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Forums - Nintendo Discussion - In retrospect, the Nintendo 3DS had pretty weak third party support

Third party support. It's been a consistent issue regarding games systems released by Nintendo. While the company has its award-winning first party group to supply games for its various consoles, It's not always a guarantee that other game publishers will back their systems. It's been an issue that existed since the Nintendo 64, and one that Nintendo has attempted to resolve with its future systems, to varied degrees of success.

The Nintendo DS was one such success. While the system was made popular with innovative non-gamer titles such as Nintendogs and Brain Age, many hardcore gamers remember the DS for its excellent third party support. Many DS fans would argue, third parties outdid Nintendo's offerings on the system. With many big Japanese publishers putting out fan-favorite games and series such as Ace Attorney, The World Ends With You, Final Fantasy, and Western companies such as EA, Activision, Ubisoft, and WB bringing big franchises like Call of Duty, Skate, and Assassin's Creed, along with innovative oddities like Scribblenauts and Might and Magic.

So with the DS' successor, Nintendo 3DS being in development, it naturally got the attention of developers. The DS was only the second best selling gaming system ever made at 150 million units sold, and with more power and a stereo 3D display, developers could bring over games that couldn't have run on the original system. So when Nintendo first revealed the console at E3 2010, Nintendo took the time to spotlight all the games and franchises that would join the games from Nintendo's own software divisions such as Kid Icarus: Uprising and Nintendogs + Cats.

Some pretty big names were shown such as DJ Hero, Dead or Alive, Saints Row, Resident Evil, Assasin's Creed, Batman, Kingdom Hearts, and Metal Gear Solid. The 3DS was shaping up to be better than the DS in every single way... And then the system released.

The 3DS launch was notorious for being mediocre. The best game at launch Super Street Fighter IV 3D Edition, a game people already played on consoles. And once sales of the system became sluggish in the summer, developers became antsy. As such, many of those promised projects from third parties slowly began being cancelled. In fact of that lineup, only about half of it came to fruition. And who knows how many other projects planned that were cancelled.

The 3DS' storefront, the Nintendo eShop, wasn't even ready to go at launch. We needed to wait until the June system update to download Virtual Console and digital games from it. As for the eShop itself, Nintendo learned quite a few lessons from WiiWare and strengthened its good points like allowing for self publishing, while removing most of its limitations such as its file size restrictions. Indie devs put out a few stand outs in the systems' early days, but like the rest of the 3DS' third party support, it'd eventually start to become limited, as the system's lack of power and engine support compared to other, more powerful consoles and mobile phones, meant it missed out on many of the big indie hits during the 8th generation.

Even once Nintendo started turning the system around and managed to get some must have titles out, third parties still were skeptical about it. Throughout its life, the 3DS was always that system that third parties just saw as... kind of there. While the DS got a wide range of titles from innovative artsy games, to miniturized versions of big console franchises at the time, most developers eventually just saw the 3DS as the system to throw together some quick and cheap RPGs, and maybe an occasional platformer. Nintendo knew this was a problem, and so 2012-2013 revolved around a strategy to distract 3DS owners from the system's middling third party support. Pump out big first party releases in rapid fire succession, and promote the shit out of the bigger third party releases such as Monster Hunter and Shin Megami Tensei IV. It certainly worked, the 3DS had what was perhaps their most aggressive first party support yet, but third party was rather underwhelming compared to its predecessor.

At the very least, it wasn't the Wii U, a console that the vast majority of the development community avoided like the plague after the first year or so. I'd say it was moreso on par with the GameCube and Wii's third party lineup. It's not... great, but it's got some solid stuff if you're willing to dig. And on the plus side, it fared better than the PlayStation Vita, which suffered from both poor third AND first party support.

TL;DR - The Nintendo 3DS was a fantastic system. But it was really more of a Nintendo first party and JRPG box than many fans remember or are willing to admit it to be. While it had some stand outs like Resident Evil Revelations and Tekken 3D. Third party support was generally pretty lackluster compared to the breadth of variety the DS saw.

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No retrospect needed. I realized that the 3DS had lackluster third party support throughout most of its life, and I was a day 1 early adopter.

