1.4.11

The Nintendo 3DS: What Next?

So I bought a 3DS. I didn't exactly wait in line for hours on end for one, though that would have been some what entertaining compared to walking in at 8am to an empty shopping centre, to be one of only two customers at the GAME store *ahem* game enough to be open that early compared to everyone else.

Ever since the big reveal just under a year ago, when Nintendo copyrighted the term 'You have to see it to believe it' ... that might be a lie ... I've wanted a 3DS. I've wanted a console to reignite my interest in Nintendo products, having played out my fill of Pokemon and Wii games with the word Wii in them. 

And now that I have one to call my own, having spent the last two days (between living my substandard normal 2D life, of course) playing out a majority of the launch titles and the inbuilt augmented reality programs, I've come to the conclusion that a) Yes, when the 3D works, it works damn well, and b) I'M SHOOTING MY DOG IN THE FACE!*

So to the important question of the blog.

WHAT NEXT?

The console is now out in all the major markets, soaking up every potential public display stand and revelling in hype machine that's constantly followed it from day dot. The launch list, while mainly bleh quality, has its minor gems and solid franchise additions. There's no doubt in my mind that this console will sell. 

If, in the off chance it doesn't, Nintendo made the bold move of selling it's most recent Pokemon game on the DS just a few weeks before the 3DS launch. To cover its ass? Not even close. More likely, they did so to ensure the DS gets the farewell it deserves, while ensuring (and those of you who've tried DS games in the 3DS will understand this) that gamers who want the big upgrade will see the stark differences between the old and the new. I'm not just talking about 3D either.

So where to from here? The hype machine will no doubt build towards the next E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo), where Nintendo will show off its future releases. Just before that, however, we should receive Kid Icarus, Zelda: Ocarina of Time and Starfox, among a handful of 3rd party releases.

Okay, so I'm going to open up a can of worms for this next part. I've been thinking about where Nintendo could, and should go with this. One of my dreams will soon become a reality, thanks to Nintendo's previous confirmation of a Mario platform game similar to Super Mario 64 and Mario Galaxy. But there's a huge number of other options out there. Here's just a top 10 possible ideas list (in no particular order) just as a taster:

10) DONKEY KONG COUNTRY RETURNS ... RETURNS!

This one's an obvious one in my eyes. DKC returned big time last year, cementing Retro Studios as a key Nintendo partner (if they hadn't already done so with the Metroid Prime series). Sure, a Metroid shooter on the console would be interesting, but I'd much prefer Donkey Kong and co. Why? Check out Rabbids 3D and you'll see the potential, where Ubisoft used the 3D effect to create a sense of space between foreground and background. Imagine that in, say, the levels in DKCR where you barrel blast to platform in the background ... see what I mean? The opportunity there is clear as day, and with the added power of the 3DS, making it a reality is a no-brainer.

9) MARIO GOLF 3DS

It's a forgotten sports franchise from the N64/GBC days, replaced with mini games in Wii Sports, but of all the Mario licensed sports games that could work in a 3D space, golf seems the logical choice. Using the upper screen's depth perception to better translate how far you are from the cup, or how high you are on the green, could add a new level of strategy to a sport that hasn't seen much in the way of evolution on consoles outside of the Tiger Woods brand.

8) THE VIRTUAL BOY

It died a horrible, horrible death, but the Virtual Boy could very well live on here. Okay, maybe not in different shades of red, but to be fair to the long forgotten portable, it had some reasonable ideas going for it. Tetris 3D or the updated edition of the original Mario Bros. arcade game, where platforms lay close or away from the screen, would find a solid home here. And even if Nintendo do decide to re-release the originals as they were, crimson and all, I wouldn't complain. Barely anyone would have played the old games way back when (me included), so where better to say 'Hey, look what you missed out on!'

7) ONLINE AUGMENTED DOWNLOADED

Let me explain. Augmented Reality is another key element to the 3DS, which is bundled with a number of games and cards that take advantage of the camera system and turns everything around you into a virtual play field. Honestly, it has my interest a lot more than the 3D itself, and if Nintendo really want to push it, they have to ensure there's plenty of products out there that use it. That starts online. The ability to download and print off more cards would be a major draw, allowing anyone, anywhere to get their hands on a number of new mini games. Pre-printed cards packed together with new 3DS releases like Starfox would be another good move.

The other possibility is to open it out to other developers. Imagine, say, Capcom releasing a series of cards that allow you to control Mega Man around your living room furniture, or maybe Ryu vs Ken atop your TV system. It doesn't all have to be shooters, per se. 

6) FORMER AND FORGOTTEN FRANCHISES

The Wii, up until this blog post, hasn't seen a number of Nintendo franchises unleashed on its motion control domain. That may change before a new home console is released, but we're already seeing a number of old names making the shift to the handheld instead. Kid Icarus is the obvious returning hero, with Starfox and Pilotwings the other two old hats that have missed one or more previous console generations. But there's a number of others waiting in the wings, the most important of which is F-Zero, which last made an appearance on the Gamecube and GBA to much acclaim. You'd expect a name like that to return sooner rather than later, and racing games should receive and added benefit of fun with 3D in its back pocket of tricks.

