There's a Reason the Nintendo 3DS is Sticking Around

The Switch's older brother still has a right to a happy, healthy life.

Opinion by Nadia Oxford, .

People are really digging the Nintendo Switch. That's great. That's super. Less super is watching Switch fans become irritable over Nintendo's support of the 3DS.

There's still a lot of life in the dual-screened portable, even in a world where the Switch's single screen dominates so many people's portable gaming time. Not everyone feels the same way, though. Kotaku news editor Jason Schreier penned an editorial the other day declaring cool new Nintendo 3DS games are a waste of resources.

"Last Friday, Nintendo released a new WarioWare, the first in nearly ten years. This would be more exciting for hardcore Nintendo fans if it weren’t exclusive to the 3DS," he lamented. He also decried the recent news about Persona Q2 coming to the 3DS instead of the Switch.

WarioWare Gold is great. It's also 3DS-exclusive.

I have a few objections to this criticism against publishers' continued 3DS support. First, Atlus (which is developing Persona Q2, natch) hasn't been shy about backing the aged handheld, so its continued projects hardly come as a surprise. Radiant Historia: Perfect Chronology and Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey Redux are two 2018 releases from Atlus, and Japan is also getting Etrian Odyssey X and Persona Q2 before the year's done. Atlus' steady stream of 3DS releases is a good indication the platform is still very profitable for them (and it's not as if the House of Jack Frost doesn't have any important Switch projects in the works). There's also the small matter of Persona Q2 and Strange Journey Redux being map-heavy games perfectly suited for the 3DS's twin screens.

Second, Nintendo's already outlined the reasons it plans to support the Nintendo 3DS into "2019 and beyond." Put simply, it's a cost-effective machine with a great library. In an ideal world, Nintendo would give us simultaneous releases of 3DS and Switch games, a la Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker. But if Nintendo wants to keep a few 3DS exclusives behind to keep people interested in the handheld, I understand its reasoning. The Nintendo DS wasn't supposed to usurp the Game Boy Advance, but then it totally did. A few solid system exclusives like WarioWare Gold is a good way to maintain the 3DS's life force.

Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker's re-release is on Switch as well as 3DS, but the Cap is an outlier. He's a ramblin' 'shroom.

Plus, given the popularity of the Switch, Nintendo probably wouldn't hesitate to drop the 3DS like a hot brick if it wasn't making money anymore. Look how quicky the Wii U became an un-console as soon as the Switch enjoyed its earliest sips of success.

Finally, suggesting Nintendo ought to drop a very inexpensive system to pour everything it has into an expensive system is—well, it's classist. The Switch is $299 USD without a game, and that number goes up exponentially outside the United States (it's $379 in Canada). That price isn't dropping anytime soon, but the 3DS has a whole line of differently-priced models and several pack-in game options. But Nintendo and Atlus' ongoing 3DS support means the handheld's more than a budget-priced has-been for low-income families.

The Nintendo 3DS is a great little system that I still show lots of love to thanks to Atlus, Nintendo, and other developers who aren't overly-eager to jump ship. Heck, it took the 3DS quite some time to build up its momentum: Why slide a brick wall in front of it before it's finished offering us everything it has?

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Comments 34

  • Avatar for nimzy #1 nimzy 10 days ago
    I couldn't believe what I was reading last night. Nintendo claimed over and over that the Switch was not a replacement for the 3DS. Now that they're following through on that promise, people are mad that the games aren't for the Switch?

    The hybrid nature of the new system is what's causing this confusion. Treating the Switch like a big Vita is what got us into this mess. It's going to take some doing for Nintendo to get out of it.
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  • Avatar for VotesForCows #2 VotesForCows 10 days ago
    That Kotaku article was idiotic, and people complaining about 3DS support are likewise idiots.
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  • Avatar for UsefulPseudonym #3 UsefulPseudonym 10 days ago
    I really love the 3ds, I'm in the middle of deciding whether or not I should upgrade to an XL.

    I think the 3DS is great too because it takes the conversation away from graphics and towards gameplay which is classic Nintendo.
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  • Avatar for SargeSmash #4 SargeSmash 10 days ago
    As long as the platform makes money, why wouldn't they support it? The install base alone ensures a pretty strong audience, and there are lots of parents that aren't willing to give their kids a $300 gigantic piece of hardware, either. The 3DS still makes sense, even if the hardware is creaky at this point.
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  • Avatar for Funny_Colour_Blue #5 Funny_Colour_Blue 10 days ago
    Guys, remember the gameboy, remember pokemon, remember the gameboy color - from 1989 to 2003; This is what the 3DS could be right now.

