Editorial: On the 3DS

With the recent $80 price drop on Nintendo’s barely-out-of-the-gate handheld, the 3DS is a topic on every gamer’s lips. As a former frothing Nintendo fanboy and as a current Nintendo handheld fanboy, I would love to throw in my two cents.

In the interest of full disclosure, it is important to note that I own a Nintendo 3DS and a number of games for it. I did not pay for the system nor any of the games, so any speculation of when I expect I would or would not buy a system is purely hypothetical.

Bowser and Reggie
Playful or ominous?

I have long since been disillusioned by the Wii, but I never felt resentful toward its handheld counterpart. In fact, I consider the Nintendo DS to be up there with the PS2 for greatest console. Therefore I was unabashedly excited when the 3DS was announced.

Honestly, there was every reason for me to be. When announced at E3 2010, the 3DS promised boosted graphical capabilities, strong 3rd party support, and 3D movie support. Not only that, but the company talked as if it knew its shortcomings and that it finally knew what the internet was. This self-aware attitude even presented itself in the Kid Icarus trailer. I was pleased that Nintendo appeared to not be messing up their handheld line.

It took me longer than most, but I slowly started to notice the system’s shortcomings as they revealed themselves. Why is the battery life so incredibly short if the system cost $250? Why is Pilot Wings Resort the only completely original game worth purchasing for the system more than four months after its launch? Why was the 3DS eShop so late to launch? Where are the 3D movie partnerships?

I played the crap out of Pilot Wings Resort – which is graphically behind a generation or two – and I beat Ocarina of Time 3D in a weekend, but the past few weeks I have been using the new handheld to play Dragon Quest IX. This is not because I particularly love Dragon Quest IX. It is because there are no other games to play for the system.

In fact, the only times I am tempted to spend money on the system for the first time are when I peruse the Virtual Console service. More old games.

If I think back to the original DS launch, there are actually some similarities. The hardware design was faulty, there were no original games for the system, and certainly no games showcasing the handheld’s internet capabilities. Even though I was a proud Gamecube owner, I had zero interest in buying the system until the DS Lite was released.

Aqua Blue 3DS
I think it looks good. Not everyone agrees.

Still, the DS was an entirely new concept back then. Publishers and developers were wary, and even Nintendo was calling the system its “third pillar” just in case the brand flopped.

The brand obviously did not flop and so I find it hard to allow Nintendo the same grace period for the dual screened wonder’s successor.

When Nintendo revealed the Wii MotionPlus peripheral I commented that Nintendo was fixing the Wii’s controller to be what was originally promised and also charging us for it. The 3DS price drop is not entirely the same, but it rings of a similarly ominous mentality. It appears as though Nintendo would like to see what they can get away with while charging as much money as possible.

If Sony claims it will not be selling its $250 hardware powerhouse Vita at a deficit, then I shudder to think of the greedy profit Nintendo has been raking in on every 3DS unit sold so far.

But even after the price correction – as I prefer to call it – there are other fixes to be made. The battery life should be appropriate for a handheld. As it stands, the 3DS is hardly more portable than the Gamecube with an attached screen; the purple console has a handle after all.

The most obvious correction is the software lineup. The DS is a powerhouse of platformers, puzzle games, RPGs, racing games, strategy games, and everything in between. The 3DS is a powerhouse of nothing.

I truly hope this price drop is the beginning of an about face for Nintendo. Sony had to be humbled after the PS3 launch before becoming the strongest home console. Perhaps Nintendo will try as hard as Sony did to win its fans back.

Or perhaps the price drop will make the 3DS fly off shelves and Nintendo will get cocky and lazy again.

What do you think, readers? Will the 3DS start to build up the same impressive library that the original DS has? Do you own the system? Would you like to? I would like to think that if I did not have a unit already, I would hold my dollar until Paper Mario, Super Mario 3D, and a number of third-party RPGs were available. What will be your breaking point?

6 comments

  1. I think that I have given up all hope for Nintendo. It is a similar feeling to having someone you look up to all your life only to find out they constantly shoot heroin and beat women. Nintendo, you had a good run. Time to go the way of Sega.

  2. I believe the 3DS was launched $50 overpriced and three months too early. I’m glad to see Nintendo address the pricing, and I think offering 20 free downloads is a fair way to give back to the early adopters.

    I will not be buying one until at least a redesign is released with a better battery, and hopefully not of the XL variety. The only two games I could see myself playing would be Mario Kart 7 (great name, Ninty!), and whateverthefuck the Mario game is now called. If Nintendo released a WarioWare game, I might hop on that too, but this is assuming a redesign and me giving a shit come to pass.

    For Nintendo to claim it would be losing money by selling the 3DS at $170, I’m baffled; in March it was approximated to cost about $104 to manufacture. Assuming that was fairly accurate, Nintendo still wouldn’t be hurting.

    I’ve been public elsewhere about this, but Sony has my money Day One for the PS Vita.

  3. Right, I’m pretty sure they said it was barely $100 to manufacture a 3DS.

    The $80 price drop makes it more tempting, but unless the 3DS gets some real games soon, I still won’t care. At this point, it will take a Pokemon game, a 3D remake of FFV or FFVI, or for Kingdom Hearts 3D to actually be good before I give a damn about the 3DS.

  4. Bah, waiting for 3DSi XL. After using the DSi XL so much, cannot seem to go back to the smaller screen, most likley will have better battery, new features and some games I actually want by then too.

  5. Did you hear MegaMan Legends 3 got cancelled? That was a system seller for sure. Too bad Inafune apparently took Capcom’s cognitive functions with him when he left.

    Beyond that, I’m sure that if Nintendo doesn’t drop their draconian policies on third-party development really really soon they’ll probably go the way of sega in the next few years.

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