Few companies succeed where Nintendo has triumphed in the handheld video game market, and the Nintendo 3DS remains a testament to the company’s knack for making an excellent handheld experience. The 3DS is their current generation of handheld hardware with a library of marvelous titles, but 2015 has actually been one of their quietest years. All the excitement and joy was there, but not a lot of it seemed to make a lasting impression on the gaming community.
It wasn’t a ground-breaking year, but the system still had its moments of grandeur, however silent they may have been. From action to adventure to puzzles to interior decorating, the most hardcore of genres. Let’s see just what happened to the hearty little system this year, in all its timid greatness…
Zelda and Monster Hunter Gave Us The Utmost Life
2015 started out with a bang as January was hype month, all leading up to February when The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D and Monster Hunter 4U would release simultaneously. Suffice it to say, the results were wonderful, the games were justly showered with praise. Majora’s Mask brought another beautiful rendition of the Nintendo 64 classic, complete with all its doom and gloom, continuing in the tradition of giving players thrills and chills all throughout the journey. Seriously, that game can be terrifying, and the new graphics keep it that way, but prettier.
Monster Hunter 4U made its own waves as being what many have regarded as the best Monster Hunter game to date. It’s already uncommon to see a franchise only improve with every entry, rather than degrade, so this has been a feat in itself. With the return of tons of customization, the game’s amazing and thoroughly challenging battles, more giant beasts, more weapons, and fully integrated online play on the 3DS, it’s hard not to love it.
Finally, A Game About Boxes
March brought Codename: S.T.E.A.M. along, and the gaming world was generally underwhelmed. Intelligent Systems has made phenomenal titles for decades now, including some of the best Nintendo has ever published, and yet this title didn’t quite have any steam to get its boat to sea, primarily because of one glaring issue: it bored many players. As a 3-D turn based strategy game, the fact that enemy turns took about a thousand years to watch every time (I may be exaggerating) turned off many players. Nintendo eventually released a patch to fix this, but it has still yet to make a very big impression.
Box Boy!, however, was the game about boxes that nobody knew the world needed. HAL Laboratories put their game-making skills to the test once again for another strange twist on the 2-D platformer genre by sort of throwing a Tetris feeling into the mix. The result was another excellent game on the eShop with puzzles to keep your mushy, wonderful brain working all through your lovely day. Through its masterful blend of simplicity with complexity, Box Boy! made it ways into many people’s hearts as one of the best games about boxes.
Atlus Had No Time To Chill With Their Friends
I worry for you, Atlus. This summer, you guys released about three games one after another: Etrian Mystery Dungeon, Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor 2 – Break Record, and Etrian Odyssey Untold 2: The Fafnir Knight. I’m sure your friends were wondering why you rejected all of their requests to take you shopping or take you for a day at the beach. No piña coladas for you, just shots of espresso while you guys wrapped everything up.
Fortunately, each of the three games were all well-received, although they were much more popular in Japan than anywhere else. Nevertheless, copies found homes, and good times were had, as players enjoyed these sequels and spin-offs to their favorite Atlus JRPGs.
Meanwhile, in a collaboration with one of the most popular mobile games of recent, Puzzles & Dragons Z + Super Mario Bros. Edition was released. The Z half of the bundle gave the standard but great Puzzles and Dragons formula with another ridiculously-haired protagonist in a wacky by-the-numbers JRPG plot, but the Super Mario Bros. portion brought the excellent puzzle gameplay with the simplicity of the Mushroom Kingdom.
The Cuteness Train Went Full Speed and Cut the Breaks
There are two very strict criteria that must be met in order to become a happy home designer:
- You must be happy.
- You must design homes.
Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer gave the gaming world all the necessary tools to become the interior decorators we were all meant to be. It may not have been enough to many, as it was just one portion of what made the standard main entry Animal Crossing games fantastic, but it brought joy in spades anyway. Don’t lie to me and tell me you haven’t wanted to design little homes for anthropomorphic, and slightly judgmental, animals all your life.
The cuteness didn’t stop there. Nintendo brought Chibi-Robo! Zip Lash to stores and jammed it into our hearts. Seriously, Chibi-Robo has to be up there with Wall-E and BB-8 for being the most painfully adorable robots. Fortunately, the game was also great, with the “zip lash” mechanics offering a nice twist on the general 2.5-D platforming, giving Chibi-Robo an adventure unlike any of the previous titles, but a great one nonetheless.
Link Reunited Destiny’s Child
After a handful of years working solo, Link decided to try teaming up with other Links once again. He tried it adventuring with one other Link before, and he got over it. He adventured with three other Links, and he just couldn’t feel like the Beyoncé. Naturally, he had to team up with two other Links so that they could be the Kelly and Michelle, and he could finally be the Queen Bey he was always meant to be, thanks to The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes.
Using the engine of the incredible A Link Between Worlds, Nintendo brought the multiplayer aspect back to the Legend of Zelda games with Tri Force Heroes, and the result was an excellent co-operative experience augmented by the fact that you can dress up Link in various outfits for added abilities. As colorful as it was frantic, Tri Force Heroes served as another example of excellence through experimentation.
Yo-Kai Watch and Pokémon Super Mystery Dungeon topped 2015 off, each receiving great praise. Yo-Kai Watch was commonly compared to regular Pokémon games, although its focus on exploration gave it all a more immersive single-player experience, showing a new perspective on the monster-capture genre. Pokémon Super Mystery Dungeon, unfortunately, felt a bit plagued by the problems with every previous entry in that it can feel too repetitive after a while. Regardless, though, many have agreed that the inclusion of every single Pokémon gives a gargantuan amount of customization and potential strategies to keep things exciting.
It could be said that 2015 was the year the Nintendo 3DS played it safe, and it worked out fine in the end. Looking back on the year, there were just enough moments of adventure and just enough moments of adorableness to the point of making you cry, but that seemed to be enough. Much of Nintendo’s focus this year seemed to be on making the push for the Nintendo Wii U’s last couple of years in the game, but they never ignored the little guy, the console system’s handheld cousin, the 3DS. Nintendo’s 2015 had trouble that delved deeper and more personally than any other year, though.
There’s no knowing what the future holds for Nintendo, but this year is an indication that the loss of a leader doesn’t mean the loss of a mission nor a loss of hope. Despite the death of President and CEO of Nintendo Satoru Iwata, the company kept on going, doing their best to make him proud and continuing in his wishes to bring those joyful video game experiences to the world. In that sense, 2015 was another success for the Nintendo 3DS.