So Long, Farewell, Auf Weidersehen, Goodbye… 3DS and WiiU edition | Big Daddy Digest

Goodbye 3DS and WiiU eShop

The histories of the 3DS and WiiU are well chronicled. Both had initial uptake issues and poor sales at the start of their life, but while one rose like the proverbial phoenix, the other fell into almost obscurity. While neither console deserved the fate, it was a clear message to Nintendo that their marketing approaches needed work. The two biggest reasons both consoles struggled at first was the double whammy of being expensive for what was being offered combined with a fairly lack luster library. The 3DS recovered after a significant price drop and then cemented itself as a must have console with the release of more and more first and third party hits. The WiiU however was less fortunate, with developers reluctant to put the time and money into adapting a title for a “weaker” console with a gimmick.

That said, those who owned both consoles will often pass on anecdotes of great games, fun experiences and content unavailable on those “stronger” systems. Nintendo systems have always been about novel experiences that push the boundaries of gaming. Both consoles have had their share of franchise saving titles while also spawning popular franchises of their own!

Now it’s time to say Goodnight

A while back, Nintendo announced that in May 2022, the WiiU and 3DS eShop would no longer be supporting credit card payments. “That’s OK” I hear you reply, I can just add funds using Nintendo eShop cards! You are correct dear reader! However, as of a few days ago now, Nintendo have outlined their plans for the end of the previous generation’s eShop.

Whilst the big N have made it clear that content that was previously purchased will still be available to download, new games and DLC will be forever sealed behind in the Disney… Sorry my 90’s is showing…. Nintendo vault. So, ultimately it is time for us at BDG to bid a fond adieu to these two consoles.

Don’t Cry Because it’s Over… Smile Because it Happened!

In quoting those words from the eminent Dr. Seuss it became apparent that rather than lament, we should be celebrating the life of these two consoles. Thankfully Nintendo though the same and gave fans the ability to see the data collected from their own devices. A few of us here at BDG decided to share our experiences in the hope our memories inspire you to reflect in the same way.

Joachim

Monsters Big, Monsters Small, Joachim caught and hunted them all!

I always suspected it, but now after looking at my 3DS memories it became clear as a sunny winter’s day: My 3ds was a monster machine!

Let me explain! On place #3 we see *Pokemon Alpha Sapphire*. This game was my first fray into the Pokemon franchise and I loved it. The story was engaging, catching the little pocket monsters and completing the Pokedex was utterly fulfilling. I can gladly say that this game made me a lifetime Pokemon fan.

In second place?

Let’s take a look at the second place: Monster Hunter Generations. My second game of the Monster Hunter franchise and the first one to make the jump to the Switch. I took my time to hunt everything and craft lot of weapons and armour, even as a hunter solely relying on a single weapon: the insect glaive. I clocked in way over 200 hours in this quick-paced monster rush game on my 3DS and continued the hunt in Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate on the Switch. (Transferring the save-file worked like a charm, I like to point out!)

All bow to the #1, mighty Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate! The 600+ hours I put into my first ever Monster Hunter game speak for themselves. I have so many memories of this game that it is hard to mention them all. From trying out all different weapons and finding one that ‘clicked’ (insect glaive) to meeting people online that I still have contact to, this game is full of wonderful reminiscences. The feel of a hunt, the despair of tripple carting, the loneliness of being abandoned in a Gathering Hub when it is my turn to select the next quest. The fond memories of climbing Hunter Ranks together, of soloing hub quests for the first time, of finally besting Gogmazios, they’re fresh in my mind.

A truly magnificent game on a wonderful little handheld console. Thank you, 3DS!

Greg

Contrary to my top 3 for 3DS, I played so many smaller RPG’s and my most unforgettable games have to be the Project X Zone games. They are honestly unforgettable for me as wonderfully designed tactics RPG’s that way more people need to play.

Greg’s memories reflect one of the biggest selling points of the 3DS. That of an RPG machine! With so many titles from developers old and new. There really wasnt a sub genre of RPG that wasn’t catered for. For tactical fans you had Fire Emblem and Project X Zone. But if action RPGs were more your thing you had Zelda and Monster Hunter titles. Even if you couldn’t find a story or a battle system that suited you perfectly, well you could simply make your own with RPG Maker!

