Dedicated handheld consoles have taken some beatings over the years—thanks, Steve Jobs—but as 2016 comes to a close, the 3DS is still thriving. And the Vita... well, uh, I love the Vita.
This is part of our 2016 “State of” series, a look at how the major consoles, VR platforms, and PC are doing this year.
Truth is, not much has changed this year for either the 3DS or Vita. The 3DS remains a portable powerhouse, packed full of Nintendo-developed gems like Pokémon Sun and Moon (the best games yet, by many accounts) and BoxBoxBoy (a puzzle-platforming masterpiece). The new Fire Emblem didn’t live up to the standards set by 2013's Awakening, but Stephen has nothing but good things to say about Kirby: Planet Robobot. This year the 3DS got a bunch of weird games, some neat StreetPass improvements, and, perhaps most importantly, Picross 3D 2. (Also a treat: SNES games on Virtual Console, if you have a New 3DS.)
Even as Nintendo focuses on the Switch, the exciting portable-console hybrid that’s expected to launch in March, they’re promising to support the 3DS for at least the next year or two. Games like Dragon Quest VIII, Ever Oasis, and a new Pikmin spinoff will help fill out 2017—although it’s safe to expect that new 3DS software will taper off after that.
Meanwhile, Sony continues to pretend that the Vita doesn’t exist, mentioning it most frequently as a footnote to other, more important announcements. Oh yes, this game is also coming to Vita. Sometimes even Sony’s own marketing ignores the Vita, portraying a game like Full Throttle, coming next year to both Vita and PS4, as a PS4 exclusive.
Still, if you’re into indies and Japanese games like Dragon Quest Builders or Steins;Gate 0, the Vita is humming along this year. I haven’t played nearly enough Trails of Cold Steel II or World of Final Fantasy yet, but it’s nice to know they’re both there. And there’s plenty more on the horizon, like Danganronpa v3 and Cosmic Star Heroine. It helps that the spunky little handheld is still selling fairly well in Japan. Sony’s baffling decisions and long-festering neglect haven’t killed the Vita—just crippled it a little.