The 3DS Is Ten Years Old, And We Should All Miss It

It has been ten years since the launch of the Nintendo 3DS, and for a while I thought I wouldn’t mourn it, but it turns out I have. According to Nintendo’s website, the last first-party 3DS game released was Kirby’s Extra Epic Yarn back in early 2019. It’s pretty safe to say that the 3DS had a good eight-year run, but it is well and truly over now, and all we can do is look back at the legacy of the system, and that makes me nostalgic. The Nintendo 3DS might be the last time we see Nintendo do something truly unconventional with their hardware design, and now we’ve lost all of the gameplay styles that unique hardware brought with it.

I’m not really talking about the 3D screen, as even Nintendo first-party games threw it to the wayside in the later years of the system, but it is worth mentioning. Nintendo attempted to create games that used the stereoscopic 3D display to full effect, and titles like Pullblox and Super Mario 3D Land offered new perspectives which draw you further into the worlds you’re playing in.

The true casualties of the modern 3DS-less era are games that simply couldn’t exist with any other control scheme, and perhaps fittingly one such game is Trauma Center, a game built around preventing tragic casualties. Trauma Center sees players enjoy an interesting RPG tale from Atlus, the minds behind Persona and Shin Megami Tensei, but places you in the shoes of a rookie doctor with the miraculous ability to pause time during surgery. You would use the lower touch screen to perform delicate surgeries while the top screen displayed all the data you needed, and when you’re in a darkened room performing an intense operation, you can feel your heart pound as you glance down at your patient, and back up at their vital signs, repeatedly. The game would also usually climax with your doctor defeating some kind of demonic virus, the “killing god” of the healthcare world.

A game like Trauma Center simply cannot exist on the current suite of consoles. The touch screen of the Switch is made for your stubby fingers, not a delicate stylus, and gyro JoyCon controls would simply prove too inaccurate to replicate a solid gameplay experience. It’s true that we haven’t seen a Trauma Center game in a long time, but while the 3DS existed, there was always hope. Now, that hope feels well and truly over.

Atlus also made wonderful use of the dual-screen form factor, and games like Etrian Odyssey prove that. Etrian Odyssey used the bottom screen to allow you to draw out the map you’re exploring on the bottom screen, which will make players feel like a maze master once they’ve created a detailed chart of the area. While this can be replicated by swapping to a map screen with a menu button or automatically filling in your map, it’ll never replicate how simple and satisfying the original method was.

This all ignores what was possibly my favourite aspect of the 3DS: StreetPass. Every system came with the StreetPass Mii Plaza, StreetPass Quest, and Puzzle Swap. You would just throw your 3DS in your bag before you set out on your day, and each time you pass someone else with a 3DS you’ll have your Mii appear on their system, and vice versa, willing to assist you in the lengthy StreetPass Quest RPG, and trade pieces in Puzzle Swap. This made me feel like there was a Nintendo community everywhere I went, and it gave me an extra reason to go back and keep trading puzzle pieces, progressing in StreetPass Quest, and much more. Seeing my friends do battle against evil monsters in StreetPass Quest was truly ridiculous, and I could never get enough of it.

We’ll feel the sting of that last point when Miitopia launches on Nintendo Switch, and you won’t have the Miis of your real-life friends present to play and join you at any time. The joy a game like that brings is seeing people you know in silly situations, it was the reason Miitomo became a viral hit for about a week, and even if it’s replaced with the Miis of your online Nintendo Switch friends, it won’t be the same.

The Nintendo 3DS gave us completely unique gameplay opportunities and was the last time Nintendo was truly experimental with their hardware. The Nintendo Switch is better for playing the wide variety of games we see on other consoles and PC, but it’ll never have the unique and quirky library we saw because of the Nintendo DS and 3DS. It’s been ten years, and I thought for the longest time that Nintendo needed to modernise and focus more on console games, but now I realise that the loss of these unique ways to play is a loss to gaming as a whole. I don’t necessarily want the 3DS back, but I will never forget that it offered us things other consoles couldn’t. I’d be happy to leave the 3D screen behind though, my eyes aren’t as good as they used to be.

Next: 5 Things We’ll Miss About The 3DS (& 5 We’re Glad To See Gone)

  • TheGamer Originals
  • Nintendo 3DS
  • Etrian Odyssey
  • 3DS
  • Trauma Center

TheGamer Guides Editor.
Am I supposed to write this in the third-person? Do you know how awkward it is talking about yourself like you’re someone else? No one would ever believe someone else has this many nice things to say about me.

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