A common theme among WiiU players…

Sadly my Wii U needed more love than it got. I enjoyed Pokken more than Smash Bros., honestly. But, ultimately it just couldn’t grab me for more playtime and fell to the wayside.

A common theme among all our WiiU selections was that even though there were slight differences, the same title’s often popped up. This was tantamount to the WiiU’s downfall as a console, relying on a handful of first and third party titles to drive sales when developers turned their backs. The saving grace where the WiiU was concerned was that, by being a HD system, games could be ported over to the NX when the time allowed, indeed there are those who think that, toward the end of the consoles short life, this was already being planned!

Gareth

Pokemon – it’s not the number 1 media franchise in existence for nothing.

This in no way reflects my love of the 3DS!

My memories of the 3DS are very different to Nintendo’s apparently. Or certainly this is an exercise that shows how data often shows us what bias we put on emotional connections! Without getting too psychological or philosophical I remember my 3DS experience very differently.

My first 3DS is actually one that is featured in an episode of Rick & Morty (ok, not MINE personally!). The gold and black “Link Between Worlds” console was a Christmas present that, after the traditional crashing of the Nintendo servers, I was quickly hooked on. It’s safe to say I was a late adopter of this generation’s hardware but I quickly became a fan. But then I rediscovered my love for Pokemon!

The Pokemon Console

Pokémon Y was a great re-entry into a franchise I loved in Gens 1 and 2. Clean, crisp and with some fresh ideas the title took me again down the rabbit hole that I’m yet to find my way back out of. Each title after that offered something I had missed out on in someway, or gave a new idea an outing to test the water. While not all the ideas were slam dunks, it was clear the engine behind the titles had come a long way. Add to that the constant “DLC” of mythical and legendary Pokémon and you have a huge driving force behind the 3DS’ success.

I genuinely don’t remember my WiiU being the netflix machine, but I certainly underused this console. Time to dust it off maybe?

If I was late to the party with the 3DS I was even later with the WiiU. Purchasing a second hand console in order to try out Splatoon. I quickly worked my way through obtaining the prominent back catalogue but ultimately the WiiU was quickly relegated to a handful of games. Mario Maker tried to rekindle my enjoyment, but it wasn’t really enough. The novelty of making and taking part in chaotic level design only extended the life support.

Dan also seemed to have similar opinions about his experience with the Switch;

I think it speaks volumes that the most played “game” on my WiiU was Netflix and spots two and three are taken up by games that received a much more successful release on switch. The WiiU held such unfulfilled promise that it never really capitalised on.

I was a big fan of the dual screen experience but unfortunately that particular novelty was starting to wear thin with consumers who favoured the graphical powerhouse consoles that were the Xbox and PlayStation. My fondest memories with it came right at the end of its life cycle when breath of the wild was released.

I held off buying a switch till that Christmas but I couldn’t bear to wait that long for Zelda. BotW was originally in development for the WiiU and it showed. The Sheika slate was a direct analogue for the Wii u tablet. I put 120 joyous hours in that game over the course of two months. Then I sold it for exactly the same price I had bought it for. Turns out there is such a thing as a free lunch. Of course it was the first game I bought on my switch so maybe there is truth in that old adage.

What about the games?

Both consoles had exclusives. Both consoles had games that gave players a phenomenal and memorable experience. But everyone’s experience is different and will reflect their own tastes. So what games during this console cycle made headlines, moved units and could possibly be that one game you’ve missed? There’s still time to catch up digitally of course, but what deserves your attention?

The Zelda Remakes – Probably the best way to enjoy these titles

Both consoles had their Zelda titles. The 3DS utilising Grezzo to produce 3D enabled remakes of their Nintendo 64 titles. The WiiU getting HD remakes of the Gamecube versions of Windwaker and Twilight Princess. Whilst one was a Wii title, Nintendo developed Gamecube versions to address the fact Link is left handed.

