Following a successful launch in its native Japan, the Nintendo 3DS will drop into American gamers’ hands this weekend. I think it will be as equally successful on this side of the Pacific for the reasons below. I don’t claim to be an analyst, own a crystal ball or have my future self sending me cryptic hints, this is just one player’s opinion. Admittedly, I have a vested interest in the success of the 3DS, as I will be getting one myself this weekend, so take that for what its worth.
Its not just about the 3D: The Nintendo DS is seven years old, and in terms of its polygon pushing abilities, it was almost dated from day one. It certainly lacked the graphical oomph of the Playstation Portable and succeeded partially due to the unique games that its touchscreen made possible. While the third dimension is the hook to get people to buy the 3DS, the biggest improvement will be found in the system’s improved graphical punch.
The 3D Is Nice, though: Nintendo got everyone’s attention at last year’s E3 with just two words: “No glasses.” While the Big N is routinely panned for being behind the curve in the graphical arms race, the cutting edge display of the 3DS does work as advertised. While its launch line up does appear to be lacking, the 3DS’ “killer app” is the 3D itself. At SXSW a few weeks ago, I was not surprised to see fellow attendees being very impressed with the unit’s capabilities at the Capcom booth.
3D is the “Big Thing” right now- Like it or not, 3D is currently very popular, partially thanks to the wave of 3D movies in theaters. While folks are willing to shell out a few bucks more to see a movie in 3D, they are less willing to shell out big cash for a 3D TV set and glasses. While the 3DS’ price point does seem high, it is in the right neighborhood for a new hardware platform and I’d wager that gamers will be willing to pay for the privilege of playing games in 3D.
Enough about 3D, How About Games Players Want: One reason we don’t see many shooters, racing games or 3rd-person action games on the Nintendo DS is that the system just doesn’t have the horsepower to handle them very well. The 3DS, on the other hand, is powerful enough for action games such as Super Street Fighter, Metal Gear Solid and Splinter Cell to be produced for it. Whether hardcore gamers are willing to give Nintendo yet another chance remains to be seen, but at least this time around, a Nintendo system has the ability to play core games, unlike its underpowered predecessor.
Its Not Just About Games, though: In addition to games, Nintendo has announced that Netflix Instant Watch will be available on the system as well as a ‘short form video service’ that will allow the viewing of 3-D movie trailers and other content. In addition, an eShop should be coming this summer for classic game purchases and exclusive 3DS games. The 3DS will also (finally) feature MP3 support in its Sound application. While none of the above is reason alone to buy a 3DS, they are nice little extras to have and enable users to get more use out of their system.
So, there you have it. I am sure there are just as many reasons for the 3DS to fail, but I think Nintendo will be able to pull off a successful launch. Following that, we should see some big games drop for the system by the end of the year to maintain interest and reel new players in. I should be posting a review of the system and/or whatever game(s) I decide to buy here sometime next week, so stay tuned, and thanks for reading!
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