The 3DS can’t fail

If I wasn’t certain about it before E3 there isn’t any room left for doubt; the 3DS will be the most successful handheld of all time. Barring worldwide sterility, extraterrestrial invasion or all-out nuclear warfare (which may happen if North Korea are eliminated from the World Cup), the 3DS looks well placed to become an unqualified success. If it isn’t I will eat the hats of every homeless person in the northern hemisphere, and that’s a lot of tick infested items of clothing. So why would anyone risk contracting every disease know to man with such a pointless showboating wager? In my opinion failure for the 3DS is nigh on impossible.

I am always somewhat amused by the contempt with which the term gimmick is thrown around, especially as it had been before E3 in relation to the 3DS. It implies the notion that by finding appeal in something which doesn’t fundamentally change the nature of the product, the consumer is somehow being deceived. But the beauty of most of Nintendo’s platforms is that their unique features are completely optional and to be used at the discretion of the developer. New Super Mario Brothers Wii doesn’t require motion control, Mario Kart DS found no use for touch capabilities, and the 3D slider on the 3DS means that for the most ardent haters of 3D, and those suffering from visual impairment, there is little to complain about. Seeing as the majority of those who have managed to get hands-on time with the portable have approved, it is reasonable to assume that the 3D integration has been well implemented.

The genius of the 3DS is in its gimmicky appeal. 3D is a notoriously difficult experience to describe as although the technology is hardly new, it hasn’t been mainstream enough for the language used to describe a 3D experience to mature effectively. That will change in time, and once we have become accustomed to 3DS games we will be better equipped to interpret screenshots and streaming footage, and imagine how they would look when played on the 3DS.

Until then the way in which we will tell our friends and relatives about the 3DS is by showing it to them. Nothing is more effective than a hands-on experience with an appealing gimmick, and it has a massive potential for sales through word of mouth and demonstrations alone. In the case of the DS, touch screen technology was a known quantity, and whilst interesting to the general public, was far from novel. They needed to play games like Dr. Kawashima’s Brain Training to understand why the technology would appeal to them. In the case of the 3DS a cursory glance at the screen is enough to intrigue most people. The ‘Oooooooooo I want one’ factor (as it is known by behavioral psychologists) is a powerful marketing force and one which the 3DS taps into perfectly. The real coup de grace though is the ability for the 3DS to take 3D photos. Honestly, this feature is going to sell an awful lot more pieces of hardware and might just prove to be a real stroke of genius. Everyone will want to take photos of their friends, their families and their pets and to show them to other people using the 3DS. When they do so, they will be showing that person why they too need to buy a 3DS.

After all of that, the quality of the actual games seems less important, but this looks like the strongest launch period line-up Nintendo have ever produced. Even if they don’t all get released in the launch window, they show that the 3DS has the ability to appeal to everyone. Mario Kart, Animal Crossing, Nintendogs and cats, Layton and plenty of others are perfect titles to ensnare the casual market, while the promise of games like Metal Gear, Resident Evil and Kid Icarus mean that to play some of your favorite franchises you can’t afford to miss the 3DS.

I previously believed that the 3DS would kick start another reissue of SNES games, such as the Mario platformers, in 3D and I still believe they will be coming. But the fact that Mario 64, Zelda: Ocarina of Time and Star Fox 64 have all been displayed as 3D demonstrations on the device gives a clear indication that Nintendo is going to be tapping up its N64 generation of games. With a lot of classic titles that could be converted to 3DSware, a robust downloadable service for Nintendo’s handheld is a must. Despite the complex ownership issues I for one would love to see games such as Blast Corps in glorious 3D.

Although they have been available to play, there are still some questions about the 3DS that need answering. The specifics haven’t been spelled out yet, but the games look good. Most have compared them to Gamecube level, and on a portable device you don’t need much better than that. Suffice to say that we won’t be seeing the Lego block style of 3D that we saw on the DS. It looks good enough to do franchises like Metal Gear and Resident Evil justice, and it looks good enough that people who have never played games on an HDTV will be suitably impressed.

