Welcome to Exp. Share, where we delve into the depths of the Pokémon universe to explore characters, legends, communities, and quirks. In this week’s column, we’ll be looking at the upcoming shutdown of the 3DS and Wii U eShops, and the impact it will have on the Pokémon franchise.
The Impending Shutdown
The impending shutdown of the 3DS and Wii U eShops is a major concern for Pokémon fans. With the digital access to the system’s library being taken away, it’s a particularly devastating effect on the access and functionality of the entire franchise. Pokémon was primarily a handheld series, with the majority of the games fitting well in your pocket. With the closure of the 3DS’ digital storefront, a significant portion of the currently available Pokémon games will be lost.
The Lack of Preservation
Nintendo’s lack of care for preserving its games has already done significant damage to the Pokémon franchise. Phil Salvador, the Library Director at the Video Game History Foundation, highlighted this in a graphic on Twitter. According to the chart, only 26% of the Pokémon video games released in America will be readily available to purchase by the time the 3DS and Wii U shut down later this month.
The situation is not good, as 41% of Pokémon games are already only available through physical copies since Nintendo has not added games for the Game Boy Advance or original DS RPGs on any digital storefront. This includes the mainline games like Ruby and Sapphire, as well as spin-offs like the strategy RPG Pokémon Conquest. With the eShop shutdown, 3DS games like Sun and Moon will only be available through physical copies, which will inevitably become expensive collectors’ items that get sold for absurd amounts on marketplaces like eBay.
The Loss of Legacy Titles
The Pokémon Company ported the first two generations of Pokémon games to the 3DS via the Virtual Console, which was a rare example of Nintendo trying to keep old games accessible by legitimate means. These titles were also compatible with Pokémon Bank, which allowed players to transfer their Pokémon from these games to modern entries. It will no longer be possible to play the original Pokémon Red, Blue, and Yellow through Nintendo’s storefronts. Physical cartridges of these games have long succumbed to the dying internal batteries, making it impossible in some cases to save progress.
The shutting down of the 3DS eShop also means the loss of the essential apps Pokemon Bank and Transporter. These apps were used to store and transfer old Pokémon and are compatible with Pokémon Home, the series’ modern, console-agnostic storage app. Those who have the apps in their digital collection can download them to their 3DS, but they will not be available to anyone who enters the series after March 27.
Closure of a Bridge to the Future
The 3DS eShop had become a bridge between the series’ past and present because the system was the only way to transfer old Pokémon from old games to modern ones. Since Diamond and Pearl, the Pokémon series has allowed you to transfer your monsters from old games to new ones. Trading old Pokémon and carrying them with you to future games has been a special part of the series for many fans. It’s a shame to see this part of the franchise disappearing with the imminent shutdown.
The State of Preservation for Nintendo
The call to pull the plug on old digital storefronts is out of The Pokémon Company’s hands. However, it’s baffling to see the numbers and realize that three-quarters of its video game history will be entirely inaccessible through legitimate means. The company spends years building up a digital library because it doesn’t invest in backward compatibility, only to destroy it years later. Pokémon is not the only series suffering from Nintendo’s neglect, and when a company associated strongly with handheld devices ends that last bastion to preserve its history, we’re left with nothing but information found in online wikis and YouTube videos.
The shutdown of the 3DS and Wii U eShops will be a dark day for the Pokémon franchise. Losing titles and apps that built the bridge between past and present will be a significant blow for fans worldwide. The issue of preserving video games and making them available to fans has become increasingly urgent, and companies like Nintendo need to invest in preserving their history for future generations.