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5 forgotten promises of the 3DS

Do some digging into Nintendo's own announcements for the system and you'll begin to find that the current state of the 3DS is a far cry from what we were led to expect. Promises were made. Features were implied. Yet, here we are today with a system that isn't all it could have been.

1.An online revolution
Oh, Nintendo. When will you learn? The 3DS could have been the start of another gaming revolution, but then you squandered it. Personally, the thing I was most excited about was the 3DS's online capabilities. Featuring faster wi-fi than either the DS or PSP, the 3DS was going to jump feet-first into online gaming...or so I thought. I was hoodwinked on the proliferation of “passive download” games, just like that same feature never really flourished on the Wii. I was tricked into thinking Nintendo Network would allow us to create a robust account system, although it is certainly better than Friend Codes for each game. I foolishly thought that Nintendo would be smart and interconnect their Virtual Console account between the DSi, Wii, and the WiiU, but it never happened.

But worst of all, I expected the 3DS to actually play online games. Granted, there are some 3DS games capable of playing online, but the feature is so grossly underused compared to what modern technology allows. For goodness' sake, the Vita already has a fully-fledged MMO on it! Street Fighter IV supported online play, and yet a port of a game that had online (Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate) somehow can't manage to do online, too? Why didn't Nintendo opt to allow online co-op for NSMB2: Golden Abyss? After seeing how Nintendo handled the WiiU's Miiverse network, it appears to me that Nintendo likes flirting with online moreso than actually supporting online play. They're happy to create odd-ball online features like in-game Miiverse communication or “passive downloads”, yet when it comes to the simple, nitty-gritty capabilities of playing online multiplayer, Nintendo can't seem to hack it.

2.Game installations
While it was only implied once the 3DS's tech specs were leaked, the tantalizing possibility of installing your games to the system never came to fruition. Perhaps Nintendo's aforementioned lack of a true unified account system is what held them back, but this hardware feature would have made the 3DS far more attractive to the general public. Similar to how digital downloads are handled on PSN or XBL or even the Wii and WiiU, Nintendo could have tied the installed copy to the person's account. For instance, once you installed the game to your system, it could deactivate the ability to install to any additional systems until the first system went online and deleted the installed copy.
Of course, this feature was implied, not explicitly promised, but it is something that could have radically altered the future of the 3DS.

3.Motion controls, Cameras, and microphones
Glasses-free 3D wasn't the only hardware aspect highlighted when the 3DS was first announced. The system's three cameras were touted to play an important role in the 3DS's lineage, though we've never seen the cameras utilized beyond Face Raiders and the auto-Mii feature where the system takes a picture of your face and turns it into a Mii character. The AR cards failed. The potential for video chat or even voice chat seems like it will never see the light of day.
But perhaps the most notable omission was the gyroscopic motion controls that Nintendo (and game developers working on the system) hinted. From the perspective of Nintendo prior to launch, it was probably a good idea to scrap motion controls, which would interfere with the 3D effect of the top screen. However, since the system's 3D capabilities are becoming less and less of a selling point for upcoming games, it makes me wonder if leaving in the motion controls would've benefited the system. With the ascension of the iPhone, tilt-controlled games are some of the most common games in the industry. Even the Vita has tilt controls. It wouldn't have hurt the 3DS to include itself on that bandwagon.

4.3rd party support
While it is true that – just recently - 3rd party support for the 3DS has picked up a bit, the system had a solid 18 months where there wasn't very much to play. What's worse, a lot of the 3rd party games were garbage. The 3DS went through what I call “the N64 effect”. Back when Nintendo launched the N64, a lot of franchises were diced up and mutated to fit the new 3D philosophy. Some games, like Super Mario 64 and Mario Kart 64, did wonderfully. Other games didn't fare so well. Franchises like Castlevania, Earthworm Jim, and Mega Man all took a hit to the gameplay department in order to “get N or get out” with 3D graphics. And some franchises just got weird. While there was a half-hearted Pokemon fighting game (Pokemon Stadium), Nintendo thought it made sense to NOT put a fully-fledged Pokemon adventure on the console, but to instead make Hey You! Pikachu and Pokemon Snap. Sadly, developers for the N64 never realized that it was okay to not do everything in 3D.

The 3DS went through some of the same hiccups. Steel Diver and Pilot Wings? Really? Those games were supposed to bolster the launch of the 3DS? Street Fighter 4 and Dead or Alive? Two fighting games (which have never performed well on handhelds) are supposed to help the system sell? It was months before we saw real system-sellers like SMB2: Golden Orgasm and Mario Kart 7. The recent 3DS Castlevania game is miserable, simply put, and the game's choice to switch to Other M-style 2D/3D mechanics is all the more puzzling in light of the success of not one or two, but THREE sidescrolling Castlevania games on the original DS. Mega Man would have liked to find a home on the 3DS, if it hadn't been cancelled. Resident Evil Revelations (now going multiplat) was actually quite good, but Mercenaries was an obvious cash-in. Where's that Square Enix support? Oh, you mean a Final Fantasy-themed Elite Beat Agents? It's not a bad game, but...really? It has been two years since the launch of the 3DS with not a single notable release from Square Enix (in the West, at least). Unlike the N64, developers have thankfully realized that the system's 3D effect isn't the be-all-end-all feature like Nintendo wanted us to believe, so they're sending 3D to the back seat while focusing instead on gameplay and graphics.

Nintendo is currently doing a much better job of supporting the 3DS with 1st party and 3rd party games, but it remains to be seen if the system can gain the affection and attention of 3rd parties like the DS once did.

5.3D matters
At the E3 2010 reveal of the 3DS, Reggie Fils-Aime took a clever jab at Sony's push for 3D screens in the living room, saying (to the effect) “after an investment of 1000s of dollars, you still need to wear those goofy glasses, and there STILL aren't any 3D movies to watch”. He was, of course, setting the audience up for the 3DS's glasses-free and not-1000s-of-dollars 3D screen. Times have changed since 2010, though not in favor of 3D. Sony's push for 3D TVs has not been received with open arms, the movie industry is becoming less and less confident in the marketability of 3D, and despite the 3DS's launch two years ago, no other major piece of hardware is trying to imitate its glasses-free 3D. It tells me that 3D doesn't matter like Nintendo told us.
Remember, the 3DS is the sequel to the freakin' Nintendo DS, the second-highest selling videogame system of all time (and it will probably outsell the PS2 eventually, now that the PS2 has been discontinued). Nintendo could have taken the stage way back in 2010 with the DS2 and simply said “DS. With graphics better than the Wii”, dropped the mic, and left the stage to an uproar of applause. Instead, they pushed the system in a direction no one seemed to want. I will admit that the 3D effect can be neat, but it can also be detrimental. Super Mario Land 3D is very difficult to play without 3D due to the hybrid camera angle and level design, but it is painful to play for people whose eyes are sensitive to the 3D effect. In games like Fire Emblem: Awakening, the 3D effect is perfect because it is subtle. Can Nintendo finally admit that glasses-free 3D is a bust? Can we finally move on to more important things, like online multiplayer and improved game design?

Well there you have it. This isn't meant to disparage Nintendo. Rather, it's a good thing to look back at what a company promises and see if they matched up to the expectations.

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StockpileTom1678d ago

Nintendo has a history of making claims for a system pre-launch and not having them present in the final system.

The good news though is that they are usually working on their next system while preparing to launch their current one. Their unfulfilled claims usually end up true on their next system.

That being said after the Wii was launched I realized that Nintendo's design philosophy no longer matched my own personal gaming tastes so I jumped ship to Playstation.

plmkoh1678d ago

Exactly what I did, I'm a huge Nintendo fan with an original 1st press Super Metroid soundtrack with the mousepad still sealed sitting on my bookshelf. Yet 2 years post the Wii launch, I bought into the Playstation brand for the first time and haven't looked back since.

