Revised Thoughts on the 3DS

By the time this post is live, the Nintendo 3DS will be available for purchase in the United States. I thought this would be a good chance for me to revisit my thoughts on this device to see if anything has changed. For the most part, I feel as strongly opposed to the direction that Nintendo is taking as I did a couple of months ago, but I do have to admit that I kind of wish that I was buying one at launch, even though I wouldn’t really have anything to do with it at this point.

Let’s start with the negative stuff. First of all, I still think that the 3DS is way too expensive. $250 is a heck of a lot of money to spend on a portable video game console. Maybe if the 3DS was more powerful, or had really high resolution screens, or had some sort of killer feature that wasn’t just a gimmick (like 3D is), or if there was at least some awesome, must-have launch title, then maybe I could justify the price. But as it is, there is no way I would ever spend that much money on this thing.

Secondly, it’s kind of ugly. This is especially disappointing to me because the last DS, the DSi, was a very nice, very well-designed device. Very pleasing to the eye. The 3DS, by contrast, looks bulky and kind of like it was slapped together at the last minute. It makes me wonder if perhaps Nintendo made it a little ugly on purpose, so that in 18 months they can release a 3DS Lite or 3DSi or something that looks nicer and has some useless new feature. Then they can make some extra money. I think I’ll hold out for that model.

The games are too expensive, as well. As I suspected two months ago, 3DS games cost $40 a pop, which just seems so overpriced to me in this day and age. When I can get quality video games from the iTunes App Store for less than $10, or the Xbox Live Arcade for $15 or less, $40 is just too expensive, unless it’s a really freakin’ awesome and deep game.

Of course, none of the initial games fall into this category. The general consensus seems to be that Super Street Fighter IV: 3D Edition is the best of the bunch, but even that game hasn’t gotten spectacular reviews. Besides, it’s a fighting game, and I don’t particularly enjoy fighting games. I certainly don’t enjoy them enough to spend $40 on one.

But with all this said, I kind of want a 3DS. And now that it’s actually available for purchase in the United States, I want it even more. Obviously I don’t want one enough to buy it on Day One (I couldn’t afford it even if I did) but this device has enough potential that I almost wish I could buy one right away.

There are no really stellar games available for the 3DS on launch day, but there are really stellar games coming. A remake of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time with redone graphics and extra content is probably enough in and of itself for me to buy the 3DS. (Ocarina of Time is generally considered to be the greatest video game of all time. It’s certainly one of my favorites.) A revival of the long-dormant Kid Icarus franchise certainly intrigues me, as do remakes of Star Fox 64 and Metal Gear Solid 3. A brand-new Super Mario game is also in the works, which is always very exciting.

But you don’t buy a device based on its potential. (Or at least, I don’t. Maybe other people do.) You buy a device because of what it can offer you at the moment when you buy it. And right now, if I went out to the store and bought a 3DS, I would take it home, unbox it, play around with the built-in apps… and then I would put it on the shelf and it would sit there until a decent game came out for it. There simply isn’t any game worth playing on the 3DS right now, and since the 3DS is a device that’s designed to play games, that means the 3DS is just not worth buying right now.

It may, in fact, be quite a while indeed before I get one. First of all, I want to wait until there is a large number of great games available before I get one. If only one or two awesome games ever come out for this system, it’s not worth getting. (Example: I once owned a Virtual Boy. There were two good games for the Virtual Boy. It was not worth owning.)

Second, the current 3DS is quite hideous. And Nintendo has developed a habit of releasing new versions of their handheld consoles every couple of years or so. Therefore, I’m going to hold out for the 3DS Lite or whatever they call it. It’s bound to look much nicer than the current 3DS.

Third, and probably most importantly, there are just other things I would rather buy than a 3DS. For one, even though I just bought a new laptop, I’m already thinking ahead to what will someday replace it. I’d love to buy a MacBook Pro someday, and frankly, I’m gonna have to start saving now if I want to buy one of those in 3 or 4 years. But even if I don’t get a MacBook, the Sony NGP that’s coming out later this year sounds like it will be a nicer handheld than the 3DS. I wouldn’t mind owning a Kindle someday. Heck, I’d rather buy a DSi right now than a 3DS, cause the DSi looks nicer, there’s more good games for it, and it costs 100 dollars less.

I will enjoy owning a 3DS someday, I’m sure. But for right now, I’m quite content with NOT shelling out almost $300 for a device I have no use for at the moment.

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