Discussing: 3DS Success

I don’t like Nintendo. People who know me and people who have read my posts probably know this already. I’ve complained about the controllers their consoles have, the technology their products give and the business practices they do towards consumers. Despite Reggie Fils-Amie and Satoru Iwata’s enthusiasm at every E3 about their latest unveilings, Nintendo has disappointed, frustrated, and, in regards to the Wii U announcement, angered me since their Nintendo 64. The N64 specifically let me down, as said here. Nintendo represents the old guard of this medium, unwilling to change and evolve and instead rely in insulting distractions to keep the masses at bay. Although the apparently new platform they release promises new advances and experiences for the player, time shows it to be nothing more than a rehash of what already was. Meet the new boss; same as the old boss.

However, if you were to see me 18 years ago, you would see a boy with a very different opinion of Nintendo. It’s true that the first game I ever played was Sonic the Hedgehog 2. Afterward, I asked my parents for a game system and they got me a NES, which was cheap in 1992 or 3. So my very first console was a Nintendo console and I loved it! I would play Super Mario Bros 1 and 2 every day after school and I would play my babysitter’s console when I was over there. I remember she had Track & Field, Paperboy, and Excitebike. I also remember learning to blow into the cartridges and the various tray tricks to get the games to work. However, I knew that there was a better Nintendo out there. I didn’t have the NES for very long…

It wasn’t long until I got a SNES and I was blown away! Super Mario World was such an epic game that actually saved my progress! Street Fighter II changed my life and made me the hardcore fighting game fan I am today. Mega Man X was my introduction to Mega Man and I fell in love with the game mechanics and upgrade system. 8-year old Colorwind would defend the Super Nintendo all day. Although I would trade my SNES for a Genesis from time to time and vice versa (click here for more), I always trumpeted the SNES to be better than the Genesis. I remember haven’t talks / fights with my cousin, who was a Sega supporter and usually they came down to Mortal Kombat 1 and 2. However, my love for Nintendo came down with the Nintendo 64 and has never been the same since. Well, except for one thing…

I should say that I wasn’t into portable gaming back during the SNES. Although I loved Nintendo’s gray and purple rectangle, I shunned the Game Boy as an obsolete piece of junk. I never played a game for it I needed to play, it was hard to see the games on the non backlit, reflective screen and it was in black and white! Grey and Pea Green, really. Even as a kid, I would say “Stuff is supposed to be in color by now! Everything’s been in color since the 70s!” With the exception of Pokémon late in the Game Boy’s life span, I never cared for any games on the Game Boy. When I did get a Game Boy, it was a Game Boy Color and I only played Pokémon. Needless to say, I soon traded it in. To this day, I don’t care for the Game Boy. Maybe I’ll dig into the Game Boy library to find games to prove me wrong. For now however, the first Nintendo portable with a good library games to me will be the Game Boy Advance.

Playing Super Mario Bros 2

The Game Boy Advance changed my mind about portable gaming when I got ahold of games like Metroid Fusion, Super Mario Advance, and the Pokémon remakes. However, it was basically because I could now play SNES games on the go. I liked the GBA but only as a portable SNES, for the most part. The GBA lacked personality and an identity of its own. I enjoy it more today but back in the day, it served as a portable time waster in between when I could get to my consoles. The Game Boy Advance made me like portable gaming but it failed to make me take it seriously.

I was so excited about the DS. This was the first time I had ever been excited about a portable system. I waited a year until I bought a DS (learned my lesson from the N64) and bought several games with it, all of which I loved. Feel the Magic XX/XY, Kirby: Canvas Curse, Meteos, Sonic Rush, and Nintendogs all were fantastic games. Nintendo wanted to appeal to the casual market with the DS and I think they truly accomplished this with the DS. My mother liked WarioWare: Touched. She NEVER plays games. She liked how simple the touch screen was. What was even better was the fact that there were also hardcore titles that were just as good. Games like Final Fantasy III, Advance Wars: Dual Strike, and Super Mario 64 DS ensured that the DS would have a long life. I mean, come on, Mario Kart DS was basically Crystal Meth in video game form. Better yet was the continuing onslaught of great DS games. Kirby: Canvas Curse, The World Ends With You, Dragon Quest IV, Phoenix Wright, the list goes on.

The 3DS I felt would have to prove itself as a gaming platform, even though I was impressed by the glasses free 3D. As a huge fan of the DS, I initially was excited to see the 3DS. By the time it was released, however, I knew about the eye strain of the 3D, the low battery life, and the disappointing game lineup. I didn’t hear about any more games coming afterward and soon wrote it off as an overpriced, unsupported piece of equipment that shows that Nintendo hadn’t learned from the Virtual Boy.

Recently, Nintendo announced that the 3DS will drop in price from $249.99 to $169.99 and early adopters will get 20 old games for free. This is an admission of Nintendo that their new product is not selling. This does make me happy in that this will force Nintendo to do better than they are now in order to make the 3DS successful. However, it doesn’t make me happy in that I want Nintendo to fail. As much as I do revile Nintendo’s current decisions, I wish Nintendo did better than they do now, financially, creatively and productively. The 3DS needs help and I hope it gets that help. Nintendo’s newest console actually has good things going for it and it needs to change things to show those things off. A diamond in the rough, it is.

