A handheld to hold onto.
It’s a sad fact that Nintendo, in recent years, have a track record of incredibly slow starts when it comes to supporting their hardware with quality products. The Wii and DS had some of the most pitiful launch titles in gaming history, and while myself and Sumonix’ Editor-in-Chief, Adam Vjestica, share a guilty fondness for Red Steel, it’s easy to deduce we weren’t huge on titles like The Urbz: Sims in the City, Wii Play, or the much maligned Sprung. Of course, both launches had a few standouts; on the DS you had the fantastic Project Rub (or Feel The Magic: XY/XX in America), as well as surprise hits in the form of Mr. Driller: Drill Spirits, Zoo Keeper and Polarium. Same with the Wii; on the one hand you had the mighty Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, the aforementioned Red Steel and the vastly overlooked Excite Truck. Aside from these standouts, however, both launch lineups were comprised of either lazy minigame-fests or vomit-inducing shovelware filth.
Thankfully, the libraries of the Wii and DS both flourished into something much more respectable, and while you could legitimately argue the Wii was forever plagued with corporate cack-handedness, it did eventually get games like Zack and Wiki, No More Heroes, Xenoblade Chronicles, Skyward Sword, Super Smash Bros. Brawl and the jaw-dropping Super Mario Galaxy series, to name but a few. Of course, the DS also garnered a library (and a following) like no other, shattering sales records and providing us with some incredible titles, of which there are far too many to list here.
Thus we move on to the 3DS, and probably one of the worst launches ever. Aside from the fact that each game felt the need to tack “3D” onto the end of their titles (as if we didn’t know already), the lineup was comprised mainly of lazy ports or generally mediocre pap. Ubisoft in particular seemed determined to tarnish the little handheld’s reputation with the buggy Asphalt 3D and the pointless Rayman 3D. With the system launching with just nine games in Europe and the States, the 3DS for the first few months at least was sadly met with the same cynicism that the Wii U currently faces. Nintendo indeed took their sweet time shaping the 3DS into something worth owning, and when it finally did reach that stage, the increase in the system’s value was unmitigated.
I’m sure any person who frequently uses their 3DS has piled hours into at least one game.
Seemingly out of nowhere, Nintendo began releasing hit after hit after hit. Starting with incredible remakes of two Nintendo 64 classics (Star Fox 64 and Ocarina of Time), Nintendo were able to follow up with Super Mario 3D Land and Mario Kart 7. Excellent third party offerings also surfaced around the same time, including Cave Story 3D, Tales of the Abyss and Resident Evil: Revelations. Soon enough, everyone and their mother wanted to develop games for Nintendo’s 3D wonder, and like its predecessors, its library flourished into a very respectable one indeed. But why is this so important? Of course every console and handheld worth their salt have a bunch of great games to choose from. What sets the 3DS apart, though, is the immense longevity held within many of its titles.
I’m sure any person who frequently uses their 3DS has piled hours into at least one game. I’ve personally invested hundreds of hours into games like Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate, Animal Crossing: New Leaf, Fire Emblem: Awakening, Super Street Fighter IV 3D Edition, Attack of the Friday Monsters! and Luigi’s Mansion 2. I’m sure I’ll continue to do so with Pokemon X & Y, Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright, Shin Megami Tensei IV (if that ever releases over in Europe!) and so on. My point being, isn’t it amazing that a console you can fit in your back pocket is filled with thousands of hours of entertainment?
Now, this generation’s home consoles have been far from lacking. So many great games and franchises have been birthed thanks to the capabilities of the PS3 and Xbox 360. The PC also gained a significant foothold thanks to digital platforms such as Steam, GOG and Desura. Saying that, it’s unarguably been the most toxic game generation to date. Whether it be pre-teens spamming Xbox Live on games they shouldn’t even be playing, shitty DRM practices, the exploitation of DLC and predatory business models, and above all, the poison that is the current behaviour of many AAA publishers.
Compare this to the 3DS, a console packed with hundreds of hours of entertainment, potentially from just a single game.
Of all the good that’s come out of the seventh generation of consoles, an equal if not greater amount of evil has followed with it. Never has the rights of the consumer been so frequently called into question, and while there’s certainly an audience for such things as season passes, microtransactions and the like, they essentially add an extra price tag to a game purchased on or around launch. Paid upwards of £40 for the base game? How about giving us an extra £25 for unreleased content of questionable quality? That is the attitude that turned the most promising console generation yet into a bloated, money-sucking mess. Again, there is absolutely nothing wrong with investing more money into a game you love; it’s the way publishers seemingly don’t trust consumers with making their own decisions that is truly disturbing.
Compare this to the 3DS, a console packed with hundreds of hours of entertainment, potentially from just a single game. Of all the games I’ve played on the 3DS, not one of them has pressured me into spending money on potentially pointless DLC. Why? Because many games on the 3DS are designed around value for money; titles are already filled to the brim with content in the hopes of preventing the consumer from re-selling it, or trading it in. Nintendo’s lineup of games in particular are seamlessly designed around the notion of replay value.
His Opinion Is Ready
Reggie Fils-Aime, President of Nintendo of America, and the Hercules of the gaming industry, famously touted that if publishers were worried about the used game market, they should make better games. In that same interview, Reggie revealed that the most traded-in games belonged to franchises that were annualised or undifferentiated, which actually highlights the hypocrisy of many a AAA publisher, and particularly one big-name hardware manufacturer; companies that would gladly see the death of the used game market, yet don’t actively take steps into ensuring consumers don’t want to trade their games in. I can’t stress enough how truly pathetic it is that publishers inflate their games with needless paywalls and restrictions while essentially churning out the same experiences year in, year out, and go on to wonder why their games are finding their way back to store shelves.
And yet, the 3DS has yet to wrong me. Not once have I returned a 3DS game in the year I’ve owned the system. Never have I felt dissatisfied by one of its many brilliant titles (well, there was Project X Zone, but I’ll let that one slide). I’m still playing games that I bought all that time ago. Monster Hunter, Animal Crossing, Fire Emblem and others have given me no reason to neglect them, and I think if other publishers and developers could take note, the industry would be a healthier, happier place indeed.