Round Table: Our Hopes for 3DS

With decades of hardware out there, Nintendo has many missteps it can avoid with 3DS. Here’s what we’re hoping 3DS avoids and succeeds at.

By M. Noah Ward. Posted 03/29/2011 16:00 1 Comment     ShareThis

3DS Being Played by Man

Famicom 3D? Virtual Boy? 3D Goggles for GameCube? None of those sound comfortable. Cumbersome headsets you have to hunch into or have hanging off your ears is not only physically unappealing, but then there’s the whole business of the visuals themselves. Whether red and black or dim and blurry, these machines’ experiences and graphics are not 3DS’, thankfully. Yet in their defense, those previous 3D gaming efforts by Nintendo weren’t given the full-court press that 3DS is getting. Dozens of the world’s best developers, a major marketing campaign and a legacy piggybacking off the most successful handheld of all time (that’d be DS) is the most serious Nintendo could get in 3D gaming.

So what lessons have we learned from and now fear? From overly rash health warnings to lackluster software libraries, there’s a lot of 3D history we’re hoping isn’t repeated, and that’s before we consider DS’s few faults, which almost all lie within the realm of online stores and gaming, if not the excessive iterating of the hardware. Which of these pet peeves are our favorites? We let you know below, where we call out the one or two pitfalls we hope go away or never arise during 3DS’s life cycle.

Aaron Roberts

Here’s what I really wanna see on the 3DS: something that proves beyond the shadow of a doubt that this kind of stereoscopic 3D is really the wave of the future. Not having glasses is a huge start. That’s always been the barrier to entry. There are other issues, of course, but now that British airports have holograms instead of ticket agents, maybe anything is possible.

You know what else I’d like to see? Some new franchises. Yes, I, like most red-blooded Power Players, am excited beyond all belief at the games that have already been announced, like Paper Mario, Mario Kart, Zelda, Kingdom Hearts, and Kid Icarus, but I want to see some new stuff. Nintendo did a great job with stuff like this on the original DS. Titles like Elite Beat Agents, Slide Adventure MAGKID, and Hotel Dusk, that both achieved critical acclaim and used new or different methods of playing. That’s what I’m looking forward to more than anything.

Andy Hoover

Pilotwings Resort ScreenshotNow that I’ve actually had the chance to experience Nintendo’s latest marvel, I am hoping to see more of what Pilotwings Resort did perfectly. My biggest fear when it comes to 3D, for movies and games, is of developers simply throwing stuff at the screen and calling it a day– Pilotwings Resort doesn’t do this. I want to describe its use of 3D as subtle, but that really doesn’t do the effectiveness of it justice. The way 3D is implemented seamlessly, more as a natural part of the whole gameplay experience rather than quick flashes of special effects, is really the way to implement it. Once you get over the initial 3D shock, it should melt into the game to the point that you don’t really notice it until it is taken away, instead of being used as a distraction to the rest of the game. Nintendo obviously has this down already; now we just need to see if other developers are as savvy.

When it comes to games on 3DS, I want to see more big experiences than there were on DS. Games for the casual, female, and younger crowd are always welcome, but I think we can all agree that there was a lot of shovelware to dig through to get to the gems. I’m hoping the added processing power and 3D effects will attract more accomplished developers, something we are already seeing happen, and I further hope they will bring along their more ambitious ideas. RPGs found a great home on DS; now I want to see what Square Enix and Atlus will do with ideas developed from the ground up for the hardware. Okamiden and Zelda blended newer and older ideas to fit the hardware, but now we can experience the bigger, more detailed worlds we had in their console outings. And let’s not forget the shooters. Renegade Kid produced amazingly atmospheric worlds with the DS’s meager hardware, but I can only begin to imagine how they will use both the extra power and 3D effect to freak us out.

Andrew Hsieh

I like games. I really do. But when it comes to 3DS, what Nintendo is touting isn’t the games– it’s the 3-D part of it. Here’s a secret: I’ve never seen a 3D movie in my life. This is because I honestly don’t think the 3D aspect of films or games or whatever is really the selling point of them for me. I watch films and play games in hopes that they’ll be fun to watch and play. So of course, the biggest hope I have for 3DS is that it’s got good games. Maybe this sounds like something incredibly obvious, but keep in mind that the big thing about DS was that it had a touch screen, and what did we get the first couple months? Games that didn’t use the touch screen very well at all. In keeping with the “3D is supreme” philosophy, I fear developers, at least initially, will overdo the whole 3D part and ignore the other aspects of what makes a game great. And that would suck.

