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Is Nintendo in trouble?

What this means for you: If you're keeping track, that's 20 mostly-incredible games you're getting for free by year's end. Whether or not free Yoshi's Island and The Legend of Zelda are worth your $80 early entry fee is up to you. Like most of Nintendo's current 3DS releases and future plans, it's stuff we've already played to death. But for those of us already committed to the platform, hey, we'll finally have some games worth playing. We're stuck with the 3DS anyway, so this is nothing but a great thing.

If you wait out the price drop, you're saving enough quid to grab a couple 3DS titles, whether it's Super Street Fighter IV right now, or Kid Icarus down the line. If the eShop extras don't mean a damn to you, then by all means hold off until August to give in and grab the 3DS.

Read more: Star Fox Zero review

Above: You

With any luck, this drop is going to pick up the slack of the slumping sales that necessitated this event in the first place. The ideal future is that everyone who skipped out or couldn't find the console before now will blow all their dollars to fund a bright future where Mega Mans aren't cancelled.

What this means for Nintendo: From top to bottom, this entire thing is an act of desperation, a plea to fans to throw Nintendo a life-jacket and pull 'em back on board. This marks Nintendo's first financial loss in almost a decade. Eviscerating the cost of the hardware is the only realistic means of attracting an audience. We have few, if any, truly worthwhile games for the platform (we love Ocarina, but come on, it's a Nintendo 64 port). The holiday's 3DS release schedule is, according to Nintendo, "the strongest software lineup of any video game system this holiday season."

Star Fox 64 is yet another N64 port. We're eager to play Kid Icarus, Super Mario 3D Land (really, that title?) and Mario Kart 7, but the hyperbolic holiday lineup is laughable. Ports, sequels and more of what we already have on other platforms isn't going to be enough to entice the folks on the fence, even with a 33% price cut. We're missing that one "killer app" that will send everyone over the edge. The novelty of 3D isn't enough to get anyone's attention, and we have to wonder what the 3DS's apparent failure--or at least struggle--means for the future of the technology, both in Nintendo's hands and across the medium.

Above: Happier times

This is hardly a do-or-die situation. Nintendo's still swimming in money from its past five years of Wii/DS sales, assuredly, but this is bad, you guys. The 3DS stumbled out of the gate, and only 830,000 of the system's total sales come from North America. It's still concerning, especially since how the 3DS succeeds now will dictate what the future holds for handhelds.

This move is a last-ditch fight to make you care about the 3DS. But do you?

Jul 28, 2011