Six years ago in Japan, a new handheld console hit the market, inspiring great technological change, and influencing the world of portable gaming in a way that has carried through even to this day. The Nintendo 3DS was a very small console, with a big impact.
When the console was first announced, the main pull was the ability to render 3D imagery without the need for glasses, in the way you’d require them if you were seeing a 3D movie for instance. This was combined with a pretty strong set of games announced at the time of the console’s reveal. Games such as a remake of Ocarina of Time and Star Fox 64, or a brand new title in the beloved Paper Mario series, helped to develop a strong early following for the console.
Of course, things changed drastically when the console launched at a hefty $250 price point. This caused fans to get up in arms, as the console ended up at one point being more expensive than the Wii. The 3D technology was expensive to implement, but it simply wasn’t as important to players as Nintendo had hoped. Not to mention a lack of strong launch titles.
Less than a year after the console’s launch it received a huge $80 price cut. For Nintendo, a move like this was unprecedented, but the console was selling record lows. As the price made it more accessible to new players the question arose as to whether or not players would maintain their console and play it as regularly as a home device.
This question was all but unjustified, as the Nintendo 3DS went on to have a roster of games that practically buried that of the Wii U. While both consoles were developed by the same company, and Wii U established itself as this dedicated gaming device independent of the TV, Nintendo 3DS had a far more accessible lineup of titles.
It could be debated that Nintendo caught wind of this, as most successful Wii U titles were ported to the
Nintendo 3DS. Games like Hyrule Warriors, Super Mario Maker, Yoshi’s Woolly World, and many others were released on the console.
This is aside from two franchises having their most successful launches in their entire history. Fire Emblem, with both Awakening and Fates, as well as Pokemon, with X and Y, Omega Ruby, Alpha Sapphire, and Sun and Moon. The success of these games allowed Nintendo to push Fire Emblem’s value sky high as a franchise, to the point where numerous spin-offs and remakes are lined up.
Even some of the hidden gems like Kid Icarus: Uprising, Tomodachi Life, and many more managed to create a loud statement for the console’s capabilities. Clearly Nintendo saw the potential, as just three months following its launch, an installment in the Super Smash Bros series was announced for the device.
These are just a few examples of the incredible impact that the Nintendo 3DS has had on games in the last several years. It’s shifted the attitude towards portable gaming, and clearly inspired large elements of the upcoming Nintendo Switch. Here’s to many more years of portable games.