“What’s your favorite console?”
That all-too-familiar question has been asked countless times in countless forums, be it online or in person, but the funny thing is, all of us have that answer already lined up. Favorite games, favorite genres; those answers can be fluid. But your favorite console? It’s the definitive question and answer that shows not where lies your loyalty, but your fondest memories.
It was last week that I opened up the 3DS Activity Log for probably the thousandth time. For whatever reason, I decided to take a bit of a walk down memory lane, looking through all the stat screens and seeing how much time I spent playing this thing. I always took meticulous care to sort the games in the Activity Log in a specific order, so that I could see the wall of games that I had completed, sorted by date finished and time played, in my own sort of off-the-top-of-my-head weighted system.
While scrolling backwards in time, looking at the games I remember playing, it was then I realized something: the first date of gameplay logged was August 4th. I had been playing this device (or family of devices, as I eventually traded my OG 3DS in for my Hyrule XL) for exactly two years! Immediately I thought back to when I first acquired it, and it was a flurry of bittersweet memories.
How I came to buy my 3DS and had Nintendo re-enter my good graces was a bit of a strange coincidence of timing, I recollected.
I bought my used OG Nintendo 3DS a few years ago because I was on a bit of a nostalgia trip following the surprise passing of my grandfather back in July of 2015. Not handling it well at all, I went back and started to play through older games from my childhood that I had never completed, I guess as a way to connect to the “good ol’ days” of being a young kid, trying to escape the current situation. As video games can be terrific devices for escapism, it worked, and nostalgia practically became my addiction. In fact, it became the reason for starting this very blog.
While playing through older games, I stumbled upon The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask right after finishing Banjo-Tooie, and as I had somehow never finished it in my childhood despite many attempts, I decided to take it on next. However, the combination of playing it on an HD TV and the low framerate proved to make it an abysmal experience. The Nintendo 64 certainly did not age well in a lot of ways.
While trying to figure out a more optimal way to play it, I found out that Majora’s Mask was available on this mysterious device I had perhaps heard about called the Nintendo 3DS. I had never exhibited interest in it, as my Nintendo love tapered off into non-existence following the Wii and DS, but I thought it would be great to have a remastered HD version of Majora’s Mask in a portable handheld. It was a perfect idea on paper, to buy a new handheld and replay some Zelda, so I sold a few games from my collection that I didn’t have much of an interest in anymore, and I went for it.
I replayed Majora’s Mask to 100% completion and loved every minute of it. During that time, I wasn’t in a great place mentally, and seeing a beautifully modernized rendition of a game from my childhood brought about some incredible emotions, when I was surrounded by so many bad ones.
Back to the present time, I couldn’t believe that it had already been two years. Thousands of hours logged in this incredible device, including 100% completion on both 3D Zelda remakes, and I suddenly realized that I was holding my favorite console of all time.
Not only is the game library terrific, but there is so much charm and love that Nintendo packed into this thing, that I realized it’s the ultimate nostalgia machine. I’m at a point now where I have some great memories of the older consoles that I have – the Super Nintendo, the Nintendo 64, the Playstation 2 – but all of those pale in comparison to how much fun I’ve had re-entering the console world after such a long break.
And I think it’s only fair to rate the system with the most good vibes attached to it as my favorite.
Aside from the games, though, what makes the 3DS my favorite system? I mentioned all the charm and love that went into this system, and here are some of my favorites.
One of the biggest items on my Nintendo Switch wishlist is themes. They did this so correctly on the 3DS: for a mere $2 a theme, on average, you got a full panoramic scrolling wallpaper, background music, and an entire set of sound effects pulled from the game it’s centered around. I stockpiled dozens of these things, buying up every last one I could. I keep it on a rotation these days, and the waves of nostalgia rush over me every time I open the lid to my Hyrule Edition New 3DS XL and hear something new come up!
Some of my favorites?
Zelda: Dire Moon
Xenoblade Chronicles: Monado
Pokemon: Mega Charizard X
The themes were so detailed and well done, that it immediately made you feel like you were thrust into the game world. It was a really nice tie-in to the system and I hope that the Nintendo Switch user interface follows suit by introducing themes soon!
