I Bought a 3DS the Year Nintendo Discontinued It and Suffered the Consequences

There really is no charger in this box, huh?

Quarantine brain has made me do a lot of stupid things with my money over the past eight months. From buying a $2000 guitar based on The Last of Us (which I absolutely do not regret) to doing some shopping for my yorkie-chihuahua and buying her an N7 hoodie she will promptly tear off her body when she wears it later this month. But near the top of the list of stupid things I did this year was spending an inordinate amount of money on a Nintendo 3DS in 2020, the year Nintendo discontinued the thing.

The reasoning for this was two-fold:

  1. I have depression.
  2. I’m on a bit of a Pokemon kick after the recent Sword and Shield DLC “The Crown Tundra.”

In general, Pokemon is pretty much the only franchise Nintendo has that holds my attention. No, I don’t get into competitive battling. No, I don’t care about filling up the Pokedex by catching each and every one of the nearly 900 monsters. I just like existing in that world, especially when we see glimpses into how it works beyond the scope of the world’s favorite competitive sport.

But with Sword and Shield (maybe?) done for the time being, I’ve been thinking back on some of the games I never got around to finishing. Specifically: White 2, Alpha Sapphire, Moon, and Ultra Moon. You see, there was a solid seven year period where Pokemon just stopped doing it for me. I was a little older and getting more into story-driven games, and the simplicity of Pokemon had finally become off-putting to me. Plus, I wasn’t enamored with the idea of the series’ standard “getting the eight badges and fighting the evil organization” again and again and again. But when Detective Pikachu (the game, not the movie) came out and spotlighted that universe in a way the mainline games didn’t, it drew me back in. Pokemon Let’s Go, Pikachu followed later that year, and in 2019 the Detective Pikachu movie was more exciting to me than my college graduation a week prior. Then Sword and Shield came out and it was one of my favorite games of last year

So now, I’m here with all this reinvigorated love for Pokemon and realizing I should go back and finish all those games I never saw through to the end. The trouble was, I don’t own a 3DS. In the past, I’ve either borrowed systems from friends or bought then promptly sold them if I needed to play something on Nintendo’s handheld. This usually was whenever a Pokemon game was coming out (but as we established I kinda stopped finishing them at some point), because I just never had much use for the thing myself. I owned two 3DS systems over the ten years Nintendo supported it, but when you’re only actively paying attention to one franchise that regularly comes to the handheld, what’s the need of keeping one around? To keep myself from selling a new 3DS and repeating this cycle again next time I want to revisit various Pokemon games, I knew I had to buy one that I would want to keep, even if I wasn’t using it. So, uh, I may have spent a nice chunk of change on the Pikachu Yellow Edition system that was released back in 2017.

And y’all, it’s gorgeous.

I’m on record as saying the original 3DS feels like a toy, especially compared to other handheld devices like the PlayStation Vita, and certainly the Nintendo Switch, but I think all that time using the original model couldn’t have prepared me for how much better the New 3DS XL would feel. It feels like a premium device, even if it’s not the relative powerhouse of either of those other systems.

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I was excited to get back to some old Pokemon journeys and finally see them through….until I remembered Nintendo decided to stop including the system’s charger in the box. This 3DS XL was brand new. So when I opened it up and realized there was no charger to be found, I was confused, until I remembered the tomfoolery that was Nintendo’s last chance to nickel-and-dime parents across the world as they realized they had to pay extra money to use the device they just fucking purchased. All under the guise that “people who are buying the 3DS XL probably already own a 3DS and don’t need the charger.”

In any other year, this would have been a mild inconvenience and I would’ve just driven to my local Wal-Mart or GameStop to pick up a charger. However, since this is 2020, the year in which Nintendo discontinued the 3DS, that is no longer possible. I live in a rural area where my shopping options are very few. Once in a blue moon, that helps me. This time, there were only two options to buy video game products, and they are both corporate, which means their stock is almost entirely determined by what Nintendo supplies. So not only are there no 3DS games at my Wal-Mart, there’s not even a place on the shelves for compatible accessories.

I have ordered one online. I will just have to stare at my pretty Pikachu Yellow Edition New Nintendo 3DS XL until it arrives.

My suffering and Nintendo’s calculated negligence aside, I think the thing that surprised me most about this whole experience is just how fast it feels like the 3DS has disappeared from the hearts and minds of the public. Sure, in the echo chamber of the online video game space we still talk about it a fair bit. There’s always someone ready to tell you about how it has one of the best libraries in handheld history. But Nintendo discontinued the thing a month and a half ago, and it’s already impossible to find at corporate retail. If I hadn’t snagged one of these 3DS XLs now, it would likely have become even more costly in just a few short months or years. I’ve seen plenty of consoles and handhelds come and go from my home over the years, but looking at this Pikachu emblazoned device on my shelf has me realizing just how quickly the means we have to access old games can vanish. I’ve got plenty of Pokemon games I can’t replay anymore because I don’t own anything that plays a Game Boy Advance game. 

I think I’m gonna start holding onto these things longer than I used to. Until the industry at large gets its preservation priorities in order. I don’t know how many Pokemon games I’ll actually get around to finishing, but I at least like feeling secure in knowing that I can should I choose to.