How Nintendo Discontinuing the 3DS Will Impact the Future of Video Games.

Nintendo recently discontinued the 3DS. Earlier this week, the handheld, which debuted in 2011 and succeeded the Nintendo DS, was officially placed out of production. While the Nintendo 3DS garnered two re-releases – the 3DS XL and New 3DS XL – all variations of the system enjoyed nearly a decade of bringing some of the best games in history to players worldwide.

The discontinuation of the 3DS, however, will leave an impact on gaming as a whole. Simply put, this means that games that rely on dual-screens will be difficult to re-release in the future. While Nintendo did their math and surely came to the right conclusion to press forward without the 3DS, fans may wonder how Nintendo will ever bring them back onto the Switch and beyond.

Furthermore, in 2020, without a second system for Nintendo to support, during the COVID era, scant first-party releases may have negatively impacted the company’s reputation and certainly the Switch’s 2020 as a whole. While Nintendo is no stranger to year-long droughts with the Wii and Wii U, this is the first time they’ve supported only a single console since the early years of the NES. Overall, the end of the 3DS, for better or for worse, came with a number of consequences.

Retrospective: Best Games on the 3DS

Nintendo’s 3DS offered some fantastic games on the 3DS. For starters, The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds was the sequel to the beloved SNES title, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. Fire Emblem: Awakening was the Fire Emblem series’ return to form and succeeded in putting the series on the map in the west.

3DS also featured some wonderful experiences to include from Masahiro Sakurai and his company, Sora. Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS made its handheld debut. Ultimately, the title would be short-lived in favor of the console release on Wii U, which was better from a competitive standpoint. However, prior to Smash, Kid Icarus: Uprising revived the Kid Icarus series from a 25-year slumber and offered a fantastic touch-screen experience.

The 3DS offered visual novels and puzzle games, like Ace Attorney, Professor Layton, and Zero Escape, all of which have yet to appear on the Switch. Furthermore, Kirby Triple Deluxe, Kirby Planet Robobot, New Super Mario Bros. 2, Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse, and Metroid: Samus Returned offered some of the best quality 2D experiences in handheld gaming.

Anyone who enjoys fun party games would get an easy pick-up-and-play experience from Rhythm Heaven Megamix and WarioWare Gold. Plus anyone who wanted JRPG action would find Pokemon, Bravely Second, Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story, and Dragon Quest VIII to be quite endearing titles. Finally, in the minds of many players, Animal Crossing: New Leaf remains synonymous with the handheld.

Re-releases

Games like Kid Icarus: Uprising rely entirely on the touch screen for movement. Many other games used the two screens for a touch-screen inventory setting or a map display. Depending on the game, this ranged from a convenience to a necessity.

Some games, such as Zero Escape: Virtue’s Last Reward, came to PS Vita which didn’t feature a second screen. The UI was placed similarly but anyone could access the menu from a separate in-game screen. Many games can be played like this and don’t require a second screen to be played. Sushi Striker: The Way of Sushido was released for both 3DS and Switch. Unfortunately, the Switch version was vastly inferior to the former simply because the 3DS’ dual screens and touch-screen interface, with a stylus, made the game much easier to play.

Nintendo already has a history of locking up some of their popular titles away in their vault, such as F-Zero GX, which never see the light of day since their initial release. They don’t really need the excuse of having to rework controls for conventional screens or reworking a game’s UI to not re-release a game. Most likely, any game that needed reworking of any sort would be remastered onto the Nintendo Switch.

However, bold to assume, number one, that Nintendo has any interest in re-releasing their 3DS titles to begin with. Secondly, unlike single-screen ports, like Game Boy Advance titles, they can’t just be simply re-released. It’s because of the system they were built on that they need to be remastered or even rebuilt from the ground up. Let alone having to remaster each game, it’s entirely unlikely Nintendo has any interest in ever re-releasing these titles.

The “third pillar”

The 3DS was initially said to be supported alongside Nintendo Switch. However, any gaming forum-goer from the mid-2000s could tell you what Nintendo was planning to do from the beginning. The 3DS was meant to be a fall-back option in case the Switch somehow backfired.

Nintendo already used this strategy back in the days of the GameCube and Game Boy Advance. When the DS came out in 2004, Nintendo urged that the DS wasn’t the successor to the DS but rather a third pillar. This meant it would be a new branch of system that fans could enjoy.