It is also a very good looking device in of itself. And with a very similar appearance to the DS Lite and DSi, of course it should be. But thinking back on the original Gameboy, the GBA and the DS, first iterations of handheld Nintendo devices have always been ugly as sin and uncomfortable to hold. As such the 3DS is a huge step up in terms of a first attempt from Nintendo and will appeal even more to the general public at launch, as opposed to several years and several redesigns later. But Nintendo makes a lot of money from those redesigns so you can expect to find a new 3DS in a few years. They will no doubt make improvements in the clarity of the screen, the effectiveness of the 3D itself and shrink or expand the size, but the point is that this time you are actually getting something that feels more like a finished piece of hardware, rather than a clunky prototype.

There are only three possible reasons I can think of which might lead me to feasting on the moist headwear of more unfortunate people.

The first is a massive hardware failure, and by massive I mean on a grander scale than the RROD. 360 owners, as dedicated gamers, were angered by the failure rate, but there was little doubt that they would pick up a replacement. Casual gamers might not be so forgiving. Seeing as Nintendo always produces quality and durable hardware this seems very unlikely.

The second is that it could be priced too high. 200 dollars would be the most I can see people being comfortable with considering that consoles cost little more than that, so if they went to 250 it could slow the early adoption rate. With that said, Nintendo doesn’t usually make the mistake of launching at too high a price, and even though the Wii started at 250 it did include a pack-in.

Lastly, and the most unlikely of the three, is that Sony could pull something incredible out of the hat for a successor to the PSP. At this stage I can’t really see what they could possibly do to outmaneuver Nintendo and convince me not to buy a 3DS. Better graphics isn’t going to cut it this time. If they do decide to dip back into the handheld market (and considering they did sell plenty of PSPs it seems probable) then besides a tweaked PSP, the only way I can see them going is forward is with a cell phone gaming device hybrid. Then at that point they are taking on the iPhone; not the smartest thing to do.

With the 3DS destined for greatness I just have to wait to get my hands on one. Several million others are probably thinking the same thing.

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Written by Stevie L.

Stevie Lim is a man in Japan.


  1. steven g /

    great article. It will be interesting to see if Nintendo do go down the Wii route and do a pack in. Perhaps a game and movie combo or something, already installed on the on board memory?

    Talking of which I hope there is either plenty of on board memory (unlike the DSi) OR we can load games of SD cards (but with the authorisation codes on the actual console).

    What will Sony do with the PSP2? They will make it high end and out do apple, or at least try. Imagine a smaller Ipad, more the size of the Dell handheld currently out but half the power of a PS3 and with always on connectivity via 3G and Wifi, with quality AAA titles and the smaller cheaper experiences currently being launched on their MINI platform.

    In some ways Nintendo have helped Sony by creating blue water between the two company’s proposition. Apple’s insistence on using a touch screen only will allow Sony to offer an Itouch/Ipad combo for those that want both touch screen, amazing content and traditional controls. Sony need to sort out their online content experience though, and in the last year the film and comics have shown they CAN do it. If they can add books and music (which shouldn’t be hard) then they can compete.

    Im glad you really were impressed with the 3DS – it seems everyone who has actually seen one in the wild has been.

  2. Kevin M /

    I definately think Sony will go down the smart phone route, but whether that is wise or not, only time will tell. They should probably release two versions, one with phone functionality and one without, much like iPhone and iPod Touch. I do hope they add another nub controller, as it’s the one thing missing from the original console. What I’d love to see would be the ability to play PS3 games on a portable via OnLive style cloud technology, now that would be something. You can already browse your PS3 XMB with the PSP, so that would be the next logical step.

    The 3DS looks superb, and I can’t wait to get my mitts on one. I hope they manage to release it before Christmas, but I have my doubts. Just give me plenty of storage for a selection of games and a decent store to download retro and new titles, and perhaps movies and I’ll be happy.