    :oEdited 2 weeks ago by Funny_Colour_Blue
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  • Avatar for link6616 #6 link6616 10 days ago
    @Funny_Colour_Blue and I'm on board for this world you describe.
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  • Avatar for LunarFlame17 #7 LunarFlame17 10 days ago
    Yeah, the 3DS is great. I have no intention of retiring mine, even if I’ve barely touched it since the Switch came out. Surely there will be a lull in Switch releases some day, giving me a chance to work on my 3DS backlog...right?
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  • Avatar for Gamer-Law #8 Gamer-Law 10 days ago
    Exactly right,@nadiaoxford. As others have said, the need to bury and eulogize a console simply because its purported successor launches is a logic that continues to escape me.

    What people like Jason Schreier fail to realize is that game creation is not a zero sum game. The GameCube and Wii did not see their libraries suffer simply because Nintendo made games for the GBA or the DS. Nintendo has plenty of experience maintaining the libraries of multiple consoles simultaneously.

    With an install base of 70 million consoles, Nintendo would be crazy to abandon the 3DS. The Switch may be all the rave, but that is no reason to walk away from a tried and true console that continues to serve Nintendo well.
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  • Avatar for NiceGuyNeon #9 NiceGuyNeon 10 days ago
    Jason and Kotaku as a whole need to stop writing dumb shit.
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  • Avatar for LBD_Nytetrayn #10 LBD_Nytetrayn 10 days ago
    I've no interest in burying the 3DS, but nor does having to carry around two Nintendo platforms on a trip appeal to me as much.

    Given the number of Wii U to 3DS and Wii U to Switch ports, along with all the remakes they're doing besides, I wish they'd follow the Captain Toad route more. If it was stuff designed to take specific advantage of the 3DS, it might be more understandable, but most of these aren't.

    Are they still incorporating 3D into everything on 3DS? It seemed like they were dialing that back, and while Luigi's Mansion In 3D has its allure, so too does Luigi's Mansion In HD with a portable option.

    Not counting third parties in this, btw, this is just what I'd like from Nintendo.Edited 2 weeks ago by LBD_Nytetrayn
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  • Avatar for nilcam #11 nilcam 10 days ago
    My 3DS is my portable system. It has an amazing library, including my favorite recent Zelda game. I would love an update that would increase its start up. Otherwise, it's close to perfect. I love playing Ridge Racer in bed; it's amazing.
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  • Avatar for nickfugate95 #12 nickfugate95 10 days ago
    I think you hit it primarily with cost. I think Nintendo will be much more willing to put the 3DS to bed when they can comfortably drop the price of the Switch some. A Switch, a game, some memory, a case or extra controller and you are at well north of $400. Nintendo has long been a company which was selling both a pricier console and a less costly portable, but there is no successor to the 3DS so Nintendo will be going down to one system. When they were selling all those Wii systems a decade ago they were also selling DS units on top of that.
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  • Avatar for One_Vurfed_Gwrx #13 One_Vurfed_Gwrx 10 days ago
    @LBD_Nytetrayn Wario Ware has no 3D in it and is also not strictly a port. (Even if it a mix and match 'best of')

    As for 3DS support the lack of Dragon Quest XI is my biggest disappointment as I hoped it would be one of the last big games on the system and I expect the Switch version when it arrives will be a watered down PS4 port. I half expected to see Yokai Watch 3 mentioned for this year too although that is one my son would be more likelyto play than me. Hopefully Atlus localise their last few 3DS releases.
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  • Avatar for MetManMas #14 MetManMas 10 days ago
    People seriously need to keep in mind the following things...

    1) The 3DS family is cheaper. Like, a plain 2DS will run you about $80 USD.

    2) The 3DS is also cheaper to develop games for, since it's not an HD platform.

    3) The 3DS is still very popular, especially in Japan.

    4) The 3DS has a much bigger install base since it's been around for about 7 & 1/2 years.

    5) The 3DS can do things that the Switch cannot. Its smaller size and lighter weight makes it a more ideal handheld for tilting and rotating, it always has touch capabilities available, and it has a built-in mic. This makes it much more ideal platform for a game like WarioWare Gold, which prominently features gameplay styles from the first three handheld WarioWare games.Edited 2 weeks ago by MetManMas
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  • Avatar for DrewQ #15 DrewQ 10 days ago
    Both are in a weird far as my game time is concerned. Atlus has given us a swan song of a year to send the 3DS down the river; and yet the library for the Switch hasn't filled out enough to make me crave one.

