You have probably been here before. A Japanese company announces an exciting new game. The concept sounds great, the trailer has you hyped, and everything seems perfect... until you see those three words that you’ve grown to loathe in 2018. “Only for 3DS.”
Last Friday, Nintendo released a new WarioWare, the first in nearly ten years. This would be more exciting for hardcore Nintendo fans if it weren’t exclusive to the 3DS.
Then, on Saturday, Atlus re-revealed Persona Q2, a sequel to 2014's excellent Persona Q, which blended the charm and style of Persona with the mapmaking and dungeon-crawling of Etrian Odyssey. Exciting news—until we learned that in true Atlus style, Persona Q2 is 3DS and nothing but the 3DS.
Add upcoming remakes of Luigi’s Mansion and Bowser’s Inside Story and you might be fooled into thinking that the 3DS is a modern, thriving system. But the 3DS is not a modern, thriving system. It’s seven years old, and while it’s been a great little portable console, it was usurped last year by an even better one.
Nintendo’s red-hot Switch is a better piece of hardware than the 3DS in many ways. The screen is larger. It feels sleeker and more refined. There’s no finicky clamshell or crevasses full of dust, and there’s no need to worry whether you have the 2DS or New 3DS or New Mega-3DS Plus—it’s just a Switch. That’s not to mention the bulging library, which is already full of incredible platformers and adventures and Metroidvanias thanks to the widespread indie and AAA support. The Switch has momentum the likes of which we haven’t seen for a Nintendo system since the Wii in 2006. It is fun to use and great to keep in one’s stable of regular gaming consoles. If you’re traveling somewhere, you’re probably going to take the Switch.
Granted, Nintendo believes that the Switch and 3DS can co-exist, not only because the company inexplicably sees the Switch as a “home” console (I haven’t docked mine since the 80s) but because the 3DS is cheaper and parents are more likely to buy multiple systems per household. Here’s former Nintendo boss Tatsumi Kimishima, speaking to investors:
Given that Nintendo Switch is a home gaming system that can be taken on the go, this situation may change if it grows from being a one-per-household system to a one-per-person system. But the price of Nintendo Switch is not something with which most parents would buy a system for every one of their children in a short period of time. Moving forward, we will work to ascertain what kinds of play people want at which price points, and as long as there is such demand, we will continue to sell the Nintendo 3DS system. I see the product coexisting with Nintendo Switch at this point in time.
Which, OK. You can see why Nintendo might release games that appeal to children—WarioWare Gold, Luigi’s Mansion, etc.—on the cheaper, more kid-friendly system. But Persona Q2 is very much not that. Persona Q2 is a hardcore dungeon crawler full of adult themes and death traps—in the first game, you could lose hours of progress to a single unlucky spell—and it’s wasted on the 3DS, which most of its potential audience has likely already deposited safely in their closets. (One might argue that the dual-screen design is necessary for Persona Q’s map-drawing, which is done with the 3DS stylus, but I’m sure there are plenty of ways to rework that for a modern system.)
So I’m sure I will dust off my 3DS, hunt down the charger, and spend a couple of hours playing through Persona Q2 whenever it does come to North America. But I can’t imagine I’ll stick with it. Like many Nintendo fans, I’ve removed the 3DS from my gaming rotation. The Switch is too superior, too full of great games to get through. It’s a shame Persona Q2 won’t be one of them.