Nintendo’s newest enemy: the 3DS

Written by Belle Law

Say farewell to a classic as Nintendo winds down the beloved 3DS.

This October, it was announced by Nintendo that they would be shutting down all online services for both the Nintendo 3DS and Wii U software – as early as April 2024. This comes after Nintendo’s anti-modding updates and the closure of the 3DS eShop, leaving fans wondering: why does Nintendo hate their – much beloved – console so much? As an avid fan of the DS as a whole, it saddens me that Nintendo is slowly killing off these communities that have lasted over a decade. After the announcement, I saw many fans disappointed that they will soon no longer be able to play with their friends, especially in the Animal Crossing community, where online play is such a huge part of the experience. I simply cannot imagine Animal Crossing: New Leaf without the features of online, since it is one of my favourite games of the series. If Nintendo hopes to push players towards Animal Crossing: New Horizons, and the Switch in general, this is a poor way to do so. Especially since New Horizons only saw updates within a year of its release, and has an overall lack of personality in comparison to its predecessors. 

I understand to some extent that if profit is the concern, Nintendo’s decision to shut down online services for its older consoles makes sense. Nevertheless, Nintendo’s decision to close the eShop did not just greatly disservice the dedicated 3DS fanbase, but also Nintendo itself. If Nintendo simply made the eShop an accessible way to get games, they would not only be making money through purchases, but it would also decrease the amount of modders which they seemingly despise. Paying £80 for a game made 10 years ago (I’m looking at you Pokémon) is ridiculous, but instead of making these games more accessible, Nintendo seems intent on erasing the playability of the 3DS completely. No wonder there is such a strong modding community for the console, as no one is willing to pay these absurd prices for a copy of a game that Nintendo in the first place should make obtainable. Considering that companies like PlayStation continue to support the online services for older consoles such as the PS Vita, it appears that the issue for Nintendo isn’t profit. It seems more likely to be greed or a strategic move to promote the upcoming new Nintendo Switch system slated for release in 2024. Or perhaps, Nintendo is worried that the era of the 3DS and its amazing selection of games will continue to compete and take the spotlight away from the Switch. 

Image from Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Blue Rescue Team

Although Nintendo works hard, the modding community works much harder. Modders have already found ways around the anti-modding update (although I’m still refusing to update my 2DS XL), and I’m certain that the modding community will eventually find a way to bring back the online services for the 3DS and Wii U. The 3DS has reached a certain level of immortality, and those who love it won’t let it go down without a fight. However, fans shouldn’t have to work this hard to play the games they grew up with. I can only hope that in the future when a new era of Nintendo inevitably begins, Nintendo does not treat the Switch in the same dissatisfying way it has treated the 3DS. 

As winter looms on the horizon and autumn settles in, that nostalgic, cosy feeling of playing the 3DS indoors cannot be beaten. So for my fellow DS lovers out there who refuse to see the system die, allow me to recommend some games for you to try as the colder season hits. I’ve recently discovered ‘Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam Bros,’ and it has quickly become my favourite. It masterfully combines the humour from the ‘Mario & Luigi’ series with the delightful charm of ‘Paper Mario.’ It’s been a long time since I’ve felt such passion for a Mario game, and I’m anticipating that feeling will return with the release of ‘Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door’ on the Switch. The ‘Mario & Luigi’ games, which I’ve enjoyed since childhood, hold a special place in my heart, even though their developer, Alphadream, went bankrupt in 2019. The legacy they left with these games is exceptional, and I highly recommend trying them. I’ve also started playing ‘Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Blue Rescue Team’ recently. As a well-loved game that I’ve been meaning to play, it offers a charming RPG experience where you play as a Pokémon rescuing other Pokémon — a delightful departure from the main series. I’m finding it very enjoyable to play in short bursts whenever I have the time.

Image from Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam Bros

To conclude I’ll end with this: for me, there will never be something as special as the 3DS. It has an almost magical quality; and I can’t help but see the console through a childlike lens. I regularly play on the system alongside the Switch and, while I somewhat understand Nintendo’s decisions, my recent forays into 3DS games I hadn’t explored before have only reinforced its unique charm that the Switch does not possess. For such a little console, it has certainly had a huge impact. But for now, its fate and survival rests in the hands of the modding community, its loyal fanbase and you: the player.