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The 3DS just can't catch a break

My condolences to the early adopters who bought a 3DS. We are going to see Nintendo's greatest decline in the handheld market directly due to the 3DS, and I'm here to lament and complain and laugh.

Am I jumping the gun and drawing conclusions waaaay to early? After all, the 3DS "just came out". Actually, I think the writing is on the wall and the writing has been on the wall since before 3DS even launched. Let's count the ways the 3DS just can't seem to catch a break.

#5 - Brand Confusion. Anyone here who works at a retail store already knows this one, but the public's confusion about the 3DS's name isn't quite so apparent if all you do is read online gaming journalists. But the brand confusion with the 3DS is very, very real. Is it a DS with 3d? Is it a new system? The game cases look almost identical to regular DS cases, and the 3DS itself (at first glance) simply looks like a DS with an analog stick. The brand confusion hurts the 3DS's case quite a bit.

#4 - No reason to upgrade. When you take a 20+ million seller game and put it on your new handheld and it sells like crap, what does that mean? It means that people don't see the reason to upgrade. I'm talking about Nintendogs and the DS crowd, of course. There's no denying that the DS crowd is a diverse bunch, but apparently they're not diverse enough to see the need to jump into the 3DS swimming pool yet. And I don't blame them. The DS is a hard act to follow. It has a massive library compared to the 3DS. While I'm not a Nintendogs fan...C'MON! It's Nintendogs. You would think that it was the perfect launch title, yet it flopped. That's because "teh casualz" are smart enough to know a cash-in when they see it.

#3 - What's the point of 3D? Even before the system came out, there were warnings that the 3D would affect children's eyes. "You can turn it off," it was screamed at anyone who said the 3D gave them a headache. Okay, Nintendo, so you're alienating one of your biggest audiences (kids), and you're telling people that the main feature that justifies the 3DS's $250 cost can simply be "turned off" if you don't like it? Riiiight, good job building confidence in your system. Beyond these issues, what really IS the point of 3D? So far, it has not added any gameplay enhancements. Sure, when the DS was announced people asked "what's the point of the dual screens?", but at least there were tangible game applications. What does 3D do that can't be done in the traditional sense? Right now, Nintendo is content to simply goof off, create the exact same games they've been making, and then add in 3D to say "see? It's a totally new game!"

#2 - the Games! I wouldn't say that the internet is exactly ablaze with the news that MegaMan Legends 3 was cancelled, but the fans who were excited for that game are certainly angry, especially after Capcom's recent Resident Evil 3DS "one save" nonsense. But other developers like SEGA and Ubisoft are also putting a hold on some of their 3DS games. Even the games coming from Nintendo are a bit...disturbing. Luigi's Mansion 2? Okaaaaay, what about a sidescrolling Metroid, a new F-Zero, or even a Pokemon Snap clone (okay, kidding on the last one)? Kid Icarus...am I the only one who remembers that this game was once a PLATFORMER? The 3DS Kid Icarus is just...some bizarre shoot-em-up/action game that does not resemble Kid Icarus in any way. What about the new Mario game? ANOTHER 3D Mario in less than 5 years? Okay, I like 'em, but if the sales of the two New Super Mario Bros games tells us anything, Nintendo has a lot of fans wanting sidescrolling Mario, not 3D Mario. There are remakes up the wazoo, but no one seems to care. Why should we be excited to pay full-price for an easy-to-acquire console game (Ocarina, Starfox, Metal Gear, SF4) just because it's in 3D? Judging by the sales, a lot of other people have been asking the same question. Looking forward to upcoming games isn't going to cut it when there aren't any worthwhile games on the system right now. "But what about MARIO KART?" you might say. What about it? The game looks like it's becoming even more eccentric and bizarre. Hanggliders? Underwater tracks? Does any of this stuff make Mario Kart better, or is it just flash? More specifically, will 3D make Mario Kart any better? No, not really. And more importantly, will Mario Kart be a system seller? There's no doubt that Mario Kart sells a lot, but Mario Kart is an assumed entry on any Nintendo console. It's not going to set the sales charts on fire, you can mark my words. While the lack of games (and lack of sales) is a big problem, it is not the biggest problem...

#1 - A Bad Direction. Some people might rememeber that - early on - the DS was being outsold by the PSP. The DS's early direction was much like the 3DS's direction. It focused on 3D games (Mario 64, Metroid Hunters). However, it wasn't until Nintendo started branching out and making more old-school and unique games that the DS took off. Initially, the DS was considered a portable N64. But when the sales took off, it became a portable SNES. If the DS had focused on traditional 3D games, it would never have taken off. But wait, apparently Nintendo thinks that the 3DS can focus on traditional 3D games and that's okay? Hah! The 3DS is following the Gamecube/N64's direction, and it doesn't look good. How can I say such a thing? JUST LOOK AT THE GAMES! Where are the unique games that made the DS such a hit? Where are the RPGs? Where are the touch-based adventure games? WHERE IS SIDESCROLLING MARIO? The 3DS is going in a bad direction, and by "bad" I mean "the same direction that caused the Gamecube to tank". The problem is that Nintendo won't simply change directions and make the 3DS like the DS. The entire identity of the 3DS is 3D. Old-school, 2D-style games have no place on the 3DS. They don't fit the direction. That's why we don't see any of those games in development. 3DS is caught in an odd place. It isn't powerful enough to enjoy the "sloppy seconds" ports that the PS Vita will get, but it's powerful enough to require better graphics (and bigger, more expensive dev team). Say bye-bye to niche games similar to Phoenix Wright, Elite Beat Agents, Izuna, and 90% of the RPGs on DS.

