Nintendo has a great problem; they have two successful consoles that require their support. At this point everyone is very aware that the Nintendo Switch is a huge success. It’s still difficult to find on store shelves and it has an impressive software lineup. The Nintendo 3DS family of systems, as it is so lovingly referred to by Nintendo Corporate, has an outrageous install base of more than 66 million units with 7 million coming in 2016 alone. Seriously, Nintendo sold 7 million 3DS systems in 2016. They recently released the New 2DS XL along with a few New 3DS XL systems that have a fresh coat of paint. One of which is Metroid themed.
Nintendo has gone all-in on the marketing push to make Metroid: Samus Returns a success. The aforementioned Metroid-themed New 3DS XL, a new set of Metroid amiibo and a deluxe edition of the game round out the product line for Metroid: Samus Returns. Metroid is a beloved video game franchise that dates back to the 1980’s. You can easily make a case for it being the best space-themed video game franchise of all time. Fans have been clamoring for a real installment for years (Metroid Prime: Federation Force and Metroid: Other M do not count and I’m 98% sure they don’t even exist). And what has Nintendo done? They have released the first new Metroid game in over a decade on its aging 3DS platform. Ugh. Nintendo has said they plan to support the 3DS family of systems (they have to be tired of typing that, right?) through 2018, and possibly beyond. This isn’t helping.
It feels like they are delaying the inevitable.
Look, we’ve been here before. Nintendo had a huge success on their hands with the Gameboy Advance (RIP). It was a great system with a quality software lineup. Then Nintendo released the Nintendo DS in 2004 and it was all over for the GBA. Despite Nintendo insisting that the DS would act as a “third pillar” alongside the GBA and Gamecube, the writing was already on the wall. The DS was an instant success and the GBA withered and died. They were done with it.
It has become clear though that this is a new Nintendo. A very different Nintendo from 10+ years ago. They’re taking chances. They’re playing it fast and loose. They’re refusing to let the Nintendo 3DS family of systems (seriously, I hope that is the last time I ever have to type that) suffer the same fate as the GBA. But why? We all know the Switch will eventually become the only Nintendo console on the market. Why release Metroid for it?
The Nintendo Switch is nothing short of groundbreaking. People love it. We all know what it does; Nintendo has done a brilliant job of marketing its new console. And yet here we are, getting a new installment to a beloved franchise on the old hardware. The 3DS will eventually be phased out; but old habits die hard. It would behoove Nintendo to put all of their efforts into developing games for the Switch and letting the Nintendo 3DS family of systems (seriously, I’m done) ride out into the sunset. Or better yet, taking it out back and shooting it. Just put it down! It has served its purpose and now there is a new sheriff in town.
Not to mention that Nintendo has also decided to develop games for smartphones. So if you’re keeping track, that is 3 portable platforms that Nintendo are currently developing for. Uhh…what? Or two portable platforms and one home console that you happen to be able to play on the go. However you want to word it.
The 3DS has had an amazing run, but it’s time to pass the torch to the Nintendo Switch. The Switch is the future. No one has said “I love that Nintendo decided to release the first new Metroid game in a decade on the 3DS instead of the Switch.” And, to be honest, it probably will come out for the Switch in 3 years; with a shiny HD update and a new amiibo. And I’ll buy it. Again. Because I can’t help myself. And Nintendo knows that. And that is why the 3DS is going to hang around for as long as it possibly can.