    • Patrick G /

      Sorry no Christmas release I already checked 🙁 March 2011

  3. Stevie L. /

    Interesting thoughts on what a new PSP would have to do. Although the onlive style cloud tech would be amazing, I just can’t see them doing it. I think the approach to portable gaming in relation to the PSP is different to the DS in that (although we all own one) the DS is far more appealing to kids which makes it working in the traditional playground setting. A PSP that was more similar to an ipad would run the risk of alienating the younger audience.

    Honestly though, if Monster Hunter comes to the 3DS then, in Japan at least, this contest is over. Perhaps going upmarket is the only thing Sony could do.

    • steven g /

      I think there is nowhere else for them to go. Did you notice how Nintendos boss kept on saying how 3DS represents the mass market solution. They know that Apple will never release anything with a similar spec sub £150, and this device will eventually be around £130, albeit not at release.

      Sony have to go high end, but I don’t think they will put phone call functionality int he device for 2 reasons. 1 the battery couldn’t cope, it barely does with an Iphone if you use it for proper 3D games. Secondly I don’t their agreement with Ericsson would allow them and Im sure they would not want Sony Ericsson to release the full PSP2 and share the potential profits – it has to stay within Sony proper.

      Then again, they might buy out Ericsson…..

  4. Krazyface /

    Hahahahahahaaaaaaaa! Fools! There will be no March 2011! We’ll all be basking on brimstone and slaving away for our alien masters… or somesuch : P

    • Oni-Samurai /

      Thats ridiculous. The world is ending in 2012 I saw the true-life documentary on DVD. Thankfully I will have played Uncharted 3, AC3, Batman: AA2, The Last Guardian and lots of other games by then as they’ll all be out by winter 2011.

  5. half_empty80 /

    I will be pre-ordering a 3DS. In all my 30 years this will be the first console I own on launch day. I can’t wait. Bring it on!

    • Krazyface /

      Bwahahaaaa! Go on then! Throw your monies away!!! Are you sure you’d rather not buy a bombshelter? Or maybe invest in 2011 Bill Gates Moonbase Fund? To add your donation and win a chance of staying alive till 2012, simply buy a 360 Slim!!! Hurry, offer ends Jan 25th 2011….

      • Krazyface, just seeing your “responses” makes me want to kick your teeth in. You’re just a meatheaded goon!

        BTW I think the 3ds will fail…miserably.

        £230 for a handheld in uk, nonsense. utter nonsense

  6. byteme /

    Epic fail for me. They have got to stop thinking like old goats and start openning up the system. Beef up those cameras or don’t bother, and enough with the no-blood rules too fcs.

    I’m sure as hell not replacing my DS Lite which plays 1000s of titles from GBA/DS with this pos.

    Now if they released one that played the old games (and even supported multi-player linking on them all… somehow) I would gladly pay double and buy two tomorrow.

    This system just feels like another corporate hijacking attempt on peoples wallets like the DSi.

  7. james braselton /

    hi there i will be first too preorder dont want too sell out and yes there is plenty of memory on board internal memory from wakia pedia is 2 gb flash memory 30 million comadores are still in use with atari 2600 at 128 bytes of memory comadore 64 64 kb of memory ds 256 kb umd from sony 1.8 gb soo use data compression and save band with you could hold 8 dsi or 4 wii storage like i have 18 games apps on my dsi soo it is possable too put 144 games and apps on nintendo 3DS wich i have that many on iphone 4 ipad and ipod touch

  8. I seriously doubt it will be the most successful portable console of all time, Gameboy was, PSP is.

    3DS has a long way to reach the number one spot.

  9. Savanna /

    This hand held game is awesome… but my mom said i cant get it.. 🙁 plzz get it for mee!!!

  10. Thorney /

    I’m a Nintendo fan, but – circa mid 2011 – christ is this article funny in retrospect.

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