OPINION: Why I Love / Hate the Nintendo 3DS

Tuesday, July 10th, 2012

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These are exciting times for Nintendo fans. American audiences are getting closer to experiencing The Last Story, and there are several high profile releases making their way onto the 3DS this month. The greatness soon to arrive is what ultimately inspired me to speak my piece about my torrid affair with the handheld juggernaut thus far, with some additional input from one of our writers who shares my frustration, Kyle Emch.

This article certainly does not represent the views of Operation Rainfall  collectively. As a matter of fact, I believe Kyle and I amount to a stark contrast amongst the staff that, as a whole, have completely enjoyed what the 3DS has to offer. Before I begin: I’ve played a sizable 116 different titles on my 3DS. My number one most-played game is Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor Overclocked with over 200 hours of play, and my top ten most-played rounds out with Kirby: Mass Attack at 24:39.

This is to say, I’ve poured a lot of my soul into my 3DS, and everything you’re about to read comes from a “hardcore handheld gamer” —I thoroughly enjoy the console experience, but I much prefer gaming on the go.  My ideal system is a fully realized hand-held console like the Nintendo DS has proven itself to be, time and time again.

Its successor hasn’t proven itself just yet.

But there is one entity the 3DS has over every single handheld out there, even mobile devices or the Playstation Vita—the Nintendo eShop. I’ve mentioned it at least once before, but the best experiences to be had on the 3DS are not its retail offerings. Games like Mutant Mudds, Mighty Switch Force, and Sakura Samurai: Art of the Sword offer experiences comparable to some of the best-selling retail titles at roughly a third of the price (or less). I am thoroughly impressed with how much it’s grown in so little time.


Kyle takes some issue with the eShop: there are a lot of problems with how it’s designed. “Most of the stuff shown on the interface is just strewn out there with no rhyme or reason. When you click on a category, it’s all in a single horizontal row in order of release date. Why they didn’t give us other options for organizing them or giving us the option to arrange them in a vertical list of some kind is…beyond me.”

In comparison, the eShop content makes the 3DS Virtual Console service look like a complete joke. It didn’t take Nintendo of America long to validate the cynics who insisted that the 3DS VC would become as desolate as the Wii VC.  Despite the hundreds of games that came out on the Gameboy and Game Gear, we’re lucky to see one Virtual Console game a month from Nintendo. Sometimes, weeks would go by, then all Nintendo would offer are games the 3DS Ambassadors have been playing for months.

When you release an update of a 3DS Ambassador game, you should release something cool to go with it, like—you know, last week. It seems Nintendo is finally getting the ball rolling with this “8 Bit Summer” promotion by…giving us games that Europe has had available for months on end throughout July.  Kirby’s Dream Land 2 was not amongst the announced games. I suppose Nintendo of America will wait just about a week before the Kirby’s Dream Collection hits store shelves, then slip it right in as “part of the celebration”.

I’m sure The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages / Seasons has been ready for a long time, but it’s release is going to wait until…just about a week before the next “big” Zelda game for Wii U or 3DS. I understand what Nintendo is trying to do with moves like these, but I can’t be the only one who’s frustrated.

“And then there are the demos. It’s good that Nintendo has allowed demos to become available for the eShop. Sadly, they are few and far between. Some of the demos aren’t even made available for certain titles until long after the game has launched. And, most baffling of all, why would you put a use limit on your demos!? You didn’t need to do that on the Wii, so why do it here?”

I hope you continue to hear us out on Page 2.

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  • So far I’ve had a good time with my 3DS. I am, however, a console gamer first and handheld gamer distant second. I picked one up because of staff at Operation Rainfall always talking about handhelds. So far I’ve been pretty impressed, but I admit that I wasn’t into handhelds before. I had a DS many years ago, but got rid of it for lack of use.
    There are some downsides to it, mainly the fact that you can only have 3 different internet connections in your system, which makes it tedious when going around to different wifi hotspots. The screens are pretty small, but they do the job (I bought it just before they announced the 3DSXL). Currently the selection of games is pretty bare, but there are some good experiences to be had. I’m waiting for some good RPG experiences that the DS was known for.
    I agree that the virtual console for the 3DS is severely lacking; there are so many games that Nintendo could have already released for it that I would want to play. There is definitely room for improvement there.