However, the visual upgrades and new buttons all but indicated that Nintendo had planned to make the DS the Game Boy Advance’s successor. But with the picky nature of the gaming industry’s fanbase, Nintendo prepared the possible scenario that the DS would never catch on and could still rely on the Game Boy Advance’s single-screens. Sure enough, once the DS caught on, Nintendo prepared to discontinue the Game Boy Advance and move all development onto the DS.

Final Fantasy VI Advance (2007) was the last major Game Boy Advance release.

No second system.

As mentioned earlier, Nintendo has seen its rough years. They’ve maintained a horrible history of going through lengthy droughts on the Wii and Wii U. These two consoles were meant to bring in a broader audience. Ultimately, their inability to keep up with PlayStation and Xbox’s superior specs alienated third-party developers from bringing their best games onto the Wii and Wii U. On the flipside, they chose to develop for the Nintendo’s handhelds instead.

However, when Nintendo chose to release the Switch as a viable system, developers once again felt invited to develop hit titles for all systems including the Switch. Games like Mortal Kombat 11, Team Sonic Racing, Crash Team Racing, and Dragon Ball FighterZ found their way to the Nintendo Switch. As such, the console has proven viable for both home use and portable.

Unfortunately, COVID meant 2020 would be a dry year for Nintendo releases. While it seemed all but certain that E3 being canceled meant no Nintendo Direct, nobody was prepared for the dreadful lack of releases coming from the Nintendo. This year’s Nintendo Direct choices have revolved almost exclusively around third-party and indie developers. Even for DS/3DS fans who went to handheld for more games, this has left quite an impact.

Save for the Nintendo Direct Mini which introduced Paper Mario: The Origami King, Nintendo has next to nothing new to show for the upcoming year. Save for Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity, they’ve remained quiet on development of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2, Metroid Prime 4, and anything else that could possibly be in development.

The upcoming Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity will be developed by Omega Force.

Where are the games?

Mario’s getting his time to shine thanks to the recently released Super Mario 3D All-Stars. The compilation title upscale three of Mario’s greatest hits into HD for Nintendo Switch. Nintendo is also releasing not only the much-wanted Super Mario 3D World Wii U title to the Switch but is also including a new campaign called Bowser’s Fury. This brings fantastic news to both the Wii U fans of 3D World as well as Mario fans who never played one of the greatest games in the series’ history.

However, it also goes to show that Nintendo has not had a string of successful first-party releases throughout the year. Outside of Animal Crossing and the Xenoblade remaster, this has been the driest year for Nintendo since the mid-2010s.

The reason this is important is because, while many players remember those droughts, the DS and 3DS offered something more to players. In addition to third-party developers supporting the handheld systems, Nintendo released plenty of games across the worst years, like Kirby, Zelda, Mario, Rhythm Heaven, and Pokémon. The handheld systems offered an alternative for high-quality games without the budget of a home console game. This meant faster production, more releases, and successful all-round years. Unfortunately, without a second system supporting Nintendo, this is the first time their fans have had to endure a quiet year from the company.

Final Thoughts

Nintendo made the right call by discontinuing the 3DS altogether. They’ve successfully upgraded from the 240p screens to a gorgeous HD experience that can be played at home or on the go. However, anyone who saw the DS succeed the Game Boy Advance already knew that Nintendo would plan to do the same with the Switch in due time. The 3DS offered nearly a decade of enjoyable games before running out its lifespan. Owners of the 3DS would be wise not to sell their systems in case they want to go back and enjoy these classics. Also, the 3DS XL fits much better in the palms than the Nintendo Switch ever will.

Switch Lite owners get a dedicated handheld experience. That is if they’re not playing JoyCon titles or Smash Bros. competitively.

Between the unique nature of the dual-screened handhelds and Nintendo’s unwillingness to re-release a number of their classic titles, for any reason possible, it’s unlikely we’ll see the likes of A Link Between Worlds again for a long time. People who emulate games on their computers will not only have no problem playing these games but get to enjoy the 4K upgrade as well.

Given the Nintendo Switch’s success, its current library, and its viability as a console-hybrid handheld, it was only a matter of time before it succeeded the 3DS. At the end of the day, the quality of a game isn’t determined by the number of screens you play it on. The DS and 3DS offered unique experiences with some fantastic games. But they weren’t going to be around forever and that’s completely understandable.

Rather, the bigger concern is once again addressing Nintendo’s stubbornness to ever re-release the titles. If re-releasing 3DS titles ever became a possibility, Nintendo would at least have to start by re-releasing their Game Boy Advance and DS games outside of the Wii U eShop. Whether they ever remaster their titles or not, it’s definitely worth holding onto your 3DS. If you never owned one but are interested in trying these classic games, and you’re not emulating, it might be best to grab a New Nintendo 3DS XL now before they start going for absurd prices on the internet.

