Friday, January 21, 2011

3DS = N64, Virtual Boy, and DSi Duck Taped Together?

Coffee Beans:
     Is the 3DS really just recycled technology(and games) from the Nintendo 64, Virtual Boy, and DSi being duck taped together?
     Or, does the 3DS really offer awesome new technology that will change(once again) the way we play games?

The Roast:
     What does the 3DS take from the N64 console?
     Remember when the Nintendo 64 released, it was Nintendo's first console to come with a controller that included an analog stick.
     The 3DS? Yeah, it's Nintendo's first handheld system to implement an analog stick, named the "circle pad", or "slide pad" by some.

     The 3DS doesn't just take the analog stick idea from the N64's controller though, as the 3DS is also taking games from the Nintendo 64's software library.  It's getting at least two N64 games that are being "remade" with 3D effects, updated graphics, and different controls.
     Those games are The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D and StarFox 64 3D, and I'm sure more will follow.

     What does the 3DS take from the Virtual Boy?
     The Virtual Boy was Nintendo's first and last console that displayed "true 3D graphics"...that is until the 3DS is released world-wide this February and March.
     While the Virtual Boy is considered a failure by many, I think the Virtual Boy was motivation for Nintendo to keep experimenting/improving with "true 3D" display and game-play.
     In the recent "Iwata Asks: Nintendo 3DS" feature, Mr. Iwata said, "That's why even when Nintendo failed with the Virtual Boy, the company stubbornly persisted, putting 3D circuits in the Nintendo GameCube and making a Game Boy Advance system with a built in 3D LCD."

     I guess in a way, we can thank all those Nintendo fans that showed an interest, and endured headaches, with the Virtual Boy, because without the Virtual Boy...the 3DS may not have been developed.

     What does the 3DS take from the DSi?
     Other than a few extra cosmetic appearances such as an extra external camera lens, the circle pad, and rearranged button placements, the 3DS looks very similar to the DSi's design, even the DS Lite's.

     Not only does the 3DS keep same basic design of the DSi and DS Lite systems, but it's also confirmed the 3DS will be backwards compatible with both DS Lite and DSi games, and the 3DS will continue with a DSiWare type service, under the new name "eShop".

Filtered Thoughts:
     So, does the Nintendo 3DS really offer awesome new technology that is about to change(once again) the way we play games?

     Well, the 3DS is clearly more graphically powerful than Nintendo's current handhelds available, and I'm sure many people are/will be glad for the update in graphical power.

     Graphics aside, I think the biggest marketing/selling feature for the 3DS though,  is clearly its 3D technology.  Hence its name...3DS.(I know, I know, Captain Obvious point)

      I think the "true 3D" capabilities, coupled with the the two external cameras, and the built-in motion sensor and gyro sensor, have great potential for creating new game-play elements in existing game genres, and in possibly helping create new genres altogether.
     As for 3DS games, I'm most interested in trying out the AR games(AR = augmented reality), but I really don't know if I can justify $250 for those alone.

     One reason I could maybe justify $250 for the 3DS, is the 3DS Activity Log.  What is it?  Take a look:
     I'm trying to get more information on this "Activity Log", but this page definitely shows the "Play Time" of 3DS games and apps.  If this ends up being like the Nintendo Channel data, with it being reported by lots of 3DS users, I would probably get a 3DS just for doing data stories alone...I'm a sad human being!

     While I think the 3D feature is the 3DS' biggest selling point, I don't really know if Nintendo thinks that.
     In the "Iwata Asks: Nintendo 3DS" feature, Mr. Miyamoto was speaking about how the 3DS is backwards compatible, and also said this about 3D for 3DS games, "New game cards, however, will be specific to Nintendo 3DS, but whether they will be in 3D or not is basically up to the maker, just like how much to use the touchscreen was up to developers for Nintendo DS."

     Now, it's great and all for Nintendo to allow developers freedom to make decisions, but if Nintendo won't make some standards in regards to 3D use for the 3DS, I think that's a problem.
     I'm sure most developers will of course implement "true 3D" into 3DS games, but I really think Nintendo should implement some standards, and currently not having any standards for "true 3D" in 3DS games makes that feature even more like a gimmick to me.

     I'm still definitely interested in the system, and I even have a 3DS reserved already, but I can't say that I'm excited for the 3DS...perhaps that will change once I demo one.
     While I don't doubt that the 3DS is offering solid new technology, if Nintendo wanted to release a new "true 3D" system without 3D standards, and the ability to sell us old games again, they could have just duck taped a Nintendo 64, Virtual Boy, and DSi together!  It would have saved them the R&D costs put into the 3DS, and the lack of "true 3D" standards wouldn't matter, because few people would want to experience the headaches associated with the Virtual Boy.
     I guess I'm wondering why they spent the time and money investing in this new 3D technology, if they aren't going to make it a standard for the system.