These are certainly the definitive way of enjoying these games. The 3DS titles gave added dimensions, literally, to games which defined a franchise. Often used as yard sticks with which new titles were measured against (that is until a certain Switch title anyway). As for the WiiU titles, HD remasters of great titles are always welcome. When you also consider the quality of life improvements Nintendo made. In Windwaker, particularly the triforce shard quest, then these too are a greater alternative to what was already available.

The game that rejuvenated an entire franchise – and split opinions doing so

Fire Emblem is now a name synonymous with tactical RPG gameplay, but there was a time when the franchise was on it’s knees awaiting a coup de grâce! Declining sales of the previous games meant Nintendo made it very clear that this was the franchise’s last chance. With that in mind developers took their time and looked at how to make the game more popular.

Decisions were made, arguments had and changes to some fundamentals meant that in 2012 the game released in Japan. What unfolded was a critical and commercial success. The combination of story and romance elements being praised alongside the strategic RPG gameplay. The mechanics also encouraged accessibility for new players but didn’t pander to the hardcore fans of the series. This game regularly featured in top tens throughout the life of the console.

Atlus games you can’t find anywhere else

Atlus and Nintendo have an odd relationship at times. With Persona 5 still not breaking its PlayStation exclusivity while at the same time supporting the console with its less social interaction heavy titles. The 3DS was certainly home to a number of great Atlus titles. The biggest selling coming from the combined Shin Megami Tensei IV and it’s sequel, Apocalypse.

The WiiU wasn’t to be left out though. With Atlus possibly releasing a game with both the strangest name and most out of left field premise known to man. Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE is best described as a mashing of Shin Megami Tensei gameplay with Fire Emblem characters. All set in a world reflecting Japanese popular culture and “American Idol”. I did warn you it was straight out of left field! For anyone interested, the title was ported to the Switch in a “deluxe” version!

Fighting Games

We can’t discuss the 3DS and WiiU without talking about the one game to span both systems. Smash Bros. For [WiiU or 3DS] was a real tour de force for the consoles. With the main goal to make the games as close to identical as possible. With minor differences in level selection and some other, more significant differences. The two games released to critical applause, with 9 million sales on 3DS and 5 million on WiiU by 2021.

That wasn’t Bandai Namco’s only fighting game to be released this generation. Originally meant to be a showcase for fighting types, clearly the lack of a yellow electric type meant that changes needed to be made. How we got to a fighting chandelier though is beyond me! Still, this is another title that has been superseded. With a deluxe version on the Switch, fans of the franchise can still get their pokebeat on!

and Relaxing Games

I think it’s safe to say that no Nintendo console is complete without an Animal Crossing title now. Though we wont be discussing the WiiU’s entry here. No one needs reminding of the abomination that was “Amiibo Festival” Oh wait…..

Anyway, New Leaf took concepts fleshed out in City Folk (Let’s go to the City in some regions) to the next level, letting you become the Mayor of your own town. Controlling certain factors that many players had been crying out for. The game also did it’s usual thing of adding new villagers and, later on, DLC. The “Welcome’s Amiibo” expansion allowed fans to utilise amiibo functionality with a campsite. The game also utilised Streetpass functionality to create Dream suites, the source of much amusement and creepypastas…

Games that set the stall out early

Samus Returns was MercurySteam’s first foray into the Metroid franchise. Frankly what unfolded is a much overlooked masterpiece that only really garnered acclaim after the release of “Dread”. The team behind Samus Returns took the original concepts of Metroid 2 and dragged them into the 21st century. What was clear was that this was a group of developers that really understood what made a 2D Metroid game. Unfortunately, this is the only way to enjoy it. So if you don’t already, it really should be a priority to own.

And games surrounded in controversy

The Mario and Luigi series was, at one point, touted to be the true successor to Super Mario RPG. With what many consider to be the decline of the “Paper Mario” series, many turned their heads to AlphaDream. The developer had made some gains with titles such as “Superstar Saga” and “Partners in Time”, but they had really struck gold with their DS game “Bowser’s Inside Story”. The biggest issue was that, DS games are still playable on the 3DS!