    I'm more inclined to add to the backlog on my 5 year old handheld than I am willing to buy into the switch....but I suppose Switch owners are in a tizzy due to lack of game-hits at this moment. It's gotta surpass where the Wii-U made it....It seems Nintendo has gone back to being the sole developer for the new system...I can wait that out.

    My take is simple, follow the Megaten, and be delighted by the Rune Factory. Stay for everything else. The Switch has some ground to make up.
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  • Avatar for discohospital #16 discohospital 10 days ago
    This is getting pretty ridiculous at this point. I'd love to have more of the kinds of games I enjoy on 3DS come to the Switch (as it is, there aren't many), but I understand that it's not going to be that simple for every developer (especially smaller ones) to just shift all of its development over from a low-powered system with an idiosyncratic design to a modern, HD platform with a snap of the fingers. My concern when the Switch was announced was that if it were to "replace" the 3DS, it was - best case scenario - going to take some time for many of these developers to adjust and move everything to pure HD development. At worst, certain types of games that flourished on the 3DS were just going to die out. So I'm happy the 3DS is being kept alive. I'm totally fine if the 3DS keeps going throughout the entirety of the Switch's lifetime. Why not?

    I have to admit, I do get a little tired of the incredulity surrounding Atlus' continued adherence to the 3DS in particular. I roll my eyes every time I see a comment or article suggesting that they're somehow out of touch because they're not just waving a magic wand and porting these games to the Switch. This comes up pretty much every time they announce a new 3DS game.

    Most of these (if not all - maybe even Radiant Historia?) are based on the Etrian Odyssey engine, and as such the two-screen setup is fundamental to their construction. Atlus will in all likelihood first have to totally re-engineer Etrian before they can start making games like these for a platform other than the 3DS, which one can only assume will take a lot of time and resources. Even if they announce something along those lines tomorrow, it's doubtful straightforward ports of these games will be possible.

    That said, they did in fact recently tease a future development for the Etrian series, and based on their confirmation that Etrian Odyssey X would be the last game in the series made in the dual-screen format, one can only assume it's going to be on some other platform. I just hope it's not mobile.Edited 2 weeks ago by discohospital
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  • Avatar for sketchlayerjosh #17 sketchlayerjosh 10 days ago
    Sure you’ve got kids, people with less disposable income, and people with healthy backlogs that will keep the 3DS alive a while yet, but there’s one more key demographic that might not have made the jump to Switch yet:

    People with basic pattern memory who remember that there is always, *always* an improved, second version of a console!
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  • Avatar for nilcam #18 nilcam 10 days ago
    @DrewQ I get that it's all up to taste but Switch dominates my play time. I play BlazBlue Cross Tag daily and The List Child is filling my MegaTen itch. It's the perfect chill game to relax after BBTag. The Switch is also home to some of my favorite games this gen - Kamiko if brilliant; the Opus games hurt my heart in the perfect way. I pray that the Ridge Racer rumor pans out because that's all the console needs after the September and October releases this year.
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  • Avatar for LunarFlame17 #19 LunarFlame17 10 days ago
    @sketchlayerjosh That’s not really the case with Nintendo’s home consoles. Yes, Nintendo is infamous for releasing new and improved versions of their portables a year or two after their original release, and yes, Sony and Microsoft have no problem refreshing their consoles after a few years, but Nintendo doesn’t really do that with their home consoles. The NES and SNES had second versions, but not until their successors were already out. The N64, GameCube, and Wii U never got second versions. The Wii did, but it was actually inferior to the original version, since it lacked any way to connect to the internet. People seem to think of the Switch as primarily a portable console, but remember Nintendo actually thinks of it as primarily a home console. So I would not expect to see a new-and-improved Switch anytime soon.
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  • Avatar for Wellman2nd #20 Wellman2nd 10 days ago
    But Nadia I want it now!
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  • Avatar for Frosty840 #21 Frosty840 10 days ago
    I keep looking at the Switch, but to me it looks like a home console with portability built in. It just seems like it's suited to a home environment while allowing parents/partners to boot you off the main TV.
    The 3DS is a portable console through and through and it's always seemed to have those slightly slower-paced put-down-pick-up games that you can play for five minutes at a time; plus the second screen helps immensely in eliminating map/inventory screen transitions that take five or ten seconds of gameplay away from you in a normal game, which make a big difference in that pick-up-and-playability.
    I just can't say that there's anything on the Switch that speaks to me as an essential *portable* purchase that could convince me to move away from my 3DS.
    And of course, the biggest problem with the Switch as a 3DS replacement is that a 3DS folds up and fits in my pocket. I don't know about what anyone else is wearing, but I don't think I've got any pants big enough to hold a Switch.
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  • Avatar for Jonnyboy407 #22 Jonnyboy407 9 days ago
    Hear hear!

