Over this past weekend the 3DS turned 11 years old, not exactly the biggest of anniversaries but enough to make us look wistfully at the little portable. It's a real favourite in our team, and I still keep both it and its charger handy when a bit of sentimental play is required — or when I want to play the best version of Shovel Knight.
I was always a '3D slider all the way up' player, but likewise there were also plenty of people that always had the effect turned off, or perhaps opted for a 2DS mid-generation and avoided the feature entirely. Either way, the system's library, and lovely features like StreetPass, made it a particularly lovable Nintendo system. For me, though, I particularly enjoyed how the autostereoscopic screen could transform visuals in some games, with depth and pop to make it seem like you're playing a little diorama.
I still occasionally miss having the option of 3D when playing the Switch in portable mode.
It was a different time in entertainment, of course — which sounds odd to say just 11 short years later, but it's true! — and 3D was quite the fad at that point. TVs with the feature (using glasses) were given a big push, and cinema was also trying to persuade us all that it was the future of film. As we now know, resolution has been the real arms race, with 3D TV and films far less prominent.
Even though that's the case, the 3D effect on the 3DS was rather different, simply because it was glasses-free and on a cute little portable system. 3D on a small screen in a gaming context had a different impact for me, to the point that I still occasionally miss having the option of 3D when playing the Switch in portable mode. It was love at first sight with 3DS, and a fun memory I share with my brother of that Nintendo event where I first laid eyes (and hands) on the console.
Not long before the 3DS launched, Nintendo hosted a variety of preview events for the public at multiple locations, allowing fans to book a slot to attend. There was an event about a 45-minute train ride away from me in Scotland, and I was lucky enough to nab a slot (I wasn't in the media at that point, so no little press badge for me). It was a fun event in which there were a lot of systems in a darkened room, running a host of demos. From a Nintendo perspective, there was Pilotwings Resort and some screens showcasing completed StreetPass puzzle images / dioramas; the third-party standouts were Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D and Super Street Fighter IV 3D Edition.
Brilliant choices they were, too, as they showed what were at the time hugely impressive portable visuals, and also emphasized just what those 3D screens could do. With the dark room and the short spells on each unit, the effect was showcased at its absolute best — on those initial models, at least, long before the 'New' 3DS hardware revision brought super-stable 3D functionality which tracked your eyes and let you move your head without losing the 3D 'sweet spot'.
Both my brother and I left the event wide-eyed, and not because the screen was messing with them. We were babbling like teenagers on the train home, despite our ages, and excitedly finding out everything we could about it on our phones. We had dinner at home with my parents and I recall them finding it all rather amusing as we both gushed and said how amazed we were by the 3D. We were like excitable children again, they said.
And I never stopped loving the effect. I remember when my 3DS arrived on launch day I played for over an hour non-stop, before realising my eyes were a bit tingly; that would eventually stop completely as I got used to it, though that effect prompted the usual nonsense from tabloids. A lowering battery level and a funky feeling in the eyes was the cue to take the lovely family dog for a walk, spending the whole time buzzing and talking about Nintendo's little portable.
Ultimately, I don't think history will be particularly kind to that 3D screen — 3D viewing was a gimmick that never truly took off, and despite truly enhancing several standout games on the system, even Nintendo itself started to ignore the feature once 2DS was introduced into the family of systems. The original 3DS had a rocky launch that Nintendo had to reverse with a big price cut and a lot of persistence, and the company gradually realised that — despite the effect being arguably more impressive and useful in a gaming context — much like the movies, it was an inessential addition for many.
I'll always defend it though, as I still take great pleasure in its simple magic. 3D slider all the way up; it's the only way I can play the 3DS.
I would upgrade to a 3D Switch in a heartbeat
Samus Returns has excellent 3D visuals. I would only turn the slider down for boss fights.
I regularly play on my New 3DS and although the 3D can sometimes clip and really hurt my brain/eyes, I absolutely love the 3D effect and rarely turn it off. It's really a great handheld and I'd love for Nintendo to revisit some of the good things from the 3DS to a new console. Although I don't think we'll see the dual screens return with the road they went down with the Switch.
