With the announcement a couple of weeks ago that Nintendo is bringing out yet another iteration of their 3DS handheld, I found there to be a need to count up to ten before putting pen to paper without spewing pitchfork-waving vitriol.
Unlike the 3DS XL before it which merely boasted a nice cosmetic change to the size of the screen and form factor, they have instead elected to do an upgrade to the hardware that lurks both under and above the hood. Namely, a faster processor, a second analogue stick and an additional pair of shoulder buttons.
It’s a rather meagre list of improvements, which as per usual for new hardware is going to pack a punch to our wallets. The real kicker of course being that while this certainly improves the console over the current iteration, it will support games that the original 3DS will not be able to; the first of which being a re-heated version of 2011’s Wii JRPG sensation, Xenoblade Chronicles.
Historically, Nintendo have released handheld updates regularly throughout their lifecycle; with the DSi and DSi XL for the original DS, and the recently released 3DS XL and 2DS variations of the hardware. While yes, these are money spinners to various extents, they are also just cosmetic improvements that a person can choose to have or not. In short, these new variations didn’t preclude or fragment the audience to any real tangible extent.
You could argue that in fact this is not an improvement of the 3DS but a new generation of handheld altogether, like the PS4 is to the to PS3, simply by the virtue that it is capable of playing games that its previous iteration cannot.
If you were to agree to this then you would realise that Nintendo have made a fatal mistake. It’s a blunder that isn’t new; once again reminding me that the Japanese console hardware giant is not capable (or willing) to learn from experience.
Specifically, the previous snafu in which I refer to is the Wii U.
While there is nothing bad to really be said about the console itself from my own perspective, it is selling poorly nonetheless. Nintendo’s mantra has never been to have the newest hardware or the shiniest games, but instead, to have something else entirely their competitors often find themselves in pursuit of.
Innovation is where they normally hit the mark, and the original Wii smashed through that with its then revolutionary control system. The Wii U though? Well it’s just the Wii with a tablet masquerading as an extra controller and with a bit more oomph in the box. The point being made here is that it wasn’t made clear to the consumer; the soccer moms, the non ‘gamer’ families that Nintendo had worked so hard to bring into the fold, just how different and essential the Wii U was and is.
Poor clarity is going to affect their relationship with the community; when a person doesn’t understand why they have to shell out their hard earned cash, they simply will not. The New 3DS is likely to do the same, making people invest in a glorified upgrade for bespoke games which might or might not need the newer hardware just to be slightly more sparkly.
All the more offensive is that they are doing this for a game which was released in 2011, which by the time we Europeans receive in 2015 will be four years. How about this: instead of releasing old titles, Nintendo should give us a Xenoblade title that all 3DS systems could call their own, rather than just pigeonholing a single platform.
Nintendo should go back to leaving the technically shinier efforts to the Sonys and Microsofts of the world. The DS had done so well in dominating the handheld market by redefining it with its touch-screen innovations, that its modest tech wasn’t an issue to most consumers.
With this new version of 3DS it feels, especially with these minor additions, that they are stepping away from innovation and are going back into the fold of chucking in as much power and as many buttons as possible in lieu of a proper, ballsy new piece of hardware.
In three and a half slender years 3D is now an aged fad, but thanks to the excellent games the 3DS has continued to excel regardless. Nintendo are obviously worried that if they released a new generation of handheld some people are going to feel jilted, so what we receive is a half-hearted upgrade which looks to please fewer still and alienate those who only recently stumped up the cash for a 3DS XL.
An even further kick in the teeth is that North America and Europe are not getting the New 3DS until 2015, putting into jeopardy its Q4 revenue as roughly three quarters of profits are made in the holiday season. This would be detrimental to people that weren’t aware of the launch of a new 3DS on two fronts as not only would it discourage sales of the existing 3DS, but imagine the disappointment of a parent discovering their new handheld is going to be out of date in a month or two?
With over 44 million units sold worldwide, Nintendo are in a comfortable position where they could have put some actual thought into the next generation, extending the life of the current 3DS and then perhaps releasing something a generation apart that’s actually worth our time and monies. Instead we are presented with the New 3DS.
Whose side are you on? Do you agree with Heather, that the New 3DS is a disappointing attempt that’s likely to hinder more than help, or are you on Team Jesse, where the New flag flies triumphant? Sound off in the comments!