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Trouble In the Third Dimension: Why the Nintendo 3DS Is Struggling

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Posted by: Robert Workman

A little while back, we posted a positive editorial talking about how Nintendo had a bright and chipper future with its Nintendo 3DS handheld. Well, not everything is hunky dory in portable land, as there are also some negative aspects to consider when it comes to Nintendo’s system.

Now, if you’re a fan boy and really, really like everything the company makes, you probably won’t appreciate this article too much. However, there are some valid points to be taken into consideration, including some stuff that Nintendo could remedy with future updates. Let’s just hope that they get done sooner rather than later.

Now then, why the Nintendo 3DS is in trouble...let’s start with…

The return of the dreaded Friend Codes.

While there is some decent support when it comes to randomly matching up with players in some games (like Super Street Fighter IV: 3D Edition), we just can’t seem to shake Nintendo’s bothersome Friend Code addition. If you want to play with your friends on the 3DS, there’s no instantaneous way to transfer your information between the two of you. Instead, you have to share a Friend Code with them, and then hope that they return the favor for you, so you can be buddies, share Miis, and all that jazz. Nintendo should really develop a simple system for implementing friend information, rather than a lame twelve-digit number that most people don’t feel like bothering with.


Lame downloadable games.

While there are occasional diamonds in the rough available through Nintendo’s eShop (such as the recently released classic Gargoyle’s Quest and the upcoming freebie ten-pack of Virtual Console games for Ambassadors), we can’t help but wonder what Nintendo is thinking when it comes to some of these virtual game releases for the shop service. For instance – Urban Champion 3D. Someone actually thought, “Hmmm, it might be a good idea to bring this game back in a different dimension.” Only problem? IT’S STILL URBAN CHAMPION.


For that matter, some of these Game Boy offerings are just lame.

Baseball is so hideously bad it never deserved a release. The same goes for Alleyway, which is clearly put to shame by older, better-made ball and paddle games like Arkanoid and Super Breakout. Nintendo really needs to diversify more with its releases and go for the gusto with 3D classics that matter, like Super Mario Bros. 3 (we’d buy it) and a few N64 games for good measure – and not just Starfox 64 3D. If they do release Game Boy games, which are fine, make them good ones. Where the heck is Revenge of the Gator when we truly need it?!


Nintendo’s faith is slightly shaking.

In all its years in the console business, there’s only been one other instance where the big N has marked the price so drastically low this soon in a system’s life cycle – and that was getting the Virtual Boy off the store shelves. Granted, the 3DS doesn’t have the same red-and-black display problems that system did, and the games are way better (we still wish Waterworld never existed), but we can’t help but wonder if Nintendo is worried about the future of its little handheld. By comparison, it also dropped the price of its Nintendo DS system, down to a very reasonable $99 – and it’s still releasing games for it as well, including a new Kirby title.

"Dammit, we won't finish Star Fox for Virtua Boy in time!" "Doesn't matter, ship it and call it something else!"

Nintendo does have a strong line-up of games coming for the holiday season – including Mario Kart 7, Super Mario 3D Land, and Starfox. However, other big games, like Kid Icarus: Uprising, are being delayed. At the same time, other projects, like Mega Man Legends 3, are outright cancelled. We can’t help but wonder if developers will restore their faith in Nintendo’s system over time. It has to start with the primary company first.

Gyroscopics and 3D together don’t work.

It’s cool to have gyroscopic features with some games, and 3D with others, but trying to get the two to work together – forget it. Sure, you have a switch where you can toggle the visuals into 2D and play more effectively with the system’s tilting features, but doesn’t that defeat the purpose of buying a 3DS in the first place? Couldn’t DS games technically do the same thing? For once, too much stuff has been thrown into a game system, and it’s complicating things more than it needs to.


Apple still owns a good chunk of the portable market.

As tough as Nintendo is in the retail corner, and as many years as it dominated the game industry, it simply can’t compare with Apple – at least, not yet. Where the 3DS offers $40 games, downloadable cheapies, and a condensed Netflix experience, the iPad 2 offers solid FaceTime (though it’s not in 3D), cheap apps (most going for free or up to two bucks), and quick and convenient download transfers (rather than the minutes it takes to get Nintendo purchases working). The big N really needs to find a way to make its system more convenient and appealing to budget-happy gamers, and not just with $5 games like…ugh…Urban Champion. Get some diversity in there and offer more $1 games. Or hey, how about some “try before you buy” demos? There's nothing wrong with those. Just ask anyone who subscribes to Xbox Live or PlayStation Network.


Nintendo, you’ve got a lot of work ahead of you when it comes to fixing things with your 3DS. Time to make them right before the PS Vita and other handheld devices give you a true run for your money.

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