Rango’s Smash Column – How Smash Gets You to Try New Series.

It’s no secret that Nintendo has used Super Smash Bros. to market their series for decades. Even when Roy was included in Super Smash Bros. Melee, Nintendo has continued this tradition through the release of Byleth in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. However, this marketing method dates even further back than Melee. The original title, Super Smash Bros. on the Nintendo 64, introduced players into many series as well. In this week’s Smash Column, I’ll go over the importance of Smash Bros. for marketing and how it’s impacted us as players.

Super Smash Bros. (1999)

The original Nintendo crossover started with 8 characters. Mario, Link, Donkey Kong, Yoshi, and Fox were among the many classic staples with a legacy on NES, SNES, Game Boy, and N64.  I had not yet played Metroid or Kirby until sometime after Smash’s release, so I did not feel as familiar with Samus or Kirby. However, because I enjoyed playing as Pikachu, and summoning the Pokémon out of Poké Balls, Smash got me into Pokémon. It was the first of many times that this series would influence my gaming choices.

Pikachu Pokeball ACT

When you fulfilled certain conditions, you would unlock four characters: Luigi, Jigglypuff, Captain Falcon, and Ness. Luigi’s inclusion was due to being in a game with his brother, Mario. You would think it was an obvious inclusion. Yet, after the release of Super Mario 64, his lack of appearance spawned many rumors and questions as to why he wasn’t there.

Jigglypuff, on the other hand, became a favorite among the Japanese audience who watched the anime. This would later lead to the inclusion of Pichu, Mewtwo, and Lucario. All of these Pokémon had anime movies featuring them.

However, Captain Falcon from F-Zero and Ness from EarthBound were two characters I was completely unfamiliar with. Captain Falcon comes from the F-Zero series, Nintendo’s racing series that predated Super Mario Kart. In those games, you don’t play as Falcon outside of his Blue Falcon vehicle. He only appears in the SNES title’s manual and in the select screen of F-Zero X.

Just who was this person? Why was he dressed as a superhero and why were his quotes so memorable? Falcon’s battle quotes, including his popular Falcon Punch, became popular Smash Bros. memes throughout much of the series’ existence.

Ness, on the other hand, came from the SNES title, EarthBound. Before JRPGs became big in the west, EarthBound was known only to a small niche group. Even among RPG fans, Nintendo’s worst attempt to market the game may have turned away potential fans. Whoever this Ness kid was, however, must have been a big deal in Japan. America largely knew nothing about him. But before long, Super Smash Bros. would invoke the curiosity of many players wanting to try EarthBound. Not only would people emulate the title on their computers, but copies of the game would sell for absurd prices on eBay.

Super Smash Bros. Melee

Melee introduced a plethora of new characters and worlds from even more series than the original. Not only did Peach, Bowser, Zelda, Ganondorf, Young Link, and Falco join the fray, but it introduced new series as well. While the inclusion of Ice Climbers, and Mr. Game & Watch, took a page out of Nintendo’s ancient history, an even more surprising introduction gained immediate notice: Fire Emblem.

Introducing Marth and Roy, the characters became an immediate hit due to their character design, fighting style, and their memorable theme music. Fans speculated if Nintendo’s Strategy/RPG series, Fire Emblem, would ever come to America. Smash series creator, Masahiro Sakurai chose to include Roy, in Melee, prior to the release of his home game, Fire Emblem: Binding Blade, in Japan.

Featured in the staff credits of Fire Emblem: Binding Blade.

Nintendo ultimately chose to keep these mysterious characters in the western release, opening us to a revolution. Fans demanded Fire Emblem be localized and Nintendo gave in. This preceded the American release of Fire Emblem: Blazing Blade in 2003.

Not only did Fire Emblem’s characters fascinate players, but the introduction of trophies gave us a new dimension to look through Nintendo’s history. Fully rotatable, 3D rendered models of characters, items, and stages fascinated us. But the lore that came with it introduced its history.

At the end of each description, Nintendo listed the original title that featured the trophy. For anyone interested in trying out these games, this little database gave them what they needed. I spent hours reading these descriptions and admiring the models.

