In 2015 the happy news was confirmed that support for the Unity middleware development platform was coming to New 3DS; that was pleasing news in consideration of the large number of Unity-developed titles on the Wii U eShop. It's a very common tool for smaller developers, in particular, so supporting it - and offering free licenses, as Nintendo does on Wii U - is a sure-fire way to attract releases that would otherwise skip the hardware.
We heard from developers last Autumn / Fall that the New 3DS support was making progress, and now Unity has formally launched the tools to all developers. In a detailed blog post outlining core details there's information on version numbers implemented, improvements still to come and more.
For one thing, it highlights that Wind-up Knight 2 has already shown what Unity can do on New 3DS in Japan. It's also explained that Unity can technically be used on the older models, but its limited capabilities mean that acceptable performance is difficult to achieve; it seems likely - also based on what we've heard - that most Unity titles will be New 3DS-only.
The first question people usually ask is "do you support the original 3DS too?" To which the answer is a qualified "yes". We can generate ROM images which are compatible with the original 3DS, and there are certainly some types of game which will run perfectly well on it, but for the majority of games we strongly recommend targeting the New Nintendo 3DS for maximum gorgeousness.
Below is an excerpt explaining the current progress of the Unity for New 3DS tools and what they can do.
So far, we've been in development with a 3DS-specific version of the Unity editor, but now we've switched our focus towards upgrading to the latest version, with a view to shipping as a plug-in extension to the regular editor. We have a 5.3 based version running internally, and we're working hard to get it merged into our mainline code-base.
It should be mentioned that some features are not yet implemented in this first public release, notably UNet and Shadow Maps (although Light-Maps are supported). We're prioritising new features according to customer demand, but right now our main goal is to get into the regular editor.
In common with other mobile platforms, there are some limitations as to what can be achieved with the hardware. For instance, Unity's Standard Shader requires desktop-class graphics hardware so it's not something we can support on 3DS. However, as with other platforms, if you try to use a shader which is unsupported then Unity will fall-back to a less complex shader that gives the best possible results.
Developers that want to work on New 3DS games using Unity can download the relevant tools through the Nintendo Developer Portal.
Unity has already been working with "select developers" on bringing games to the New 3DS, so it shouldn't be long before some early arrivals land. For other developers the porting process is only just beginning, but it'll be interesting to see what Unity support will bring to the portable's eShop.