The Friend I Met Too Late (3DS)

I wanted to talk a bit about the Nintendo 3DS and more specifically how i missed it in its prime. This is a long winded post once again, but this time i’m only a little sorry about that.

Growing up i was exposed to video games starting at a pretty young age, like young enough that i had no interest in them (i still had a pacifier in my mouth). My father would spend a lot of his free time playing playstation games, teaching our neighbors, family, and his friends to play Madden so he could have someone to play against. Eventually, my interest grew and i’d later watch him play games like Splinter Cell or Silent Hill (he still lived for Madden and NBA 2K but even then, i truly could not care less about those). My uncle was the world’s biggest Resident Evil fan so i heard about that a bunch too. As time went on, my interest in games was noticed, we got more consoles, and i played a lot of hand-me-down whatever games that my parents came home with. I remember having a Gameboy of some sort (idk which, probably a Color) that was sadly tossed aside, likely due to the lack of games we had. On Xbox i played a lot of Fuzion Frenzy with my sister, neighbors, and cousins when they came over. The first game i played online was some racing game set in Paris, I remember talking to whoever on the other end who absolutely recognized that I was a child and wasn’t so interested in conversation but i still thought it was the coolest thing, playing a game with a stranger somewhere else in the world. I Spent time alone playing Guitar Hero, as a family we played Rockband and DJ hero. My father’s good friend was immediately really good at DJ hero so he named him DJ Wonder-Bread (yes, this was a joke about him being white). I also spent a countless amount of time playing The Sims 2, Bustin’ Out, and Urbz. All of our games were shared between my sister and i or were my fathers and off limits. That is until Christmas 2006.

This was the year my sister and i got our very own Nintendo DS lites. Both were white so there was no fighting over the color differences. We got a few multiplayer games and maybe a Mario game. To be honest I don’t really remember which games we got but it still felt really cool to have our own system even if the games were shared. I spent a lot of time unsuccessfully trying to connect with far away strangers in Pictochat. Occasionally, me, my sister, and nearest neighbor(s) would coordinate and all join sometime after dinner and send scribbled nonsense back and forth. February 2007 I got Animal Crossing Wild World for my birthday and everything changed. I essentially used my DS for nothing else, i stayed up way past my bedtime playing, making in game friends, decorating my house, listening to the music, and pretending i knew what Redd’s deal was. A couple friends from school also had Wild World. At sleepovers we traded fruit, asked older brothers to look up tricks and cheats online, and just run around each other’s towns. We traded and borrowed games for the night that we didn’t own ourselves (this is how i got to play Nintendogs). The DS was easily my favorite game console. I still have this original DS that i got all the way back then and have picked it up periodically over the years.

Given my love for the DS, i often wonder how i managed to miss getting the Nintendo 3DS. In hindsight i know i was unaware of it at release. I actually wasn’t aware of its existence until i heard there was a new Animal Crossing game out, that wasn’t compatible with the DS that i already owned. Old friends that i used to play Wild World with were posting about their new game Animal Crossing: New Leaf and i wanted so badly to be able to play. At this point i wasn’t able to purchase anything so expensive on my own and my parents having just divorced a few years prior they also weren’t in any position to buy me one either. Over time my yearning for the game passed, mostly since no one around me was really talking about it anyways.

I have memory from 2016 or so of my at the time boyfriend owning a red OG 3DS, he spent time playing games like a Pokémon and Monster Hunter, but it never occurred to me to play any games i liked on it. I’m not even sure when he acquired it, we would have been together when ACNL came out. Since this was all still pre-switch and pre-3DS massacre, i will always wonder how i managed to miss the 3DS during its prime. All of the right interests were there from the start, i even lived with one for who knows how many years. I didn’t get my first Switch until 2019, so even counting the time from 2016-2019 this is a good portion of time i still could have had during it’s lifetime.

