The first video game console I ever owned was the Gameboy
Advance. Ever since then I’ve had an affinity for handheld consoles. For a
while I didn’t even think I needed a regular console. Why would I need one wherever
I wanted to? It took seeing how much better LEGO Star Wars on console at my
friend’s house to make me badger my parents into getting a PS2 but I think even
after my preference for handhelds carried on. They might not have the graphical
power of their home counterparts, but the tradeoff of portability was more than
worth it for me. Handhelds make long drives and boring waits that much easier;
they gave me something to occupy my time when I had nothing else to do but
Unfortunately it seems like the handheld is probably a dying
concept. The Vita flopped, and the 3DS is being phased out, its only replacing
being the Switch. Which while technically a handheld, doesn’t necessarily feel
like one to me. I can’t fit it in my pocket like I can a Gameboy or DS so I’m
not going to take it out and carry it around and risk potentially losing it. Smartphones
have also kind of filled the void left by handhelds, but I haven’t really found
any phone games I like all that much, so I usually just listen to music or
check on Discord or find articles to read.
While they may have been retroactively the last of their
kind, both consoles marked a first for me in that they were the first ones
where I considered myself a fan of them specifically. I was active on forums
for both consoles, interacted with other fans, got recommendations, and kept up
with all the new releases. I wanted to be THE 3DS guy, and for a short time I
wanted to be THE Vita guy as well (this was unusual at the time, since there
was something a minor console war between the two systems, not outright competition
like in the Nintendo vs SEGA days, more like a console cold war, if you will).
I guess on that note I might as well start with the Vita,
since that story will be a bit shorter. When this thing was announced I thought
it looked really cool! You could play what looked like PS2 level games on the
go, that was something I’d wanted since I laid eyes on LEGO Star Wars on the
PS2 all those years ago. The 3DS game close but there were still some limitations.
It didn’t matter to me that the launch lineup was dire (“Vita has no gaems”) something
similar happened with the 3DS and it took off nicely. I’d assumed the games
would naturally come with time.
Unfortunately after about a year I kind of gave up on the
Vita. I’d gotten a few games, I liked most of them, but there seemed to be
almost nothing on the horizon. I’d felt like I’d played everything the console
had to offer, and so it collected dust while I played more and more on the 3DS.
It was kind of sad really. I don’t think Vita games are still made but after I
dropped it the console seemed to become a haven for anime games, JRPGs and
indie titles. Maybe I should go back and try some of those out someday.
Regardless, as for the games I did play my favorites were
probably Gravity Rush, Ys: Memories of Celceta, and Persona 4 Golden. Gravity
Rush in particular was a unique platformer with both an interesting aesthetic
and gameplay gimmick. I’m keen on playing the sequel on PS4 at some point. Ys
was a very fun action JRPG with a great soundtrack. Persona 4 was quite good…
but I never finished it. Maybe one day.
I can’t think of too many more standout games for the system
that I played. There was the Assassins Creed game which was exactly like all
the other Assassins Creed games. I stopped playing when I reached a terrible, motion-controlled
ball puzzle. There was also Playstation All Stars Battle Royale, which most
probably remember as a PS3 title (if they do remember), but did also make its
way to the Vita. It was a pre-Smash 4 world and I was getting my hands on
anything remotely Smash like I could. I played the game for a while but it
became obvious fairly quickly that it wasn’t going to be a success, support for
it ended pretty quickly and by the time Smash 3DS rolled out it had been long forgotten.
The 3DS on the other hand had probably the longest lifespan
for me of any console thus far. I’ve had the thing for almost the entire decade
and from release up until the getting the Switch I played it almost every day. The
3DS is, along with the PS2 and potentially the Switch, a prime candidate for my
favorite console of all time. It did just about everything I wanted, it was a
great size to take around, it was easy to use, and it had a library of games in
just about every genre I could want with fairly consistent releases over the
course of its lifespan.
And how about those games. I’ve gushed about Kid Icarus
Uprising more than a few times on this blog I think. It’s a great game, a top
contender for all time favorite even. I love the writing and comedic timing, I
love the characters, I love the music, it’s just fun, it’s everything I could
want in a game. It’s probably unlikely but I’d kill for a sequel or even a
Switch remake. That Kid Icarus didn’t end up becoming a household name like
Fire Emblem did is a tragedy.
Speaking of Fire Emblem, Awakening was another title I was supped
stoked to play. It’s also another one I never ended up finishing for some reason!
I didn’t get stuck and I was close to the end so I’m not even sure why.
Otherwise I liked the game well enough, I didn’t find the story all that interesting
but I did enjoy the “shipping” mechanic and the various different characters. A
lot of Fire Emblem die hards seem to hate the game for its changes but that’s
not something I can comment on. It’s still the only Fire Emblem I’ve played,
though when I can I intend on picking up Three Houses to change that.
Another big title was Tomodachi Life, which caught my
interest with the… very interesting Direct which announced it. I showed it to
my mom and she was instantly sold so that became the game we bonded over. Checking
on our islands and seeing which miis got with who or which ones had a baby
together. In retrospect it was a fairly repetitive game in terms of how much
content it had but that didn’t mean there wasn’t fun to be had. We actually
played it for several years!
And then of course there was the biggest game of all, the one
that at the time was the thing I was most hyped for. Super Smash Bros 4. The
3DS version came out a few months before the Wii U on and you better believe I
was there launch day. Smash 3DS didn’t have as much content as its console
counterpart but it was the one I probably ended up playing more. Just the
novelty of having Smash on the go was enough for me. If I had a long car ride
coming up, Smash 3DS was my go-to. Smash 3DS is also notable in that it had the
superior unique game mode. I ended up playing Smash Run quite a bit and I still
kind of wish it had been brought back and improved upon for Ultimate. It had a
lot of potential. Smash Tour I only ever played like once and never touched
again. Probably my only real disappointment with the game.
Other notable titles I played included Link Between Worlds,
Luigi’s Mansion 2, Bravely Default, the Kirby games, Fantasy Life, and many
more. (including this Legend of Korra Fire Emblem esque tie in game that
apparently only I know exists) There were also a lot of ports of classic games that
I ended up playing for the first time on 3DS. It was exciting to finally play
Ocarina of Time, Majora’s Mask, and Metal Gear Solid 3. I still need to finish
Majora’s Mask actually, I picked it back up recently. I could go on.
The 3DS had a long lifespan that is only now coming to a close,
replaced by the Switch. It seems weird to get sentimental over a video game
console but the thing was practically omnipresent for almost the entire 10s
decade. I think when I look on this decade years from now the 3DS will be one
of the things that most stands out. Hell who knows, maybe I’ll still be playing
on it even then. God knows Kid Icarus may never get ported to anything else!