     Do you think Nintendo should have some "true 3D" standard for 3DS games?  Are any of you interested in the 3DS, and already have one reserved like me?
     If you are really excited about the 3DS, what about it has you the most excited?

If you haven't reserved a Nintendo 3DS yet, you can click the images/links below to be taken directly to's pre-order page for the systems:


  1. Great article - and the title plus lead picture cracked me up. It's funny, but I've had some of these same musing myself, having owned just about 1 of every NES system ever - except maybe the virtual boy. I am fascinated with the 3DS, but the price tag puts it out of my range until probably next year sometime. still, I'm watching its development with a lot of interest

  2. The 3DS is obviously 3 webcams, a PSP, and a DS put together. :) That takes care of the cameras, three screens, and analog.

    I actually look forward to a non-3D 3DS game. I'm more excited about the other aspects of the 3DS than the 3D, and I'm aware of the fact that 3D takes some "oomph" out of geometry and effect detail, but I'm curious as to exactly how much. I'm confident that most games will feature the 3D, without rules from Nintendo, so I appreciate that Nintendo didn't force it, if only it leaves the possibility open.

    I believe you know I have mine preordered, and I'm very excited.

    I do hate to seem defensive on the 3DS's or Nintendo's behalf, but you mentioned "changing the way we play games" more than we really need a system to do that to be something worth being excited about?

    Today, I wouldn't consider myself from 2006 an open-minded gamer; I bought the Wii because it was the next thing from Nintendo, because of the VC to play all that AAA stuff I missed from years past, and the low(er) price. I didn't think it would be third-party games that surprised me more often than Nintendo's own games, I didn't take a good look at the motion sensors in the Wii controllers to see that they were limited, today I observe that nearly every VC game I have and wanted to play are games I've never heard of before, stuff that isn't well known, and....well actually, prices have been good to me.

    But what's my I would consider myself a wiser gamer, wiser about what I like at least. I see what games the 3DS is offering, and I like what I see, a lot. I don't see many games that change how I play, and I'm not disappointed in the least. There's a reason that game controllers didn't change all to drastically over the years (until Wii, you could argue); game makers just don't often have the ideas that only new inputs let users control. The Wii, WiiMotion+, Balance Board, and DS helped me realize this. I savor the experiences that truly utilize the unique features and accept that I won't get many more.

  3. I think I might actually get one for when my daughter turns 4.

  4. @Chalgyr:
    "I am fascinated with the 3DS, but the price tag puts it out of my range until probably next year sometime. still, I'm watching its development with a lot of interest"

    I've never purchased a handheld day one...or ever as a matter of fact. My brother had a Game Gear growing up, and we own two DS Lites now, that I won in competitions, but I've never used money for a handheld...

    If you're waiting until next year, that's probably good for a few reason...
    1. If there are problems with the 3DS, cracking hinges, screens exploding in 3D!, or anything...buttons sticking, you'll hear about it rather quickly probably
    2. Potential for price drop in hardware and software
    3. Potential for better redesigned 3DS...

    "I do hate to seem defensive on the 3DS's or Nintendo's behalf, but you mentioned "changing the way we play games" more than we really need a system to do that to be something worth being excited about?"

    No need to hate being defensive...discussion is good!
    As for "changing the way we play games", I think it is important from how Nintendo has been with the Wii...that game-play isn't supposed to be just about more powerful graphics...but game-play.

    IF the 3DS is simply a more graphically capable DS Lite/DSi, I can't justify a $250 price tag for it...which is why I'm kind of shocked Nintendo doesn't implement standards of some sort.

    I am hopeful though for the AR games on it...and I even have some game-play ideas for 2D platforming games on it, but I don't know how/if they could be implemented into games...

    Believe me, I don't think all games need 3D in all aspects...but I expect every title screen to pop out at me at least! Is that asking so much?

    One thing that has me concerned, is how Nintendo has handled(or not handled) the Wii and game standards...the market quickly become flooded with "Party" "Party 2", etc., type games...full of glitches and in some games cases, barely playable...but NINTENDO was/is still providing licenses to these companies...where is Nintendo's Q/A department at with so many games with glitches getting released?
    I just hope they tighten up on the 3DS and have some better "guidelines" for companies.

    @Charlie Chang:
    You know Nintendo has been warning that children under 6 shouldn't play it?

    Thank you all for the comments/feedback! I really do appreciate it...any other thoughts on the topic?

  5. No, I didn't know that. Well I think it was more of a guise to justify spending $250 for her. I bet I'd play it more than her. I never did beat Star Fox 64!

  6. When you look at everything else that cost as much or more. Was a PS3 worth $600? What about the PS2 at 300 back in the day? The machine is only worth what the person feel the will get out of it.
    Full Backwards Compatibly from DS game to Gameboy VC. It's clear to see that the Nintendo 3Ds is using the prototype for Nintendo Next home console online system. Transfer content to the new hardware, and the possibility of new games. Plus remaster version of great old ones. Ya I would pay 250.

