When it comes to handheld gaming, no company can compare to the number of high-quality in-depth compelling titles that Nintendo has put out on a mobile platform. The families of Gameboy and DS systems dominated the handheld market and introduced dozens of games that are considered some of the greatest of all time. Despite a rocky start and some muddled marketing, the Nintendo 3DS has earned its place among the greatest handheld consoles, and boasts an insanely impressive catalog of titles. With the New Nintendo 3DS XL hitting American shelves this week, I thought it would be appropriate to look back at the console’s detailed history and highlight some of the standout games that defined the system.
The 3DS was introduced on stage at E3 2010, and the initial reaction foreshadowed the trouble the system would have connecting with more casual gamers. The name 3DS, cleverly crafted around the system’s capability to display images in stereoscopic 3D, confused consumers into believing it was just a minor upgrade to the DS or DSi system. Sales-wise, the 3DS stuttered upon launch with an alarmingly low number of fans adopting the brand new system.
Contributing to the 3DS’ weak initial sales was the lack of compelling launch software. The Wii U suffered a similar problem, because with no enticing exclusive games that highlighted the console’s unique gimmick, both systems reported low sales for their first few months. The 3DS hit shelves accompanied with lackluster games like Super Street Fighter IV, Pilot Wings and Steel Diver. Perhaps with a more solid lineup of games available on day one, the 3DS would have flown off the shelves like the Nintendo DS before it.
It took a few months before a lineup of impressive games started to come out for the new hardware. The first big game that drove consumers to adopt the 3DS was a 3D remake of the critically-acclaimed Ocarina of Time. For some gamers, this was their first time experiencing the classic title and for others it provided enough reason to re-visit one of the all time greats remastered in beautiful 3D. I’ll admit that even I did not consider picking up the new system before Ocarina of Time 3D was out.
The later months of 2011 brought more promising titles to the growing system’s library. Super Mario 3D Land, a very solid platformer and Mario Kart 7, a new iteration of Nintendo’s popular racing series, both helped promote the new console.
2012 brought some even better original titles with it. Kid Icarus Uprising marked the first entry in the series in over a decade and featured stellar voice acting and addictive gameplay. Resident Evil Revelations proved to be a stellar entry in the classic horror series and was received so well that it was later ported to other consoles. However, a common complaint of both games were frequent hand cramps and headaches due to the size of the system. These issues were remedied with the updated 3DS XL model and the Circle Pad Pro accessory.
Heading into the system’s second year of life, the 3DS had a decent catalog of games and several options of sizes, colors and accessories. 2013 was a make or break year for the 3DS and it excelled with an insane number of first-party titles.
You would be hard pressed to find one single year where more high-quality exclusives were released for a system than the 3DS had in 2013. In the early months of 2013, Fire Emblem Awakening and Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon hit shelves. Awakening marks the most successful Fire Emblem game to date, and is constantly praised for the charming cast of characters and unforgiving learning curve. Luigi’s Mansion gave the Gamecube classic the proper follow-up fans had been clamoring for. Other notable titles in the Summer of 2013 included Shin Megami Tensei IV and Animal Crossing: New Leaf. Later in the fall, the next generation of Pokemon games, X and Y finally released and convinced a huge number of hesitant customers to get on board with the 3DS. A Link Between Worlds rounded out the incredible year of first-party titles for Nintendo, providing yet another excellent Legend of Zelda experience.
It took well over two years on shelves, but the 3DS was finally recognized as a stellar system with a solid library of titles supporting it. Heading into 2014, the 3DS was coming off of its hottest year yet with even more promising games on the horizon. The much-demanded Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire became a reality, after fans had clamored for a revisiting of the classic titles for years. And most notably, the 3DS became the first ever handheld title to boast an entry in the Super Smash Bros. Series.
In the end of 2014 in Japan the New models of the 3DS rolled out. The updated console finally added a second control stick, updated the processing power and revamped the 3D effect to now track player’s faces. To many fan’s disappointment, only the XL model will be hitting North America at this time. Two huge titles launch with the New 3DS XL, Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate and the 3D remaster of the classic Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask.
Nintendo has shown its dedication to the system and its future, with a great number of titles on the way including Codename S.T.E.A.M and Xenoblade Chronicles. If you don’t own a 3DS, now would be the perfect time to hop on board and dive into one of the most extensive and impressive catalogs available at the moment..
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