It’s no secret that the 3DS is heading rapidly towards its eternal grave, only to be kept alive by dedicated fans via well known secrets i won’t mention here. I bought my own N2DS XL in March 2021. Probably not even a month later i realized i made a mistake. Prior to making this purchase, I played briefly on the OG 3DS and made the call that it was 1. too small and hurt my hands, and 2. the stereoscopic screen gave me a headache. Given these conclusions, you’d think this was the perfect purchase right? Wrong! I regretted not having the option to turn on the 3D effect. So, I made my second purchase and bought a N3DS XL.

Finally, i was able to play ACNL comfortably (this was the first game i purchased after i got the 2DS). The funny thing here is, i didn’t play Animal Crossing. I got distracted by literally everything else i’d missed out on all those years. I began sending swapdoodles with a group of friends and let me tell you, little me, the one that was dreaming of people showing up in Pictochat couldn’t have been more fulfilled. This was the type of connection with others i’d dreamed of having with my DS. I learned about the dead Mii Plaza and StreetPass. Apparently stranger’s Miis could show up if you passed someone else with a 3DS! After learning of all these ending services (only to get worse as time went on, soon they’re killing internet connection or something), i became nostalgic for something i never had. Sure, i got to experience some things but nothing how i imagine its peak era was. I never got to experience the excitement of the little green light (despite traveling through several packed airports), and orange lights were rare by time i was around. Online support ends April 8th, two days before i’d be able to experience a street pass and i’m a bit sad i’ll never get to know what it’s like.

Once i got the N3DS XL, i did added some spice as the kids call it, (here’s where i’ll thank the friend that takes all credit), and gained access to any themes or games i could possibly want. In the long run, especially with official support being cut off, this has been great but still falls short in the area of 3DS during its prime era. Online play has been limited for me. Aside from Swapdoodle, I only got to experience Fantasy Life (though, only in game updates about what your friend is doing), and Animal Crossing NL (and this wasn’t even until recently). Last week I realized that with online support being shut down soon, I’ll never have the opportunity to trade fruit for trees again. So, i forced (not really) my boyfriend to open his town gates so i could steal fruit. Today when I opened the game not only were all my trees fully grown, I also got notice from Isabelle that i’d been mayor for 3 years. Comical since I’m still living in a tent, have one bridge in town, and just took my ID photo last week. For some reason I didn’t play much, could’ve been a lasting burn out from ACNH, could be lack of attention span, or if i’m being honest, the lack of social aspect. No one was playing ACNL the last 3 years, and these games are fun with others.

Another game i wish i got to experience during a more relevant time is Badge Arcade. If you’re unfamiliar, it’s this wholesome, wonderful place run by a pink rabbit who wants nothing more than to make your 3DS look cool with badges (and a dollar or 2). I was able to collect a few with free plays and reminders from an enthusiastic friend to check daily. I can’t imagine what it would’ve been like to buy a new theme, boot up the Badge Arcade to find matching badges and try my luck at getting to ones i wanted. I know i can now have any theme i can imagine and more but something about this having to purchase what was available to match everything seems like it could’ve been a cozy time.

Even now after everything i don’t spend enough time with my 3DS. In some sort of pathetic defence, it’s been kinda hard to pick up anything these days that isn’t multiplayer, but still wish that motivation was there. I am grateful i have my 3DS, and grateful i got to connect friends as well. The switch following the 3DS in some way, even with my own retroactive perspective, feels a bit like a let down. There are no themes, there’s no home screen music, there’s no customization, badge arcade, or swapdoodle equivalent. There’s simply games and friends center. Obviously there were plenty of improvements made but seemingly at the cost of charm. Even though i didn’t experience it during the most ideal years, there’s a lot that future successors could learn from the era of 3DS. I’ll always have to wonder what the missed time could have been, and with the final nail being hammered into the coffin that is official 3DS support, i say rest well, hopefully we’ll see you again. Also thanks for being so easily preservable so that you’re not actually dead. Party on pal

Once again i’ve written too much,

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