The bottom line is this: pay very close attention to the 3DS. You may be witnessing something unprecedented. Nintendo, the heralds and champions of handheld gaming, might lose their grip on the handheld market. No, it won't be the iPhone that does them in. No, it won't be the Vita. The thing that slays Nintendo's unbeatable handheld line will be Nintendo itself, because Nintendo refuses to respond to what the market wants.

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Voxelman1808d ago (Edited 1808d ago )

Sad but mostly true...

The only thing you got wrong was that Mario Kart will set the charts on fire, unfortunately one game can't carry the console and there is not much else.

But the 3DS can be saved, they just need a change in marketing and a few key "portable" titles things like Pokemon, Monster Hunter, 2D Mario (which is apparently coming some time in the future), Brain Training etc, a price cut and a revision with a better battery and slightly bigger screens.

dedicatedtogamers1808d ago

First of all, I do think Mario Kart will sell nicely. It just won't sell like Mario Kart DS or Mario Kart Wii, nor will it cause the 3DS sales to skyrocket. Why do I say that? Because Mario Kart didn't sell very much (comparatively) on the Gamecube or the GBA. History shows that Mario Kart sells a lot on platforms that sell a lot. Mario Kart does not cause platforms to sell a lot.

Second of all, Nintendo needs NEW ideas for the 3DS to justify it. Would Brain Training help? No, why would it? Nintendogs didn't help. Did the Ocarina remake help (Ocarina is second perhaps only to FF7 in terms of fanbase demand for a remake)? No, Ocarina hasn't caused the 3DS to skyrocket, either. Brain Training and Nintendogs were popular partially because there wasn't anything else like it on the market.

Raf1k11808d ago

I don't see why old school 2D sidescrollers can't work on the 3DS. The 3D effect is pretty much made up of layers shown in such a way that you get the illusion of depth and 2D sidescrollers are made up of lots of layers. They could certainly make a sidescroller and still have it use the 3D effect IMO.

Godmars2901808d ago

Its not just the 3DS or Nintendo, the whole industry has an issue with 2D. Most likely because of the irony they'd have to put more work and effort into make such a title worth the full price.

Ulf1806d ago (Edited 1806d ago )

Godsmars is right.

Ironically, doing good 2D animation, that looks good on a high def screen, costs more than doing 3D.

In the past, when blocky characters and 2-frame animations were acceptable, it wasn't such a big deal. Hiring pro 2D animators to draw the motions of animated high-def (3DS really is "high def" compared to older platforms) in a game such that it looks on par with games made by, for example, Vanillaware, but with the variety of gameplay many modern gamers expect, is hideously expensive.

Vanillaware games are very, very constrained, with regards to the amount and types of gameplay their characters can do, if you pay close attention. There's a reason they kept working on the PS2 and Wii when better platforms were available.

This is EXACTLY the same reason Disney now makes their movies in primarily 3D, and not 2D.

Man, now I want to go play me some Odin Sphere and Muramasa.

LightofDarkness1808d ago (Edited 1808d ago )

Good blog, guy.

The focus on 3D is indeed the biggest stumbling block right now. On a screen so small, the effect is negligible and forgoes much of what makes 3D so attractive: IMMERSION. It's hard to be immersed in a game world presented on a 3-inch screen, as it simply doesn't fill your field of vision like a large screen does. It's pointless.

Moreover, trying to keep the effect enabled is a struggle in and of itself. Slight movements cause the effect to be lost, and also cause eye-strain/headaches to ensue as your eyes constantly shift focus. And seriously, MOTION CONTROLS? When slight motions eliminate what is the eponymous selling point of your product? What a mess. Sounds like this project suffered from some serious scope-creep.

I had my DS for RPGs and Castlevania, and that was about it. And there's no sign of anything like that on the horizon.

theonlylolking1808d ago

If there are two games that WILL make the 3DS skyrocket in sales then it has to be Pokemon and Mario Kart.

news4geeks1808d ago

Reasons #5 and #4 will also affect the WiiU sales. Maybe Nintendo's dominance of this gen is finally over. Will the casuals actually care about another mario kart? Probably not. They already own one and they won't buy another for the very reason that they are casual gamers.

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