Friday, June 22, 2012

3DSXL and Nintendo's Direct (Appeal) to Fans

Announced a day before, last night’s Nintendo Direct was typical of the new Nintendo.  No teasing, just a lot of doing.  In this edition, Nintendo bosses in Europe, America and Japan stepped up to the plate yet again to serve their fans another round of tidbits on its plan for the 3DS over the next few months.

After an abysmal E3, it’s nice to see a company is willing to at least try to rectify the situation. While the news was all 3DS, the fact that Nintendo knowingly sat on significant 3DS news at E3 begs the question of what else they could be sitting on for the Wii U.

This Nintendo Direct is just what I need to feel a little bit better about Nintendo’s direction.  There was plenty of software news last night.  Speaking to the North American market Reggie Fils-Aime finally confirmed 3DS fan requests Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask and Fire Emblem Awakening are indeed coming stateside. Parts of the presentation seems aimed directly at fans who criticized Nintendo for dragging its feet on localization of these games and feared the worse.  Fils-Aime also confirmed there will be DLC coin rush stages will be made for New Super Mario Bros. 2 and they will be all new levels made by the developers after the game is finished. Not content locked in the cartridge or content held back at launch.

There were other news revealed in the Japanese telecast as well. Apparently NamcoBandai is helping create Nintendo’s dual platform Smash Brothers WiiU/3DS crossover game and Wii still have a few games limping out for it, most notably Kirby Anniversary Collection  (sounds like an awesome deal) – Think Sonic Jam for Kirby fans.  Japanese viewers were treated to an awesome trailer of Square-Enix’s Bravely Default  a Final Fantasy-esque RPG for modern Japanese tastes, where the heroine saves the world in a skimpy gown.

For me personally the most interesting part of the software presentation was the 8-bit Summer initiative.  I consider it a small personal victory as bringing more Virtual Console titles and bringing them out in force had been my singular message when filling up my eshop ClubNintendo surveys.  Not only are more Virtual Console games coming, Nintendo has seen the light and is doing a summer sale by reducing the price by 20% for a limited time for Super Mario Land, Links Awakening, Let's Golf 3D and other eshop titles (a first for Nintendo's digital services).

While it is clear some of the games for the 8-bit summer promotion will be official releases of NES Virtual Console games I already received as a 3DS ambassador, and titles such as Sonic Labyrinth will have questionable playability, it is still nice to see Nintendo realize their greatest asset is tapping into the back catalog of 8-bit titles to keep people coming back into the eshop.  These are cheap ready made titles.

Finally there is the 3DS XL.  We knew it was coming.  Having recently bought a DSi XL, I absolutely adore the large form factor.  I know it will make writing swapnotes and drawing in Colors 3D! easier with higher precision and quality .  The large screen is also a draw and the price is reasonable. 

Conceptually, 3DS XL is less of an oddball than some in the armchair analysis gaming community would indicate.  Its form factor is reminiscent of a large tablet phone folded in half.  Clearly there is a market for large screen mobile devices that isn’t a tablet, and with the DSi XL being fairly well received for its wide viewing angles, comfortable grip and large screen, I see 3DS XL doing quite well especially as a stay-at-home 3DS.

A nice thing Nintendo can do for early adopters who bought the 3DS as a mobile games machine is to release an application that would allow a 3DS to transfer streetpass and pedometer data daily, allowing users with the more compact launch 3DS to continue using it outside the home (the size is perfect for my pockets without having to use a man purse) and transferring the pedometer and streetpass data to the XL when we come home.  Both will essentially be under the same user.

Given all this, Day 1 purchase for me  right?

I’m not so sure.  The colors for North America are positively head scratching.  After the GameCube purple debacle, Nintendo had meticulously picked more neutral colors to launch their hardware with especially in North America.  DS had platinum as a launch color.  Wii and DSLite were clinical white, representing the Apple-inspired Nintendo.  DSi and XL all had earthy hues of darks, browns, deep reds and copper which complemented the visual aesthetic of those later generation DS hardware.  3DS had black and a stylish Aqua blue and plenty of colors to choose from after the console launched.   For 3DS XL, I’m faced with the choice of buying red on black or blue on black.  That is indeed disappointing.

Nintendo, I would like a silver or white 3DS XL for launch please.
Yours truly,

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