    It's gonna be a bummer when it's finally dead. I don't want dual screen gaming to go away
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  • Avatar for manny_c44 #23 manny_c44 9 days ago
    @sketchlayerjosh Yes exactly. I know they will make a more compact, higher-quality version of the Switch and have no interest in buying the first iteration TBH.

    I also like the (much-maligned) 3d effect, on the New3ds at least.
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  • Avatar for hdthroh #24 hdthroh 9 days ago
    I thought this was going to be the year I got the Switch, but I bought a second 3DS instead. This is the first system I’ve legitimately loved (rather than just the available software library). I also really value the ability to go all digital and locally backup my library and save data. I think it adds a sense of permanence to some of the game worlds knowing that I can return to them year after year.
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  • Avatar for GreatLordAbsu #25 GreatLordAbsu 9 days ago
    That Kotaku article was so cringey. This, on the other hand, was not. Good read!
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  • Avatar for mganai #26 mganai 9 days ago
    Not until they can do a pocket sized Switch, that's for sure. Throwing away the handheld market would be a bad idea.
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  • Avatar for Poltergeist8606 #27 Poltergeist8606 9 days ago
    There's room for both. The 3ds/2ds is a much better portable. I've had my Switch almost a year and I actually took it on it's first trip last month. I found it hard to play bigger games on it in portable mode. The screen just isn't big enough to play a grand AAA game like BOTW well. At least not for me. The 3DS stuff was all designed specifically to be portable and it shows.
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  • Avatar for LBD_Nytetrayn #28 LBD_Nytetrayn 9 days ago
    @One_Vurfed_Gwrx True, but ports/remakes aren't too far off from "best of" stuff to me, since it's all basically recycling older material.
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  • Avatar for Captain-Gonru #29 Captain-Gonru 9 days ago
    I'm ly weighing my options for my third 3DS, after my launch model and a New 3DSXL (battery keeps crapping out after a couple years). I like the 3D effect, but don't see them on shelves as often as the 2DSXLs.
    Honestly, if they stopped making games for it tomorrow, I'd still be playing for years, just to get through my backlog. But if people keep buying it, why stop making it?
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  • Avatar for Galgomite #30 Galgomite 9 days ago
    Surely those flat $80 2DS's cost Nintendo something like $20 and guarantee $120 in software purchases per unit. Why end that party early?
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  • Avatar for karanpatel31 #31 karanpatel31 9 days ago
    Thank you so much for share this post. I like this game. I m play this game every day at my home.

    Patient Engagement Software
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  • @NiceGuyNeon I listened to Kotaku Split Screen for a little bit since I was searching for more gaming podcasts, but Schreier and co-host Kirk Hamilton just got on my nerves so much that I had to stop. Every episode always had to talk about Destiny 2, which I had no interest in, and how everything should be on Switch and how great Switch is. And when they would talk about something else (FINALLY) it was usually much shorter than Destiny 2/Bring it to Switch ramblings. The nail on the coffin was when they hated on Doki Doki Literature Club without really explaining why they didn't like it, then went back to talking about the usual two subjects. Not liking Doki Doki is fine, but they only talked about it for a few minutes and I don't even know how much they actually played. They don't even really talk about. It was more like, "Oh this sucks let's move onto more Destiny 2 talk."
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  • Avatar for doops #33 doops 7 days ago
    Couldn't agree more. I still mostly play on my New 3DS (and DSi XL). Pretty much since the GameCube, the Switch is the first console I'm kind of sitting out and not really jumping on. It's great, I'm glad people enjoy it, but there's such a huge library on DS/3DS I still haven't played, and I like that the games have a lower price point.

    The Kotaku article was dumb and elitist. I was going to make a joke about plagiarism but will refrain.
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  • Avatar for jrsmith #34 jrsmith 2 days ago
    Interesting.....things are ever changing. fence contractor Athens ga
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