An Original Article by Atomic Moo Contributor, Numbers
First Published at True Game Truths and Republished Here With Permission.
Forget what you know about Nintendo! It’s time to cast aside the image of the Masters of the Rehash, constantly milking nostalgia; of the Champions of Market Confusion, unable to name their hardware or software. It’s time to forget all of that, and step forward into a new age where Nintendo is once again powerful, respected, and relevant!
Oh, they’re releasing Yet Another 4DS, one that’ll divide the player base this time? In that case, forget that entire first paragraph. Remember the old rule of “Never buy a first-generation Nintendo handheld”? We might need to push that rule back gen or two. Big N has recently announced a new, mid-generation entry to the “Nintendo 3DS family of systems.” First came the 3DS and the larger 3DS XL, which solved some of the issues (such as laughable battery life). Then came the 2DS, with an even dumber name, ridiculous design, and omission of the gimmick that gave the “family of systems” its name in the first place.
And soon, there will be another member of the family! Make way for the—
—“NEW NINTENDO 3DS”? Seriously? That’s the name?
“Hi, I’d like to buy a used New 3DS, please.”
“Well, which it be, new or used?”
So what’s new this time? Rest assured that isn’t just some “bigger screens, larger battery” sort of deal. This is a full-fledged hardware revision. Nintendo’s so serious about it that both the regular-sized and the XL versions will be available right out the gate. Ninty would be nothing without fanwanking, so on the smaller model, face buttons will be coloured like the Super Famicom’s pad. The XL version will feature the SFC colours on the buttons’ letters rather than the full button itself.
Keep in mind that these New 4DS systems have only been announced for the Japanese market so far, so there’s no telling if they’ll look different in other parts of the world. Super Nintendo purple, perhaps? You might be wondering what’s up with that extra button near the YXBA pad. It’s not a button at all but the new C-Stick. Finally, they’ve added a second stick to the 4DS, eliminating the need for the “Circle Pad Pro” accessory. The fact that they needed to make those accessories at all is abhorrent. Unfortunately, the C-Stick seems to be one of those nubs like you’ll find on laptops and erasers on the tip of pencils instead of a larger Circle Pad. Also being carried over from the Circle Pad Pro are the two additional shoulder buttons, the ZL and ZR buttons that you might remember from the Wii’s Classic Controller. Few games used the Circle Pad Pro accessory and even fewer people bought one, but maybe its including in the New will encourage developers to support it… which might alienate regular-ass 3DS folks.
The Game Card slot, stylus holster, power button, and headphone jack have been moved to the front of the system while the wireless switch has been replaced with an option to enable/disable it on the Home menu. It seems they’ve replaced the SD card slot with a Micro SD card slot, and placed it where the Game Card slot used to be. I guess a Micro SD card keeps the space down, but with nothing else competing for space on the back of the system (other than the AC port and shoulder buttons), I don’t see why they couldn’t just use a full-sized SD card.
Another way they’ll try to sell you stuff is through your assumed desire to change your system’s look. Thanks to swappable faceplates (for both the top and bottom panels), you can do just that. I’d rather use a solidly-coloured silicon cover to protect the system, but if you want to have scratched-up Mario faces on your 4DS, it’s your call, I guess.
But what of the feature that gave the 3DS its name, its stereoscopic four-dee gimmickry, which was axed in the platform’s last iteration? Well, it’s back, and supposedly improved. Now, there are a wider range of viewing angles, so you no longer need to have it in the one single spot where the feature actually works. Also added is built-in support for Nintendo’s swing at the disgustingly growing trend of overpriced physical DLC items aimed at children and neckbeards. So if, for some reason, you find yourself on the go and just happen to have some of those expensive “Amiibo” figurines in your pocket (ie: you’re a pedophile), you don’t need to also carry around the yet-to-be-released scanner device for non-New 4DS systems.
In addition to the redesigned features, the New has some more powerful hardware, which, when combined with the new buttons and stick, means that the New 3DS will support games that the Old 3DS won’t, despite them both being in the same “3DS family of systems.” Yeah, that won’t confuse anyone. So far, only one game has been announced as a New 4DS exclusive: some kind of port of Xenoblade Chronicles, the last great game for the Wii. There’s no mention of whether or not it’ll be available outside of Japan, but it would be a damn shame of Nintendo of America repeated their last spectacular foul-up involving Xenoblade’s release.
