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The Ten: Updated Wednesdays-Fridays-Sundays

Monday, October 6, 2014

Article: Whatever Happened to the 3DS?

Well, let's see if 2015 is any better... right?
A year ago, I saved an article called "The DEFINITIVE 3DS Owner's Guide" on my laptop, which entailed a plan to create a massive list of articles detailing the best games for the 3DS and why any owner should pick them up. I had to stop myself from writing, because, as I thought at the time, who knows what we'll see in the future?

Fast forward to now. I haven't touched that article in about eight months, partially because we're not close to the end of the console's life, but also because I felt no reason to actually go and update the list I had written about two and a half years into the 3DS' life.

So, my question is this- what happened to the 3DS in 2014?

2014 Releases:
Let's look at Nintendo's releases for the 3DS this year.

Yoshi's New Island
Mario Golf: World Tour
Kirby: Triple Deluxe
Tomodachi Life
Kirby Fighters Deluxe
Dedede's Drum Dash
Pokemon Art Academy
Smash Bros. for 3DS
Pokemon OmegaRuby and AlphaSapphire
Steel Diver: Sub Wars
Rusty's Real Deal Baseball

Let's consider. Most of the titles this yer have been B-list franchises, like Kirby, Yoshi, Tomodachi Life, and even Mario Golf. These have also been the major headliners for the early part of the year. With November fast approaching, we have Smash Bros. and Pokemon rounding out the year, but this does not account for a massive drought of 3DS games in the middle of the summer.

Many would argue "Tomodachi Life" but I disagree. Tomodachi Life is not a game, and it should not have even been a full retail release. But, I won't harp on that. The rest of Nintendo's lineup was... well, an Art Academy game and two free-to-play cashgrabs. Kirby and Mario Golf released simultaneously, widening the gap.

Of course, Nintendo didn't have to rely on their releases alone, did they? On the Third-Party side of this year's games, we have:

Bravely Default
Inazuma Eleven
Conception 2: Children of the Seven Stars
Disney Magical World
Professor Layton an Phoenix Wright
Theatrhythm: Curtain Call
Fantasy Life
Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth

And... um. Well, that's it. Eight titles. Again, one could say that's a bunch more than what the 3DS HAD last year, and that's not even accounting for several eShop releases. But eight titles that again hit at awkward times of the year (leaving summer barren) and inconsistent eShop releases lead me to scour the eShop for games I had missed out on and gave me little enthusiasm for 2015. Renegade Kid's releases all but dropped off the map. Bravely Default, while being a massive release, ultimately disappointed. I didn't even bother with Conception 2 for a number of reasons.

The truth is, I'm not a very picky gamer. Sure, I don't really like my 2D run-and-guns, but on the whole, I'm willing to try anything. I actually DID try some new things this year, just to see if I liked new genres. But a number of titles sat in a very mediocre range, with gameplay that didn't thrill.

It seems as if Nintendo left this year open for Third Parties to swoop in and take advantageo f the lack of competition, but few of them actually answered the call- and those that did had nothing really interesting to offer up, busy working on new projects for other consoles. Nintendo itself was doing the same thing, for the Wii U.

There's another reason this year hasn't been all that exciting though- and that's what Nintendo has announced for the next year.

What did Nintendo announce for the 3DS in 2014? Not much.

Pokemon titles we already knew were coming, a new IP in the form of Project STEAM (which does look really awesome, so I can't complain about that), Fantasy Life's localization and Smash Bros. release date, and an update 3DS that will have Xenoblade Chronicles on it, in addition to being the better, definitive version of the console.

While Fantasy Life is something I have eagerly anticipated and Smash Bros. is, well, Smash Bros., the most disconcerting announcement is that a 3DS owner who wants to take advantage of the console most will now have to get a new version, which will be more expensive than the models currently out and have better capabilities. There will be exclusives for this system, and it will have compatibility with Amiibos and improved download speeds.

That's upsetting.

While I ended up exchanging my launch 3DS to an XL partially out of necessity and partly because I wanted to try something new, I will be locked out of potential new content for a while because Nintendo will be making exclusive games for the New 3DS. Of course, I could always hope that the New 3DS will not receive any games I really want, but that's assuming Nintendo doesn't want to make me buy a 3DS. Or make anyone buy a New 3DS.

This means I could be missing out on new games, but that's a selfish reason to not be excited about this announcement. The other reason I'm not excited about announcements in general is because we didn't get a surprise or sneak reveal at all this year. 2013 was an absolutely incredible year for the 3DS and Nintendo made it even better by including a mid-year reveal of A Link Between Worlds, one of the best games on the system and one of the best of the year. This year, Nintendo unveiled Project STEAM but confirmed it would not be making an appearance on 3DS until 2015. But we also know very little about what will be coming to 3DS in the future in general, with a nebulous New 3DS release in the West and... Monster Hunter. Going into 2013, we knew about a boatload of 3DS games coming to the system. Now, the future of the system seems bleak, while the Wii U seems to be on the updraft.

This year has been, essentially, the year of Smash Bros., but that's not a good marketing strategy for Nintendo, especially on the 3DS. They have spaced their releases leaving a massive gap, have offered very little in terms of quality titles themselves, given third parties the chance (which they promptly dropped), and have given us little to no reason to be excited for 2014. I am happy I have both a Wii U and a 3DS, but I worry my days with the handheld will be much less interesting in the future.

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