One of the greatest things about the NES and SNES is that Nintendo had first rate 1st party games coming out for those consoles. They also had them coming out often. Donkey Kong Country, Super Punch Out!!, Super Mario All-Stars with Super Mario World, Tetris & Dr. Mario, and Uniracers were all released within two months. Super Metroid was released early that year. Luckily, Nintendo still makes quality titles. Super Mario Galaxy might be the best game on the Wii and is the best Mario game since Super Mario 64. However, they don’t release them as often as they did before. I would suggest Nintendo buy some studios, like Sony does, and get them started on games so they can be released often. Nintendo should have a major game release at least four times a year. AT LEAST!

The other problem with Nintendo’s more recent games is they lack originality. Mario and Zelda are basically the same game over and over again. They don’t need to change (except maybe Zelda) so I would suggest Nintendo develop some new IPs and reimagining older forgotten ones. Who wouldn’t love to see a Nintendo style first person shooter? Earthbound is supposed to be set in the United States, why not make a new game in the style of Oblivion? The DS was a great platform for RPGs. It would work perfectly, even for a real time western role playing game.

As far as a Earthbound title would go, the NES and SNES didn’t rely on 1st party titles to deliver titles to gamers. Nintendo had enormous 3rd party support, from Capcom, Midway, Squaresoft, and more. Some of the greatest titles for the NES and SNES are Blaster Master from Sunsoft, Mega Man X from Capcom, Final Fantasy II from Squaresoft and Castlevania from Konami. Nintendo needs to win back companies to develop for their title. Nintendo has a habit of being very secretive with their products. This is at the cost of developers not getting dev kits soon enough to develop quality titles in a timely matter. Quite frankly, leaks don’t hurt gaming products in the long run and it’s kind of surprising secrecy is still practiced in this medium. The movie industry doesn’t really do that. Iron Man 2 was announced right after the first movie was released! Make development easy for 3rd party teams, and support them, Nintendo. They’re going to make you money. They did before.

One of the things I’m surprised Nintendo hasn’t really pushed is the graphic capabilities of the 3DS. Simply put, it’s a powerful machine! It might not be as strong as the upcoming Vita but the 3DS can churn out really good looking games. N64 ports of Star Fox 64 and The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time are nice but the 3DS is capable of doing GameCube ports! Imagine playing The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker on the go, completing it, then sticking in the sequels afterward. How about Metroid Prime on the go? The touch screen would be heaven sent for the inventory. Managing your Pikmin on the 3DS would be fun and intuitive. Luigi’s Mansion 2 is a good start to the 3DS doing GameCube titles (although I didn’t care for the original). Ports and sequels of GameCube titles aside, the portable has attractive visuals and Nintendo should promote that. It’ll help show consumers the difference between the 3DS and the older DS lite.

Did you know the 3DS has internet capabilities? No? Well, it does and Nintendo needs to take advantage of this. Encourage (not force) online play in games. Don’t just sell old Game Boy and Game Gear titles on the Virtual Console. The 3DS can support old arcade titles. Top down arcade shooters would be great on the 3DS. We should get SNES, NES, Genesis, Neo Geo, Arcade, Turbo-Grafx-16, Master System, and Atari 2600 games, among others. Also, keep gamers informed. When Nintendo has an update on their blog, tell 3DS owners so they’ll know the latest news. Have an app that tells them of 3DS sales online or at a nearby store. Promote the Mii Plaza and Street Pass features and allow people to pick people up online and not regulate it to just people who walk by. Also, raise the limit on Street Pass. Nintendo has a huge following and the 3DS is perfect in assembling them if Nintendo would give them the proper tools.

Games are the 3DS’ biggest problem but there are some other hardware problems with the portable itself. The battery life sucks. There’s no other way around it. Sure, it doesn’t need to be the awesome 15+ hours the DS lite gets but it needs to be at least 7-8 hours. 3-5 hours isn’t good for a long trip or even for a day out at work. If you have to babysit your portable every day, that isn’t good. Also, the 3D, the unit selling feature, doesn’t work if you tilt your head or the device even slightly. That is completely and utterly stupid on a device with an accelerometer and two cameras. You can’t have two features that contradict themselves in one device. Nintendo should also think of including another thumb pad to open the door for FPS games, like the Vita has. Changing the look of the 3DS will also help those who can’t differentiate from the original DS. Needless to say, a new model needs to be made. A 3DS lite, if you will. However, a new name should be used. Maybe 3DStream, like the name people thought the Wii U was going to be. Pronounced “three dee streem” it’ll have the DS name in there but the pronunciation will help give the system it’s own identity. It’ll also emphasize the online capabilities.

The 3DS has so much potential to help Nintendo become more than it is right now. I loathe the way Nintendo handles things right now but since the 3DS isn’t doing well, this is a chance for Nintendo to change. The casual market may make you a hit in the beginning but hardcore gamers and interesting games maintain your run. I would love to play Metroid 3DS in 3D while I move my head around, looking for artifacts and items to scan when an enemy jumps into the room and I switch effortlessly to combat mode and wait for them to jump at me so I can obliterate them with a missile, their guts splattered on my visor. I’ll then send a replay of that to my editor, Taylor, for her to post as a part of Gaming Precision’s 3DS theatre, which is accessible on the 3DS itself. Awesomeness!

The possibilities are endless and varied. Nintendo had a great idea with the 3DS that wasn’t created and executed well. However, this still has the possibility to return Nintendo to a greatness not seen since the SNES. Man, I really want Metroid 3DS. That would be awesome. Wouldn’t you agree? Do you have some other ideas to improve the 3DS? Are my ideas unrealistic? Let me know your pipe dream ideas in the comments below and don’t forget to like this article and give it a thumbs up.

Gaming Precision: Locked On to What Gamers Want.

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