The 3DS was an amazing handheld! I can probably name at least 50 games worth playing on the system (which is saying something as naming 50 Gamecube, N64 and Wii U games worth playing is a bit difficult). I adored my Fire Emblem Awakening 3DS and still very happy with the system overall! Kinda weird to think it came out over a decade ago... granted that is just growing older in general as thinking the N64 is over 25 years old is already weird enough.
Can kinda understand why some people love it but I never used it. Bought my 3DS in the first place to play the games on it, not for its graphics performance.
Probably my favourite console of all time. Just so many games both native and for DS. 11 years old is freaking me out though 😂
@Ogbert Yeah when switching (...) from 3ds to Switch, I felt it was a huge upgrade from the Vita (except for the menu customisation, but also a downgrade from 3ds because of how FLAT it all looked. I loved RE Revelations with all 3d settings maxed out, I loved sliding the 3d slider up and down in Excite Bike, I almost prefered the 3d versions of games over their hd counterparts, as with Captain Toad, and despite Luigi's Mansion 3 being gorgeous, I still think 2 looked 'better' because of that 3d diorama feeling, and how suspect flat backgrounds were often just paintings hiding a 'real' corridor with secrets in it or such. 3d was so underappreciated, while hd was arguably less of a potential game changer but everything that wasn't hd was suddenly 'bad'.
3d Switch would be a no brainer instant upgrade.
the 3ds is not over a decade the 3ds is not over a decade old the 3ds is not over a decade old OH GOD WHERE HAS THE TIME GONE.
I remember seeing one of my cousins play MK7 on the original model when I was a kid and being mindblown by how good and smooth it looked for being something you could carry around in your bag. When I eventually got mine with a copy of Pokemon X in 2014, I was hooked. I adore the 3DS with all my heart and, once again, I cannot believe it's over a decade old.
Always loved the 3D effect. Sucked when later games dropped it altogether
My wife and I both still have our launch DS systems. I'm shocked that the batteries still hold charge, but we didn't play them a ton after the second year. My kids played with them for a while, but then they lost several of the carts. grrrr
3D on the ‘New’ console versions was excellent, the tracking should of been included from day one. OOT3D looks amazing still.
I'm one of the few who played every 3D game with the 3D cranked up as high as possible!
The 3D effect never got old or boring for me, and is still wonderful to behold to this day. I really wish and hope Nintendo will utilize that tech somewhere again someday.
This and the Gameboy advance were my favourites. So many great rpg's! So many story heavy games. So many fun puzzlers and platformer... Just a great system! And playing portable on a little machine just felt cool!
The 3D was a novelty that hurt my eyes for the most part, until the new3dsxl launched. I always liked star fox, mk7, mario3d in 3D. But the upgraded 3D and bigger screen made it so I almost always played with it on.
The ds/3ds family was my most played gaming consoles from the day I got the new launch fat blue ds, until I got my switch. I always just treated them as 1 console. I hope that switch is better over the 15+ year lifetime that the ds family had. I always look at how my n3ds has every possible zelda game it can, and your only missing the newer consoles releases, that switch can all easily run…someday.
I've said my peace about the 3DS elsewhere, so i won't go over it again, but i do have something else to say that i just thought up; If you ever want to know how skewered my priorities are, i just don't understand how more colors and a bigger screen is supposed to come off as an "Improvement." I mean, "IT'S BIGGER AND YOU CAN SEE MORE COLORS!" Yeah, that's what they said about high definition televisions! 3D Looked like the future because it seemed like a genuine switch up. Nowadays, even with how much i personally loved things with the 3D effect, Could anything revive it? Even as a fan, i'd doubt it. I just find that giving something more shape is more interesting, and i'll take things having more shape then the screen being a "Canvas" Or whatever other fancypants term filmmakers who didn't want to use 3D used to state why making the screen bigger is better.
Anyway. 3DS. I'll never decide if it was ACTUALLY good or not, but it certainly was the right system in the right place at the right time for me, just for making us dream about what the future could be like. Oh, to be young again...
