The 3DS: A Year In Review

The 3DS: A Year In Review

Arguably, the 3DS did best of any console on the market… and it’s not even a console! Nintendo, despite its problems with the Wii U, continues to absolutely dominate the handheld gaming space. The 3DS had a ton of interesting console exclusives, huge AAA hits, lots of interesting indie games, and a ton of new apps. It’s a device so prominent that people are getting Streetpass hits even in remote rural areas. It has one of the largest install bases that Nintendo has seen. So the big question is, why is Nintendo looking to discontinue it? Let’s take a look at how the 3DS did this year and find out.

Let’s start with the games… I’m going to have to take a deep breath for this one…


Bravely Default, Smash Bros, Persona Q, Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire, Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse, Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy, Kirby Triple Deluxe, Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright, Mario Golf, Fantasy life, Tomodachi Life, Ultimate NES Remix, Yoshi’s New Island, Cooking Mama 5, and more are some of the great games you had to choose from on the 3DS last year, not to mention you still had its humongous backlog of AAA games to experience. In fact, Smash Bros. has sold better on the 3DS than it has on the Wii U, even though may people regard it as the inferior version.

Not only that, but the 3DS was a great home for indie games. Many people bought Shovel Knight on this platform, not to mention there were tiny games made by big studios to choose from like Azure Striker Gunvolt and Theatrythm Final Fantasy Curtain Call. In addition, people are more likely to purchase indie games on handheld consoles because of their low price, which lead to big sales of games like Retro City Rampage DX. The 3DS eShop is far easier to use than the Wii U’s, and has provided better service, thus increasing the 3DS’s digital sales as well.

Keep in mind, though, the 3DS is always hindered by the size of its SD card, so make sure you invest in a large one if you are going to be downloading a lot of games.

The 3DS also shares the Wii U’s drawback of not really managing online accounts well. Even though buddy and friend lists have become simpler and easier to handle, players still have to mess around with friend codes to even get on a buddy list. Online friend notifications are hard to see, and this makes setting up online games of Smash Bros. very hard to do. As a result, online communities have cropped up specifically for exchanging friend code information, especially when it comes to games like Bravely Default and Persona Q, where having this info can give you a boost ingame. Certain games, like the aforementioned Persona Q, have also enabled the sharing of data through QR codes, which is remarkably innovative.

Unfortunately, the 3DS’s social functions begin and end there. There are no extra programs like Skype to speak of and no video or audio chat functions unless they are specifically part of a game’s feature set. Sure, you can send people text messages and doodles, and there is always Miiverse, but that’s not particularly useful or popular.

The 3DS: A Year In Review

The 3DS has some streaming media functions, but to be honest, they are slow and a bit clunky. YouTube and Hulu both take a long time to load, don’t have a very good user interface, and the video quality isn’t that great, but it’s a nice afterthought. There’s also no particular way to just put a video on an SD card and play it without futzing with file formats once again.

One thing to be wary of, the hacking community has recently made many strides in getting homebrew software to run on the 3DS. This was originally done through an exploit in the game Cubic Ninja, but that has since been patched away. Still, more softmods are being designed by hackers by the day, more on the 3DS than on the Vita. This may be attractive to you, if you like seeing community efforts change the way games are played, but it also might be undesirable, as it might signal the beginning of piracy. Either way, keep it in mind as the console’s lifetime moves forward.

Perhaps the most controversial announcement of last year was the announcement of the New Nintendo 3DS, a more powerful 3DS with a second thumb stick that can play games the current 3DS can’t. In areas where the New Nintendo 3DS is sold, older 3DS models are being discontinued. Not only that, but certain new 3DS games can only work with this new 3DS model, and older games, like Smash, gain new functionality with this new model of handheld. This has led many 3DS owners to fear that their handhelds will become obsolete.

Even if this does happen, the 3DS is still the most popular and powerful handheld on the market, and users have been quick to upgrade just to get a bigger screen, let alone gain access to new games. If you are in the market for a handheld device specifically for gaming purposes, then the 3DS is probably the way to go.

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