Is there such a thing as too much 3DS? Nick D. doesn’t think so!
Hello, my name is Nick D. and I can’t resist buying the New 3DS, even though I already own a 3DS. What can I say? Nintendo’s latest redesign has me hooked, from its aesthetic to its utility. I don’t normally jump for joy at redesigns, evidenced by the fact that I still have a huge PS3 in my living room instead of one of the sleeker models. However, there’s been something about the 3DS line that I haven’t been able to resist. I purchased the original 3DS at launch back in 2011, and I dipped again into the 3DSXL pool when that was launched. I feel no remorse over these purchases. After all, I’ve gotten infinitely more use out of my 3DSs than I have my poor Vita, but, to some, these expenditures would be strange. Why would you buy a slightly better version of something you already have, especially when the functions are essentially the same? Some would see me as part of the problem in our consumer culture. However, there are some pretty good reasons to upgrade, reasons that, for me, easily justify the price point.
The New 3DS is Nintendo’s third redesign of its phenomenally popular handheld. The first major redesign was the 3DSXL, which provided all of the same features, but with a bigger screen. It was a worthy upgrade, though I’ve heard some rumblings that resolution is problematic for some games (a charge I’ve not personally encountered). The second redesign for the 3DS, the 2DS, perplexed most games. It did away with the system’s hinges and the eponymous 3D effect. However, this system wasn’t designed for gamers, who were looking to upgrade. It was a budget system for those wanting to get in cheap, but, more importantly, it was for children. The lack of hinges made the beast far more durable than the regular or XL versions of the system, and the lack of the 3D effect protected the growing eyes of extremely young children, which are allegedly vulnerable to the effect. That brings us to the New 3DS. It comes with a bunch of tiny upgrades such as improved battery life, built-in Amiibo support and whatnot. But there are three major changes that were enough to bring me over to the dark side: enhanced 3D capabilities, the C Stick, and the improved GPU.
The enhanced 3D capabilities are the least of the major upgrades, though still notable. I, like many 3DS owners, play predominantly with the 3D slider turned off. It’s too distracting to keep moving my head into position for what little effect there is. The New 3DS is claiming, and reports have been positive, that its 3D effect will be able to track head positioning, meaning that you will no longer have to be keeping perfectly still at just the right angle to use the 3D. Is this enough for someone to purchase the system? No. I’ll still probably play mostly with the slider off unless it works considerably better than I’m imagining. However, it improves the eponymous feature of the 3DS in such a way as to make it worth using. That alone is worth something.
Back in 2010 when the original 3DS was announced, everyone was losing their mind. The excitement and hype surrounding the new handheld was insane, which made it weird that, come release day, the mood had turned so sour. However, when I watched the announcement, I couldn’t help but slam my head against the wall over and over again at the design. I’ve been invested in every handheld generation, and there was something I learned in the last generation.The DS was predominantly a 2D machine even though it could pull off some 3D graphics. The PSP, however, was full of huge 3D games. But the PSP had a singular flaw – the lack of a second analog stick. It’s something you don’t think about with 2D games, but camera control is key in 3D ones. Some great PSP games such as Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, Resistance Retribution, or, my personal favourite, Valkyria Chronicles II, were hurt by bad controls due to the lack of a second analog stick. Sony realized this, and the Vita wisely accommodated two sticks. Nintendo didn’t. Perhaps it was because of lack of experience with 3D graphics on a handheld. Whatever the reason, the 3DS launched with one analog stick, and doomed itself to bad camera controls for its graphically-intensive games.
Sure, Nintendo eventually relented and released the Circle Pad Pro, a huge dock for the system containing a second circle pad. But its clumsy design, leading gamers to dub it the ‘Frankenstick’, left a lot to be desired. On top of this, it isn’t easy to find in stores. I have yet to see one in person. The New 3DS is finally set to fix what the first 3DS redesign should have. A second analog stick is exactly what the 3DS needs as it improves its power and moves further into the 3D graphics world. Fortunately, because of the Frankenstick, there are already games such as Resident Evil: Revelations and Kid Icarus: Rising, which are set to accommodate the second stick. More importantly, the launch of Monster Hunger 4 and Xenoblade Chronicles, both huge 3D adventures coincide with the release of the New 3DS, thus making use of the long-needed nub.
Speaking of Xenoblade Chronicles, my biggest reason for upgrading to the New 3DS is the improved GPU. Nintendo has announced that there will be games released solely for the New 3DS. Normally, I wouldn’t care too much. After all, there were exclusive games for the DSi last generation. However, they are kicking it off with Xenoblade Chronicles, which was hands down, in my opinion, the single best game of last generation. Not only am I impressed that such a game can even fit on the 3DS, but I’m also keen to be able to play such a monster-sized game on the go. Some people have complained about being cut out due to the exclusive games. This is unfortunate, but ultimately good. It’s better than Nintendo make a redesign and upgrade the GPU rather than them release a brand new handheld. The latter decision would require everyone to buy a new system to play all games, rather than only a few.
In the end, hardware is unimportant. Games are what matters, and gamers will follow the games they want to whatever hardware has them. For example, I picked up the original Playstation solely because of Final Fantasy VII. Similarly, I purchased the Nintendo 64 for Ocarina of Time. People who cannot resist games such as Xenoblade Chronicles will be compelled to purchase the redesign. Is this bad for consumers? Of course not. In its current state, the 3DS cannot handle games of that magnitude. So, without the redesign, they wouldn’t exist. The only risk is that too many developers will take advantage of the new GPU and develop games almost exclusively for the New 3DS, thus forcing people to upgrade. However, in gaming, upgrading systems is a regular occurrence, and not particularly shocking.
The New 3DS is what I’ve always wanted the 3DS to be. With such a statement behind me, is there any doubt why I’m willing to make the plunge again? As I said, I’ve had a horse in every handheld generation to ever exist, and I can say without hyperbole that the 3DS is the best handheld ever made, with the best handheld games ever made. If Nintendo asks for a little more to unlock even more potential for this already amazing system, I don’t care. This is a system that has thrived on delivering the premier quality handheld experience. I think I’m willing to pay more to get more of that.