As I put down my preorder today at Gamestop, I mused out loud... is Nintendo really ready to launch this damn thing? This is not a sentiment that came about overnight. It's come from many sources and definitely not being denied by Nintendo's behavior in the slightest. Sadly, this isn't the first time Nintendo has launched a handheld half baked, but this may be the first time Nintendo can't afford to.
When Nintendo takes a competitor seriously, they launch with gusto. Take Gameboy Advance, who was facing the double threat war in Japan of Neo Geo Pocket and Gameboy Creator's Brainchild Wonderswan. When I say they take things seriously, that's exactly what I mean. Just look at Gameboy Advances Launch Lineup.
-Army Men Advance
-Castlevania: Circle of the Moon
-Chu Chu Rocket
-Fire Pro Wrestling
-F-Zero: Maximum Velocity
-GT Advance Championship Racing
-High Heat MLB 2002
-Pitfall: Mayan Adventure
-Ready 2 Rumble Round 2
-Super Dodge Ball Advance
-Super Mario Advance
-Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2
-Tweety and the Magic Jewel
To be fair, this wasn't all Nintendos doing. Many companies had titles ready at launch to help and while not the best launch lineup in the world, this was a damn site better than the Nintendo DS, when Nintendo felt Sony was NOT a competitor.
On November 21st 2004, Nintendo launched the Nintendo DS with 10 games.
-Feel the Magic XY/XX
-Mr Driller: Driller Spirits
-Ridge Racer DS
-Super Mario 64 DS
-Tiger Woods PGA Tour
Big difference, huh? Made all the worse when PSP launched the next March with a lineup that rivals even Dreamcasts.
-Ape Escape: On The Loose
-ATV Offroad Fury: Blazin Trails
-Metal Gear Acid
-NBA Street Showdown
-Need For Speed Rivals
-NFL Street 2 Unleashed
-Rengoku: Tower of Purgatory
-Tiger Woods PGA Tour
-Tony Hawk's Underground Remix 2
-Twisted Metal: Head On
-World Tour Soccer
Among the launch lineup, a couple even had online gameplay and one had free DLC expansions. Nintendo did not take Sony seriously and for the first year, paid the price. Then something happened at E3, Nintendo finally showed up to properly launch Nintendo DS a year later. They debuted a focus on a different kind of gamer, one which melts at the sight of polygonal puppies and thinks 50 math problems in 3 minutes is a brain exercise. Nintendo expanded their market and with Nintendogs leading the way, took the handheld war.
But was Sony completely out? Not actually. With each passing day, editorials claim PSP as a failure while enjoying the latest Xbox 360 game. Keep this in mind, Xbox 360 has yet to sell more consoles than PSP. Wow, really? Yes. PSP, despite being called a failure, has been the only company to stand toe to toe with Nintendo in the handheld market and actually prosper. But PSP is considered a failure, iPhone is a different market, and it looks like Nintendo once again believes they have the stage all to themselves...
Today, I put down $100 on the system, $10 on Street Fighter IV, $10 on Dynasty Warriors, and a large amount of mind share into an unsure future. Nintendo is actually showing signs of regression/lazyness again. They're hedging their bets with the old faces. Upgrading ports, trotting out the old show ponies, and not even launching with an online store that, facing facts, is no longer an option for a gaming console. Nintendo successfully expanded gaming last generation, but those gamers are currently launching birds at pigs for $1 on another platform. The hardest of the hardcore gamers have just had their socks blown off by a console without a final name.
I hate to sound like a pessimist, but it looks and feels like Nintendo is not ready to launch the 3DS and the audience expanding savior of last war plays with fart machines and sound boards bought in iTunes now. Any Nintendo fan needs to seriously look at this situation and hope that E3 shows a Plan B, since Plan A called in Apathetic.
LOOK WHO CAME: