The 3DS will be going into the eighth year of its lifecycle in a few months. It’s pretty amazing that it’s made it this far considering all of the obstacles that were standing in the way. The 3DS totally eclipsed the PS Vita and managed to hold its own despite the sharp rise in mobile gaming during the early years of its life. Despite my admiration for its achievements, I never really ‘clicked’ with the system. Not only that, but I feel as though this should be the end of Nintendo’s handheld line.
I picked one up fairly late; it wasn’t until 2016 that I got my hands on a (used) 3DS XL. It was my first handheld system ever and the third gaming system I’ve ever owned period. My time with it wasn’t very long-lived, though. While I did pick up a few games, I never found myself getting to the point of sinking my teeth so far into an experience that I got totally hooked on the system. As a result, when the Switch was announced and then subsequently released, my 3DS quickly fell out of my realm of attention. I didn’t immediately abandon it altogether (I picked up the Switch in December 2017), but it didn’t take long for it to get to a point where I regularly had it tucked away in a drawer. In all honesty, I haven’t really played it since early 2018.
It’s not as though I came to hate my 3DS. It’s pretty common to get hooked on something new, which is what happened after acquiring the Switch. But I never found myself even remotely missing the 3DS, despite there being a few titles on it that I genuinely liked. I think the main thing that pulled me away was the fact that the Switch is basically a tablet; it felt more like a successor to the 3DS than the Wii U (even though it’s technically both). After I got used to the Switch, going back to the 3DS feels like stepping back into the ’90s comparatively. Perhaps that’s a bit of hyperbole, but it really is a significant difference.
Movin’ on up
Despite the Switch being so far ahead in terms of complexity, the 3DS has still amassed quite a bit of sales worldwide. The most recent tally by Nintendo puts those numbers at 73.53 million, which is not something to scoff at all. It’s for this reason why Nintendo has been supporting the aging handheld, even in the wake of all the Switch’s success. This has rubbed some fans the wrong way, as some view the 3DS as nothing more than an unnecessary distraction for Nintendo. Personally, I don’t think this is really the case. Nintendo more than likely had a roadmap planned out well in advance, hence why we’ve seen a gradual reduction in major releases.
This year has a few titles left in the pipeline for the 3DS, but far and wide it’s clear to see that the industry is moving on. Indies are flocking to the Switch ten-fold, with very little fanfare still around for the 3DS. While Nintendo President Furukawa recently stated that the 3DS is not being discontinued right now, I wouldn’t be surprised if 2019 is the final year that it has any significant presence in the gaming realm. But whenever Nintendo does decide to officially axe the 3DS, I just hope that it marks the end of the company’s dual-console era.
Since the Switch came out so late in the 3DS’ life, it never really dealt with the split-attention issue that the Wii U had to go through. Throughout the Wii U’s life, it was relatively easy to see that the 3DS was getting just a tad bit more attention. This likely has to do with it being the more successful platform. Nevertheless, it would be nice to see Nintendo focus exclusively on just a single system. Sony seems keen on doing that from now on, and the PS4 has been thriving. Things have been going well in the Xbox realm too (though Microsoft is also now working with Windows again).
Are two heads better than one?
If Nintendo does keep the Switch’s hybrid design moving forward, this would make the likelihood of a one-console future even higher. Ending all of this with the 3DS wouldn’t be bad at all. While I never became a super fan, I still consider it to be a great system, and it does have at least a year or so before it properly rides off into the sunset. So, for all of you who are still genuinely enjoying it, I certainly hope you continue to do so.