What I took from Nintendo’s E3 press conference was a feeling of excitement for the future of its hardware. The Wii U may have a silly name but the controller itself looks like it could be a lot of fun and full of potential for developers. The 3DS has a number of first party games heading its way which usually means gamers will be in for a treat since Nintendo titles are rarely a bad thing.
However Sony are nipping at their heels with the PSVita, the all powerful dual-analog PSP successor that’s set to launch later this year for exactly the same price as the 3DS, $249. Nintendo were wise to release their handheld so early, avoiding too much comparison to the PSVita because at the time, its details were sparse. But was it too early? Did Nintendo shoot themselves in the foot by launching the 3DS without all the glitz and glam we’ve come to expect from a new piece of hardware? Nintendo of America boss, Reggie Fils-Aime doesn’t think so. He told Kotaku that day one sales for the 3DS were very strong as they were for the first week. There was a lot of love for the device from the people who bought one. But it was the people who didn’t that interested Nintendo more and when asked why they hadn’t parted with their cash, the response summarised the two main issues with the 3DS that Reggie believes has now been addressed; no big first party title and a weakened online experience. The missing eShop was apparently a bigger deal than initially thought.
In terms of a big first party game, I think Nintendo may have overestimated the appeal of Nintendogs + Cats. That was their big-hitter for launch but unlike the original Nintendogs, didn’t get systems flying off shelves. But now The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is out, Reggie is confident it will scratch the itch of anyone hungry for a Nintendo classic. And the coming months only brings more of these potential hits. “We’re going to follow with a steady drumbeat of Star Fox and Kid Icarus and two Mario titles (Super Mario 3D and Super Mario Kart 3D) and the Luigi title (Luigi’s Mansion 2).” That’s all well and good but the downside of course is the 3DS could then become just another Nintendo player with all the buzz surrounding their games and not those of third parties. Part of the reason why the big N didn’t release a true triple A game at launch was so that said parties weren’t then competing with Nintendo for sales. Commendable yes but evidently not what the consumers wanted.
As for the online experience, Reggie was defiant that the lacklustre efforts of last generation tech was a thing of the past. “We’ve just done the first network update. We’ve got the eShop up and running. We’ve got the 3D movie service still on track for the summer. We’ve got Netflix still on track for the summer. So I think we’re well underway to having that addressed as well,” he said adding, “we’re going to be back with strong momentum on the 3DS.” The eShop is considerably impressive compared to what we were given on the DSi and Wii. It kicked off with some great games and hopefully will continue to do so plus a 3D movie trailer for the Green Lantern begins the motion picture content Reggie speaks of. There is still the Aardman Animations exclusive shorts supposedly coming to the store plus 3D TV streaming from Sky so more interesting stuff on the way. But it’s still quite out of reach at the moment so not a back-of-box bullet point just yet.
Now that the two main objections for buying a 3DS have been rectified, will it be plain sailing from here on? I hope so for our sake but what is always going to be challenging for Nintendo is getting the message across to non-gaming enthusiasts that the 3DS isn’t a slightly upgraded DS but a whole lot more. You can’t show stereoscopic 3D through traditional adverts and the online functionality needs to be experienced first hand really. Back to the main point, did the 3DS launch before it was ready? I guess the argument really is doesn’t every system?