  • Fiskern9

    Dead or Alive Dimensions and Ghost Recon somtehingsomething were actualy decent games not to distant from launch, but still I see that point. However, disagree on most of the other parts. Yes, Pullblow and Mutant Mudds are good titles, but are first of all, they are much cheaper to produce, and second, are not something I would buy in a retail.

    And I can’t really agree with it having few games. Besides MK7, Uprising and 3D Land, there is RE: Revelations, Shinobi, Kingdom Hearts 3D and Heroes of Ruin. And to come are Fire Emblem, Paper Mario, Animal Crossing, NSMB, Professor Layton, Epic Mickey and Castlevania. And if we’re lucky, Monster Hunter 4, Project X Zone and Bravely Default. I mean, you have to play A LOT of games to have played all of them and complain.

    I see the problem with RPGs, and I hope that will change, maybe with Camelot, Game Freak, Capcom and/or Square etc.

    With the eShop update bringing the lower bar, I have few problems. VC could have been better(Shantae!!). I guess it will continue to become better, especially with the upcoming combination of Wii U.

    My point is, you have to be really spoiled to complain about the 3DS. You by a system to play games, simple as that. As an early adaptor you take a risk paying the high price and hoping for a good game lineup. Yet, we are(I guess) Nintendo fans, we’re hard to satisfy. And Earthbound……yeah, Earthbound.

    • While the eShop has definitely had some improvements since it was first launched, it still has a long way to go if it ever hopes to be comparable to Steam, Xbox Live Arcade, or even the PlayStation Store.

      Also, words cannot describe my frustrations with the whole Earthbound mess.

    • Fiskern9

      It’s Nintendo, It will never be as good as Steam…

    • I don’t think anything will ever surpass Steam, at this point.

    • I don’t think I ever got around to playing Dead or Alive: Dimensions because I’m not one for fighting games. To call them “decent” falls under my original point though, because Kid Icarus and Mario 3D were also “decent”.

      I would totally buy retail versions of both Pushmo and Mutant Mudds, but I suppose that’s a difference of opinion at its finest. Like I said in my review of the game, Mutant Mudds finally got something right when it came to attempting to emulate the past.

      And I have already preordered [all] of the games you’ve listed “to come” besides Animal Crossing (because of my addictive personality). Good games are indeed coming (with Heroes of Ruin and Kingdom Hearts right on the horizon), but they aren’t here yet (and they [should have been]), which is the idea that sparked this entire article.

      I suppose if you want to call me spoiled, that’s your call. I’ve just played a ton of superior games on portable systems offered right from the get-go, as opposed to over a year after launch (even with the Gameboy Advance insisting upon releasing five or six different handheld ports of Mario & Zelda games at first), so I felt the need to speak my mind alongside Kyle.

      I’ve been gaming for a long, LONG time. In the long line of Nintendo handhelds, the 3DS has been the weakest so far; that’s all I’m saying. (I still love it, though.) With the coming classics (like everything you’ve listed), it will no doubt have a second wind–but said wind should have been there… right from the start.

    • Another thing about the 3DS for fighting game fans is that there is a good selection to choose from. DOA, SFIV, and Tekken are all very good replicas of their console counterparts, and definitely the best *looking* handheld fighting games to date. They all have stable online connections and minimal loading time, so even though they may not be as fully robust as their home counterparts, they are more than capable for taking fighting games on the go.

    • As a side note, Super Street Fighter IV: 3D Edition actually outsold all other releases in the “Street Fighter IV” line, and reached 1 million sales faster than the other games, prompting a big push for competitive fighting games on the system.

  • Yes the 3DS is a total disappointment right now. I see people laughing at the Vita, but tbh I’ve had a lot more good time with my Vita than with my 2 3DSes (living in Europe I imported an US 3DS because you know we’re going to be left out again. Starting with Devil Survivor Overclocked, but only sticking to US games makes my games pretty much unsellable here).
    There’s not a single retail game out there that justifies its price. All the big games are ports, or Kid Icarus, which needs a 2nd Stick, Nintendo’s solution sucks so I’m waiting for Nyko’s version with an included extra battery which doesn’t come out untill october. SM3DL is so easy I completed the whole thing in one weekend and Mario Kart is just another Mario Kart.

