Farewell to a Stellar Handheld: My Beloved 3DS Sidekick (3DS Tribute Series)

After the announcement the previous week, it’s official: the 3DS’ long run is over. 🙁 Nintendo has now ceased production on all models, 2DS included, of course. And on the company’s US site, they have removed all mention of their once-marquee & dedicated handheld system. Even though I realized this inevitable day was soon approaching, it’s with some true sadness that I see it actually halted. While it may be officially done on the market, many of us feel the 3DS deserves a proper send-off with a bit of fanfare. 🙂 In my opinion, it’s the still world’s best all-around and most engaging handheld.

Looking Back on a Whole New Chapter of Gaming

Over the last 9+ years, I bought a number of the many 3DS iterations. I started out as an “ambassador” of the then-embattled new portable, having purchased it at launch. This is not usually my way, I should point out; I rarely, if ever, buy a brand-new console or system at release. (Usually, I like to give it a few months or as much as a year or two, before taking the plunge. 😛 This allows plenty of time for all the possible “kinks” to be ironed out!) But a large group of my closest gaming buddies were all on-board with purchasing the new hardware, day one. And we excitedly looked forward to starting out our mobile adventures together.

Little did we know that there’d be an almost-immediate huge price-drop, a move that’s quite unheard-of for Nintendo. (And quite a large chunk of change, that initial MSRP of $249.99!) I still have every complimentary game that Nintendo gifted us digitally back then, as consolation for having paid full-price. (I plan to keep these titles forever enshrined within my system’s menu. The same goes for the virtual certificate we got, though there isn’t much to it! An accompaniment of a sound effect or chiptune would’ve been awesome. :P) Those 20 classic games occupy several folders, and include some real gems, such as the debut Super Mario Bros. and The Legend of Zelda. My personal favorite of the group is a GBA Zelda title, the incredibly charming Minish Cap.

From Small & Mighty to a Golden XL

Originally, I went with the gleaming aqua-blue model at launch. Its glossy, mirror-finish look was super pretty; but it sure did get to be nerve-wracking, having to constantly clean & wipe the lid. (For my kindred mild-to-moderate OCD types, you may relate to this.) The next year, I got smitten when a grape-color 3DS arrived at my Toys R Us store, and impulsively scooped it up. More awkward timing on my part.. It was only a mere 3 months later that the enhanced & improved XL came out! I restrained myself, having only just done a system transfer on yet another new piece of hardware. It wouldn’t be until the following spring that I would get to experience my growing library on 90% larger screens. (And once you upgrade and get spoiled by the bigger screens, there’s really no going back, my friend.)

This upgrade coincided with the release of the 3DS Pokemon spinoff game, Guardian Signs. Alongside it, they released a special-edition Pikachu XL, and it immediately caught my attention. So attractive were the bold colors, and the “Pop” art-style of the large, open-armed Pikachu on the front, that I had to have it! Tracking one down was an adventure in & of itself. All the various retailers within probably 40 miles of me were sold out of the popular model; they were all immediately snatched up. After calls to every Target and Walmart in the area and beyond, I finally hit pay-dirt.

It was the last Walmart on the list, and I lucked out by getting a very helpful electronics employee on the phone. He informed me he had just 1 of the Pikachu systems left, and he found it in the back inventory room. He was willing to hold it for me! The store was 45 miles away, but I convinced my partner to jump in the vehicle and brave rush-hour interstate traffic (which ended up being very light), and a trip through the normally-busy tunnel. We beat tracks there and, incredibly, made it in excellent time – just 40 min! The best part was that Target had an incredible deal advertised for the 3DS XL that week. It was on sale for $160, when they’re normally $200. I had my Target ad in tow, and got Walmart to price-match Target’s sale – and I left there beaming. ^_^ Quite a special day!

Streetpasses, Miis, and Puzzles Galore

My 3DS was my constant sidekick for years. Safely tucked inside a Mario-print messenger bag, I happily toted my gaming companion with me everywhere!  And oh, do I have plenty of fond memories of all the Streetpass hits & great times had. Yes, the portable boasted a decent amount of power given its size. The lighting effects and graphics were quite nice, even impressive, in games like Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon, Resident Evil: Revelations, Monster Hunter: Stories, and Kid Icarus. However, what makes the 3DS beloved for me are the added features like Streetpass and Mii creation, the ability to connect with passersby and never exchange a word. There’s something thrilling about swapping lil bits of gamer profile info with fellow 3DS users. Not to mention the possibility of obtaining a missing piece to finally complete that one puzzle. The hope that maybe you’ll add a new region to your map!

It was that little green light on my closed system that made my heart go pitter-patter. I wanted to acquire new hats & costumes for my Mii character, to greet the line of guests at my plaza gate. I wanted to read about these visitors’ likes and their last game played. Maybe exchange a message or two with a repeat gate-crasher. I’d frequent as many Nintendo wifi hotspots as I could, be it McD’s, Best Buy, or the KFC parking lot. The implementation of the SP relays was welcome, especially for those in more rural areas, where hits were incredibly scarce. Toys R Us (my favorite chain even now) and GameStop stores were always good for a tag with an employee, who dutifully carried their system to work. 🙂

It was when I went to my first actual Con, that I hit the Streetpass jackpot. As a family, we attended an anime & gaming convention in a nearby city one fall. We were hoping to log a good amount of hits, given the number of attendees there. We weren’t disappointed! I ended up with over a 100 new Streetpasses in one partial day. It was all I could do to keep up, and clear the gate quickly enough to let the next parade in. For the first time, I even got a couple of hits from Japan at the con. I think I still have all the peeps from that day, filling out the plaza. It was a lot of fun, the frenzy of playing through all the plaza games and grabbing new puzzle additions & achievements.

Aside from that standout event, though, my other most memorable “tag” experience came from a long-distance friend. I was fortunate enough to meet up with my longtime pal from overseas, and she of course brought her 3DS along. I got to host her and her family at my house at one point, which was equal parts surreal & somehow natural. By then, we’d already traded SP’s & green lights at a mall where we initially met up. 😉 Still having her lil former Mii trapped.. er, hanging  around, in the back of the plaza makes me smile. It’s another cool reminder of a great visit!

Not Really Gone and Never Forgotten

For some, it’s time to move on from the 3DS family of handhelds. That they had a good run, but it’s time. The Switch is here to stay for the foreseeable future, and seems more popular than ever. It’s claimed its spot as Nintendo’s preeminent platform and, now, sole handheld device. Yet the 3DS/2DS still exists in the hearts and grips of many a loyal fan. After all, one of the major perks of owning this awesome system is that it’s backward compatible with the DS games. That’s an enormous library of quality gaming between the two! I myself have been going about tracking down & collecting all the great DS titles I somehow missed the first time around. There are just so many.

And while I enjoy my Switch for its expansive roster, there are some obvious missing features. We could use some themes, and some pizazz on the home menu. It also feels like such a wasted opportunity, and so curious, that it too doesn’t use a Streetpass system. With as many owners who take it on-the-go, seems like a glaring omission. Obviously, this was intentional, to distance it from its predecessor. Nintendo does this routinely, where they develop a cool, even well-received feature, and then abandon it. Surely, this could be added to an upcoming Switch model easily enough.. People tend to give the company flack for what they deem “gimmicky” concepts. But oftentimes, those so-called gimmicks become fan favorites. They gave us Miis & Miiverse, which I definitely kinda miss. Maybe they’ll see a reboot one day. In the meantime, my Pikachu XL still sits on my nightstand, ever-faithful.


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