Special Feature: Nintendo 3DS in 2018 — Atlus Shrugged

There have been plenty of headlines about how well the Nintendo Switch is selling worldwide, along with Nintendo’s expectations for how it could sell from here. But another one of their systems is still receiving support: Nintendo 3DS. February and March will commemorate seven years since the system launched in Japan and western territories, respectively. It wasn’t quite as successful as the preceding Nintendo DS, one of the best-selling systems ever, but still did well in its own right. So, it’s no surprise that some developers besides Nintendo are still supporting the platform with software after many have left it for others.

For 2018, Nintendo has a couple of games left for the platform. One is Kirby Battle Royale, a party-based spinoff title that allows for one to four players to simultaneously participate in minigames through local and online play. It will have ten battle types, including the Battle Arena (where players fight against each other using their skills), Flag Ball (which involves two teams throwing balls at flag posts to score points), and Robo Bonkers (where players can fire missiles and enemies at a giant robot to see who can take it down the fastest). Interestingly, North America is the only major territory waiting for this game, as it released first in Europe on November 3rd and in Japan on the 30th, but will arrive here on January 19th. The reason for the long wait is anyone’s guess, but at least it hasn’t been too long.

Also coming from Nintendo is Sushi Striker: The Way of Sushido, previously announced on the company’s Treehouse stream at E3 2017. This is a puzzle action game where players have to match up plates and different kinds of sushi using the touchscreen, and hurl them at the opponent. Improved plate patterns and usage of fancier sushi will deal more damage against the invading opponents. Nintendo notably hasn’t mentioned anything about this since the reveal, but it’s presumably coming soon.

Nintendo supporting their own platform longer than several other developers and publishers is hardly surprising. What is surprising, though, is how there’s another publisher supporting the system even stronger than them: Atlus. They have two games recently released in Japan due for a western release, one that released in Japan with an uncertain localization status, one Altus USA is handling outside Japan, and two due for release in Japan in the near future.

Radiant Historia: Perfect Chronology is one of the upcoming games for the western market. This is an enhanced port of an RPG released late in the DS’ life, with added voice acting, new portraits and event scenes, and a bonus episode featuring a new character named Nemesia. It released in Japan near the end of June last year, and will arrive in America and Europe on February 13th and 16th, respectively.

Also coming is Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey Redux, an enhanced port of DS RPG Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey. (Atlus loves enhanced ports, as you can see.) This version adds voice acting, new portraits and cinematic scenes, polish to the overall presentation, and a new character named Alex. (Atlus also loves to follow the same template for enhanced ports.) Notably, the game was announced to have only Japanese voices for the western version at E3, despite how English voices would make the most sense for this installment compared to other mainline titles, due to how it’s the only one to take place outside Japan. This released in Japan in late-October, and will arrive in western territories sometime this year.

Meanwhile, there’s Etrian Mystery Dungeon 2, which released in Japan in August last year but hasn’t been confirmed for a western release. It’s possible this could simply take longer than usual to be localized, like Etrian Odyssey V, which didn’t release in the US until October last year despite arriving in Japan in August 2016. But it’s also possible Atlus USA don’t feel it would sell well enough to justify the localization costs. If it’s not announced by this summer, that will imply the latter is true.

Atlus USA is also localizing FuRyu’s The Alliance Alive, a successor to The Legend of Legacy. This is a turn-based RPG that takes place in a world where humans are fighting for liberation from demon oppressors, with the game featuring multiple scenarios for several characters. Those who played the Japanese version mentioned how it fixed several issues with its predecessor, particularly the lack of a story and character development. We’ll have the chance to see this for ourselves when it releases on March 27th in western territories.

Just in case you think the Atlus list is full of late localizations, they also have two upcoming titles in Japan, though details are scant for both. There’s Persona Q2, a sequel to Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth. It will star characters from Persona 5 in “chibi” form, but outside that, nothing is known about it. Etrian Odyssey director Shigeo Komori also confirmed that a new installment in the series is in development for 3DS, which will be revealed in the spring. Komori noted that it will be an ensemble title, and won’t be a numbered installment or Untold 3. Neither title has so much as a release timeframe yet, which is somewhat surreal with games due for a system perhaps beyond its twilight years now.

This year will likely be the last one for significant 3DS support, outside adaptations of licensed properties. But more than seven years is a good run for a system whose potential success was uncertain early on, and one that couldn’t match its predecessor’s overwhelming success. Now, we’ll have to see if the Switch inherits the kind of games it received, or if they’ll go to mobile — if they continue at all.

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