Rescuing the Best of 3DS
Let's get more 3DS on Switch
Nintendo’s current console has been a haven for ports, which has been a point of division among players. On one hand, it sure would be nice to get a lot more original releases from Nintendo themselves, but on the other hand, it’s such a fun system to play on that it’s nice to have these older games available on it.
As the Switch (presumably) begins to near the end of its lifecycle, it stands to reason that many new games will be switching (pun very much intended) development to whatever Nintendo’s next platform is going to be, but with the enormous install base, it would be foolish to abandon the platform entirely, especially if the new console is backward compatible. Naturally, the best way to keep ”new” content coming would be to dive even deeper into ports, especially ones that the Switch’s audience may not have played before.
In the latest Nintendo Direct, an HD port of Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon was announced to be coming to Switch in 2024. While not exactly the first 3DS game to see an upgraded port to Switch, it did open the door a bit wider for a potential pool for ports. The 3DS library has so many great games that a lot of players passed on because they were exclusive to a handheld. The next couple of years would make for an excellent opportunity to finally get those games playable on the big screen in glorious HD.
The obvious place to start would be with the Mario games. Super Mario 3D World did great on Switch, but Super Mario 3D Land is also a pretty fantastic game with its own completely unique set of levels and gimmicks. Not only would it benefit from the visual upgrade, but they could toss in 3D World’s multiplayer to add a degree of chaos.
It would also be a great opportunity to port the first two New Super Mario Bros. games. Now, Super Mario Bros. Wonder is coming and it’s a much needed departure from the New series, but as much ire as those games get, the original one on DS is a pretty fantastic game. So porting the first two in some sort of double pack would be great, especially adding multiplayer into the mix. Not just the regular co-op either!
New Super Mario Bros. had an incredibly fun vs mode where two players would square off in infinitely looping stages to see who could collect a set number of stars first. But it wasn't just a race. Players could stomp on one another to knock stars out of their inventory, so a pair of players with even skill levels could turn into some really exciting matches.
More Adventures of Link
Besides Mario, there were also a pretty great set of Zelda games exclusive to the platform. Ocarina of Time 3D and Majora’s Mask 3D were some fairly impressive remakes of the Nintendo 64 classics. They don’t look like full on modern remakes, but they are a massive improvement over the blocky N64 originals in terms of visuals. There were also a number of quality of life improvements that make them more payable than ever. Well, except Majora’s Mask that actually made a few aspects worse, like Deku Scrub jumping and Zora swimming. Porting them to Switch would be a great opportunity to fix those issues and finally let people play these enhanced versions on their televisions.
As for original entries, A Link Between Worlds was an excellent followup to the Super NES classic A Link to the Past. A lot of its puzzle elements tended to leverage the 3DS’s 3D screen, but the game is perfectly playable without that effect. It’s really a brilliant little game that suffers from an overly simplistic visual design. Porting it to Switch would be a great opportunity to add a little extra flair to one of the better games in the 2D Zelda series.
Finally, there’s Tri-Force Heroes. This game is one of the lowest selling games in the entire Zelda franchise, which is a shame because there’s a lot of fun to be had in it. It’s multiplayer based like Four Swords, but it’s also got this weird “fashion" aspect where Link has to dress up in different outfits to augment his abilities. Sort of like the various armor effects in Breath of the Wild, except much more glamorous, if that makes sense.
Its multiplayer nature makes for great local play, which the Switch is perfect for. I imagine there’s a decent way to make it work with single screen play, but an online mode would be perfect.
Silver Box Superstars
Back in the NES days, Nintendo launched a trio of games that basically changed the way games were made at the time. One was The Legend of Zelda, and the other two were Metroid and Kid Icarus. These two had a lot in common back when they originally released, including some development team crossover, silver boxes, and Kid Icarus even had Metroids in it. Their trajectory continued when it came to its sequels, with Metroid II: Return of Samus and Kid Icarus: Of Myths and Monsters appearing on the Game Boy, evolving the basic formulas set in their NES originals. However, when it came time for the Super NES, Metroid’s installment wound up being one of the most influential games ever made, while Kid Icarus never got a 16-bit installment at all.
