So let’s talk about this 3DS XL thing.
There’s been quite a bit of anger about this particular handheld console since its announcement shortly after E3. Especially since it wasn’t announced at E3 as everyone would expect.
Huh, why do people get so upset when celebrities get bigger?
E3 itself was a disappointment as I’ve come to understand it. It seems the major publishers announced a rather narrow range of upcoming games (mostly shooters) save for Sony’s reveals. But you can go look at Jim Sterling’s bit in Jimquisition about that. Nintendo did announce some interesting new WiiU games and 3DS games including a Mario game that would feature DLC but… I’m not here to talk about DLC today. Plus, I’m under the impression (though I wouldn’t be surprised if I was wrong) that more than a few new games and some sequels highlighted how they would have a PC release since it seems that the PC’s design allows for gaming now more than ever.
Plus many console owners felt a new generation of Playstation and XBox systems would be revealed. Personally, I get why they didn’t. Designing new consoles is an incredibly expensive venture especially if you wish to make a significant jump in technology and graphics.
Though from what I hear we won’t see a major graphics jump until the Unreal Engine 4 is released and I’m getting mixed messages about how that one will shake down. While sources from http://arstechnica.com stated that top of the line hardware would be required for the engine to function at full capacity (they also indicated the Wii U wouldn’t be able to support it as of the intended console release date) but they also mentioned a scaled down version for current consoles. So lord knows what will happen.
Inevitably that disappointment from E3 crested shortly afterward with the announcement of the 3DS XL.
So let’s look at it.
Honestly, I’m not surprised that a larger screen for the 3DS was announced. Compared to the final iteration of the DS, the XL, the 3DS’s screen doesn’t do the handheld’s graphics justice. Now you might argue that Nintendo is just making a grab for your money and that they always had a version of the XL ready for 3DS and they want to bleed the fans, let’s just shelve that talk for now. If you finish reading this and you still think that, sure, more power to you. But, for now, let’s consider all angles about this handheld and play devil’s advocate for a bit.
So, do I think Nintendo always intended to have a larger screen for the 3DS? Of course I do. Do I think they were always capable of it? No. Not really.
I’ll give Nintendo credit; they do their best to make sure that they have hardware architecture that is as solid as possible for release, even if they know they’re capable of superior versions down the line. We saw this with the GBA, the original DS, and the Wii Motion Plus. Nintendo will ship as stable an iteration of their hardware as possible before launch. Hence why you could throw your old grey brick DS in the toilet and it’d laugh at you. This trend isn’t even news in Nintendo’s history. When Sega made the Game Gear, a color system that ate so many batteries you had to keep it wall jacked to play, Nintendo stuck with their grey and yellow graphics, only giving them minor polish until they could make color viable. Yeah, the technology was there, but it wasn’t feasible in their eyes.
Don’t get me wrong, I still like the Game Gear.
Sure Miyamoto stated how there wouldn’t be a new 3DS but guys, honestly, he designs software for Nintendo. Why would you believe him? However, I do get the frustration about this. Nintendo had their poster boy bold-face lie to the consumer. Especially when the Miyamoto’s statement was reported June 14th (earliest I’ve found) of this year and they announced the XL… seven days later. Christ, that’s quick. Nintendo I get changing your minds about this but come on, that’s so damn close that it blatantly says you used Miyamoto to lie about it. At least put some effort into it.
And the other complaint about the 3DS XL isn’t the price. Actually at only $199 US (30 dollars more than the current iteration) it’s a reasonable jump up for an upgrade. Hell, just go trade in your 3DS, lord knows EB Games will give you a trade bonus. The complaint is the reveal that a second joystick won’t be implemented into the system.
Okay, so since we’ve reached the actual crux of this argument let’s roll up our sleeves and dig into it right.
First of all, a while ago (around the time the Vita was announced) Nintendo announced that the Circle Pad Pro would be created to give gamers games with more control options, if they chose, for their 3DS. For games like Kid Icarus: Upskirt I mean, Uprising and Metal Gear Solid 3D Snake Eater these were handy upgrades that aided control. However, not a lot of games needed the upgrade because the 3DS was using games that relied more on the touch pad as a secondary control scheme.
So naturally gamers were upset when the hardware addition of a second stick wasn’t part of the design of the 3DS XL. They argued that it limited the games that players could enjoy when they upgraded to the XL since the old Circle Pad Pros couldn’t fit on the new hardware. They argued that this limited the number of games that could be ported from other consoles (thus making third party developers even more hesitant to port to the console) all of which used two control sticks of some variety and since the 3DS was boasting three dimensional graphics in the name of the actual console, it stood to reason that not using a stick to control visuals in three-dimensional games was a mistake.
The counter argument, by fans of the innovation was that the 3DS and by proxy the DS never needed an added joystick in the first place, that’s what the touch pad was for. There aren’t enough titles that support two sticks and the DS has always been different with how it handled games by using two screens and it got along just fine up until now. Nintendo is simply being faithful to the design aesthetic they originally set forth that turned into the dominant handheld system on the planet. They also argued that the circulation of Circle Pad Pros was relatively limited to that of the 3DS and its games so it’s clear it wasn’t successful from a marketing standpoint. Plus, the system will be bundled with a 4 gigabyte SD card and have improved battery capacity “3.5 to 6.5 hours while playing 3DS games from the original’s 3 to 5 hours” -www.3dsbuzz.com/3ds-xl/.
However, if the former source is to be believed Japan and Europe won’t receive AC adaptors in their versions, meaning they’ll need to trade in or sell their old systems without it if they wish liquidate them for cash. Good luck! I know EB and Gamestop refuses to take systems without power supplies. I can’t speak for other retailers but they’d be wise to do the same.
But here’s my problem, my real problem with this; they’ve already announced the Circle Pad Pro for the 3DS XL before launch. That’s right; a peripheral that will add a good 20-30 dollars to the final cost of the hardware is being released at launch with the console but not bundled with. At that point you get really close to the cost of a basic Vita at 249 dollars by saying the Circle Pad Pro XL will be purchasable additional hardware.
You see, this comes across as bad hardware design by not being inclusive and it’s one of the few instances in Nintendo’s history where it’s occurred. Nintendo systems, when they don’t have the architecture already built in, have their innovations bundled with the product as much as possible. It’s why Zappers were included with the Nintendo Entertainment System and why sleeves were included with the Motion Plus add-on before becoming an integrated part of the controller.
And you might, might argue that add-ons like Rob The Robot and The Super Scope didn’t get an eventual bundle wait, wait, The Super Scope DID get a bundle?
Huh, blow me down.
Wait… that’s the PAL version. Do I count that? Should I count that? Well, I’ll count it anyway.
Where was I? Oh yeah; those hardware add-ons were unproven iterations that did not lead successful runs during Nintendo’s use of them. Nearly every console uses two control sticks. It is proven technology.
Plus, it isn’t as if developers have to use the second stick. To the consoles’ credit their version of the control stick is the most unobtrusive it’s ever been. Plus some games in the DS library, and good ones at that, don’t even use the touch screen. In addition; this is a handheld, the key feature of the concept being mobility and transport. Handhelds have long since done away with additional attachable components to reduce on size and compound value for dollar purchase.
The biggest thing it comes down to is that by saying no to a function you plan to implement anyway, you limit options. You limit developers and end users with this decision and in this era of gaming, more features are required. To give gamers more control is one of the best and easiest ways to retain their loyalty as you continue forward with each new iteration of your hardware.
Plus, the more cynical of us realize that if a second stick becomes successful, we’ll see a new 3DS hardware iteration with a second stick built-in eventually.
So too does this work exist.