Eventually it transpired the studio were struggling financially. The sales of a remade DS title were nowhere near enough to save them. Many conspired that Nintendo didn’t step in to save them because they didn’t want a competitor to their paper-based paisan. But for whatever reason, the team behind some of the best Mario RPGs in years is no more. With their titles unlikely to be ported, this is another group of games to be considered.

Games that Carried their Success to the Switch

There are many titles that have ported from the WiiU to the Switch. With most, if not all, being more successful with the larger install base. But some series have set themselves apart once having the greater audience to sell to. First up we have Splatoon. With a sequel announced at launch, and the third title on it’s way! The popular team based shooter has captured the ideals of those who claimed Nintendo couldn’t make a family friendly shooter!

Next up is Hyrule Warriors. The initial release on WiiU being popular enough to spawn a 3DS spin off in itself. The Switch title combined the two into a deluxe edition before another title was eventually revealed. Age of Calamity took the popularity from Breath of the Wild and gave a Warriors spin to it’s origin story. Whilst some felt that hiding key points of lore behind such a title, sales have suggested it was enough to build on an already successful brand.

Finally, the obvious elephant sized go-kart in the room. Mario Kart 8 has not only sold massively on WiiU, but it’s switch “deluxe” version took the total number of sales to astronomical heights. Ones that can only truly be scaled when in “Zero G” mode on a track obviously! Now, with the recent Nintendo Direct, what many though to be an announcement for MK9 was simply an expansion on an already expanded title. With new courses being upgraded over the course of time, there is plenty of reason to grab this… on Switch!

And Finally….The Virtual Console / Indie Scene

Both consoles had an amazing library of virtual console titles. Whilst not every game was included (*cough* Thousand Year Door *cough*) there was plenty of choice. The WiiU took advantage of the 3DS being “unable” to play GBA titles supporting those on the game pad. 3DS became even more a Pokémon engine with the addition of Gen 1 and 2 titles in their original form. Ease of purchasing meant many were happy to put titles on their console, regardless of prior ownership. Eventually Super Nintendo titles were also released onto the “New” 3DS, apparently after a hardware upgrade enabled this function.

There was also an amazing third party and indie renaissance that sprung forth from the digital sales on both consoles. With such names as Shovel Knight, Shantae, and Steamworld being thrown into the mix. Many of these will be lost once the eShop closes and so, again, preservation is a huge concern.

But it was more than just games

Finally, while the WiiU didn’t utilise this function, one thing the 3DS needs to be praised for was it’s ability to connect. Not just to the internet, but to each other! The streetpass functionality helped people connect with each other in a way that was never seen and as yet, not replicated. I remember sitting in a performance of “Symphony of the Goddess”. I had travelled to London alone to see this, sat with my 3DS in my bag, on sleep mode. During a short interval I remembered I had it with me and opened it to a wave of new “friends”. I kept repeating this through the concert, like many around me and even started talking to those I was sat next to once we’d realised we had technically “met”.

Streetpass was a beautiful thing, with buildings collecting data on those who had passed and giving them to users and some businesses even being able to put Nintendo staff Mii character onto your system. I still have a slight emotional response to seeing certain Mii on my system whenever I go back and look.

In Summary

This is a farewell love letter I guess. Yes, it is more heavily skewed toward one of the two consoles, but they share a digital marketplace. With that marketplace being removed, we lose a huge chunk of gaming history to introduce new fans to. We can’t show a “Three Houses” fan the game that saved the franchise, or a “Dread” lover the beauty of when Samus first returned.

So with my final paragraph, I want to make some thank you’s. Thank you Nintendo for always trying new things even if it hurts the bottom line. Thank you Iwata-San for driving the efforts to make the 3DS viable. Also, for showing me that sometimes a CEO can make the right calls when times are tough. Thank you to everyone who I have ever interacted with on Streetpass and finally, thank you for letting me share your experiences and for letting me share mine with you. Let’s hope these games can find a new home on a universal Nintendo server in the future.