So, just what is left for the Nintendo 3DS?


A look ahead to everything we know is, and could be, coming our way

On February 26, the Nintendo 3DS will celebrate its seventh year on the market. In that time, it has sold more than 70 million units worldwide and more than 340 million games. It’s been home to the great franchises we grew up with like Sonic and Zelda and marked the debut of new, celebrated properties like Bravely Default and BOXBOY. It may not have had the stratospheric sales of its predecessor, but hot damn if it isn’t arguably Nintendo’s finest handheld to date.

Like Harry Potter, year seven is looking to be a rough one. Any limelight the handheld had has been taken by the Switch, and over the course of this year, I imagine many gamers will make the move to the handheld-console hybrid at the expense of Nintendo’s dual-screen dynamo. But with more than 700,000 people picking up a 3DS or 2DS last month in the US alone, there are scores of customers looking for great games to play on it.

You may have moved on but don’t start digging its grave yet. Just because 2018 isn’t as jam-packed as years past doesn’t mean there are some great games coming to it. I scoured the internet to find games guaranteed to hit the 3DS this year and those that haven’t been confirmed yet but still could be localized in 2018.*

Here’s what’s confirmed for the west already:

Pokémon Crystal (Virtual Console)Release Date:01/26/2018

While Switch owners patiently wait for Virtual Console, the service has all but died on the 3DS. Over the last seven years, most worthwhile games from the Game Boy and Game Boy Color found their way onto the service. The Virtual Console already started to wane when the first Pokémongames were brought to the 3DS and I imagine it will completely die withPokémon Crystal. I don’t know why there was a wait for this one, but the wait endsthis Friday. The game launches the same day as the New Nintendo 2DS XL Pikachu edition, allowing you to play Pikachu on your Pikachu because yo dawg, I heard you like Pikachu.

Radiant Historia: Perfect ChronologyRelease Date:02/13/2018

I know what you’re thinking: What, Atlus is porting an old game to the 3DS? Yes, as shocking as it can be, Atlus is indeed taking a game it previously released and updating it for the 3DS. It did it with Devil Survivor, it did it with Devil Summoner, and now it’s doing it with Radiant Historia: Perfect Chronology. And just like those other ports, this is one damn fine game.

Radiant Historiaoriginally released in North America just one month before the launch of the 3DS, so I could understand why people skipped over it then. If that was you don’t make the same mistake twice. Just because it’s on older hardware doesn’t mean you should miss one of the more interesting JRPGs from the last decade.

Detective PikachuRelease Date:03/23/2018

Despite originally releasing in Japan two years ago, Detective Pikachu‘s inevitable localization became all but certain once it was announced Hollywood was making a movie based on it. That movie is still very real — it just added Ken Watanabe to the cast — and earlier this month Nintendo finally coughed up a worldwide release date. Not only are we getting this sure-to-be strange game, but we’re also getting a big, fat, new amiibo to go along with it. Don’t be surprised if Nintendo ports to this to the Switch right around the time the film hits theaters in 2019.

The Alliance AliveRelease Date:03/27/2018

The Alliance Aliveis the second Atlus jam confirmed to release on the 3DS this year and the only one that is an original title. Developed by Cattle Call, the same team that brought us the unfortunately named and mediocrely reviewedThe Legend of Legacy, Alliance Alivewill hopefully benefit by the addition of Yoshitaka Murayama to the team as its scenario writer. Murayama is the writer and director of the first three Suikodentitles and this marks his first game in more than a decade. Those two facts are reasonenough for me to pick it up.

Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey ReduxRelease Date:05/15/2018

Strange Journeywas actually my first introduction to the Shin Megami Tensei franchise and it immediately drew me in with its story, world, and demons. It was all so different and spectacular and rightfully deserving of its Mature rating with those penis monsters and everything. Popping it in my Nintendo DSiXL last month, the original game is a bit rough to look at now. The art direction and graphics didn’t age as well I would have hoped, so getting an update on this treasure of a title is alright with me. Even with the altered artwork, I’m ready to return to Antarctica in May.

Sushi Striker: The Way of SushidoRelease Date: TBA 2018

Depending on what Nintendo does with some of the titles in the second part of this article – or if there is some completely unknown game it hasn’t announced yet – Sushi Striker: The Way of Sushido could be the last game it publishes for the 3DS. Revealed during the Treehouse broadcast at E3 last year, Sushi Striker looks to have all the fun of a free-to-play mobile puzzle game without any of that free-to-play nonsense. Unless it ends up being free-to-play, then just forget that last part.

