When the Nintendo 3DS was announced a lot of developers were very excited about the creative opportunities it would afford them. Despite these claims, most of what has been announced for the system is ports. Judging from what I have seen so far the 3DS seems to be about on par, or even a little less powerful than the Nintendo Gamecube, with the added benefit of modern shaders. This has afforded it the ability to receive ports of games like Street Fighter 4, and a new entry in the Resident Evil series using the same engine Resident Evil 5 was built on. While this is a great advantage for the system, I feel like there is much more innovation that could come from this system. Developers only seem concerned with the power the system has to offer, instead of trying to offer new gameplay experiences that benefit from the 3D. This is the first time 3D doesn’t have to be a gimmick, each 3DS owner will have access to the same technology, so these games can truly be made from the ground up with a 3D experience in mind. The goofy 3D glasses are gone, giving people their first opportunity to see 3D naturally and developers are focusing on what they can do with the improved graphics and online capabilities instead. I am glad those options exist for developers, we all know how much third party support the Wii lost by being underpowered, but I just wish that developers would see beyond graphics and polygon counts and think outside the box a little. Wishful thinking for an industry that repackages the same game over and over again with a new coat of gloss every couple of years.
Even Nintendo is disappointing on the innovation front, choosing to release a bunch of N64 ports instead of new content. It’s weird, since the DS is more in line with the N64’s power I would have expected to see more N64 ports on that, but instead we are seeing them on the 3DS. Starfox is a series that lends itself very well to 3D, I can see myself dodging lasers and asteroids right now, but Ocarina of Time? What is 3D possibly going to offer to that experience? I hope Nintendo has something cool up their sleeves, and they probably do. I understand that not all games on the 3DS are going to utilize the 3D the system has to offer well, or even at all, but I would like to see more content that focused on the most innovative feature the system has to offer. Nintendo is bringing us a new Kid Icarus game that looks to have nearly nothing in common with it’s predecessors, but that is the beauty of resurrecting such an old property, you can re-imagine it any way you want. I am just glad to see Pit return to gaming, as I am sure many other old school gamers are. There is also a submarine diving game called Steel Diver, which was originally a demo for the first DS. Unless I am mistaken, I also missed any games that were announced to use the handheld’s built in motion sensors. Hopefully the new Mario Kart is able to be played like its console counterpart, steering with motion controls helped keep the game fresh in my eyes. Also arriving around the 3DS launch period is a new Paper Mario RPG and a new Animal Crossing, titles to appease any type of gamer. That’s what I think is so special about this system, its ability to cater to both the core and casual gamer at the same time. It has the touch screen and the motion controls for ease of use, but it also has the flashy graphics that hardcore gamers can’t get enough of.
I might be able to give Nintendo a break on their software not being incredibly innovative, since they managed to create such a nice piece of hardware. I think many people have overlooked a true piece of brilliance encapsulated in the system itself, the 3D camera. Because the system has two cameras on the back of it-t is able to both take and view photos in 3D. It’s a shame more developers didn’t experiment with the DSi’s camera, because now there is a whole new level of immersion to play with on the 3DS, that I’m sure Nintendo will take advantage of.
I think the 3DS launch will be stellar, featuring games across a broad spectrum of genres that will offer something for everybody. It will no doubt be the best launch Nintendo has ever had. Even with my complaints about lack of innovation I am sure I will be one happy camper. Just remember that the 3DS comes with more promise than a normal console, what we see today is just scratching the surface of what this system will be capable of.