The 3DS was a pretty cool system but the 3D always was pretty silly and pointless I found. I'd check out the effect now and then to see how it looks like but I'd never want to actually play the games like that.
The dual screens were a way more potent feature, having your map/inventory/info screen available at all times was very nice for so many games. And even the touch screen was pretty decent when they finally stopped shoving it to places where it didn't need to be.
There are many Games where i prefer to play in 3D
Edit: The Units of Fire Emblem Echoes look astounishing with 3D.
Very well implemented.
Loved to play Ocarina of Time in 3D, wasn a brutal effect, but the World looked nicely.
The Depth of a Link between Worlds was also nice.
Geez, I feel ancient.
Anyway, the 3D was better implemented in some games than others, but when it was done right, it was magical. Easily one of the coolest hardware gimmicks ever included in a console.
And the console itself had so many good games, even putting aside the full backwards compatibility with the NDS.
Very much a top three gaming system for me alongside the Nintendo Switch and PS1.
If the WiiU had been compatible with DS/3DS carts would it have sold better?
Never could touch the 3D for more than a minute at a time; always felt like my eyeballs were catching fire when I tried.
But the console itself brought me many fun experiences, and some that for now remain exclusive.
Obligatory ''I feel old'' comment.
I quite enjoyed the 3D visuals of the system, it took some getting used to but some games are really really fun when it's turned on!
Even though the 3D was really nothing more than a gimmick to me, the 3DS's library more than made up for it. Such a great console.
I am divided, part of me wants the Switch successor to be a straight up Switch with full backwards compatibility and beefed up specs all the while keeping the hybrid factor but on the other hand I like the Nintendo gimmicks they bring with every generation (dual screens, stereo 3D without glasses, hybrid, motion controllers) and I hope they can surprise me again
@Yosher I still can’t play those 3D land levels without the 3D (like jumping on clouds)
Here's where my 3DS Advance Wars would go
IF I HAD ONE
Absolutely love the 3DS, let's face it. Its one of a kind. Started playing mine again. Kirby Deluxe is fantastic with the 3D. And with the news of the eshop on 3DS closing next year I have snapped up some games that will disappear forever never to be experienced properly. Nintendo should bring the 3D back on its next console or go VR. I could go on about some of the other amazing 3D games on this wonderful system but I'll leave it there.
I remember buying Rayman 3D with mine at launch because there wasn't anything else worthwhile playing on it at the time. Yes it had a slow start but what a system it went on to become.
To think that the 3DS had so much more potential even as an already-great console shows how much Nintendo used to do.
There were definitely a number of missed opportunities and questionable decisions, but overall it was a very solid console.
I really like the 3D feature. I just wish there was a model with 3D that also has the superior ergonomics of the 2DS XL. I can't go back to the smaller screen of the new 3DS, but the new 3DS XL is just way too chunky.
@CharlieGirl couldn't agree more:)
I was never big on the 3D slider. It made my eyes hurt.
3D aside, the 3DS is a lovely system. I've been replaying Kid Icarus: Uprising recently, and I'm having a blast. That game has so much spunk.
The 3DS also has some great Fire Emblem games, the lovely A Link Between Worlds, Super Mario 3D Land, the first 3D Mario to play like a 2D Mario, and some fantastic Kirby games, especially Planet Robobot. My favorite handheld ever.
In September it will be going to high school. They grow up so fast!
The 3d is a nice effect and opens up game worlds in new ways but i almost never use it... Makes me feel like my brain is gonna explode
I can't see 3D, I'll never know what all the fuss over it was at the time but I'm glad it's over. 3DS was still my favorite console until the Switch came along, because it was such a great little system and had the all-important BC with DS games, but I barely touch it these days.
Can't believe it's been 11 years now. I remember I bought the original 3DS Aqua Blue back when I was still in high school. I ended up upgrading to a New 3DS Xl and still use it once in a while. So many great games for the system
The DS currently sits as my favorite handheld, the 3DS is pretty close to taking its place, despite getting my first and only 3DS on mid-2017 (yeah, very late adopter here). If I had more 3DS games, the top place would be usurped by it.