    Right now I own 3 3DS games. Dead or Alive Dimensions, Mario Kart 7 and Tales of the Abyss (which we Europeans just got for the first time). I have 6 retail games for the Vita plus some digital games and enjoy most of them a lot more than I ever enjoyed my 3DS. I used to have both 3DSes on for their daily 2-3 StreetPass hits, but with the pink tiles not even that is worth its time now. I used to carry around my 3DS wherever I went. The only StreetPass hit I ever got was 2 hits from someone apparently visiting someone in this or the neighbors house, about half a year apart from each other. So now, my 3DSes are collecting dust hoping to get something good.
    I have a lot more playtime playing old NES, GameBoy and GBA games that I already owned on this thing than anything new >.<

    Somehow I hope Nintendo will pull a Sega after this generation. Better make good games for other platforms than waste my money with systems you can't sustain.

  • I’ll agree that the 3DS got off to a rocky start, and the fact that the system started out with so many ports, but it finally seems like this year will be a good one for the 3DS.

    Not to mention the eShop… with games like Unchained Blades and Fractured Soul going digital-only, hopefully that will mean good things in the future for riskier games. I think I’ve spent more time with eShop titles in general than I have with actual retail titles. Pushmo, Mighty Switch Force, VVVVVV, Mutant Mudds, Bomb Monkey, Sakura Samurai, Dillon’s Rolling Western…. yeah.

    I think we’ve got a lot to look forward to finally on the retail front now. Fire Emblem Awakening, Kingdom Hearts 3D, Code of Princess, Luigi’s Mansion, Paper Mario, NSMB2, Animal Crossing, and more are on their way in the next year or so, meaning I will be glued to my 3DS for a long time to come.

  • Like Jonathan, I’m a “hardcore handheld gamer”, so to speak. While I play console and PC games pretty equally, I mainly play handheld games. I wasn’t an early adopter of the 3DS, since the first-year lineup in general was quite paltry, $250 was too much, and I didn’t want black or blue. But I eventually acquired one – around Christmastime last year, I bought the last Zelda 3DS bundle my GameStop had in stock.

    No regrets! Not only is the system itself beautiful, but I’m impressed by the hardware. I agree with Jonathan, though. The eShop software is fantastic, and these games feel just as substantial as cartridge-based titles. Other software, on the other hand, has had mixed results. I’ve only played about seven cartridge-based 3DS games as of now (DoA: Dimensions, Kid Icarus, Ocarina of Time 3D, SM3D Land, Tales of the Abyss, Revelations and Spirit Camera), and have liked all of them, save for the last (even though I love Fatal Frame, it was one of the worst failed experiments in gaming history…) Still, in the first half-month or so that I had my DS (the “electric blue” Phat in 2005), there were about twice as many games that I liked. There’s quite a gap there.

    The Virtual Console is very lacking. I’m still awaiting the release of games such as Dragon Quest I-III, the Final Fantasy Legend/SaGa trilogy, or even DQM 1/2. Heck, even the Game Gear games Defenders of Oasis, Shining Force: The Sword of Hajya and Phantasy Star Gaiden would be good for the service! And yes, we all know about Shantae.

    Still, with Code of Princess, Virtue’s Last Reward, Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion and Fire Emblem on the horizon, that might fill the 3DS void for me. But I’m still eagerly awaiting the US release of Project X Zone, Bravely Default (that one will happen soon enough, hopefully), and Monster Hunter 3G and/or 4.

  • I find it really incredible that you managed to play through the entirety of Super Mario 3D Land dying only 3 times and died over two thousand times in Galaxy 2. And by “incredible”, I mean hard to believe.

  • The 3DS doesn’t have a lot of things on it I play now but with games Like Fire Emblem, Code of Princess, and Shin Megami Tensei 4 coming I see a bright future for it.

  • Devin Kotani

    For the longest time, Street Fighter was my most played game, but I have to attribute that to there being no good launch games. Though I did actually really like it, despite never playing a Street Fighter game before 😛