And of course, I’m always worried about Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection, but that’s just beating a dead Epona. I guess I could complain more about that, though I’m sure people wouldn’t like that. I do agree with Aaron’s sentiments about new franchises, though, but that’s probably a moot point by now too; Andy brings up a great point about “big experiences.” Yeah, it turns out when it comes to the 3DS, I think alike with them other Nintendojo-ers. Who knew? But I stand by my points about 3-D. Seriously, just let me play in 2-D, and I’ll be perfectly happy.

Smith Stuart

I’ve never been a big fan of 3D in any of my media, but 3DS is looking to change that for me. Sure, the launch lineup lacks a killer app and the retail price is a doozy for those of us without excess cash, but those two drawbacks have come to be the standard for practically all launches. Like its predecessors, 3DS will grow greater as time goes by and the scheduled must-haves hit store shelves; and when that clock begins to strike on a regular basis we will be glad we made our purchase.

Regardless of the quality in initial content, Nintendo’s creation of a three-dimensional experience without the glasses is going to be just as revolutionary and talked about as Wii’s motion sensitivity was. That you can bank on. Now whether it delivers to the hardcore base or not (and I fully believe it will), is still a matter of wait-and-see.

Matthew Tidman

My biggest fear for 3DS was that the media would treat it as just another Virtual Boy, a gimmick that was too expensive and totally unworthy of the Nintendo name. Thankfully, that does not appear to be the case, with praise coming in from media outlets across the board. So at the very least, 3DS has that going for it.

No, the pitfall I am most desperate for Nintendo’s new portable to avoid is for Nintendo (and 3rd parties) to forget that it’s a portable system. That was where Virtual Boy truly failed. You couldn’t whip it out during a long car ride because the system had to rest on a solid surface to experience its 3D. With 3DS, this is again a huge concern as once you get out of the “sweet spot,” the 3D effect is utterly ruined.

My mind is eased, though, because Nintendo did include the slider to turn 3D off. It may not always be feasible to play your games in 3D, but it will always be possible to play your games.

James Stank

I don’t have too much to say when it comes to what I want from 3DS. All I want is for 3D to improve the gaming experience in the same way that Nintendo did with the touch screen. 3DS is going to be a huge success, and if 3D doesn’t take off, it won’t be the end of the world.

While the “3D” in 3DS obviously corresponds to the system’s 3D functions, it could also mean third iteration of DS. Wouldn’t that be the fifth, you ask? No. Both the original DS and DS Lite are in the first release, with the DSi systems being in the second. Therefore, if 3D fails, Nintendo still has a powerful handheld that they can make non-3D games for. Games won’t just be playable in 3D, and Nintendo was very smart to add the 3D slider.

Kevin Knezevic

The one misstep I hope Nintendo does not repeat is the Virtual Console– not the service itself, of course, but the rate at which it was updated. This was its biggest problem on Wii: the service was one of the console’s most-touted features, but throughout its life it had been plagued by unbearably slow updates. It took years for the service to amass a respectable catalog of classic titles, and oftentimes the wait for a personal favorite became excruciating. Even now, almost five years into Wii’s lifecycle, it still does not have every Nintendo classic available for download, a scenario I really did not expect given the emphasis placed on it before the system launched. I sincerely hope 3DS’s Virtual Console is updated at a much more reasonable pace, as there are many Game Boy titles I never had the opportunity to play before now.

And like Aaron, I’d also really like to see some new franchises from the Big N. DS became the home to a few, but I’d personally like something more along the lines of Mario or Zelda, a lengthy adventure starring a new, memorable character to complement the company’s existing pantheon of mascots. The lack of this kind of IP, I think, really hurt Wii’s image with the hardcore gamer, and Nintendo would be wise to rectify this mistake to ensure 3DS, like its predecessor, becomes a varied and healthy platform that suits everyone’s gaming needs.

You may have a 3DS in your hands, and your opinions about the hardware and its launch games are manifest in your mind. But what about you and your hopes for the future? Do you echo some ponderances above, or is there something else on your mind? Let us know in the comments section below.

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