Shovel Knight: King of CardsRelease Date: TBA 2018

Also known as Jonathan Holmes’s most anticipated game of 2018, Shovel Knight: King of Cards is the final expansion pack for one of the greatest indie games of all time. After so many months, players will finally get their hands on King Knight in this prequel to the original game as he makes his way across four new lands to take on the Three Kings who rule over all. I never expected Shovel Knight to be this multi-year journey I would come back to time after time, but Yacht Club Games managed to do just that, making everything feel new with each new playable character they debuted. King of Cards will launch sometime this year, as will the Shovel Knight amiibo three-pack I already have pre-ordered from Best Buy.

Jake Hunter Detective Story: Ghost of the DuskRelease Date: TBA 2018

The Jake Hunterseries has been going strong in Japan since 1987, but only managed to make a mark over here once with 2008’s Jake Hunter: Detective Chronicles. It hit at just the right time, joining similar adventure games like Hotel Duskand Time Hollowon the Nintendo DS just as it got into full swing. But it must not have sold that well because the next five games in the series skipped localization. After a five-year hiatus, Jake returned in Ghost of the Dusk. Released last year in Japan, Arc System Works, the current owner of the IP, announced it was giving the franchise another go in North America in 2018.

Shakedown HawaiiRelease Date: When it’s ready

Brian Provinciano has done a damn good job on Twitter drumming up interest in Shakedown Hawaii. As the follow-up to Retro City Rampage, a game perfect on my 2DS XL, Shakedownaims to bring the same chaos and carnage to a 16-bit setting. Unlike RetroCity, ain’t nobody from Destructoid going to be in this one. It’s our own fault. We used to be so much cooler. At least that’s what everyone on Twitter keeps telling me.

Besides the beautiful setting, I’m most looking forward to seeing how far I can take the destructible environments feature. After watching three episodes of the new Hawaii Five-0, I’m just about ready to level the whole frickin’ island.

PicontierRelease Date: TBA 2018

Originally slated for a late 2017 launch, Picontier was pushed back to this year as the developers work to complete it for the 3DS, Switch, PlayStation 4, and PC. It’s being published by Flyhigh Works which, between Kamiko last year and Ambition of the Slimes last week, is stealthily establishing itself as a go-to source for cheap, entertaining games. I don’t know what the price will be on Picontier, but I’m willing to pay anything to get my hands on this “slow-moving miniscape RPG.” From the developers of Fairune, Picontier combines crafting, fishing, farming, and fighting into one agreeable looking package. It gives me Stardew Valley vibes which are just the type of vibes I am looking for.

Here’s what we could get if they’re localized:

If the 10 above is all we receive in 2018, well, it’s not the worst way to wrap up a console’s life. But still, there are so many more games we could enjoy this year if publishers choose to bring them over from Japan. We don’t have any confirmation the following titles will make it to our shores in 2018, but by the spirit of Iwata I hope they do.

Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age

There are three things we know about Dragon Quest XI:

  • It released on the PlayStation 4 and Nintendo 3DS
  • It’s in development for the Nintendo Switch
  • It’s absolutely coming to West this year

What we don’t know is exactly which format it’s coming over in. With three versions tochoose from, Square-Enix can go about this in several different ways. Preferably, we get all three. But if that doesn’t happen, which version gets left behind. The Switch is too red-hot to ignore, the PlayStation 4 is well on its way to moving 100 million consoles worldwide, and, as mentioned above, hundreds of thousands of people are still picking up a3DS system. Looking at it that way, it doesn’t really seem like a difficult choice: localize all three.

At the very least, one Nintendo system should get the game as the company has published the Dragon Questseries outside of Japan for some time (even if a bit fleetingly for my liking).

Dillon’s Rolling Western: The Dead Heat Breakers

Announced in the same Nintendo Direct where we found out Style Savvy: Styling Starwas a thing, Dillon’s Rolling Western: The Dead Heat Breakersis arriving five years after The Last Rangerreleased and bringing with it the ability to turn your Mii into a furry, playable character. So far it’s only confirmed for Japan, but as both of the prior games in the series received simultaneous worldwide releases, I expect this one to follow suite.

Etrian Mystery Dungeon 2

When I found out at E3 the trio of Altus games above would be coming to North America and Europe, my reaction was “great, but what about Etrian Mystery Dungeon 2?” I love the Etrian series but I simply adore Mystery Dungeon games. Whether I’m playing as Shiren, a Chocobo, or a Pokémon, it’s hands-down my favorite role-playing conceit. Etrian Mystery Dungeon stole an entire month of my life, so I’ve been waiting since EMD2 was announced in March of last year to come along and do the same thing.

