Nintendo’s Handheld Games Don’t Need to Die With the 3DS

In 2017, when the Nintendo Switch was still new and untested as a mobile console, there was still a case to be made for the 3DS. Nintendo’s dedicated portable console still had its own line of games for fans to enjoy and look forward to and the system had several unique features that never made it to the Nintendo Switch. In 2019 though, this is no longer the case. The 3DS has no games on the horizon, and the Switch has proven to be just as great on the go as it is in the dock, so much so that Nintendo is putting out a mobile-only version of the system. The company hasn’t come out and said it yet, but it’s probably safe to say that the time of the 3DS is over. That, however, doesn’t mean 3DS-style games have to go with it.

This isn’t to say that the Switch is in need of mobile-oriented games; it has plenty of those already. From first-party titles like Super Mario Odyssey to independent classics like Hollow Knight, the Switch has a large library of games that are very playable on the go. It would still be great to see Nintendo continue its tradition of creative handheld games though, the sort that one could only ever find on the likes of the Game Boy or the 3DS. The Nintendo Switch’s nature as a hybrid console means that it could easily accommodate them too.

Many Nintendo fans are eagerly awaiting the next major Zelda, Mario and Metroid games, but each of those titles is still a ways off. Nintendo has always had large gaps between major entries in their series, but they’ve always been able to keep fans happy with smaller scale titles on their portable consoles. Now that the 3DS is getting fully replaced by the Switch, it would be a mistake to want only big-budget, major releases for Nintendo’s flagship franchises.

To do so would mean giving up future games of a caliber similar to Metroid: Samus Returns and The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds. Neither game was all that outstanding in the visuals department, but both delivered experiences that were both more focused and more easily picked up than their full-size console counterparts. If fans want to continue to see Nintendo deliver creative gaming experiences at regular intervals, then they need to support the smaller games that would have only appeared on a DS or 3DS in years past.

For their part, it looks like Nintendo recognizes the need for these sorts of games; The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening remake is an indication of this. It’s exactly the sort of game that would have gone straight to the 3DS during the Wii U years, though Nintendo probably wouldn’t have been able to pull off the game’s art style quite as well on the eight-year-old portable system. It’s also encouraging to see titles from the Fire Emblem and Animal Crossing series on the Switch too, since both were primarily featured on the DS and 3DS in years past. All fans have to do to keep these kinds of games around is show Nintendo that they’re wanted, which should be an easy thing to do if this initial crop turns out to be good.