So Nintendo World 2011 has come, and mostly gone, and the 3DS has been laid bare for the gaming public. The thing looks awesome, and I’m definitely getting one, but there’s a few issues that stood out for me.
3-5 hours for 3DS games, 5-8 hours for DS games, and about 3 hours to fully charge. Ouch. This does seem short, and is the shortest of any Nintendo handheld system; the lowest of the DS line was the DSi which lasted 9-14, depending on settings. Long battery life was a major selling point for Nintendo’s handhelds, and this might push people to waiting for the inevitable 3DSLite.
In all my years with the DS, I’ve only had it run out of juice once; I’m worried that I’ll have to leave it connected to charger a lot more than I do now, and will be running low a lot more often.
Ports ports everywhere, and not a game to play
The 3DS has a budding library, but it also has a lot of ports. The DS and Wii have been sitting there for the past 4-6 years with little third party support, except for cheap casual games, while making tons of big games for the HD consoles. So while it’s great for Nintendo fans to finally get Super Street Fighter IV, anyone who really wanted to play that game could’ve just bought an HD console, and played it almost a year ago, or two years ago for Street Fighter IV. One crucial problem is that these companies are expecting gamers to buy a 3DS to play these games, which means they haven’t been paying attention, they still want gamers to adapt to them.
Nintendo is not immune to this, two of their big games are The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and Star Fox 64, two remakes of N64 games; while the N64 is a distant memory, both games can be bought on the Wii’s Virtual Console. If the 3DS is going to be huge, it will need huge exclusives; Nintendodogs + Cats is a good start, but they should’ve had Mario Kart 3DS for launch too.
I have little doubt Nintendo will follow up with great, original games for the 3DS, but if third parties want to succeed, they’ll have to treat the 3DS a lot better than they did the DS or Wii. Square Enix released Dragon Quest IX on the DS, I’m fully expecting Dragon Quest XI on it too, but if they really want to make a splash, they should make Final Fantasy XV.
Don’t forget the new gamers
Nintendo’s success with the DS and Wii was largely due to attracting new gamers by peeling back the layers of hardcore fluff, and trying to make a purified gaming experience, and by experimenting with new types of games. Unfortunately, the rest of the industry saw the whole thing as “casual gaming”, and responded by dumping tons of cheap crap on Nintendo’s machines.
The 3DS seems to have the opposite problem, it’s too hardcore, too many games for the hardcore crown, and not enough for new gamers. Third parties seem to have two lines of thinking: “Super Hardcore” or “Stupid Casual”. Nintendo called the new gamers the “expanded audience”, a moniker that implied the new gamers were a lot like the existing core audience, they just didn’t like some of the things the existing core games did; many of those things like high end graphics, complex control schemes and cinematics, where some of the defining “hardcore” characteristics that the rest of the industry were championing.
When Nintendo avoided many of the hardcore staples, and proved successful, everyone else looked at them and thought there was an audience for “cheap and cheerful” games, that’s exactly what everyone else made; no one understood that Nintendo wasn’t making casual games, but classic core games.
There could be a strategy in play here, and Nintendo hasn’t forgotten new gamers at all. The DS isn’t going anywhere, just the NES, SNES, PSX, PS2, GameBoy and GBA didn’t go anywhere when their successors came out, they were still viable for years after their supposed end. Since the DS has plenty of games for the expanded audience, Nintendo could rely on that to satisfy those gamers, while using the 3DS to get the core gamers that they couldn’t reach due to competition from Sony and Microsoft, who targeted those gamers.
Also, Sony and Microsoft have been trying to convince gamers to “graduate” to their systems for sometime, and while a lot of gamers did, a lot did not; gamers “graduate” when they want the next generation, not when it shows up. Eventually, DS owners may want the 3DS, so Nintendo will have to get expanded audience games on the system. The 3Ds already has Nintendogs + Cats, and Professor Layton, but they’ll definitely need more as time goes on.
Rome wasn’t built in a day
A lot of work has gone into the 3DS, but it still has some issues to address; all we’ve seen so far is the launch, and a sample of what’s to come in 2011. Nintendo has a lot of work to do to make the 3DS the crown jewel of the video game world.