The Badge Arcade
While I eventually retired from the Badge Arcade, here’s a feature that I surprised myself by becoming heavily invested in. The Badge Arcade was a gambling mini-game in which you played a crane game to get badges, which were little interactive collectibles to decorate your home screen. It was a silly little game but I woke up every morning for about six months, simply to crack open the 3DS, and use my free plays for the day. And then dump $1-2 into the game, and then collect some more badges. It was a blast.
Looking at my Activity Log now, I spent in the Badge Arcade:
- Play Time: 16 hours, 16 minutes.
- Times Played: 161
- Average Time Played: 6 minutes
- First played: 11/11/2015
- Last Played: 5/18/2016
It was a good run that probably cost me in the vicinity of $70-100, but I collected 810 freaken badges. I can decorate dozens of home screens if not more, to entirety. In fact, that’s exactly what I did, and as taking a high-quality screenshot of a 3DS home screen is apparently tougher than cracking the DaVinci Code, I’m left to upload this disaster. This is just one screen, consisting of Mega Badges that combine to form Twilight Princess characters!
The Badge Arcade was a complete blast to play, and it provided an incentive to get in touch with your Nintendo side every single day. It’ll be sorely missed, although truth be told there’s no reason that something like this shouldn’t exist on the Switch. I would probably pass on playing it, but why let a good thing go?
I’ve talked about StreetPass before, and my utter heartbreak upon learning it would not be a part of the Switch feature repertoire. I always considered it brilliant to have devices secretly talking to each other, speaking their own native language, seeking out like-minded, erm, machines.
I never got very involved with the mini-games available on StreetPass Plaza, aside from the free ones, those being Find Mii and Puzzle Swap, but boy was it fun walking into the Nintendo World Store and seeing that green light come on!
Later last year, there was a small collection of games added, and Slot Car Racers was probably the highlight for me. It never seemed to go far enough, but hopefully as the Switch is much more prevalent, we can bring some of this cool local functionality back.
The VC and Endless Game Library
The Nintendo 3DS celebrates its past generations better than any console before it. While the Wii had a solid backlog of Virtual Console games, the 3DS felt more appropriate to play those older games seamlessly, given the portability, the default control scheme, and how beautiful the aged graphics looked on screen.
I’ve played plenty of games that I missed back when they were released, and while I was bummed that the Gameboy Advance never made it to the 3DS, instead favoring the WiiU eShop, there were and still are plenty of virtualized titles to be enjoyed.
Let’s also not forget that the entirety of the Nintendo DS library can also be played on the 3DS. That was a heavily supported system in a time before smartphones where everyone was porting games to the handheld gaming market. Bonus points: physical DS games are generally very cheap and are still in abundance.
I hope Nintendo gives the Switch the same Virtual Console treatment that it deserves, albeit with games that are of newer generations. One thing that always bothered me is games getting lost in the “abyss,” and this is especially true with Nintendo games, as the prices only go up and they eventually become inaccessible to play for a large part of the fanbase. Bringing the GameCube hits to the Switch would guarantee these games get remembered, and that players much younger than myself can enjoy what I enjoyed when I was their age.
It felt great to go back and play the classics on my 3DS. In particular, Pokemon Yellow was a huge trip down memory lane, and playing Earthbound for the first time made me feel like one of the cool kids again, instead of an old dude who missed out on a classic!
While the old systems always hold a special place in my heart, the 3DS has had, and continues to have, a solid run for me, even late into my 20s. It brought back the whimsy and charm of Nintendo to my life when I had lost both, in a dark time when I needed it most. With all it did for me, and the good times it continues to provide me, I realized that it’s usurped the Super Nintendo of its title of my favorite console of all time. And it’s still got some good years left in it!
Let’s hear it for the 3DS! What are some of your favorite things about it? Do you still play it, or are you totally ready for the Switch to take over? What features do you still want to see on the Switch? Let me know about it in the comments!