So, Nintendo’s 3DS has had an up and down 2011 to say the least, but as we sit here at the beginning of 2012 things definitely seem to be more up than down. That said, the 3DS still has a way to go before it can call itself the equal of the original DS. The 3DS is a good system — the DS was one of the greatest of all time.
I have a feeling the 3DS may never quite match up to the DS, but delivering the following six things will get it as close as it possibly can…
One of the most unexpected and pleasantly surprising things the DS delivered was a mini-resurgence of the point and click adventure genre. In particular, for the first time pretty much ever, DS owners saw a number of Japanese adventure games localized for the Western market, and they were some of the best titles on the system. The Ace Attorney games, Hotel Dusk, 999 and Ghost Trick were among my favorite DS titles.
So far the 3DS hasn’t had much to offer adventure fans. Cing, the company behind the great Hotel Dusk, has sadly gone out of business, but what about a new Ace Attorney game? A sequel to the excellent 999 called Extreme Escape Adventure: Good People Die is about to arrive in Japan, but nobody seems to be stepping up to localize it. Come on guys, I want to poke at pixels and combine objects in 3D!
Extreme Escape Adventure — somebody localize this game! It’s got a crazy rabbit thing! Uh, and boobs! Boobs!
The 3DS Lite
Nintendo’s being unusually coy about whether or not a redesign of the 3DS is on the way, and that’s understandable — after a tumultuous 2011, they don’t want to rock the boat now that things are on track. That said, Nintendo handheld consoles rarely become truly great until the first revision. Yeah, it kind of sucks for early adopters, but hey, we all knew what we were getting into.
The 3DS has far fewer flaws than the DS or GBA had at first, but it’s hardly perfect. At the very least I’m hoping for one with better battery life and a screen with a greater range of possible viewing angles. Also make it out of something that’s a bit less fingerprint friendly so I can give my OCD addled mind a bit of a rest.
The original DS was all about the RPG, but so far the 3DS has been pretty barren for fans of the grind. Sure, there are a few games from Square-Enix on the way in 2012, but I want a return of the DS scene where there was a new weird and wacky RPG out every damn week.
Thankfully, unlike the situation with adventure games, I know the RPGs will probably arrive eventually. Once Pokemon and Monster Hunter arrive the floodgates will open, but until then the 3DS is missing an important piece of the puzzle.
This plus Pokemon = The system all the Japanese RPGs are going to that generation.
The DS’ greatness was mostly based on three pillars — RPGs, adventure games and…puzzle games. Whether they were classic match-the-colored-blocks games, number games like sudoku and Picross or story-based titles like Professor Layton, the DS had some of the most addictive puzzlers around.
So far the 3DS selection of puzzlers is pretty paltry. There’s a so-so version of Tetris, and Konami released a lame Layton rip-off, but that’s about it. Come on guys, you’re losing your old people audience every day the 3DS continues to exist without good puzzle games.
There’s a 3DS Layton game, it just hasn’t left Japan yet. Come on Nintendo, old people want to give you their money!
The DS was the last Nintendo portable to allow you to play games from anywhere in the world without tampering with your system. There’s something special about a region-free machine — it makes you feel like you have a whole world’s worth of wacky gaming available to you.
Nintendo’s decision to region lock the 3DS probably has something to do with piracy, but the days when the games released in Europe and Japan were whispered myths are gone. We all know what gets released in other parts of the world, and people are going to do everything they can to make them playable on their systems. Give people less of a reason to mess with the 3DSes and just remove the region locking — you’ll have to listen to far less bitching from the Project Rainfall people if you do, promise.
Games From Nintendo’s Rogue Development Teams
So far most of 3DS games developed by Nintendo have been the work of their big central Shigeru Miyamoto-lead EAD development group (EAD stands for Entertainment Analysis and Development). The games they’ve delivered, like Super Mario 3D Land and Mario Kart 7 have been darn good, but in the past the best portable Nintendo games have actually come from Nintendo’s quirkier, more obscure divisions. Divisions like Yoshio Sakamoto’s Software Planning & Development Group 1, Intelligent Systems and Skip.
These teams have been responsible for stuff like the Metroid series, the WarioWare games, Rhythm Heaven and Fire Emblem. Mario and Zelda are great, but to me it’s these more unique games that really make a Nintendo handheld worthwhile.