It go the franchises that counted though, Monster Hunter, Kingdom Hearts, Dragon Quest.

Western 3rd part support was almost nonexistent.

Please Watch/Share this video so it gets shown in Hollywood.

I still think Ridge racer is great though.

Western Party support after the first or two years dried up but the 3rd party support coming from Japan was excellent by any means.

Though, if you're not fan of JRPG's, I'd maybe feel the same. The 3DS was an excellent RPG handheld machine ! (And still my favorite lol)

Switch Friend Code : 3905-6122-2909 

I prefer the 3DS to the DS, but I preferred the third-party on the DS from what I played. I played so many first-party games on 3DS that I didn't mind having little interest in its 3rd party offerings. And now that I've gotten a Switch and Vita, there's little chance I would ever play more than a small handful of third-party 3DS games I haven't played yet.

Lifetime Sales Predictions 

Switch: 144 million (was 73, then 96, then 113 million, then 125 million)

PS5: 105 million Xbox Series S/X: 60 million

PS4: 120 mil (was 100 then 130 million, then 122 million) Xbox One: 51 mil (was 50 then 55 mil)

3DS: 75.5 mil (was 73, then 77 million)

"Let go your earthly tether, enter the void, empty and become wind." - Guru Laghima

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zippy said:

I still think Ridge racer is great though.

(Not a criticism, I just thought this moment was funny :D)

I describe myself as a little dose of toxic masculinity.

3DS is my least fave Nintendo handheld. I didn't care for the 1st party support. Outside a small handheld of games. The 3rd party wasn't up to DS's level and I hated how every RPG wanted to make shit look chibi. 3DS is Nintendo's worst handheld by far. The best thing about it was the SEGA themes.

Bite my shiny metal cockpit!

I don't know about you guys, but I thought Monster Hunter 4 kicked all kinds of ass.

I will admit that Dragon Quest 7 and 8 felt like a step down from 4, 5, and 9. That's just me, though - many people love them, I just didn't enjoy the stories in 6-8, and while 9 didn't have the strongest story either, I loved playing it! Multiplayer, the sheer volume of interesting side quest (that included reconstructing a Kingdom), and all the seeded content brought something fresh to the series.

I never got why people loved Dragon Quest 8, it was oversized and slow, and I felt like 80% of the game was chasing around this Dull Magus guy I couldn't care less about :D
Dragon Quest 7 had a great concept, only Terranigma did it WAAAAY better.
And Dragon Quest 6 with the dual worlds, come on! Link to the Past! Final Fantasy Legend 3! Also, I wasn't even a fan of Chrono Cross - and I actually resented that's what happened with the Schala story, but even that game did the dual worlds thing better.

Now I'm off topic and being an asshole :D

Anyway. I really liked the Street Pass content on 3DS. I was hoping they'd expand it on Switch even though Coronavirus would have killed it.

But another down for me on 3DS was Bravely Default, a 65 hour game with 20 hours of concent and 45 hours of just looping - fuck you Square! That game felt like such a waste of time, and I don't know why I played the whole thing. I hated wasting that 45 hours more than I hate accidentally spending full price on a game I end up hating.

There were some BOMB ass Sega remasters on 3DS though. In my opinion, those old Mega Drive games in 3D parallax were some of the most enjoyable graphics of any game, ever. I loved every moment of those games.

Last edited by Jumpin - on 10 February 2022

I describe myself as a little dose of toxic masculinity.

Compared to the DS? Yeah, I guess the 3DS had weak support. Compared to the N64 or Wii U? 3DS had amazing support.

It's a matter of perspective.

The_Liquid_Laser said:

Compared to the DS? Yeah, I guess the 3DS had weak support. Compared to the N64 or Wii U? 3DS had amazing support.

It's a matter of perspective.

You're right! Losing to the DS still means you can be fairly strong.

I still think I liked it, third party gamewise, more than GBA. A lot of GBA's best third party games came out so late I was playing them on DS.

Last edited by Jumpin - on 10 February 2022

I describe myself as a little dose of toxic masculinity.