Here’s what’s coming to a handheld near you
2018 ended up being a better year for the Nintendo 3DS than I expected. In addition to seeing some strong ports of older games like Captain Toad and Luigi’s Mansion, it got an incredible compilation of microgames in the form of WarioWare Gold, showed there was still a place for action gaming with Dillon’s Dead Heat Breakers, and gave us the last, great Virtual Console title on the system in Pokémon Crystal. Each one of those titles provided hours of fun to anyone willing to give the handheld the time of day. 2019 looks like it’ll continue that trend.
As we enter year eight for the 3DS, a small but proven field of developers and publishers are keeping the device alive with new games and ports. Here is a look at the games we know are coming this year, as well as one that hasn’t been 100% confirmed for western release just yet.
- Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story + Bowser Jr.’s Journey
- NA Release Date: January 11, 2019
Nintendo is kicking off 2019 with one of the best RPGs it has ever made. Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story is arguably the finest RPG to appear on the Nintendo DS, a system known for its collection of RPGs that are arguably the finest. This port brings with it new –though not necessarily better — graphics to the micro/macro adventure while also adding Bowser Jr.’s Journey, a mode similar to that of Bowser’s Minions from the 3DS revision of Superstar Saga. With this release, the only game in the Mario & Luigi series not to see a port the 3DS will be Partners in Time.
- Etrian Odyssey Nexus
- NA Release Date: February 5, 2019
Like a few games on this list, Etrian Odyssey Nexus was named when I put together this post for 2018. Then known as Etrian Odyssey X, Nexus is a summation of five main games in the franchise. It includes 19 different player classes, loads of customization options, and several labyrinths to explore. As a franchise born on dual-screen devices, it’ll be interesting to see if Etrian will continue in a single-screen world. If this game is the end, it’s had a great ride and looks like it’s going out on a high note.
- Yo-kai Watch 3
- NA Release date: February 8, 2019
Three years after it saw release in Japan, the third installment of the Yo-kai Watch series is finally heading to North America with one big change: where the game released in Japan with three versions, players in North American will be able to experience all of its content in a single package. Yo-kai Watch 3 takes place in a world inspired by our side of the ocean, with ‘Merican specific Yo-kai and a new battle system I’ve been dying to try out since 2016. If you still have your copy of Yo-kai Watch 2 or Yo-kai Watch Blasters, you can link up with the game to receive special Yo-kai.
- Shakedown Hawaii
- NA Release Date: Q1, 2019
Brian Provinciano has adopted an “it’ll be done when it’s done” approach to announcing a release date for the follow-up to Retro City Rampage, and it looks like Shakedown Hawaii is very nearly complete. The top-down, open-world, 16-bit action game is set to release in the first quarter of 2019 and looks to be a step up from RCR in more ways than just the graphics. The satirical storyline, featuring three protagonists trying to strike it rich with seedy business practices, is exactly the type of story I need in 2019 after reading all the shit companies like Amazon and Facebook pulled in 2018.
- Shovel Knight: King of Cards
- NA Release Date: April 9, 2019
King of Cards, the final expansion for 2014’s Shovel Knight, has been a long time coming and, based on the many previews of it out in the wild, it’ll be a fine way to wrap up what is arguably the greatest Kickstarter game ever. As Jonathan Holmes put it last year:
If you have a collector’s itch, a taste for gambling, or an eye for strategy board games, you’re going to find a lot to love here. It already appears that in terms of sheer content, King of Cards may be the largest Shovel Knight campaign yet, so if you thought the game’s best days had come and gone, it’s time to think again.
- Kirby’s Extra Epic Yarn
- NA Release Date: TBA 2019
It’s clear Nintendo’s strategy for keeping the 3DS alive is ransacking its collection of old games and giving them a makeover for the handheld. It did it last year with Luigi’s Mansion and Captain Toad, and it’s doing it again in 2019 with a Kirby classic. Kirby’s Extra Epic Yarn takes the 2011 Wii original and adds new transformations and new mini-games starring King Dedede and Meta Knight. I am a massive fan of this game — I personally think it’s better than Yoshi’s arts-and-crafts outing — and can’t wait to give it a go again in 2019.
- Silver Falls: 3 Down Stars
- NA Release Date: Early 2019
I wrote about Silver Falls: 3 Down Stars last year because I thought it was pretty brazen for an indie developer to make a New Nintendo 3DS/2DS exclusive in 2018 and it’s just as ridiculous a prospect in 2019. Yet, it’s still coming. After missing its 2018 release window, 3 Down Stars has been pushed to “early 2019.” The atmospheric horror game had a small demo published on mobile to give an idea of what the finished title will be like, and while it wasn’t anything astounding in the gameplay department, it certainly was able to send a chill or two down my spine. Here’s to hoping the end product is worth picking up.
- Persona Q2
- NA Release Date: Unconfirmed
Persona Q2 just might be the last 3DS game to see release in North America. The title launched in Japan last month where it sold almost 80,000 copies in its first week, easily making it one of the best-selling 3DS games of the year. It has not been confirmed for a western release yet but I can’t imagine a game with the word “Persona” in the title not making it to North America. Atlus has already cemented itself as the finest third-party supporter of the 3DS and getting this game into our hands would be the best way to send the device off with a bang.
Those games listed above are arguably the most well-known, but there are still chances of surprise 3DS releases in 2019. There is apparently a new Layton game in development and Nintendo can always decide to localize Yo-kai Watch Blasters 2 while we wait for the delayed Yo-kai Watch 4 to make its debut. It could also shock everyone with a Nintendo Direct revealing there are more 3DS ports on the way (fingers crossed for Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door). Either way, the games listed above are perfect examples of why, even in 2019, it’s still too soon to abandon your 3DS in favor of the Switch.