That all changed when the 3DS came around though, as Metoroid and Kid Icarus each saw fantastic new entries in their respective series, and it’s way past time we’ve been able to play them on our TVs.
Metroid: Samus Returns is an excellent remake of Metroid II that basically laid the groundwork for Metroid Dread. An HD port of this game would be spectacular, especially with the Switch’s extra buttons making the controls easier than they were on the 3DS. It’s also a pretty great looking game as it is, so the visuals wouldn’t exactly need a ton of sprucing up.
Of course, the elephant in the room is that OTHER Metroid 3DS game. The one nobody likes to talk about. Federation Force.
One of the most tone-deaf announcements in Nintendo’s history, Metroid Prime: Federation Force is a strange game. It doesn't really play like a Metroid game, nor does it look like one. It’s got this goofy chibi-style art direction that um… doesn't really work.
Regardless, underneath it all there's a pretty solid multiplayer game. It’s boring as heck to try to play solo, but get some friends involved? Good times will ensue. The Switch is way more well equipped for this kind of game, and its bonus multiplayer game Blast Ball would be pretty swell to play with dual analog controls for a change!
As for Kid Icarus, that franchise’s third installment is easily one of the best games ever made for the 3DS and one of Nintendo's most ambitious ever in terms of production value. It’s a phenomenal game that’s hindered only by the system it was created for. The control scheme is completely insane, forcing the original game to actually ship with a stand so players could actually play the thing without their wrists falling off. Give its controls an overhaul and the visuals a nice HD coat of paint and there’s every possibility Uprising could be every inch the success it deserves to be.
The Weird Stuff
Of course the big names weren’t the only things that defined the 3DS. Just as much was the weird stuff. Take Chibi-Robo, for example. Chibi-Robo hasn’t been the most successful franchise Nintendo has ever made, but it’s earned its fans for its charm and unconventional gameplay. While I personally think the series would be best served with an HD remake of the original GameCube game, Chibi-Robo Zip Lash for 3DS is positively begging for the remake treatment. This game was so almost good it hurt to play, but a few small but VERY important things held it back, most significantly its level structure that actually relied on luck to even be able to move on to a new stage. At the end of every level, you’d spin a wheel that chose which level you were going to play next. This could very well land on stages you already played, and the only way to progress was to keep playing stages until you lucked into playing a new one. This is one of the most absurd level progression structures I’ve ever encountered, and it largely ruined an otherwise fun game. Fix that up and who knows? Maybe Chibi-robo could get the fans it deserves?
On a similar note, Hey! Pikmin is a game that exists. It’s a pretty neat side-scrolling take on the Pikmin formula, but it got positively slaughtered in the reviews thanks to its deviations from the traditional Pikmin style. But now that they’ve literally put every other Pikmin game on the Switch, it just seems weird to not have this one there too.
Meanwhile, the first two PilotWings games are available on the Switch, but its third entry isn’t, and it’s way past time to change that. Pilotwings Resort is a strange almost Wii Sports spinoff taking place on Wuhu Island from Wii Sports Resort, but make no mistake, this is absolutely a Pilotwings game. Maybe incorporate that crazy in-depth Mii Maker from Miitopia a few years back and Pilotwings Resort could gain a whole new life.
The original Boxboy games, Sakura Samurai, Pushmo, HarmoKnight, Rhythm Heaven, Dillon’s Rolling Western, the 3DS’s library is incredibly expansive, and positively ripe with opportunities for any number of hidden gems to become the next bonafide hit.
With much of Nintendo’s resources likely occupied with new titles for whatever the Switch’s successor is going to be, porting these old classics is a great way to keep players engaged in their existing hardware. Especially considering the Wii U and 3DS eShops are closed. Give players a new way to try these games out!
What 3DS games would you like to see on Switch?