3D isn’t necessary anymore, but we certainly lost something going from two screens back to one
Not going to lie, I hated 3D. It hurt my eyes and gave me a headache. Plus it jacked up the price a lot, as shown by the 2ds and new 2ds.
Finally, people who share my thoughts about the 3ds. I never understood why it wasn’t as huge as the regular ds. The effect was amazing and I couldn’t imagine playing Kid Icarus without it.
Legend of Zelda a Link Between Worlds was a great 3D experience... Cant see playing that game without it. Ocarina of Time 3D is the best version of that classic (despite the new water temple hand holding)
This was by far my favorite handheld of all time!
I’m really missing the 3-D effect. It was absolutely awesome
I've never been able to see 3D due to a slight misalignment of my pupils (thanks to a bad bout of chickenpox when I was a baby). I hoped I might be able to see 3DS 3D, but if I turn 3D up, I just see flickering! I had to get my bro' to check the console to make sure it wasn't faulty.
I can't remember the name, but there's a highly-rated platformer I tried on 3DS, and I thought it was awful - maybe the 3D was part of what made it good?
I'm yet to play Kid Icarus so hope that doesn't rely on the 3D.
I was never a big 3DS guy. The 2DS was more appealing to me. When I tried the 3DS, the 3D effect didn't mess with my eyes. It messed with my head. I understand why they went with the gimmick, but it was destined to go nowhere if it caused discomfort for a significant amount of people. With 3D and with higher resolutions, for me at least, they don't do much. Things like that don't engage my mind, which is the most important thing.
3DS was a big disappointment for me after the brilliant DS. I got the original 3DS close to launch, which was a waste considering there were basically no good games then. I only bought a handful of games... actually Mario Kart is the only one I even remember buying and that was a very underwhelming Kart.
Never mind the gimmicky 3d, which in fairness you can turn off if you want, it felt so uncomfortable to hold and the d-pad was entirely useless.
The only Nintendo console I regret buying... even the Wii-U I don't regret, but 3DS I do regret.
Best version of Shovel Knight...Also best version of Shantae and the Pirates Curse!
@mr12calvin Same...so much Zelda and Pokemon made it the best handheld, with the best library, of any machine I've owned.
SEGA 3D classics the rest is just a bonus!
The dpad on my small new 3ds is starting to fail. For system transfer it needs to be the new model but do I go with the xl 2d or 3d? 2d is my best chance to get a new and boxed one but I will miss 3d in games like ocarina and mario 3d land so much.
But I want a new console. So tough to pick.
@spacely_sprockets I was also dissapointed with the 3DS at first but after the 1st year or so it began to pick up steam and became a really good system.
It is a bit difficult to go back to the small 3DS screen after playing Switch.
3DS is the only thing I need to last not a day short of forever.
@nessisonett It's my favorite console of all time as well. The library is just unmatched.
I really hope someday Nintendo revisits the dual screen idea. RPGs turned into something else altogether with a separate screen for HUD items and maps, etc.
Always playing from launch Day since today with the 3d slider to the max. 3ds is one of a kind and unique handheld. You can see the games like never before with that great 3d effect and that 's why the system will be legendary in the future. That' s why you should buy as many 3ds games as you can and while you can! It will be a piece of history soon!! We will miss the 3d effect but Thank god I have a huge backlog to play forever!
I always remember the early games were quite hard to play with the slider all the way up. Particularly Pilotwings. It seems they lowered the effect after that. I still miss having the effect, especially when playing platformers like Kirby recently. It's a shame that it started to be forgotten about towards the end with games like Pikmin and Pokemon Sun/Moon just completely going 2D. It was magic when it was used properly. Nintendogs + Cats was one of the absolute best uses of it. Dogs coming up to the screen in full 3D where you can rub your hand over the entire fluffy model? Amazing. Bring it back.
I loved ALL of my 3DS's, however the "new Nintendo 3ds XL" is simply incredible! I miss being able to see in 3D and it was superb on it!!
It's a shame the resolution wasn't raised on the XLs, was too jaggedy, not as crisp as the OG 3DS for me. I still think 3D was great on the original. Starfox was beautiful. And resident evil scared the crap out of me haha.