Super Smash Bros. Brawl

In one way, Brawl did the opposite of the past two games. As opposed to introducing us to series we weren’t familiar with, Snake’s surprise inclusion invited fans to demand another popular video gaming mascot – Sonic the Hedgehog – into the roster. While your average gamer needed no introduction to Sonic, Metal Gear Solid was known primarily as a Sony PlayStation title. While Snake had appeared in several Nintendo games, Snake’s inclusion in Smash would introduce many Nintendo fans to a new world.

In addition to various new characters, stages, and Trophies, Brawl also introduced the Masterpieces collection. These featured 1-2 minute demos of Nintendo games from their past consoles. Each game also invited the player to download these games to their Wii via the Virtual Console. For anyone new to these games or series, this was the ideal introduction to new series.

Masterpieces later appeared in Super Smash Bros. for Wii U.

The inclusion of Lucas also prompted fans to demand the release of Mother 3 in the west. Being the second EarthBound character to join Smash’s roster, fans of EarthBound wanted to know more about Lucas’ origins. While a fan-translated product was eventually released, Nintendo has yet to officially translate, and release, the title outside of Japan.

Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U

Smash 4 featured fully animated trailers featuring new characters. One trailer even introduced two characters – Lucina and Robin – from Fire Emblem: Awakening. While these two characters were popular among series fans, this would inevitably lead to the “too many Fire Emblem characters” discussion prominent among the Smash community.

Both Smash titles featured DLC expansions to the roster. In Smash 4, Sakurai introduced the “Smash Ballot.” Fans could vote for a character and the winning character would be added to the roster. While that winner was Bayonetta, Sakurai added one character just for his popularity: Cloud Strife from Final Fantasy VII. Appearing from one of the most revolutionary JRPGs, Cloud was a heavily demanded, but unlikely, favorite.

Despite the love for Cloud, much like Snake, fans were well-aware that Final Fantasy VII’s only console release was on the PlayStation. This also meant a world of introduction for people who have scarcely ventured outside of Nintendo. Notably, Final Fantasy VII would not appear on a Nintendo console until its release, on Nintendo Switch, in 2019.

While Fire Emblem Fates had been released in Japan, the title would not come to America for several more months. Similar to Roy’s inclusion in Melee, Corrin would enter the Smash roster prior to the release of their home game in the west. Despite Nintendo’s obvious attempt to use Corrin’s inclusion to market their game, their efforts resulted in Fire Emblem Fates becoming the best selling title in the series.

Sakurai’s passion extended through his characters by giving these DLC characters special videos explaining to players their fundamentals and origins. He would remark about their home game,  the game mechanics, and how he translated them directly into Smash, including the sound effects.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

Ultimate’s new roster featured many leftover favorites which came from unrequited fan demands. Prior to the game’s release, Ridley (Metroid), Simon and Richter Belmont (Castlevania), Isabelle (Animal Crossing), Chrom (Fire Emblem), and King K. Rool were all added to the roster. Sakurai’s fulfillment served as a sign of good faith representing the relationship between the fans and himself. The DLC introduced five characters. While some included heavily requested characters, several came out of nowhere and shocked the world.

Joker

In terms of marketing,  Joker’s reveal might have had the biggest impact. Coming one year off of winning RPG of the Year at The Game Awards 2017, Persona 5 had introduced many new fans into a cult favorite series. At The Game Awards 2018, Joker and The Phantom Thieves stole the show with Joker’s surprise reveal trailer airing during the broadcast.

Sakurai not only included the Mementos stage, and music, from Persona 5. He included a blue and yellow thematic, representing Persona 3 and Persona 4, as well. These also included musical themes from those respective titles as well as their victory themes should Joker win on the stage. As someone who loved Persona 5, I heard good things about the other titles. But I think playing in the Persona 3 thematic prompted me to finally play Persona 3 FES, a game released in 2007, for PlayStation 2. Likewise, beating Persona 3 FES lead me right into playing Persona 4 Golden which, at the time of this writing, I’m about 20 hours into. Keep in mind I also did not own a PlayStation Vita, or TV, to play it on until I felt the need to try P4 Golden.

Even the littlest details could influence my decision. One of the featured songs, “Time to Make History,” appears exclusively in Persona 4 Golden. This re-release of Persona 4 came out exclusively to PlayStation Vita.

Despite owning a digital copy of Persona 4, on my PS3 (via PS2 Classics), I could only appreciate this song more if I played Golden, the game it came from. Researching the laundry list of exclusive content, and improvements, over the original title only helped persuade me to purchase a PS Vita with Persona 4 Golden.

