I am a huge fan of the Nintendo Switch. It’s a great idea, and the success of the platform shows exactly why it’s so appealing. The fact that such a small device can run the games it does, and the magic developers like Panic Button have done in porting current gen games to it are remarkable. But it ain’t perfect. And I say that, because I constantly find myself coming back to two of my all-time favorite platforms: the 3DS and the PlayStation Vita. These devices both have ostensibly been replaced by the Nintendo Switch, but to me, the Nintendo Switch, as much as I enjoy using it, doesn’t quite replace them in my own book. Here’s why.
First and foremost, it’s an ergonomic thing. The Nintendo Switch is a hybrid device, meant to bridge the gap between handhelds and TV consoles. Much of the reason this is a thing, is because Nintendo failed with the Wii U despite making tons of great software for it, because there were too many resources split in the wrong ways between the Wii U and the 3DS. The Wii U ultimately paid dearly for that split, while the 3DS prospered after an admittedly rocky start. It’s full of excellent software, but it’s also an appealing piece of hardware in a similar way the Nintendo Switch is.
The 3DS, and to a lesser extent the Vita, both can fit in my pocket. The Vita is bulky but just small enough, while the 3DS, with its classic clamshell design (I use the cover-plated model that is slightly smaller than the XL but larger than the original 3DS), fits perfectly. It’s truly an on the go platform. Plus, its battery life is incredible compared to the Switch. With the Switch, I have to carry it around in a bag, and I’m not much of a bag-carrier.
The 3DS and Vita also have a very specific kind of software that isn’t necessarily being replicated on the Switch. While there is plenty of overlap, especially with certain indie and Japanese titles, the Nintendo Switch is also playing home for more console-style games, as it should. And sure, there will still be a core Pokemon title, and perhaps more blurred lines between console and handheld-style games. Also, there are mobile ports. But the general vibe is still totally different.
On the 3DS, there are so many games that just feel like handheld games, or are games that are designed to really be played in short bursts, and feel like more compact experiences in general. Or with the 3DS in particular, since we’re talking about the Vita here as well, the 3DS also uses its second screen quite well in some cases, which is something I would sorely miss if I abandoned it. Games like Etrian Odyssey will never be the same without the dual screens, and other titles that even did something as simple as throwing maps down below will also tragically be a thing of the past.
Ultimately, it’s not like I expect more software to come onto either platform. Or rather, more software of note. There are still 3DS and even Vita games on the way, but most of them are ports or re-releases of some form or another. Luigi’s Mansion looks great on the 3DS, and so does the refresh of Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story. But those are games that existed already, and that’s kinda what the 3DS is in 2018. But there’s a lot to catch up on. Both the 3DS and Vita are JRPG madhouses, and I look forward to being able to take time to catch up now that the release flow is pretty much done.
It may seem sully to compare these past platforms to the new hotness, but at the same time, the Nintendo Switch is taking their place. And there are holes that thing, as great as it is to play, simply cannot fill. Handheld gaming is my favorite, and while the Switch does an admirable job at playing both fields, it excels at neither, and that’s new territory. Perhaps one day we’ll see another new successor to the Game Boy, but for now, I’m keeping quite a few extra chargers lying around. Just in case, you know.