Much like urban legend suggests cockroaches could survive a nuclear blast, the Nintendo 3DS seems to be thriving despite the megaton impact of the Nintendo Switch. This thing it approaching its seventh anniversary in North America, which is just a crazy shelf-life for any platform. As we saw in an early March Nintendo Direct, plenty of games are still being promoted and released for the little handheld, which shows no signs of being discontinued or moved on from in official capacity. Because of that, Nintendo fans are starting to show signs of annoyance or confusion. The same is true of figures in games media, as many of the “reacts” videos for said Nintendo Direct couldn’t resist taking the piss during the 3DS announcements.
So what gives? Is Nintendo not confident in the Switch despite its success? Well, no, that’s not the case at all. Here’s why Switch owners shouldn’t be worried about this year’s wave of 3DS releases.
First of all, it makes to Earthly sense to simply abandon the 3DS at this point. Seriously, not only does it make no sense, it would be a straight-up stupid decision to drop 3DS support for 2018. More than 60 million 3DS units have been sold. Sure, a percentage of that could be tied to double-dipping from diehard Nintendo fans interested in new models and special editions, but that’s still dozens of millions of potential game sales. Meanwhile, as much as the Switch is selling, it’s still only a fraction of the 3DS install base. The numbers don’t lie; while Nintendo needs to prop the Switch up as its top priority in terms of big, AAA releases, it would be detrimental to not drop some content on the 3DS, using Nintendo’s valuable in-house IP.
That brings me to my second point. There is a pattern to how games have been dropping on the 3DS since the Switch dropped. It is entirely arguable that the 3DS has not had a major first-party game since Pokemon Sun and Moon, and those came out in late 2016. The entirety of 2017 was thirds-party releases, and two extremely specific kinds of games coming out using Nintendo IP. We’re talking ports, remakes, and “spinoffs,” for lack of a better word. 2017 saw the likes of Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia, Hey! Pikmin, Metroid: Samus Returns, Mario & Luigi Superstar Saga + Bowser’s Minions, Mario Party: The Top 100, and Poochy and Yoshi’s Wooly World. 2018 features WarioWare Gold, Luigi’s Mansion, Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker, and Detective Pikachu (which was a 2016 release in Japan). And in 2019, another Mario & Luigi remake is coming.
The vast majority of first-party 3DS games are from studios outside of Nintendo such as Good-Feel, AlphaDream, Nd Cube, Arzest, so on and so forth. Nintendo EPD, the primary source of the “good stuff,” was involved with Miitopia and the Captain Toad port, which is also coming to Switch. Even the third-party devs are falling back a bit, with games like Alliance Alive and potentially another Etrian Odyssey bringing original RPG content to the 3DS, but we’re also seeing Radiant Historia and Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey seeing updated revisions this year as well.
What I’m getting at here is that while plenty of 3DS games are still coming out in the wake of the Switch taking over, Nintendo isn’t exactly devoting a ton of resources to these games. They’re still cool, interesting, and even good games, but Nintendo’s biggest guns are aimed squarely at the Switch. There’s no need to panic or be confused about it, all you really need to do is look at who is actually developing these games, and put two and two together. There’s no need to really be bent out of shape about it. Just chill out and play Luigi’s Mansion again, sheesh. That game was dope.