About six months ago, I posted an article about how the 3DS seemed to be shaping up for the year. When I started writing, there were only a few titles announced, and I had assumed that the year would be quiet and peaceful as the handheld passed on into legacy. I was wrong – Nintendo hosted a March Nintendo Direct that breathed new life into the system. This caused me to rethink my entire article. There were suddenly more games to look forward to. Maybe not as many as there once was, but the message was clear: 2018 would not be the end. I vowed to return at a later date to see how things have progressed.
As we approach the last few months of the year (and note the lack of 3DS releases for this holiday season), I’d say the handheld has performed pretty well overall – as long as you were paying attention. Excellent games like Sushi Striker and an updated port of Radiant Historia hit the system, while Nintendo reaffirmed their commitment to the Yo-Kai Watch series, and have continued their trend of porting anything and everything they want. Outside of this, active development for the console has died down (Persona Q2 being the notable exception), so the writing is definitely on the wall. However, the continued life of the 3DS is largely in Nintendo’s control now, as a regular New 2DS XL costs $149.99 – half the price of the Switch. As long as this parity remains and no direct 3DS successor is announced, there’s no reason to kill the system outright yet.
It’s very possible we may see the 3DS last into 2020, maybe even 2021, if games continue to sell well. This may seem like a wild idea to consider, but it’s not unheard of before. Nintendo kept the original Game Boy alive, launching Pokémon Yellow released in 1999, a decade after its release, and made it easy for many other games to be played on both a Game Boy and Game Boy Color. There’s also the original DS, which had a Big Hero 6 game and a version of Lego Marvel Super Heroes: Universe in Peril come out in 2014, a decade after it launched and three years after the 3DS hit shelves. So it’s definitely possible we’ll see 3DS games when the handheld hits the decade mark in 2021.
As for this year, let’s take a look at what’s been released so far. While I have chosen not to include some titles like Games for Toddlers 2, I’ve made a timeline of the twelve major games we’ve seen so far this year. Even without some of the lesser known e-shop titles, we still can see a lot of genre variety.
- Kirby Battle Royale (1/19/18) (Review)
- Radiant Historia: Perfect Chronology (2/13/18) (Review)
- SteamWorld Dig 2 (2/22/18)
- Detective Pikachu (3/23/18) (Review)
- The Alliance Alive (3/27/18) (Review)
- Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey Redux (5/15/18) (Review)
- Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon (5/24/18)
- Dillon’s Dead-Heat Breakers (5/24/18)
- Sushi Striker: The Way of Sushido (6/8/18) (Review)
- Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker (7/13/18)
- WarioWare Gold (8/3/18)
- Yo-Kai Watch Blasters: Red Cat Corps / Yo-Kai Watch Blasters White Dog Squad (9/7/18)
Yet it’s also clear that there aren’t many original titles. Some of these games are ports, while others are multiplatform releases hitting as many bases as possible. In Yo-Kai Watch Blasters‘ case, it’s also Nintendo deciding to localize a three year old game for the fans. As far as the rest of the year goes, there isn’t much. Thee titles, maybe four, and only one of them may be released in the critical months of November and December. This is traditionally when larger titles hit shelves, but in this case the handheld seems to be following an industry-wide trend this year. Most of the big releases are coming in October, which hopefully points to longer retail legs as the months continue.
Going into the 3DS in 2019, we’re at a similar situation now that we were back six months ago – a handful of releases planned, with about half a year of gaps to fill in. I don’t think the system will see as much activity as it did this year, diminishing returns seem inevitable, but it’s possible I’ll be wrong. Given how little seems to be made for the console even in Japan, I don’t think that’ll happen, but Nintendo likes to surprise. Only they really know how 2019 will go.
Jake Hunter Detective Story: Ghost of the Dusk
(Aksys Games/Arc System Works) (9/28/18)
I’ve talked about Jake Hunter before, so I won’t rehash too much. This is a classic Japanese series that has only seen a couple of releases in the West, and has suffered from a rocky reception. This new entry should hopefully buoy the franchise and assert that players really do want more crime solving mysteries after all. Otherwise, it’ll just remain in obscurity forever, and that’s no fun.
This port of Luigi’s Mansion finally gives the game the 3D effect it was built with when it was made for the Gamecube. This little factoid, revealed back when the 3DS was about to launch, seemed like a perfect segue into porting the game back then – but we only got the sequel, Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon in 2013. When this port was announced earlier in the year, I thought it was odd – why go back now? The most recent Nintendo Direct provided an answer: Luigi’s Mansion 3 is coming to the Switch in 2019. Better to remind people now that this series is still a thing than later, I suppose.
Paw Patrol: On a Roll
(Torus Games/Outright Games) (10/23/18)
Little has been said about this title since it was announced during the summer – but from what I can tell, this Paw Patrol game is coming to PC, PS4, Xbox One, Switch, and 3DS. Walmart may not even have a SKU for it, but it exists. I think. Perhaps it’ll be digital only, or perhaps no one else cares enough to make the messaging clear. What’s interesting is that it’s counter-programming for Red Dead Redemption 2, and if there’s any game that’s going to appeal to a different enough audience than that game, it might as well be a Paw Patrol title.
(VBlank Entertainment) (2018)
This somewhat forgotten title is the sequel to Retro City Rampage and has been in development for some time. Recently, trailers have started to appear, and the general “2018” release date has been applied. It’s also coming to PC, PS4, Switch, and the Vita, which makes me wonder whether or not this’ll be the last multiplatform game to span both systems. That’ll be a cool little footnote that would have likely gone to Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night before the Vita version got cancelled.
Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story + Bowser Jr.’s Journey
Following 2017’s Mario and Luigi: Superstar Saga + Bowser’s Minions, this is the second remake in the Mario and Luigi RPG series. Curiously skipping over the second entry, Partners in Time, Bowser’s Inside Story + Bowser Jr.’s Journey takes the DS RPG that many people loved and expands the story. How well this continued effort to add more story remains to be seen, but it’s an attempt at least to do something more to take advantage of the better hardware. Which is really the best option you can get from a remake. If the tech is there, why not use it?
Etrian Odyssey Nexus
Billed as a crossover event for all previous Etrian Odyssey titles, Nexus is supposed to be the final entry in the series for 3DS. Bringing together countless classes and familiar dungeons, Nexus appeals to longtime fans by twisting their expectations, blowing past classification as a “remake” or a “port” and going instead for something like Persona Q or Project X-Zone. I’m assuming this means we won’t see Etrian Mystery Dungeon 2, but weirder things have happened. That’s a hint, Atlus.
Shovel Knight: King of Cards
(Yacht Club Games) (4/9/19)
The saga of the crowdfunded retro-inspired game Shovel Knight comes to a close, as the final patches of content release in the form of the final campaign, King of Cards, and a multiplayer Smash Bros-style game called Showdown. Sadly, Showdown isn’t coming to 3DS, but we still have King of Cards to look forward to. It’s kind of amazing how the last six years have changed the game, and the amount of success it’s seen since. It feels nice to see Yacht Club Games giving the handheld a fair shake, when they probably could have dumped it a year or two ago.
Kirby’s Extra Epic Yarn
(Nintendo/Good-Feel/HAL Laboratory) (2019)
The final major game announced for the 3DS at this point, this game could be coming in April or July, we don’t know beyond “2019.” What we do know though is that it’s an enhanced port of Kirby’s Epic Yarn on the Wii, with new modes and minigames. This may not be the Kirby Air Ride 3D port I want, but I’ll take it anyway – Kirby’s Epic Yarn is a fun game, and being able to play it on the go is a good enough reason to play it again.