Marilink's 3DS Retrospective and Wish List

As the 3DS turned ten years old this February, I was inspired to dig out my current model and reminisce on what I view to be the pinnacle of Nintendo handheld systems. The 3DS represents three decades of Nintendo trying new things, iterating on the things that worked, and refining the concept of what it means to have a handheld gaming console. Since the 3DS is currently the last "true" handheld, it remains the fullest and purest form of Nintendo's beautiful proof of concept begun all the way back with a game called Ball. Yes, there's the Switch, but that is a system forging a new path into the console/hybrid space; in contrast, the 3DS is essentially the distillation of handheld gaming.

As I looked at my New 2DS XL, I briefly thought about the previous models of this system that I've owned and the story that they tell. I started out with my launch model 3DS from 2011, which I paid way too much money for. I'm not sure how my high school hiney was able to conjure up the $250 to adopt early, but I guess I had squirreled away enough landscaping money from the summer before. Nintendo did make that one up to me with ten virtual console games and, most importantly, a cute little digital ribbon. Even with the notoriously weak launch, I was happy to have a replacement for my broken DS, and I waited patiently for the releases to get rolling--which they certainly did, in due time.

The launch 3DS was a little small and felt almost brittle, especially when compared to its predecessors, the tank-like DS Phat and the downright solid DS Lite. It was an easy choice, then, to upgrade to the better-in-every-way 3DS XL when it came out. I have particular memories of taking my 3DS XL to Argentina. When I think about Fire Emblem: Awakening, I have sense-memory of playing my 3DS XL in the Sao Paolo airport; when I think of Animal Crossing: New Leaf, I have a similar experience that takes me back to my Buenos Aires dorm room.

But those memories couldn't sustain the 3DS XL's screen imprint problem and a circle pad broken while re-playing Mario 3D Land in 2017. It was time to upgrade again, and that was when Nintendo released the most beautiful and perfect edition of the system, the New 2DS XL, on which rests all my ten-year history of the console. If you are unfamiliar with this model, I encourage you to familiarize yourself, because it is a masterpiece of a handheld.

I didn't write about 3DS Themes in this article, but I totally should have.

Thanks for taking that little journey with me. This system means a lot to me. I've invested a ton of time and money into this machine, and I'm happy to say so. But as I look at the software on my shelf and downloaded directly to my system, I'm realizing that there is a bit more I'd like to cram onto this bad boy. Next time I get an EShop gift card, I'll refer to this blog post for my own benefit--and if I miss anything, y'all can help me fill in the blanks. I'm fairly certain that Nintendo will be shutting down the Wii U and 3DS Eshops in due time, so I want to make sure I get what I can from them before I can't get anything at all. I already greatly regret missing out on downloading Castlevania: Rondo of Blood from the Wii Virtual Console when I still had the chance. I knew the server was getting shut down, and I just sat on that knowledge until it was too late. But not this time. Let's see what I'm missing.

Mega Man says hi.

In terms of hard copy games, I think I'm pretty well set. When I combine these two stacks with the downloaded full releases above--Animal Crossing: New Leaf, Metroid 2, Pokemon Sun, and Pokemon Y--I think I see a pretty full picture of what the 3DS has to offer me here. The only games I think I may want to pick up, if I can find them at a discount, would be New Super Mario Bros. 2, Bravely Default, and maybe Kirby Planet Robobot. There's also Zero Time Dilemma, which I have friends who adore, but I'd also have to play 999 and Virtue's Last Reward, and I just don't...know...if I'll ever gettting around to doing all that.

In terms of DSiware and direct downloads, the only additions I think would be missing are Mighty Switch Force 2, BoxBoy!, and the 3DS Classics update of Kirby's Adventure. I'm probably missing some things here, and would love to hear about them. The DSi shop is practically unknown to me. While I have some space on the right side of this picture, I do want to make special mention of Doctor Mario: Miracle Cure. As a Doc connoisseur, that is a great version of the game. Also note the 3DS Classics version of Kid Icarus, which not only updates the look of the NES black sheep game, but also changes the physics and checkpointing to make it more friendly. It's basically the only way to play Kid Icarus in the Year of Our Lord Twenty Twenty-One.

This is my GBA folder, which houses. You know, after all this time, they never did allow you to close the 3DS lid to put GBA games to sleep, the way you can with literally every other piece of software on the system. There must be a programming reason for that to be the case, but it seems so arbitrary and weird. Anyway, it's a little useless to talk about this folder, because it can't be added to. All GBA Virtual Console games are now only available for download on the Wii U. Really, the only reason I'm writing this down is to remind myself that I really, REALLY need to plumb the depths of the Wii U Virtual Console before it's too late.

My S/NES folder! You'll notice this is mostly NES games, which is because the SNES games are exclusive to the New 3DS family of consoles, which I have only entered into comparatively recently. Another reason is because I own a ton of SNES games physically, as well as the SNES Classic. It's extremely tempting to buy DKC 1, 2, and 3 again, but I have to resist. Since I mostly have the NES games I want here, the only real games I could add to this folder would be ones I'm missing elsewhere, such as Pilotwings, the Final Fight games, and the Breath of Fire games. Maybe toss Mystery of Murasame Castle in here as well, why not. Oh, and Ninja Gaiden. Can I delete Ice Climber and get a different game instead?

Here we are, the folder that I would like to beef up the most. I have a decent collection of Game Boy/Color carts, but there's just so much out there--and so much available on the 3DS VC. Let's run it down: The GB Mega Man series, Mario Tennis and Golf, Mario's Picross, the Pokemon TCG, Balloon Kid, and Kid Icarus: Of Myths and Monsters. Some of these games were ones I rented as a kid but never bought, particularly the releases of Mario Tennis and Mario Golf, whic are far more interesting than their plain jane titles would suggest. Also adjacent to this folder, I also wouldn't mind checking out the certainly-bad, but definitely-interesting Sonic the Hedgehog games released for Game Gear, especially Sonic Blast and Tails Adventure. There is so much to love in this folder, and there could be much more.

There it is, my 2021 wish list for the 3DS. That wish list probably accounts for about $100, but that's doable if I spread it out and perhaps bank on a few gift cards in the course of the year. If you have any suggestions to add, please shout them out here or on Discord!

Oh, by the way, the 3DS had a music player. I loaded it up with video game soundtracks back in probably 2012. Heck yeah.

Man, this system rules.

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