Recently, my colleague, A.K Rahming, highlighted the seemingly broad push from Switch fans for Nintendo to drop its 3DS line and focus solely on the hybrid console. He presents a compelling case and is one that it seems like a vast majority will agree with. However, I feel that I might represent a small contingent of fans who disagree and view the 3DS as a valid device in the current video games climate.
Think of the children
A good portion of those that continue to enjoy the 3DS as I do are probably younger — like drastically younger. My 4-year-old loves the 3DS as much as he does our Switch. And this actually leads into my first argument for the validity of this system. Because of my firsthand experience, I see that what Reggie Fils-Aimé, President of Nintendo of America, was saying about the focus of the 3DS line towards a younger generation of gamers is true. It wasn’t just a capitalistic rush of smoke he was blowing in our faces. Parents who are gamers, like me, can likely support this sentiment as well. But the little ones like my son don’t have the option to be vocally supportive of the 3DS, and they shouldn’t be forgotten.
The design of the 3DS with its intuitive movement controls and microcosmic stature fit for small hands is easily adaptable for young children. Thus, it trains their limited coordination and provides their first gaming experiences easier than big consoles do. Early on, my son would also get so distracted by everything on the big screen that it became hard for him to zero in on what was immediately happening to his avatar. The 3DS eliminated that problem.
A cheaper, more durable option
Detractors might suggest that I just hand a Switch over to my son in handheld mode for a smaller screen experience. To those folks, I would say, “You obviously don’t have children in the 3-5 age range.” If you want to trust a catastrophically destructive force to run off with your $300 console, be my guest.
Also, just by handling the Switch and the 3DS, it’s easy to glean that the durability of the latter far outweighs that of the former. I’m not saying the Switch doesn’t have a degree of sturdiness to its design, but the open face screen is primarily my concern. My 3DS on the other hand can fold, protecting its delicate pieces, and has survived countless impacts on a hard floor. I’m honestly shocked that the thing is still kicking.
The Switch is mobile and is the exact thing that would result if a console and a handheld had a baby. However, to what degree is its mobility feasible? Over Thanksgiving, I took a trip to visit the in-laws down south for a week. My Switch was definitely a part of my luggage for such an excursion. But let’s say you’re going to ride the subway, take a bus, wait in a doctor’s office, or any other menial trip that might take only minutes to hours out of a single day. Instead of packing my switch into a little carrying case (lest I remind you of its price tag again), I will opt to bring my 3DS that can still fit into my pocket.
Sure, we are anticipating a potential new iteration of the Switch possibly this year. Rumors have varied from a strictly handheld version to a 4K option. But until we see a potential handheld-only model and understand what situations it works best in, my argument for the less risky and more accessible mobility of the 3DS stands. For this reason, Nintendo Switch for me leans more heavily as a docked or home console device than a full-blown successor to the 3DS handheld.
After 8 years on the market, the 3DS has a wide library of games. And it has even more if you consider the classic offerings available digitally and the entire DS library that came before it. I’m still discovering first-party Nintendo games for my 3DS that are quite fun and thrilling. These aren’t games that you can simply boot up on your phone like Fortnite.
Recently, I began a quest to play Zelda games that I missed over the years. I just played The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass that launched for the DS back in 2007. It’s essentially a sequel to Wind Waker and is a phenomenal game. Critical reviews will agree with me.
Also, I never purchased a Wii U, so Yoshi’s Woolly World was something I didn’t have to miss out on thanks to the 3DS version. Classic 64 games like Super Mario 64, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, and Star Fox 64 are available. Even GameCube and Wii classics such as Luigi’s Mansion and Kirby’s Epic Yarn have made their way to 3DS (or will have soon in Kirby’s case). Until Nintendo builds a better classic games program with Nintendo Switch Online — something many of us are imploring Nintendo to do — the 3DS is still just as valid as ever, having one of the best classic games libraries around.
A long, fulfilling life
I understand that the 3DS, and even handhelds in general, are not for everyone. But my point is that there are still valid reasons for the 3DS to remain a part of Nintendo’s focus for the time being. Maybe further iterations of the Switch will supplant the 3DS entirely by meeting the merits of my arguments above. But until that time, it’s important to recognize the impact that the 3DS still has on fans and the up-and-coming class of young gamers. There was nothing more satisfying to me than seeing my then-3-year-old son light up while playing the 3DS — even if he did eventually give it back to me with crusty boogers on the screen.