Last Saturday saw the launch of Nintendo’s new 3DS. When I say that I do of course mean exclusively for the Japanese region. As usual Japan got their dose of technology before the rest of the world and that’s okay, we’re used to it. I like to think of them as beta testers for the rest of the world. They get to see the first wave of a product with all its faults and hickups, then the rest of world gets to see the polished final product. That being said, the first reports coming out of Japan seem to hold the 3DS in very very high regards. So much so, that all 400,000 units were sold out by the end of release day, even though it only launched with a handful of game titles.
Fuelled by that information, Nintendo has pledged to have 900,000 units available for just the European launch alone. They have already organised hundreds of midnight openings (march 24th) in conjunction with Game and GameStation Stores across the UK. Put simply, Nintendo are really trying to make this truly be a landmark in handheld gaming. But is it really? The huge pricetag, around £220 depending on the store, is a big deterrent from most people. The small quantity of games upon release is also an issue for most, leaving most people with a “wait-and-see” attitude towards the console.
To combat this Nintendo are promising to have a much larger repertoire of games available upon release to the rest of the world, including some big names. Nintendogs and cats, for example, will be available for purchase just before three DS itself. The Lego franchise makes an appearance with LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean and even streetfighter gets in on the action with streetfighter IV for 3D. I must admit that prospect of playing streetfighter on a handheld 3D does sound awesome, especially if wireless multiplayer is involved. One of the strangest games that will be on release is a sudoku puzzle game. I can’t particularly imagine sudoku being more immersive in a 3D environment.
But one of the most amusing revelations to come with the 3DS, is that it is already been cracked, Kinda. The R4 DS, for those of you who don’t know, is a cartridge the same size as a DS game but with a micro-SD card adapter. Meaning you can quite easily play backups DS games. This popular device has been around for the standards DS for years. It seems like its already been tested on the 3DS and has been confirmed to be fully functional. Currently only copies of the original DS games have been tested on it, but I’m sure as soon as somebody makes a backup of a 3DS game it won’t be too difficult to get it working on a machine. Unfortunately for Nintendo this may spell doom for their famed region locking which is going to be their number one way of tackling piracy.
All in all, the launch of the 3DS has been filled with both highs and lows for Nintendo. As for the general public, it’s left us wondering whether or not we should drop the old system and pick up the new. If only 3DS games are going to be in development from here on out, your DS may become redundant within the year. At the same time the three DS might just be a gimmick that will be forgotten in a couple of months. Only time will tell. But if Nintendo want a way to secure its place in handheld culture, then it seems the price cut is the way forward.
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