I still love my 3ds and occasionally fire it up. I've picked up a few new games recently, but from the 3D, virtual console, DS ware, 3D videos and such a great library. Little things like pikmin transferring your data when you moved system, amazing experience. I pretty much always had the 3D on too.
If history is unkind to 3DS, then in my opinion history is missing the point of gaming and the devices that facilitate it. The point, or at least one of the chief ones, is to have fun. The 3DS takes that ethos and unapologetically runs with it to a place where no other mainstream system has really gone. It delighted by being different and presenting as a plaything, contrasting with its competition, which attempted to appear more "serious."
If we tied every game and system to future-proofing and preservation considerations, then video games would become a pretty stale prospect in a lot of ways. And if we're going to pare gaming down to what's "essential" and necessary, then that would leave us with very little, because gaming itself isn't actually essential. It's a frivolous pursuit, in the grand scheme of things. But the "gimmicks" some gamers like to disparage are worth it if they serve their purpose of making even one person happy. And the 3DS's core gimmick made a lot of people really happy.
So if some games journalists look back on 3DS and choose to write it off as needless and quaint, then they're not grasping why perhaps the greatest portion of players choose to invest in video games as a pastime in the first place.
@Baker1000 You're right! I recently got bored and decided to buy Kirby's Epic Yarn on 3DS and as much as I love that game in any form, it will never cease to disappoint me that it's not 3D at all. That game would be absolutely perfect in 3D.
Never used the 3D slider much but the 3DS’ library was great. They had definitive remakes of older games (Ocarina of Time, Star Fox 64), and brought back franchises that hadn’t had a new game in forever (Kid Icarus, Luigi’s Mansion). Heck, the Fire Emblem games alone were worth the price of admission for me. I hope Nintendo ports some of the better 3DS games onto Switch, even if they have to change things a bit to compensate for the lack of dual screens. But it’s too good of a system to be left behind and forgotten.
I do like the 3D effect. I’m currently playing Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright on a New 3DS. The stable 3D is definitely an improvement, but I still get the ghosting effect (or whatever it’s called) when I use 3D. I don’t wonder if it’s my eyesight that causes it, or something else, but if it wasn’t for that I’d have the slider on all the time.
I was really sketchy with the Nintendo 3DS when it first launched, and was afraid of it being a failure for Nintendo, but within just a year of the the system being on the market, it had a drastic boost in sales and the amount of Nintendo games being released for it was incredible. It has so many gems early on in its life that kept it going for almost it's entire lifespan. And some of those games were the entry point for franchises I haven't experienced yet. I don't think I will ever forget all the good times I had, especially playing both Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate, and Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate for the system, as well as all of the awesome adventures we had in Animal Crossing New Leaf. Definitely one of my most treasures eras in gaming. It was awesome bumping into another Nintendo 3DS owner via Streetpass while out and about on the town. And the play log is easily my favorite form of tracking your game data even to present day. Couple that with truly unique experiences like Kid Icarus Uprising, and the strange game with the Miis that was a Sims style game, that gen was pretty unforgettable to me.
I wish the Switch had a suite of mini games like Streetpass.
@ThomasBW84 I am exactly the same as you. I miss the 3d on the Switch and I always had the slider all the way up.
It only took me 4 years to catch up with 3ds since i have never ever buy systems on Launch day (or even launch window, except for the switch) but when i finally did, boy o boy what a cool system it was, mind you, my birthday's coming on april and i think i will give myself a new 3ds since my actual unit already has a black dot of dead pixels, so im thinking on retiring it from duty.
I nearly always had the 3D effect on, and it was a must for games like SMB 3D Land and Star Fox 64. I'd only have it up a little on the original small 3DS, and about half-way on the New 3DS XL. The 3DS era actually coincided with my eyesight worsening at close range, to the point now, at full degradation (I'm told), everything is a blur without reading glasses. I'm thinking now that my minimal use of 3D was due to maintaining clarity for my weakening eyes, as these days, with reading glasses, I have it higher. It's been a while since trying it, so now that I'm at full degradation, I should pop in Star Fox or Samus Returns and check it again.
The 3DS is still my favorite Nintendo handheld. From a software perspective, it respected the legacy of retro games with GB, GBC, NES, SNES, Genesis, Game Gear, GBA (ambassador only), N64 remakes, and DS backward compatible. It had a fantastic library of new games too. A Link Between Worlds and Super Mario 3D Land are great portable games. As a Zelda fan, this is the device to play on. You can play every mainline Zelda game on the 3DS except Wind Waker, Four Sword Adventures, Twilight Princess, Skyward Sword, and BotW. The hardware was great too. They hit it out of the park with the New 3DS XL. My only complaint was the right "joystick" nub.
I actually never play with the 3d slider on but man, the 3ds is one of the best Nintendo consoles of all time, I still play it daily, compared to my vita.
3D doesn't work well in films - it made the people looks like cardboard cutout. However, it works really well in games - it creates a Paper Mario effect and makes everything looks fun. Even with graphically bland 3DS games, adding 3D effect makes them look alive and real.
I own 3 3DS systems, one of which is a 2DS. The Nintendo 2DS is my favorite system hardware-wise. Folders, themes, 3DS library, b/c with DS library, VC (New 3DS systems can have SNES games)...It's a very solid gaming experience all in one place. I did use the 3D slider, but over time it became more of a curiosity than a feature I would consider essential. Nintendo DS era is my favorite in terms of software, 3DS era in terms of hardware. It still gets more attention than my Nintendo Switch.
One of the best systems of all time. The stereoscopic 3D still blows my mind.
for me 3DS/New 3DS is the best handheld ever made
A small hint of 3d is all that is needed. Turning up the slider all the way to the max is asking for eye pain. Turn off eye ball tracking on the new 3ds models. It will most likely fry your eyeballs out over-time.
My 3DS taught me to turn the 3D slider all the way up all the time on all of my devices. The vacuum cleaner especially works SO much better than it did before.
It still frustrates me so much that we found out a perfect way of having glasses-free 3D and no one cared.
The 3DS is still such a great little handheld and I hope more of its games come to the Switch eventually!
I was late to the party. Actually bought an old 2DS after we got our Switch so I could catch up and play OoT and MM.
Our local EB Games had a sale and was selling off the 2DS for $60. I had a $50 gift card so I was only out-of-pocket $10 and change.
I got a bunch of cartridges for it, including Super Mario 3D Land, OoT, MM, Super Mario 64 DS, etc.
And then Nintendo went and brought a bunch of those games to the Switch! LOL!
But the 2DS comes in handy when my daughter is using our Switch for Animal Crossing.
I also, downloaded Link's Awakening from the eShop, so working through that now on the 2DS. Also got the both Oracle games downloaded for later.
Have barely touched mine in years, but planning a 3 week holiday around Italy this summer - don’t fancy lugging the switch around so think I’ll crack out the new 3ds xl- quite excited about the prospect! My son has a couple of 3ds carts I never got round too, and might download a couple of games too.
Playing Dead or Alive Dimensions in 3D mode was Awesome! The snow effects, and visuals were amazing!
Went back to play Fantasy Life on 3DS due to the eshop closings. Hopefully something like that can be ported to the Switch.
@BAN yep they did that a lot towards the end with ports and remakes. They did it with the Mario and Luigi remakes and really it just felt like they were rushing content to the system to keep it alive until Switch became a success.
@Baker1000 Yeah pretty much. Which makes sense, but as someone that would still be buying new 3DS games to this day, it felt like a mild slap in the face to get the shaft on 3D for those last few games.
I picked one up on launch day, with Street Fighter and Ridge Racer. Good times! I used the 3D slider at max, was a cool gimmick. As someone mentioned above, DOA Dimensions was a cool game to play in 3D.
Rumor has it Gamefreak asked Nintendo not to put a mic in the Nintendo Switch to prevent people from abusing the move chatter...
I would still love both a mic & camera on my Nintendo Switch Pro, even if Gamefreak just has the feature removed or reworked for online play. The decision enforces too many limitations on other games' features.
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