Let's not forget some of the other Nintendo names, such as Ice Climbers, Excitebike, Pikmin, Fire Emblem, Golden Sun and Custom Robo. All have made fleeting appearances over the years, and all would be at home in 3D for certain. Unfortunately, it's more likely that Nintendo will continue it's 'for everyone' attitude by unleashing more Wii Sports style titles, possibly new Brain Training games. Rhythm Heaven, however, would be one recent franchise that would be a shoe in.

Of course, there's always the chance of something new. FaceRaiders is a good example of Nintendo's willingness to birth new games without the need of a well known franchise character headlining...

Half way there. Still with me?

5) METROID DREAD

I mentioned this well known name earlier, but as Metroid games go, the most sought after title in the franchise is one that has never been released. Dread's been on Nintendo's draft table for a long, long time, and with the Prime trilogy wrapped along with the most recent Metroid: Other M keeping the fire alight, now's a better time than any to get Samus back where she belongs, in a 2D side scrolling adventure of epic proportions. Whether Team Ninja or Retro Studios are involved is open to possibility, but if it were ever to happen, this would surely be an in-house Nintendo product.

4) ANIMAL CROSSING

Besides Pokemon, there's only one other Nintendo franchise that gets fans pumped about trading and collecting numerous items of varying worth. With StreetPass as another key 3DS element, you'd almost put the house on Animal Crossing making the move to the new handheld. It's more a question of when then if.

3) POKEMON

The same can be said of Nintendo's biggest seller, it's prime console mover (outside of the various Brain Training and party games that have flooded the market in recent years). Outside of Mario, a main title in the Pokemon series could sell a console on its own merit, which is why so many raised eyebrows at the thought of a new Pokemon game (that's arguably the best ever in the series so far) reaching the market so close to a new console launch. Which leads me to believe that, if they continue the tradition of adding a third (or fourth) title within a current series (i.e. Yellow to Red and Blue, or Emerald to Ruby and Sapphire), then it's possible the next Pokemon game will be a 3DS exclusive. 

It's also possible that Black and White will relaunch as a 3DS upgrade, or a brand new two pronged attack will hit the market in the next year. This one's got me intrigued more than most.

2) THE eSHOP

A lot was made of the Virtual Console, competing with Microsoft's Xbox Live and Sony's PSN network. What it should have been, a home to the classic Nintendo games of old, was only half way realised. Most of the big names made the trip across, but many more never made it. Over the last year, the well has dried out, but Nintendo has promised the same won't happen to the new eSHOP, the 3DS equivalent to the Virtual Console. Housing Game Boy games among others should, in theory, be easier to handle, being smaller in size. So keeping that in mind, releasing a number of games a week shouldn't be an issue, there's plenty to choose from after all.

Super Mario Land and Zelda: Link's Awakening have already been mentioned numerously, but here's hoping the 3rd party developers get in on the act as well. Either way, I hope to be playing Mario Land, F1 Race, Tetris and Dr. Mario (in your face!!) ... sorry, got a tinge of retro there. Look up the ad, trust me.

Last, but not least:

1) THE NEXT 3DS

Upgrades are a tradition in the gaming race. Days in, and everyone's already wondering when to expect it. Complaints about poor battery life, awkward d-pad placement and still low res screens despite the update have hampered the launch, although most don't seem too bothered by that just yet. The chances of, say, a 3DS Lite are probably likely in a year or two. For now, it's more likely we'll see the addition of new colours by years end. I love my black 3DS, but a red one wouldn't be a bad idea either.

So that's it, the possible possibles of the 3DS in the years to come. There's a lot more than that, of course, and much of it rests on the other big name game developers (and those who are yet to develop on a handheld platform), but I'll get to that another day. Thanks for reading, sorry it took so long to get here, but I hope you enjoyed it. Blog out.

* Translation: FaceRaiders is good too.

2 comments:

RLFloyd said...

Great article, well written, and I agree with pretty much everything you've said.

Animal Crossing for the 3DS was shown at E3 2010, so that one's a definite. Wouldn't be surprised if it shows up around Christmas. And I'll be buying it :D

Also, can't bloody wait for the the eShop. Reckon SNES games will be too much to ask for? Hmm.

Jess said...

Very well written =)

I can't see myself picking up a 3DS anytime soon. Lack of funds and time mostly. I hardly play video games these days, I find them a very easy source of distraction when I should be studying. I got Super Mario Galaxy 2 & Donkey Kong for Christmas and have only played the first few levels of each. Once I get absorbed into a game, there's no hope, or sleep for me!

I am very curious to see a 3DS however.

Although I am playing Wii Fit and have lost a decent amount of weight this week alone, so yay!