It’s hard to believe that it’s been two years since the North American release of the 3DS. I could go on and retouch on the history of the device, the initial drought of games, the price drop, etc., but that’s all be covered before.

What I would like to focus on is Year 1 to Year 2, the changes that have come with the 3DS, and my overall thoughts on the system.

Everyone has their own ideas and opinions on how one of their favorite companies should be run. Whether it’s games released, critiques on decisions made, or just an overall attitude. It’s part of being a fan (or fanboy). For me, the 3DS represents everything I love about Nintendo the company. There’s a real sense of fun around the system that I felt the Wii was lacking. The Wii’s attitude was to tell you have much fun you are having and the numerous smiles it will put on your face. You can’t tell someone how to be happy. You have to find ways to make it happen.

The 3DS focuses on a few things that create those happy smiles: The resurrection of beloved titles that have been dormant for 10-20 years. Kid Icarus: Uprising, Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon, and Disney’s Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion are prime examples of doing just that.

I’m also continually impressed by the content and presentation of the third-party games. While third party releases may not be the strong suit on the last few consoles, the portable selection is getting titles that haven’t graced a Nintendo system in a long time. Sequels to Castlevania, Resident Evil and Kingdom Hearts have been impressive, featuring excellent use of 3D, and providing titles that feel up to the level of console experience (Resident Evil: Revelations actually IS making that jump).

I also get a feeling that they system is still evolving. Outside of a few social channels with limited interaction and movie services on the Wii, the chance to expand there stopped early. Swapnote is not the end-all solution for communicating, but there have been improvements throughout its lifespan, not to mention that we still get new stationery to use. Even the camera got an upgrade to shoot video. There’s also the matter of the upcoming Flipnote Studio 3D with its continued sharing community, and the addition of Miiverse, taken from the Wii U. I don’t feel like the 3DS has hit a glass ceiling on its potential for growth and change, especially still being such a “young” system.

What I would like to see, however, is continued interest in the AR games, as the six cards that came with the system don’t seem to be doing much now, and outside of Kid Icarus, with its hard to find cars, and a small push from Kingdom Hearts, not much else has been done.

For that matter, what’s happening with the Circle Pad Pro? Luigi’s Mansion really could have benefited from that, and they’ve never hinted at an upgrade for the 3DS XL.

eShop is still doing okay overall. There’s a small bit of shovelware that has crept onto the system, but it still remains overshadowed by current quality games and upcoming releases. Nintendo Direct and Nintendo Show 3D are excellent mainstays, and the Virtual Console still produces regularly, if a little too focused on NES titles. eshop needs two things: More focus on Game Boy/Game Gear titles, and it needs to be organized. How it offers games is a total mess. Instead of cutesy, random subsections that change how they present games, they need a section focused on DSi titles, 3D titles, retail titles, Virtual Console, and videos. And then break it down by publishers, genres, and release dates. It’s far too hard to look for games, and most titles aren’t easily found unless you know what you’re already looking for.

By far, one of 2012’s biggest offerings was the 3DS XL. While I haven’t picked one up just yet, I plan to. The difference in screen size id huge, and it seems to have worked out many of the smaller issues with the original, while providing a better visual experience.

All in all, 3DS is my favorite “all time” portable console, and one of my “Top 3 all time” Nintendo systems. The overall attitude just feels right with the system and its games, and addresses a lot of the issues I had with the whole Wii experience. While the Wii U is currently struggling, it needs to look to the 3DS for guidance to find the right direction. The 3DS software lineup looks and sounds great, and also offers fun, genre diversity, system growth, and a far better sense of community.

For the second year in a row, the 3DS still ranks as my “favorite system”, and the future still seems bright. As long as Nintendo holds on to the momentum they’ve found here, and don’t start abandoning all the various features and services, I see another solid year ahead for the 3DS.

And who knows what E3 will bring?

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