Persona Q2: New Cinema Labyrinth has been released outside of Japan, which means that the last major title for the Nintendo 3DS is now on store shelves. The release of Persona Q2: New Cinema Labyrinth marks the end of an era, as the Nintendo 3DS has finally reached the end of its lifespan and will soon enter the grave next to its 3D-less forebears.
The Nintendo 3DS had an interesting run, with some high highs and low lows. The time has come to eulogize one of the best handheld systems of all time.
The E3 Reveal And Slow Start
The Nintendo 3DS was announced during E3 2010, where the unique 3D screen was promoted as the main selling point of the system. 3D movies were still all the rage at the time, so the idea of a gaming console that had 3D visuals without requiring glasses was a huge deal.
The Nintendo 3DS would limp out of the gate in 2011, due to a shoddy launch lineup. The 3DS' launch games were mostly shovelware, with the exception of Super Street Fighter IV 3D Edition (a port of an existing game) and Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Shadow Wars (a tactical RPG). The fact that the Nintendo 3DS had a price tag of around $250 meant that most people saw the wisdom in sticking with the Nintendo DS and its huge library of games.
Mario Kart 7, Super Mario 3D Land And A Price Cut
It only took six months, but Nintendo slashed the price of the Nintendo 3DS by a third in every region. Those who bought the game before the cut would receive ten NES and ten Game Boy Advance games for free through the "Ambassador Program." The ten Game Boy Advance games were never made available to anyone who didn't have an Ambassador 3DS.
The other lifesaver for the Nintendo 3DS was the release of Super Mario 3D Land in November 2011 and Mario Kart 7 in December 2011. The former was an incredible platform game that made amazing use of the 3D screen, while the latter was a phenomenal racing game that would go on to be the best-selling game on the system. The Nintendo 3DS finally had two killer apps, and these helped to keep the system alive until...
The Evolution Of Pokémon
2013 saw the mainline Pokémon series enter the 3D realm, as Pokémon X & Y were released for the Nintendo 3DS.
Pokémon X & Y helped to revitalize the series, with its incredible audio and visuals, expansive online features, and new additions to the battle system that changed the competitive scene forever with the introduction of Mega Evolution.
Pokémon X & Y were met with critical acclaim, and they became the new must-have games for the system. It was finally starting to feel as if Game Freak was leaving its comfort zone and modernizing the series.
The Nintendo 3DS also had other Pokémon titles, such as the Hoenn remakes and Pokémon Sun & Moon, but these didn't improve the series in the same way that Pokémon X & Y did.
Pokémon X & Y would go on to be the second best-selling games for the Nintendo 3DS.
Succeeding While The Wii U Crashed And Burned
The Nintendo 3DS helped to keep Nintendo relevant while the Wii U was tanking. The 3DS would receive numerous new iterations (such as the 2DS and XL), while it seemed as if Nintendo was just waiting to pull the plug on the Wii U.
The Nintendo 3DS helped the Monster Hunter series find an audience outside of Japan with Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate. The Super Smash Bros. series became easier than ever to play at tournaments thanks to the 3DS game. Animal Crossing: New Leaf became a massive hit among women, leading to a surge of sales for the system.
One of the biggest triumphs of the Nintendo 3DS was The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds, which received universal acclaim. The response to A Link Between Worlds was so positive that it was nominated for numerous Game of the Year awards alongside Grand Theft Auto V and The Last of Us. A portable Zelda game was considered by many critics to be the equal of two incredibly cinematic and expensive-to-develop video games.
The Lone Bastion Of The Handheld Market (R.I.P. The PlayStation Vita)
The Nintendo 3DS is currently the 11th best-selling video game console of all-time, and is the 5th best-selling Nintendo system.
The fact that the Nintendo 3DS thrived in the way it did was even more remarkable due to the rise of smartphones. The casual audience that made the Nintendo Wii such a hit would gravitate towards mobile gaming, as they used systems that almost everyone owned and could be played anywhere. The mobile market mostly produces low-quality games, but the size of the market means that it's incredibly lucrative.
The Nintendo 3DS still managed to be a hit during the rise of the smartphone era, even while Sony slowly abandoned its PlayStation Vita console. Abandoned is an appropriate word, as Sony seemed to lose interest in the console early on, while Nintendo worked hard to bolster its handheld library.
Cannibalized By The Switch's Success
The future of the Nintendo 3DS became uncertain when the Nintendo Switch was announced. The Switch is a hybrid console that can be used either as a handheld system or hooked up to a TV. The question still remained whether the Switch would be a hit or not following the reaction to the Nintendo Wii U, so the 3DS was still guaranteed a few more years of support.
The Nintendo Switch turned out to be a huge hit both commercially and critically, thanks to a library of incredible games. The rise of the Switch would doom the Nintendo 3DS, with fans all over the world wondering why each new 3DS game wasn't being ported to the Switch.
As each new Direct and E3 rolled by, less and less time was dedicated to the Nintendo 3DS. E3 2o19 is less than a week away and there is no indication that Nintendo will discuss the 3DS during its conference.
The Nintendo 3DS might be the last handheld-only console released by Nintendo. The system helped keep the company alive during the days of the Wii U and was pivotal in helping several series evolve for the better. The time has come for the Nintendo 3DS to ride off into the sunset, but it can do so with its head held high.