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Nintendo Needs to Bring 3DS Games to the Nintendo Switch

The 3DS is destined to become one of Nintendo’s most divisive devices of all-time.

On the one hand, the 3DS was considered to be something of a disappointing follow-up to the legendary Nintendo DS when it launched in 2011. The console’s 3D features proved to be a limited gimmick, its initial library was lacking heavy hitters, and the hardware itself was burdened by some questionable design decisions.

Still, numerous revisions to the 3DS, refinements to/a de-emphasis on its 3D elements, and a steady influx of good to great games eventually helped the 3DS become a success by most metrics. With over 75 million units sold between all models, Nintendo ultimately has to be proud of what the 3DS accomplished.

Now, it’s time that they rescue many of the device’s best games by bringing them to the Nintendo Switch.

See, the legacy of the 3DS isn’t just about its sales figures, its hardware upgrades, or even the overall quality of its game library. It’s also about the era that the 3DS was released in.

The 3DS’ slow start meant that it only started picking up steam around the same time that many casual gamers were turning to their smartphones for their gaming needs. Despite the 3DS’ many qualities, the fact remained that many people were hesitant to spend hundreds of dollars on a standalone handheld gaming device and hundreds more on games to play on the device. The discrepancy between the Nintendo DS’ sales figures (about 154 million) and the 3DS’ sales figures reveal that many people never experienced the 3DS at all.

Opinions vary on the 3DS, but the one thing that’s hard to deny is that it offered handheld experiences that were more complex than many mobile games yet not just ports of games you could play on consoles. The best 3DS games were the type of experiences that you’d only get on handheld gaming devices. They didn’t really have a home anywhere else.

That’s why I use the word “rescue” when I talk about Nintendo bringing 3DS games to the Nintendo Switch. Nintendo certainly “rescued” some Wii U titles by upgrading them for the Nintendo Switch, but that’s because the Wii U sold historically poorly. The situation with the 3DS is different. Nintendo would be rescuing its games by offering these unique handheld experiences to a group of gamers who perhaps never had the chance to experience them before due to the changing nature of the industry.

We’re really not even talking about that many games. Even if you cut out some titles that already exist in other forms on the Switch, you’re still left with games like Mario and Luigi: Dream Team, Super Mario 3D Land, and especially The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds that are currently only (legally) playable on the Nintendo 3DS. These are games that are doomed to become lost if they’re not rescued.

Nintendo has historically liked to keep their handheld and console games separate, and they’ve recently been slow in regards to unveiling a plan that would allow Switch gamers access to the Nintendo back catalog. Yet, in the case of the 3DS, it’s time for them to re-examine both of these policies. The Nintendo Switch (and the Nintendo Switch Lite) represents the perfect modern device for some classic handheld games that got swept beneath the constantly moving wheel of time.

Matthew Byrd

Matthew Byrd covers the gaming industry including indies, consoles, PCs, iOS and Android apps, as well as topics related to entertainment and technology.