Hero

When Hero from Dragon Quest was revealed, it was followed by a trailer of his home game, Dragon Quest XI, coming to Nintendo Switch later that year. While many westerners scratched their heads wondering, “who,” Dragon Quest had always maintained a heavy following in Japan. Nintendo’s method to introduce new Dragon Quest fans in the west involved clever marketing idea.

That idea involved showcasing his trailer to reveal, not just who he was, but where he was from, and when his game was coming out as well. This, in turn, helped lead to Dragon Quest XI receiving some of the best sales in the series history. Dragon Quest’s newfound success in the west further cemented Smash’s success in marketing game series including those not developed by Nintendo.

For a rare change of pace, Smash itself did not get me into Dragon Quest XI. Rather, it was one of the top Smash competitors, Nairo, who influenced my decision to try the game. As a fan of the player, I also checked into his Twitch streams from time to time. One of those streams happened to be Dragon Quest XI, which had not yet been announced for Switch at the time. The gorgeous design of the game and its polish really caught my attention. Eventually, I caved in and chose to buy it for myself.

Banjo & Kazooie

Banjo-Kazooie, stars of the legendary N64 title, finally entered the Smash Bros. roster in summer of 2018. Given their large fanbase, they became one of the most massively requested characters to enter the series. However, I’m going to shorten this section because there was little marketing involved. While Banjo-Kazooie’s feature included a fantastic throwback to a legendary game, from 20 years ago, there was no real “marketing” involved, per se.

Banjo-Kazooie still remains absent from the Nintendo Switch and has not been released on a Nintendo system since the N64. Until there’s any sort of re-release of the game, Banjo-Kazooie’s reveal served a purpose similar to Sonic’s. Rather than market the game, they wanted to introduce fans to a character largely loved and remembered by fans.

Terry

Months later, Terry Bogard, from SNK’s Fatal Fury, would debut in Smash. Despite western Smash fans once again bewildered with confusion, Sakurai gave fans an entertaining history lesson on Terry in a video explaining the origins of Fatal Fury as well as his recommended choice for series beginners. Incidentally, these titles went on sale, for discounted prices, on the Nintendo Switch’s eShop. Any curious player immediately had the chance to see what Terry was like in his home game.

As someone largely unfamiliar with Terry at the time, I resonated well with this video. Sakurai’s history lesson invited me to get into a series I never thought I would love as much as I do now. Furthermore, the King of Fighters Stadium stage boasts the largest number of music, including remixes, of any of the DLC character stages. The love Sakurai showed for the SNK music marketed not just good music and arcade classics, but showcases an impactful level of passion as well.

Byleth

With Fighter Pass 1 wrapping up with its last character, the inclusion of Byleth gave way to controversy as well as positive reception for the character. On one hand, it brought forth anger from Smash fans who felt the roster was, at this point, overly saturated with Fire Emblem characters. On the other hand, Fire Emblem: Three Houses won numerous accolades, including the Player’s Voice award at 2019’s Game Awards. This highly successful title immediately became one of the best selling in the series. Given that it had quickly become one of the most popular titles on the Switch, Nintendo had already decided to add the character to Smash in order to boost sales and introduce fans to Three Houses.

While Sakurai himself admitted that Smash has too many Fire Emblem characters, he gave Byleth a trademark ability to distinguish him from the other swordsmen. By allowing him to wield three additional weapons, his varied playstyle added new flavor to the roster. The additional weapons gave Byleth a different flavor than most would expect from a Fire Emblem character. Despite the initial protests, Byleth eventually made themselves at home in Smash along with several noteworthy tracks to add to Smash’s already renowned soundtrack.

The Importance of Music in Smash Bros.

Final Thoughts

Nintendo has used Smash Bros. to market gaming series for over 20 years. Fans, like myself, got into Metroid, Kirby, EarthBound, Fire Emblem, and many more. I was fascinated by the music, the stages, the characters, and the Trophy lore. This introduced me to countless worlds of wonder and many new series I would love for years to come.

While Fighter Pass 2 has already confirmed the first character to be from the Nintendo Switch fighting game, ARMS, five more characters will be revealed over the course of the next year. Therefore, it’s anyone’s guess as to who will come to Smash. Given that many of the most-requested characters have entered Smash, it truly becomes anyone’s guess as to who will enter. Nintendo has already chosen their picks for Smash Ultimate, so perhaps they’ll be used to market an upcoming Switch title. We will keep you updated with the next wave of Smash info. In the meantime, stay tuned for our next Smash Column!

What series has Smash gotten you into? Let us know in the comments below.