18 months later
Its hard to believe that its been over a year-and-a-half since the 3DS launched in the US. Nintendos entry into the next-generation of handheld gaming was an interesting one, opting to stick with the general style of the original DS, albeit with some horsepower upgrades and the addition of a glasses-free 3D screen. It had a rough start--but over the past 18 months, the system has built up steam and found its way into nearly 20 million houses.
But is it actually where it needs to be? Lets take a look at whats great about the handled, and whats not so great
Good: A steady flow of game releases has built up an impressive library
Initially, the 3DSs greatest enemy was its lack of games and new releases. Nowadays, that couldnt be further from the truth. Since release, there have been two full-fledged Mario titles, a few great 3D versions of last-gen classics, and the best Mario Kart ever released. Theres also been a regular supply of awesome original games, as well as sequels to storied franchises, from Kingdom Hearts to Resident Evil. With Paper Mario: Sticker Star, Animal Crossing 3DS, and Luigis Mansion: Dark Moon coming out within the next few months, 3DS owners have a lot to look forward to.
Bad: The digital front is still not that impressive
When the 3DS launched, many criticized Nintendos efforts to create its own online storefront, and though there have been a smattering of interesting titles, the service has remained somewhat lackluster. Pushmo might keep your interest for a little while, but the lack of awesome digital exclusives (and the slow drip of Virtual Console games) has made the digital front uninteresting, by and large.
Good: Updates to the firmware have kept it competitive
3DS might not provide the mini-tablet experience that the Vita does, but it does a good job at giving gamers a few apps worth paying attention to. Consistent updates to Find Mii and Puzzle Swap continue to give users a reason to keep StreetPass active, and the addition of Netflix helps the system be more than just a gaming console.
Bad: Peripherals have started to create a divide
Many have complained of the lack of a second circle pad on the 3DS, saying it makes playing 3D games more difficult. Among those not content with the hardware is Capcom, who worked with Nintendo to release a Circle Pad Pro that straps a second analog nub to the system. So far it only works for a few games, but its sheer existence creates a potential rift in the market, forcing gamers to buy the peripheral to play certain games. Theres no gaping rift yet, but its a slippery slope were hoping doesnt cause a problem.
Good: The release of the 3DS XL gives buyers more options
Though the 3DS is still lacking a true upgrade (in the vein of the DS Lite or Game Boy Advance SP), it has had a new iteration. Earlier this year, Nintendo released the 3DS XL, which ups the size of the system. It might not be a true update, but it still gives potential buyers another option when deciding to pick up Nintendos handheld.
Bad: The 3D effect isn't used that well
If you hated the 3D on the 3DS when you first tried the system, theres a good chance nothing has come out since then to change your mind. Some games (mostly those made by Nintendo) have made good use of it, showing off exactly what the glasses-less technology has to offer. But many developers sort of phone it in, creating lackluster visuals that, at best, wont give you headaches.
Good: Developers and publishers seem to have gotten over their initial hesitance towards it
The first few months were dark. Developers were delaying and cancelling titles after looking at the sales numbers, and it was obvious that few actually had confidence in the system. Now, the 3DS is selling extremely well, and most publishers are back on board, filling the games library with original IPs and sequels alike.
Bad: The online infrastructure still leaves much to be desired
Yeah, you still need to use friend codes. No, you still cant do more than see what your friends are playing. The 3DSs online features are far from impressive, and even with the release of Swapnote (a system that lets you send friends messages), its far from a complete online package. Maybe if Nintendo actually integrates Swapnote instead of making it a standalone download, we might see some semblance of community crop up. But, as of now, its still a few generations behind.
The future looks bright
Overall, were happy with how much the 3DS has grown in the past 18 months. The hasty price drop was, arguably, a rash decision, but it seems to have been the right one. Well keep our eye on the system and bring you another status report in six months, once the systems two-year anniversary is reached.
What do you think about the 3DS so far? Have you picked one up? Let us know in the comments below.