Recently, Nintendo announced a new handheld. Well, it’s not a new handheld but a revision of the current one. The 3DS will have the 2DS to run alongside it. OK, it’s an interesting proposition. But there are a couple of weird things about it, some of which another writer had covered earlier while claiming that the 2DS is ridiculous. While many of her complaints about the awkward design are pretty accurate, there is another really big issue about Nintendo doing this.
The problem is the point of transition. The 3DS on its own is actually pretty good on its own, while the 2DS just feels like a transition point. Even with the design issues, the 2DS actually has a lot of potential. However, again, it feels like a transition point. But what exactly could it be transitioning to? The oddity I’m citing here is one of order. Namely, if they were going to be doing a revision like this, wouldn’t it have been wiser to start off with the 2DS and transition into the 3DS? Again, the 2DS is not a bad idea and it has potential, as a starting point instead of two years after the starting point.
Let’s face it. Technically, Sony did a similar thing with the PS3 where there were options for standard dimensions and while giving the option for 3D if you have the proper screen and then they patched the firmware of the console to be able to support stereoscopic 3D on supported hardware. This is kind of a similar circumstance where something about the current generation system was revised. Sure, the biggest difference is the fact that with the PS3, the revision was one of firmware rather than the hardware itself. But still, it makes more sense to give further function than to take away function and it’s not exactly as though Nintendo didn’t have a history with adapting predecessors with new functionality. For example, the only differences between the Gameboy (Pocket) and the Gameboy Color was the use of color, which made the Gameboy Color a good companion handheld as well as a step forward.
The message that the revision actually sends by scaling back function is one that makes it seem like the 3D part was possible a failed experiment. Unfortunately, it really isn’t a failed experiment as the handheld has sold fairly well. However it only started to sell well once the price drops came in and more compelling, system-selling software. Revising by cutting back within a generation can be interpreted as abandonment of the original idea rather than evolution of an idea by someone who actually ends up reading into things closely.
Even if it’s not abandonment and the 2DS is just meant to support the 3DS while giving the consumer more wallet-friendly options, it’s still pretty damaging to both the 2DS and the 3DS. For one thing, the games directly designed with 3D and stereo sound in mind will end up featuring reduced hardware and gameplay performance making the 2DS a moot point. In terms of the reduced gameplay, think about it like this. If you see in 2D a movie that was originally filmed in 3D, sometimes it just looks awkward and generally kind of wrong by lacking the depth that the 3D gave. It’s the same kind of principle, which applied to games, I can see that becoming immensely irritating.
Now, the way that it could end up hurting the 3DS is easy. It could lead to some third party developers developing non-stereoscopic 3D-compatible, non-stereo sound games for the Nintendo current generation. That would really do nothing to help give the 3DS more compelling content that actually uses the 3DS’s functions fully that could help Nintendo bolster their handheld audience numbers. I mean sure, Nintendo does have the first party library of properties to return to that could keep putting out good content that could drive sales. But there’s only so far that the Nintendo IPs can drive Nintendo’s own sales, but an oversaturation of the same type of product can only stand to hurt sales as well. It’s just feels like Nintendo’s taking a step backward, which is pretty sad.