If someone asked me a year ago what I thought would be a new key feature for the next generation of handheld consoles, 3D would be the last thing on my mind. 3D and tiny screens, even 3D and videogames, are never two things I’ve related with each other. However, after seeing how 3D-filled 2010 was, being sported by countless films, the rise of 3D compatible TVs and subsequent 3D progams, it was certainly less surprising to see 3D as the next ‘logical’ step for enhancing the videogame experience.
And who better to bring about this step into the future of videogames than the company for bored moms and small kids everywhere– Nintendo! While it’s fair to say someone in the Nintendo building hit the nail firmly on the head for timing a jump onto the big money 3D bandwagon, it’s a nail I wish they didn’t hit. Not because I don’t want Nintendo to make some green, but because I fear they are once again going to be able to rely on a gimmick to sell their console rather than relying on making a great selection of quality games like they used to.
I sound cynical but bear in mind that before the current generation I would never have questioned the authority of the Gamecube as King of consoles. To this effect I couldn’t wait to get my hands on a brand, spanking new Wii come Christmas release time (even passing up the opportunity to sell it for £700 before I opened it), only to be greeted with the worst Zelda game I have ever played, and an extremely large selection of mediocre minigames. “It’s OK,” I thought to myself, “they’ll release some great games later on.” Bar a few exceptions (namely Galaxy – which I didn’t even like that much, and SSBB) this naïve presumption never actually came to fruition. This is ever so evident with the fact that my Wii is only ever used at present when I want to play a Gamecube game or my grandparents want to play “that game with the rabbits”. I couldn’t even play a goddamn DVD on it if I wanted to, which I’m pretty sure I could do on my PS2 which I’ve had since two thousand and fucking one.
Apologies to any Nintendo fanboys out there but this anti-Nintendo rant does have some relevance to the 3DS. To expand on my previous point, it’s not that I have anything against companies looking to increase sales and market share, but I do have an issue when quality games are being almost completely replaced with games based on novel, but extremely shortlived, gimmicks designed to rope in traditional ‘non-gamers’. So could this be the same with 3DS? Sadly, I think it might be. There’s no need for games to be innovative when slapping 3D effects on them automatically makes them 'innovative'. Take Super Monkey Ball 3D for example – it’s exactly the same as the other Super Monkey Balls, except with added 3D effects and terrible minigames.
In saying this, the original DS was based on the gimmick of touchscreen, and we've seen plenty of great releases since it's launch in 2004. Maybe I’m being too pessimistic when it comes to the 3DS and Nintendo, but it’s not without reason. I still have hope that the 3DS will create as much multiplayer fun that it’s predecessor did, and while Nintendo may have strayed with the Wii, they have managed to keep the balance between novelty cooking games and actual compelling gaming experiences on the DS, which may just carry on to be the case for the newly released 3DS.