Sunset of the Dual Screen

For each year that passes, I become more and baffled that this website still exists. Like, I have immense difficulty focusing on anything for more than about 10 minutes at a time, and a list of unfinished projects that could wrap around the Earth. How am I still doing this???

I don’t have an answer to that question. But Nintendo recently asked themselves a similar question, in relation to keeping the ol’ 3DS family of systems relevant. Their response was “We’re not.” and earlier this week, it was announced that the 3DS eShop will be shutting down in March of next year. To be more specific, you’ll no longer be able to make purchases at that point. Presumably, the shop will still exist so that people can still download all the games they’ve paid for. Presumably.

It’s a sad thing to see, but it was likely inevitable. Nintendo pulled the plug on the Wii Shop a few years ago, so we knew that the 3DS eShop was living on borrowed time. I don’t know why this has to happen, exactly, but I’m sure it’s just that the cost of operating these digital storefronts has begun to outweigh the income that they provide.

To tie things back to the introductory paragraph, do you remember way back in 2004, before the original Nintendo DS launched, how damn excited I was for it? Like, I changed the website’s banner to a DS theme for a while there. It was big. And here we are in 2022, where I think we can safely say that this dumb blog has officially outlived the DS/3DS line of systems. It won’t be official until March of next year, I guess, but jeez.

I did a little rummaging around on the 3DS eShop last night, just to start making a list of digital games available on the system that I want to buy before the opportunity vanished forever. Luckily, it’s not a long list yet. Mostly Virtual Console games so far, several of which I still have physical copies of and don’t actually need to buy digitally. Even if they are only $3 or $4 apiece.

Browsing those games, and that storefront, was like getting hit by a tidal wave of nostalgia. The 3DS was more or less my primary gaming system from the day it was released to the day I got a Switch. So from November 2011 to March 2017. That’s five and a half years of having the thing by my side at pretty much all times. Not to mention that I went though a lot of very difficult life stuff during those years, and the escapism provided by video games is likely what kept me sane through it all. And it’s not as if I abandoned the machine once the Switch arrived. I still get plenty of use out of my 3DS, even if it is in a less regular capacity.

Much like they’ve done with annual Switch play statistics, Nintendo has created a website that amalgamates all of a user’s 3DS play data into a fun infographic. It’s not quite as thorough as the year-end version, but I like the little glimpse into what I was playing the most.

First of all, 254 titles played? That seems low. Then again, the 3DS was my mainstay during some of my poorest years, so I guess that checks out. 3512 hours of playtime over 10 years? That’s just under an hour a day. Seems reasonable!

My top three games, in hours, were Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate (obvious), Pokémon Shuffle (mind blown), and Animal Crossing: New Leaf (not surprising). While I can’t get over the fact that Pokémon Shuffle, of all things, made it into the second spot, the more shocking fact is that it was almost number one! I put 261 hours into that silly match-3 puzzle game, and I cannot fathom how that happened. It only lets you play so many rounds a day! Was I playing it for years!?

Animal Crossing was a far-away third place at 209 hours, by the way.

And for the genre breakdown? I don’t know, I guess it makes sense. It needs to be a bit more granular, I think. It doesn’t even have Racing or Sports as genres. Do they get lumped under “Action”? Whatever. I played Action and RPG the most, which is probably owed to the three Monster Hunter games on the platform. And then all the Marios, Zeldas, Kirbys… Yeah I think Action deserves the top spot. But know that I have a ton of 3DS RPGs that I never got around to playing, so RPG probably should have gotten the gold.

I don’t think this is a great eulogy for what was likely my favourite video game machine of all time, but it’ll have to do. The Nintendo 3DS had a strange life cycle, a gimmick that didn’t work all that well, and more hardware revisions than you can shake a Wiimote at. But it also had an amazing library of games, and it left me with a ton of treasured memories. I can play Earthbound, Majora’s Mask, and all five Game Boy Mega Man games on this one system. Rest assured that my 3DS will continue to live on my bedside table and be used intermittently for as long as Nintendo sells replacement batteries.

So hats off to you, Nintendo 3DS. You had a good run, buddy.

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