The Surprising Social Legacy of Nintendo 3DS


In retrospect, the 3DS was truly “in the right place at the right time”. While the 2006 Nintendo Wii was a worldwide hit with its innovations in motion capture and psychedelic sports games, Nintendo’s next console, the 2012 Wii U, was the least successful. Its only major innovation was its gargantuan touchscreen controller, too clunky to appreciate. The 3DS, released just a year before the Wii U, was about to absorb the hype that would normally see a better release of the Nintendo console. And soon, the price would drop from $ 250 to a fairer $ 170.

I bought my 3DS only on FOMO. I was happy with my red, two-dimensional, single-screen Nintendo DS in 2014, scratched and covered in kawaii bubble stickers that I had collected over the years. I do not have need improved display. And by desperately gathering freelance jobs in New York City, I didn’t have the cash available. But FOMO kicked off a trip with childhood friends to Delaware Beach, exactly one year after college. We all had a hard time getting used to post-graduate life and we definitely didn’t have our shit together. I wasn’t sure I could endure another alienating and oppressive year in New York City and needed some fresh air.

Despite my best efforts, the beach was also alienating. For two days my friends took advantage of every free moment to get together and chat about their virtual friends in 3DS life simulation game Tomodachi’s life. Frustrated, at one point I told them to Shut up and have a hold. But I started to notice that every time they caught a second’s break, they started unzipping their fabric cases. I recovered from the push quickly enough to grab a friend’s Polaroid and snap a picture of the five of them, lying drunk on a sofa bed, playing various games on their handhelds. Six years later, it still makes me jealous.

My $ 170 pink 3DS arrived within a week. It quickly became my main game console. In the New York subway, The woolly world of Poochy and Yoshi. Watch television, Pokemon. Before going to bed, Fire Emblem: Awakening. Between all the rest, Super Smash Bros. 4. It connected me to my childhood friends, and in New York it became the social fluid I swam in. Finally, he also collected stickers. On the carpet at gaming conventions and in all-terrain planes, other 3DS players always recognized me in silence. We had at least one thing to say. And while we didn’t say anything out loud, StreetPass may have already exchanged our tags for us. My virtual Mii place filled with avatars of friends and strangers.

The weird and wonderful hardware of the Nintendo 3DS meant that the console’s online store was a veritable garden of ridiculous games. Game journalists have published “Top 10” lists of the most unusual console purchases several times a year, such as Tokyo Crash Mobs, a puzzle game in which you eliminate photorealistic “scenesters” by shooting a touchscreen slingshot with your 3DS stylus. Jockey pocket card, produced by the studio behind Pokemon, combining horse racing and solitaire, with the first on the top screen and the second on the bottom.

The game has evolved, but the 3DS is perfectly frozen in time

As it got older and hardware design trends shifted towards simplicity, the 3DS has shown its true colors. The games were good. The equipment was wobbly. After only a few months of breaking in Super Smash Bros. combos, the circle pad has worn out, an experience shared by many. Graphics quality was meh compared to the PlayStation Vita handheld, and with all of those superfluous features – the 3D toggle, clamshell screens – I started wishing for a version of the flat 3DS, with just one big screen.

After March 2017, when Nintendo released its Nintendo Switch, 3DS game releases slowed down. Nintendo was gradually weaning its dedicated handheld audience from 3DS and towards Nintendo’s most versatile console, one that didn’t make any sacrifices in the design department. Advertisements announced how the Switch could switch seamlessly between its portable mode and its mode connected to a TV. It was an irresistible upgrade.


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