple opportunities for you to entertain yourself. Another quality which makes the 3DS so great is the fact that it has backwards compatibility, unlike some other consoles *cough* Playstation 4! *cough*. The ability to play old games is one of the main reasons the “PC Master Race” is a thing. On the 3DS, you can play any of the games released on the DS so that’s a further 2000 more games you can play. On the eShop, Nintendo have also started releasing old games to buy and download so you can even enjoy games from literally 20 years ago.
The 3D feature isn’t commonly used these days, and in fact, no one really talks about it anymore. But once you’re able to adapt to it, it’s actually really amazing. Cut scenes and battle sequences are brought to life and literally jump out at you. It makes all the surreal worlds and adventures all the more engaging and impressive; definitely worth the extra battery drain.
Unfortunately all great things must come to an end and the same is true for the 3DS. People predict that it has another year or so to go before Nintendo decide to move on. What comes next is anyone’s guess. A lot of people are looking at the Switch as the successor, which could be possible, but right now, it’s still too early to tell. Maybe we’ll get a slimmer version of the Switch in the future because at the moment, it’s a little too big and clunky and not exactly pocket size. On the other hand, we could get a console that’s a sequel to the 3DS. What’s unique about the 3DS and the DS is that they both have dual screens, so trying to adapt the gameplay of certain titled to the single-screened Switch would take some work. Only Nintendo can answer these questions, it’s just a matter of when; maybe E3 will reveal some secrets.
Having said that, I still believe the 3DS is a worthwhile investment. You still have access to a large variety of games which stand their ground for the next couple of years. With portability, you also have the freedom of gaming wherever you are, even when you should be paying attention in a lecture. The 3DS isn’t just the portable console of its generation, it’s a platform for gaming across the ages and a means to play many beloved titles from more than three decades of gaming history while on the move.
I know all this talk has probably whetted your gaming appetite, so next I’ve prepared a list of recommendations of what you should be playing on the 3DS. (If you don’t see Pokémon it’s because I’ve played and talked about it to death and maybe it’s time to move on)
The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds
With Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask being remakes of old titles, A Link Between Worlds was the first original Zelda title on the 3DS and boy, did it deliver. It is an amazing production that is lovingly crafted with nostalgia from previous games and built to perfectly fit the specifications of the 3DS. It makes a great use of the 3D and has enough new features to make it look exquisite. While most Legend of Zelda games are a little more hardcore and are for the serious gamers, this game reminds you to have fun again and marvel at beautiful sceneries.
Fire Emblem: Awakening
The Fire Emblem series was on its way out and it looked like only a miracle could save the franchise. And indeed a miracle happened, and its name was Awakening. This sequel combined features from old games while streamlining everything to make it suitable for newcomers. It is an amazing turn-based, tactical game with a gameplay that gets you thinking and a well-written story that keeps you engrossed. It’s battle mechanics are addicting and personally I think Awakening is the perfect game to bring in new fans and remind old players why they love the series so much.
Phoenix Wright: Dual Destinies
One-half detective game and one-half visual novel, Dual Destinies tells the story of defence attorney Phoenix Wright and his subordinates Apollo and Athena (I’m not kidding, these are the characters’ actual names) as they get involved in all sorts of adventures in the name of justice. This game is a good entry point into the series as no prior knowledge is necessary. It’s a bit light on action but it’s worth playing if you’re a wannabe detective, animé fan, someone who likes jokes and/or a hawk-enthusiast (Play the game, it’ll make sense)
Super Smash Bros.
Super Smash Brothers is one the most popular fighting game franchises of all time and one which everyone has heard of. The fact that its latest entry was released on the 3DS makes it all the better. The newest addition to the Smash Bros family introduces several new players and stages, while taking the series to new heights and reworking its competitive edge. Admittedly, there’s not much in single player mode so this is a game best served to multiple people. Just make sure they’re on the same level of skill as you, otherwise it quickly becomes you losing immediately and watching the other players fight for half an hour.
Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy
This is the sixth entry in the Professor Layton series, but one that’s written so you can enjoy it with no prior knowledge of the others. Professor Layton is a series that is less about frantic button mashing and more about using your head to solve puzzles and move the story forward. This game features a rich world, full of colourful characters, and offers lots of things to do and even more player choice regarding in what order you do them. If you want to take things easy and like to actually think before you jump, this is the game for you.
Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon
It’d be a disservice not to mention a Mario game on this list but I’m going to go with a spin-off title as opposed to a main series game. This game will make you laugh as you control Mario’s lesser known, skinnier and younger brother Luigi and basically become a ghostbuster. Beyond that, it has a nice multiplayer mode as well as some cool features that make this a fun enjoyable experience. It’s nice to see Luigi stand on his feet and be resourceful in taking down ghosts as opposed to playing second fiddle to Mario like he usually does.