The new, I’m sorry, New 3DS may have a bit of an identity issue. One thing it doesn’t have an issue with is charm. The thing is just flat-out weird. I love weird. The new “C-stick” looks to effectively be one of those antiquated little “pointing stick” nubs that Lenovo still sticks on their Thinkpads. A lot of people don’t like those little nubs on Thinkpads. I love the things.
I also love it on New 3DS. I’ve never used one, obviously, but it doesn’t matter. I love it. I love it because it is abnormal and goofy in only the way Nintendo can get away with being. This is exactly the kind of design philosophy that makes Nintendo, well Nintendo. The C-Stick is meant as an evolution of the C-stick on the GameCube controller. The GameCube’s C-stick was always an odd concept, a strange sort of stop-gap between the N64′s C buttons, and a proper second analog stick like everyone else was using. In the grand scheme of gaming, it made no sense and was terrible as a second stick. In the Microcosm of Nintendo-land, it worked perfectly. Nintendo designed the GameCube controller for Nintendo games. Nintendo games were designed for the GameCube controller. It was odd, quirky, and a bit awkward, but it worked brilliantly in context. There is a reason I consider the GameCube controller to be the best controller ever made.
The New 3DS is much the same. By all rights, Nintendo should have just dropped the face buttons to line up with the D-pad, then slapped in a second slide pad. Easy, gets the job done, and everyone gets the second stick they have been clamoring for. But Nintendo doesn’t work that way. On the surface, the C-stick feels like a stop-gap measure between the 3DS and the inevitable true next gen 3DS replacement, that I have little doubt will probably have a second full analog input. It probably is a stop-gap, and maybe even planned obsolescence so they can save a true second stick as a next gen selling point. I don’t care. I want a New 3DS anyway. The C-stick may wind up being seldom used, will most likely not function at all in existing 3DS titles, and at most will serve as an optional alternative to touch-screen inputs in most future releases. A few titles, like Monster Hunter, will implement the C-stick to great effect, but for the most part it will act as a supplement to the touch-screen for the sake of backwards compatibility. It is exactly the kind of unique, “we do things our way” kind of design that you can only get from Nintendo. Nintendo will probably make great use of it in some future 3DS first party titles, like Super Smash Bros. for 3DS where it will execute Smash attacks, Nobody does a better job of taking advantage of Nintendo’s goofy hardware than Nintendo themselves, because nobody else thinks like Nintendo.
The New 3DS is coming with a better CPU, more RAM, more shoulder buttons, enhanced 3D capability, and Amiibo-friendly NFC support. These are all wonderful selling points, and the Amiibo support especially will move a lot of units. I’ll be buying one for the mostly superfluous, not-a-real-second-analog, odd-ball little C-stick.