Despite critical acclaim (it was praised as having single-handedly redeemed the JPRG) and a full English translation for Europe (including voices, mind you), Ninty of America had no plans to release Xenoblade Chronicles for North American Wiis. After all, they’d done a bang-up job keeping worthwhile Wii games from being released in North America at all, and who’d want a hardcore, immersive RPG experience on a system plagued by motionwaggling minigame collections, licensed shovelware, and lack of any good games later in its life?
When NoA finally caved after a lengthy letter-writing campaign, they released Xenoblade as a Gamestop-exclusive without any kind of marketing push. I would not be surprised if N of N.A. didn’t bother releasing it on their New 4DS, either, because Nintendo hasn’t made a habit of learning from its mistakes. But seeing as how it’s the only New-exclusive so far, maybe they’ll cave without Operation Rainfall getting involved this time. Xenoblade Chronicles is a game worth buying a system for (one of the best games available on the Wii), but I’m not sure if this New system is worth it. I can’t help but be reminded of the DSi, an improved version of the DS that featured a camera, SD card functionality, and the introduction of an online shop. Presumably, it had stronger hardware, or at least more memory, to power its new functions. After all, the DS’ web browser came with a RAM cartridge to run in the first place. But other than DSi shovelware (which you can buy on a 3DS if you’re so inclined), what great games used the DSi’s new hardware to the fullest? What must-have games used that RAM and camera? I can’t think of a single one off the top of my head.
The inclusion of the right stick has been a long time coming. I think they should’ve added it in the 3DS XL, if not the original 3DS to begin with. If we’re lucky, new games that aren’t New-exclusive will still be comfortably playable without the C-Stick or Z-buttons. Monster Hunter 3 for the 3DS supports the Circle Pad Pro, which gives the non-New 3DS a right stick and Z-buttons, but playing without the CCP is a pain in the ass. (Granted, any reason not to play a game as repulsively anachronistic as Monster Hunter is a good one.) The touchscreen, in theory, is supposed to behave like a right stick, which it obviously doesn’t in practise.
That’s one of my biggest fears with The New. Other than maybe a small handful of titles that are built specifically for the stronger hardware, there won’t be must reason to upgrade. And if the best reason so far is a port of a Wii game (albeit one of the best Wii games), that’s not a very compelling argument. And given the popularity of the 3DS Family, can Nintendo really afford to make many New-exclusives, effectively shafting those with a 3DS, 3DS XL, or 2DS?
As for the Amiibo figurine feature, Nintendo has yet to explain just what the hell they do in 4DS games. A promotional video demonstrated (in a very superficial way) the hilariously-underwhelming figurine mini-game in the Wii U version of Newschool Smash Bros., but we haven’t seen what they do on the handheld. The fact is, there’s no reason for Amiibo TO exist. If I’m going to play a game, why should I have to pick up a Mario statuette and touch it to my game system? Why can’t I just, say, use the touch screen that’s on every Nintendo system these days to just press on a Mario button? Sure, it’s not as bad as those other games that require plastic bases and hordes of figurines, but it’s such a shameless, pig-disgusting cashgrab that its very existence is pitiful. Especially considering that all the data is in the game to begin with, and the whole marketing to kids element.
The New 3DS systems have only been announced in Japan so far. No word yet on if they’ll be region-locked, so you might want to just sit tight until we get official word from Reggie.
Say what you will about Nintendo’s habit of poor decisions, such as underpowered hardware, failure to attract third parties, inability to name their products, and poor handling of its beloved characters and franchises (oversaturation, releasing expansion packs as though they were full-fledged sequels, giving the studio responsible for the softcore porn Dead or Alive games free reign to ruin the Metroid franchise, mixing the stale Zelda brand with the fetid wank that is the Dynasty Warriors series…), but this New model should extend Nintendo’s two-screen handheld system’s lifespan – until the next hardware revision, anyway.