  7. I don't really think there should be a true 3D standard. I haven't seen the 3D effects yet, but as of right now, I have no interest in 3D, and if the developers don't either, I don't think it should be forced on them.
    Perhaps my mind will change if/when software that uses 3D in a revolutionary way comes a
    along. I know that with movies that make poor use of 3D annoy me, and I don't think it would be much better with games. Good uses of 3D would be cool, but if it would cut down the cost of the system, I'd rather have no 3D support.
    I don't have the system on reserve and am not excited for it, but I do think some really cool games can and will be made for the system in time. I just hope there will be plenty of games that can be done better on the 3DS as opposed to the home consoles, for how expensive the 3DS is.

  8. I think all developers will implement 3D because they feel they can't afford not to do it, much like what happened with the jump from 2d to 3d gameplay.

    As for handling shovelware, unfortunately they can't afford it. In order to have a big software library for a console, shovelware has to appear. If Nintendo would start enforcing things like they used to do, developers would flee.

    I'm not sold on the AR games. We've been hearing about those for a long time now and it's been a while since the first Eye Toy released but there's never been any good games. It'll be a fun distraction, smart move including a couple cards with the system, but that will be the end of it. I expect it to stay as an aside that fills in boring Sunday afternoons.

    I'm not terribly excited by the 3DS right now. I won't reserve one but I might buy it in the first month of release since I'll have plenty of money on the side.

    I would probably get Pilot Wings as one of the first games. Mario Kart I will definitely buy and I need to see much more of Kid Icarus before I make a decision.

    What will be interesting is what they put on the virtual console and how soon. I never owned a gameboy but I've played plenty of games on one and many more with emulators back in the day and I'm looking forward to playing them again. Link's Awakening and the Mario Land games I definitely want. But there is one that would make me buy the system instantly, Donkey Kong 94. As soon as that comes out, I'll have a 3DS in my hands.

    Until then, I'll wait until there is a sufficient amount of games I want to play before buying it. Unless NSMB DS 2 comes out, but that will probably only happen in a year or two.

    Oh, and I love the Activity Log. It has even more info than before. I hope the eshop channel will have numbers like the Nintendo channel.

    Anyways, it's always fun reading your articles.

  9. @TheWon:
    I just hope the online system works well, as it seems like right now they can't even confirm when it will be ready...which makes me wonder what they're doing at Nintendo. If the piles of cash are in front of their monitors, preventing them from seeing the screens to write the code, I will gladly take a few piles out of their way...

    @Terry T:
    "Good uses of 3D would be cool, but if it would cut down the cost of the system, I'd rather have no 3D support."
    Which if the system has 3D, and Nintendo spent all time/money investing in the new 3D technology, I don't see why they wouldn't want it to be a "standard"...even in some small way like, "All title screens must be in 3D."

    I definitely agree that too much of a good thing, can be a bad thing...and hopefully the developers have already learned from play-testing how much 3D is enough.

    "In order to have a big software library for a console, shovelware has to appear. If Nintendo would start enforcing things like they used to do, developers would flee."
    Kind of funny, I actually had two sentences in the post originally, about shovelware, but edited them out.
    I had said something about how I can see game titles like, "30 Party Games 3D!"
    While the title says "3D" it wouldn't mean "true 3D" like the 3DS can display, and would be N64 style "3D" games that barely function...but the title could possibly fool a lot of people into thinking the game had 30 "true 3D" party games.

    Thank you all for the comments/feedback! Any other questions or thoughts?

  10. Lol, actually I just played the 3DS tonight. Its more like a Gamecube in terms of graphics from what I saw.

    What I can say is that it definitely is a nice little package. Ill explain more on the podcast coffee.

  11. @Brad Jerger (The Butcher):
    "Its more like a Gamecube in terms of graphics from what I saw."

    Still a generation behind...

    Anywho, I'll be waiting on the podcast to get posted!

    Thanks for the feedback!

  12. I'm interested to see how the 3DS turns out over the next year, but most likely will not buy one. $250 is a bit steep considering that's what I spent on my Wii. (err... plus 3 motes, 1 chuck, 1 classic controller, two motion plus dongles and then the games.)

    The virtual console aspect is of most interest especially with them mentioning TurboGrafx-16 games. I had one as a child and while the catalog for North America was a bit small, there were some quality titles. Now if they let you share/transfer VC titles from your Wii that would be great. pie in the sky, I know...

  13. @Robert:
    If the 3DS was $200, or less, would that be the magic price point for you? Or, are you not a big portable gaming guy?

    Thanks for the comment!

  14. @Coffee:

    I think lower price points would help, but honestly portable gaming doesn't fit me at this time. Perhaps more accurately I don't know how to make it fit where I feel I'm getting my money's worth. I could see it being cool to use while on a long trip, but am not sure about regular use.

    Although with that said I had great gaming times with my original gameboy many years ago. For now my PC, Wii and occasional smartphone gaming fits the bill.


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