Nintendo discontinued its 3DS handheld after almost a decade

Nintendo 3DS handheld discontinued after about 76 million sales since 2011.

A notice on Nintendo’s site says “manufacturing of the Nintendo 3DS family of systems has ended”.

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The 3DS Handheld had the capability to trick the human eye into seeing 3D images like those in some cinema screenings – but without special glasses.

Nevertheless, its launch gained a lukewarm reception and it only gained popularity later.

The console’s discontinuation has long been expected. In 2019, Nintendo said it is not further planning to make any new first-party games for the system.

It means the original Nintendo DS retains the title of being the bestselling mobile console. And the Nintendo Switch – a hybrid handheld-and-home machine – is the current focus of Nintendo’s efforts.

GLASSES-FREE 3D

The unique selling point of the 3DS was its stereoscopic 3D effect coming from the screen itself, turned on with a simple slider.

The optical illusion only works when the screen is in a very specific spot in front of the face – but exactly where gamers tend to hold handheld consoles, reports BBC.

It was impossible to showcase on video or photo but impressed many who tried it.

In its 2011 review, game site IGN wrote: “Once you’re in the 3D sweet spot… the 3DS looks amazing; graphics look clean, characters and objects are sharp, and ghosting effects are limited, creating a rich, immersive gameplay experience unlike anything we’ve seen on a handheld before.”

The console was packed with experimental features – augmented reality games, dual 3D cameras, and the capability to identify nearby consoles while in low-power standby, called “Streetpass” – which permitted players to connect with strangers without exchanging any information.

MAKING THE SWITCH

The 3DS quickly came into its own, with dedicated Mario titles and new Pokemon games in addition to its growing back catalogue.
It was revamped and relaunched several times – on top of the “XL” models, the “New 3DS” had increased horsepower, while the 2DS dropped the standout 3D feature entirely for those who saw it as a gimmick.

By June this year, the whole system family had sold around 76 million units, Nintendo says – far outclassing its home console of the same era, the WiiU, which sold less than 14 million.

But the modern Nintendo Switch, released three years back, has already sold over 60 million units, and can be played as a handheld.

While Nintendo primarily insisted it was not a “replacement” for the 3DS, denying support and sales meant the venerable handheld’s time was limited. In the year to March this year, only 69,000 3DS consoles were sold.

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