Saturday, February 11, 2017

Looking Back on the 3DS

Oh how time flies. Would you believe me if I told you that the 3DS was 6 years old, would you believe me? Well it's true! The Nintendo 3DS came out February 26, 2011 in Japan, and March 27, 2011 here in the US. I still remember getting the 3DS just like it was yesterday -- getting home from working at the bakery, driving up to GameStop with my dad, and then stopping by my Grand Parent's house to see my cousin and eat. The memory is still fresh in my mind, and I can't help but think of the 3DS as a "new" system still. Of course, this is no longer the case. With the announcement of the Nintendo Switch (which is releasing this March) both the Nintendo 3DS and Wii U will slowly start to fade into the background. Sure, Nintendo did confirm that the 3DS would both continue to exist along side the NS for the time being (as they've always juggled two consoles), but with the amount of games coming to these systems in the near future -- or rather, lack of games -- it wouldn't be too shocking to see it's end come sooner than we thought. So, with that being said I wanted to take a moment to look back on the Nintendo 3DS, and look at how it's fared over the years.

A Troubling Start:

When the 3DS launched things weren't as good as some might like to believe. The console itself showed quite a lot of promise, but not many people actually had a reason to buy it. At the time the Nintendo DS still had new games coming out for it, and the 3DS seemed to have next to nothing. One of the main issues was the fact that the console was $250 at release, it released at a time where nothing was really going on in the year as Christmas and what not was already over, and most of it's announced games were either ports of old games like Metal Gear Solid 3, Splinter Cell Chaos Theory, and The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time. It was just way too expensive, and offered very little. Even so, those who did pick it up got to experience it's new 3D gimmick right away, and they were eventually rewarded for it.

The 3DS itself was a nice console right out of the gate. Shockingly the 3D effect worked very well, the device fit nicely into your hands, and the DSi like customization home screen was pretty nice. Although there was no online store at the time, there were plenty of preinstalled apps for you to move around as you liked, and we could all see how useful the home menu would be in the future once it actually allowed us to download new content. The built in video by OK Go was also a nice touch to show off the console's ability for 3D video, and the mini AR game was a cool way to show off it's AR features as well. Nintendo didn't waste time showing us what features the 3DS had, and with the Mii Plaza mini game, they encouraged us to take it with us on the go to get "Street Passes" from other players. Of course this wasn't easy to do when not many had a 3DS, but thankfully it did improve over time -- depending on the area you live in that is.

As for the games that launched with the 3DS, they were really mixed. The brand new Pilotwings game was the perfect tech demo, and would have been a great game to include with the console, but sadly you had to buy it extra. The 3D effect was great, it used the built in Mii feature similar to Nintendo Wii games, and it was packed with things to do. While it wasn't exactly a "large" game, all of the missions and activities were more than enough to keep you busy for quite some time. It was a game where you got to pilot different air crafts, complete challenges in them, and find collectibles hidden across a pretty good sized island -- a perfect game for on the go play.Again, it wasn't anything to write home about, but it was still nice.

Of course the other games released with the 3DS also helped show off what the thing could do, but they weren't what you would call tech demos. Many were ports of older games (as I mentioned above), and others were new entries in long running series. These games allowed us to look into previously known worlds with a new 3D perspective, and they helped show the power of the console itself, but not many of the games were actually new ,which gave many little to no reason to buy the console. Street Fighter fans were sticking with the Xbox 360 version (which received a massive update not too long after the 3DS port released), Sims players continued to play the main version of 3 on PC, Rayman 3D was just yet another port of Rayman 2, and Nintendogs + Cats was a slightly improved version of the game we got many years ago, just with cats added. The only games that truly stood out were ones such as Samurai Warriors Chronicles, or the turn based strategy game Ghost Recon: Shadow Wars. These were new entries in older series that fans would have most likely wanted to play, but the high price of the 3DS and the rest of it's library prevented many from jumping in. In short, things didn't look too good for the console.

The 3DS Returns:

After a troubling start, and what seemed like years of waiting (it wasn't that long), Nintendo finally set out to right what they had did wrong. They announced that the 3DS would have a massive price drop, that early adopters of the console would receive 10 free NES and 10 free GBA games to make up for it, and that multiple new games would be on their way. Soon the Nintendo eShop was live, it was populated with classic Nintendo games, DSi shop games and brand new indie titles to buy, and new "major" releases were showing up on store shelves. Third party companies were releasing games like Dead or Alive Dimensions, Resident Evil Revelations, and Kingdom Hearts Dream Drop Distance, while Nintendo started getting games such as Super Mario 3D Land, Mario Kart 7, Kid Icarus Uprising, Fire Emblem Awakening, and Animal Crossing out. As time went on, the Nintendo 3DS' library continued to grow at a steady rate, and new features were constantly added to the console. The original Swap Note messaging service was eventually replaced with the Wii U's "Miiverse" social network, a new stronger 3DS model was released with new built in buttons (which allowed for games like Xenoblade Chronicles to be on the system), SNES titles were added to the eShop, and even new games and activities were added to the Mii Plaza. Nearly everything about the 3DS expanded as time went on, and what was once a console not many owned, became one that almost everyone had. Gone were the days of carrying around your 3DS hoping for a street pass from others -- instead taking your 3DS with you almost always resulted in at least getting a few. Nintendo managed to turn the dying handheld around, and they made it something worth owning.

3DS of Today:

The 3DS of today is a console that has both seen it's prime, and has the staying power to stick around for years to come. With games like Fire Emblem Echoes just around the corner, and never ending games like Animal Crossing and the Monster Hunter series, it is very easy to picture ourselves still playing it in the years to come. While the Nintendo Switch will be taking a large part of the market, the 3DS is something that can still stand on it's own. Yes, it's end is coming, but that doesn't stop the 3DS from being great. It's a console that now has a large library of games, and anyone who decides to buy one now will have many options open to them. Most of these great games will never see the light of day on anything besides the 3DS, and that alone is what will keep it alive for many -- even when Nintendo has pulled the plug.

Looking back, the 3DS really was a great console. It's given us many memories over these past six years, and that's something we will never forget about it.