You can go on and on about the pro's of Nintendo, honestly it's just a big 'whatever' now for me, nostalgia doesn't keep me chained forever.

darthv721677d ago

It isnt just nintendo. its every console mfg at some point that is guilty of this.

all of the PR talk and marketing put in to hype the product does not impress me.

the only promise i care for is the one where I will be entertained by the platform and its games. In my 30+ years of gaming i have never had that promise broken by ANY company regardless of all the other stuff they talk up.

From the 2600 to the PS3 i have found fun and entertaining games across a wide range of genres on an even wider range of platforms. That is what should matter most, not other things that get touched on but never really materialize.

i know plenty who would disagree with me but Im not out to convince them otherwise. im in it for the entertainment value i get out of enjoying these platforms. i dont dwell on broken promises because Im shallow and i like gaming to much to hold a grudge.

konohashin1676d ago

Well I would recommend you drink some more water and breath fresh air since it seems you have a memory problem.

Just go back to the PS3 presentation and you see that almost NOTHING they announced happened. Where are all the games they showed? They lied about the technology (and that the system had the biggest number of transistors in any device 360 had more)

They lied the system having 2 HDMI ports. etc etc etc.

The full list here is LOL If third pary makes shitty games how is that Nintendos problem? Nintendo had the seal of quality to guarantee that only good games would come to the system guess what? The US developers sued Nintendo and won Nintendos seal has no purpose now.....

Glasses free 3d is okay its a young technology but it at least works. Never ever heard of the INSTALL feature.

Motion is used in several games microphone was even used in alot of DS games etc. so this is also a dumb reason to whine.

The online revolution was not actually supposed to be an online revolution but street pass spot pass etc. And it worked. Miiverse is much better tho

StockpileTom1676d ago (Edited 1676d ago )

My main point was the 2nd part of that statement. Nintendo usually makes good on their promises with their next console.

konohashin1666d ago

I was actually replying to the article but somehow it was messed up (was writing on my tablet)

Sry bro!

wingman32x1678d ago

The 3DS is capable of solid online. Mario Kart 7, from my experience, has been pretty fluid in terms of finding races and such. I also like the smaller things they did with that game in terms of online. Keeping a constant stream of time trial ghosts coming into your game was a great idea.

Mario Kart 7 proved that the 3DS is capable of hosting online play. It's on 3rd parties to make use of it, but they don't seem to want to. There's only so much you can do if you're Nintendo in situations like that. It's a hard situation to be in.

Capt-FuzzyPants1678d ago (Edited 1678d ago )

It gets decent 3rd party support.

SE has supported it about as much as you would have expected them too, so I don't understand your complaint there.
They came out with KH DDD which is always a pretty good seller.
Bravely Default is supposedly a pretty good game.
The one you mentioned Theatrhthym Final Fantasy which again was apparently pretty good if you like FF music and rhythm games.
Dragon Quest 7.
And I believe they also did Heroes of Ruin.

I think the 3ds gets much better 3rd party support then the Vita does. A couple of the games I listed attempted online features and were decent, but they just never took off. The 3DS just isnt a good platform for online. The lack of a second analog stick on EVERY 3DS makes it tough to make a good competitive online game for it.

1678d ago
Jurat1677d ago

Heroes of Ruin has a really good online mechanic, with drop-in/out and voice chat functionality.

I was disappointed by the lack of online suppor for MH3U, but I'm still pumping hours into that title.

Out of interest, what is the fully fledged MMO you mention for the Vita?

dedicatedtogamers1677d ago

Phantasy Star Online 2. It's also free-to-play.

solidus81677d ago

MH3U online support is the only reason I bought 3DS but Nintendo/Capcom shattered my dreams. But still MH3U is an amazing game. I hope Vita wont do the same if they launch Monster Hunter 4

Jurat1677d ago

It was very disappointing - I was looking forward to teaming up online. The Monster Hunter experience has always been better with friends.

Sadly in the West, players are few and far between but at least we could resort to ad-hoc party for PSP and had online for Wii.

I can only assume it was left out to tempt 3DS gamers into buying a Wii U (MF has always been a system seller). Hopefully Capcom will patch it soon.