Nintendo 3DS: Looking back at the first year

I probably wouldn’t have remembered that it’s the anniversary of the 3DS if not for Reggie paying a visit via SpotPass. He did get me one step closer to finishing the first edition of Find Mii; I’m hoping to wrap that up so I can be collecting bits for the second version at PAX East. I assume that place will be filthy with StreetPasses.

So, no time like the present to look back at the first year.

Hardware: A full year and no hardware revision announced yet. Take that, doubters! That said, the Circle Pad Pro still seems like a concession, and games like Kid Icarus show that the game could really benefit from a second circle pad. For some reason, the system just isn’t quite as comfortable to hold as the DS Lite was, and it can be annoying to tip the system slightly and ruin the 3D effect. But I think by now we’ve mostly learned to live with those complaints, and it’s generally a sturdy little piece of kit as Nintendo tends to make.

Software: If you look at my purchased software for the past year on the 3DS, it’s pretty much made up completely Nintendo titles. Other developers haven’t quite tapped the system, and we haven’t seen the flood of releases that came with the DS Lite’s success. When you have so many games coming out, the cream rises to the top. This one doesn’t have that glut of games, so it doesn’t have the cream. I knew when buying the hardware that I was buying potential, and most of the time that means Nintendo’s own first-party potential. Now does seem like a good time for third-parties to start really coming out of the gate with stronger showings, though. A few on the horizon look promising, at least in concept, like Epic Mickey.

Extras: I referenced the Find Mii minigame up there, because it’s actually really a substantial part of the system’s identity. I carry around my iPhone more, for obvious reasons, but if given a choice for long-term play I’d choose the 3DS every time. I still haven’t worked through all the Ambassador games, not to mention Picross from Club Nintendo, Pushmo, and the (fantastic) Game Gear emulation. The coins are a good incentive to carry it around, and I find myself bringing it when I might not have otherwise. Lots of smart ideas are present in this system, and we’ve seen some of them coalesce and take off.

The 3DS will probably never achieve the runaway success of the original DS family, but the first year has shown some significant progress with a few stumbles. This second year will be the real proving ground, now that third-parties have plenty of first-party examples to look to, and the system is going head-to-head with Sony’s Vita. I’m glad I purchased when I did, and now I just want more third-party variety. And Paper Mario.

  • I’m not much of a gear-head, but holy cow the cars in Project CARS look pretty.
  • I tried out the demo of Shoot Many Robots and wasn’t blown away (har!), but I keep hearing it’s not bad for $10 and scratches a loot itch. Maybe I’ll have to try it again.

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