NewEtrian Odyssey

Etrian Odysseyis one of those will-they-won’t-they games. It’s perfectly designed for a dual screen device, but that era of gaming comes to an end soon. When it’s over, does Atlus keep the series going? Whatever the future holds remains to be seen. Also still to be seen: a brand new Etriangame for the 3DS.

Series director Shigeo Komori confirmed last year a new Etrian Odyssey is on the way. It won’t be EO3: Untold, but rather a festival-like culmination of the series with completely unexpected content. After playing through the entertaining but predictable Etrian Odyssey V, I’m ready for something a little more surprising. Whatever this Etrian Odyssey game is, expect to be announced this spring.

Persona Q2

All we know about this game is its coming to the Nintendo 3DS and the artwork accompanying its announcement is clearly a cuter version of The Phantom Thieves of Hearts logo. So I expect we’ll see Joker and company teaming up with the cast of Persona 4 or 3 or both. Or hell, why not throw 1 and 2 in there while we’re at it. Just make it a big Persona family reunion.

Yo-Kai Watch 3: Sushi & Tempura

You can tell Nintendo and Level-5 really expected Yo-Kai Watch to be the next big thing. Between the games, television series, movies, manga and a crapload of merchandising, the two companies clearly thought this series had “Next Pokémon” written all over it. But that’s not what happened. The Yo-Kai Watch craze has died down in Japan and I don’t think the series ever caught fire this side of the Pacific.

Despite that, I still think we’ll see Yo-Kai Watch 3. For starters, the third season of the anime is coming over in a couple of months. Beyond that, we’re exactly on schedule for a new Yo-Kai Watch game. With the exception of last year’s Psychic Specters, each game in the mainline series has released in North America two years after its Japanese debut. With the St. Peanutsburg-set Yo-Kai Watch 3 releasing back in July 2016, history tells we should expect it here sometime this fall if Nintendo is bringing it over. I certainly hope it does because the new combat system introduced in 3 actually makes me think I’ll finally be able to get into the series.

New Professor Layton

This one is a bit iffy because it hasn’t exactly been confirmed the new Professor Layton game will be coming out on the 3DS, but if I were a betting man I’d say it is. The Layton series is so in tune with dual-screen devices that it’ll take a complete rework of the formula should Level-5 ever want to get the most out of single-screen hardware. I don’t mind the franchise becoming mobile-only —Layton’s Mystery Journeywas certainly playable on the iPad — but it should be something that is developed from the ground up for a single screen instead of trying to mimic Nintendo’s handheld. Either way, expect news on this title sometime in the next few months, along with what should be a quick release before the year is up.

The Snack World: Trejarers

AfterProfessor Layton hit it big and kind of made Level-5 a household name, the company pivoted towards these massive, multi-media projects. Yo-Kai Watch wasn’t just a game it was every type of entertainment. Inazuma Eleven and Little Battlers Experience followed the same pattern though the latter quickly fizzled. Snack World seemed to be its next big thing. In 2015 the company founded Level-5 abby in Santa Monica, the same year it first showed off Snack World with this dazzling eight-minute long trailer. It looked good, damn good, but then began a two year wait for the actual game to arrive.

The Snack World: Trejarers launched last year in Japan, and while it didn’t exactly blow up the sales chart — it failed outsell the Yo-Kai Watch Buster 2spin-off games — it did end 2017 as Japan’s 20thbest-selling game of the year. That’s not bad, but clearly, Level-5 wants more. Recently it was announced Trejarers is being ported to the Switch because that’s just how the industry works now. So far neither version has been confirmed for the West but I hold onto hope that we don’t have to wait for the Switch port to see it on our shores.

Megaton Musashi

I’m not holding my breath on this one as there are several Level-5 games developed over the years that never made it out of Japan — hello Time Travelers — I just thought it’d be nice to remind everyone this exists and looks absolutely badass. Like Yo-Kai and Snack World, Megaton Musashi is being developed a cross-media project with video games, anime, movies,and merch planned. Of course, we haven’t heard anything about it in more than a year and a half. Is it still coming to the 3DS or is it jumping ship to the Switch? At this point, either is possible and certainly preferred to it being dumped on mobile and forgotten. If it can happen toWonder Flick,it can happen here too!

Baku Tsuri Bar Hunter

Okay, so there is no way in hell this actually is brought over to the US, but I just like to remind people that Bandai Namco made this game that combines fishing, AR, and rampant consumerism into one ridiculous package and bundled it with a reel.

*Obviously this isn’t a complete list as there could be dozens of small eShop games from tiny indie devs still coming this way. For the sake of this article, I only mentioned the more well-known games we know about and also Picontier because it needs to be on everybody’s watch-list. Also, thoughit is not mentioned above, I would like to see Puyo Puyo Chronicleslocalized.