Yesterday Nintendo announced their next handheld, another iteration of the 3DS that is actually has no 3D at all named... Wait for it... The 2DS.
Yes, the 2DS. This is not a joke. The handheld that takes all the goodness of the 3DS and doesn't let you see it in 3D. Oh and its also a cheese wedge shaped block.. And thats just weird.
Now, I'm not one of those doomsayers that thinks Nintendo is doomed to fail if they don't go strictly software-only. I have a lot of strong opinions about their course of action over the last.. Eh.. 17 years maybe? At least since the N64. But I still think they're a wonderful company, with wonderful ideas, and great games, but they make some funny choices with some things that I know they have to be feeling as if they're doing right by. It might not jive with everyone that they're like this, but I can at least respect them for trying to go against the grain everyone else is following, even if that usually keeps them stuck in some weird alternate past most of the time.
But this announcement is kind of underwhelming, even in its complete, random, oddness.
Well, actually, thats not totally fair. The 3DS itself is a great machine to begin with. And I'm pretty sure most people agree that the 3D is largely unnecessary, whether or not they have issues using it because of their eyes. So this actually seems like a great idea.. Except where it isn't, or at the very least highly questionable. I want to explore some of those questionable things, good or bad, and see if we can mete out where Nintendo is making a good decision here, or if they're just pushing themselves deeper into the red.
Surely the 2DS will make a few of these.
Along with the announcement yesterday Nintendo gave the release date and pricing information, setting the release date for October 12th, and the price at $129.99.
The date isn't much of a big deal, I do worry about the holiday season that follows and all the other, bigger, things being released during it, but if people are going to want or ask for a DS of any sort at that time, and the stores have amazing sales or bundles, then the money will be made. The real question mark is the price point.
Don't get me wrong, $129.99 is a great price point. Its nice and cheap and could open up a lot of people to jumping onto the platform for the first time, I also have this itch in the back of my mind that tells me its going to push any future purchase towards it, instead of the other models. But more on that later.
What it does do is puts a clearer price on the 3D aspect of the 3DS. The base 3DS is 169.99, the XL is usually $199.99, but theres been a ton of sales in the past that put it just five dollars over the base model. This means Nintendo appraises the 3D technology at more or less around $40. Which is an interesting statement to be making.
What it also tells me is that if you need a replacement for a 3DS, and you can forgo the 3D aspect, that this is where you should look as a replacement for your system. If you can't get it fixed for some reason through Nintendo, like a situation I'm in where they wouldn't have the outer casing to a Zelda 3DS to replace (weird story behind that, straight from Nintendo support. I may tell it here sometime.), then this would be a cheaper alternative to just say, "F-it," to the calm shell design of the others and save some money.
This will also be a great alternative for parents who don't care to spend a ton for their kids to have one, 3D or not. Or to replace one if you happen to have a clumsy kid (more on that later, in another section).
If the 2DS was full of coins, it'd be great
What is this thing?:
This is actually sort of a strange question. We obviously know what it is, but I feel like the question still needs to be asked, not because its a confusing concept, but because.. Well.. Its just a DS. And no, I don't mean, "DS" as a way to just not have to push my finger up to the 3 on my keyboard, but because this really does make this handheld just an upgraded DS.
But thats all I've ever felt the 3DS was in the first place. With this however it feels like they're rolling backwards instead of forwards. Where people would cry havoc when the 3DS was first released and focused so hard on the 3D aspect and this irrational idea that the 3DS was only about the 3D,and nothing else. Not a day would go by where we didn't hear, "But I don't like 3D," or, "3D hurts my eyes," or even a few articles or official statements that had to flat out tell the public that you don't need to have the 3D turned on to play things.
People were ridiculously focused on the one aspect of the 3DS that clearly set it apart from all the past generations DS models. With this new iteration, however, Nintendo has stripped away any and all of the facade that the 3D matters by basically saying, "Hey folks, this doesn't really matter!" No matter how they go about saying they're still supporting 3D. Sure, this also strips away any idea some parents may think about 3D burning their kids eyes out, which strips away the last real negative aspect that the 3DS had against it.
It does give me a pretty good platform to do something I normally wouldn't, and puff out my chest while saying, "I told you so," to all the people who fought with me about it a the time, and laugh really hard at everyone who freaked out about the 3D being everything. Its fun, but its simply just an additional feature that happened to make it into the name.
Almost too happy...
Who is this for?:
This is another funny thing about all this, who is this thing even for?
Sure, I've mentioned people who need to replace a broken system, but don't want to spend almost $300 to do it, but the marketing video that Nintendo provided in their announcement their usual ridiculously clean cut adults playing games on this, acting like they were looking into the black hole sun.
But then later on, lovable Spelunky
boyscout, Reggie Fils-Aime, came out and said that the 2DS' intent is to be a starter device for young children
, for 5 or 6 year olds.
So which is it? Is it really for everyone or should we just hand it to kids, whole adults go on to something that can actually close up?
I mentioned earlier all the ill feelings parents had about the 3D, and how the general idea being fed to us is that it'll burn out a child's developing retina, as if staring at a tiny screen -so many tiny screens that now flood their lives- wasn't going to do that anyway, and how this was a good play at eliminating that sentiment. So it does seem like it could be just geared towards kids.
As does the form factor to the system, thats more of a blocky wedge, that will be easier to hold in small hands, like all those "my first tablet" tablets that are out there.
Otherwise, I just don't see who else it could be for if your going to pin point a demographic. I don't really know if an adult would look at this, without a price or anything else being looked at, and really feel like this is something they'd want to hold. At least not when you can look like less of an ass holding a 7' tablet, or, really, just a regular or XL 3DS. Sure, it won't be gated off, like Judge Dredd's gun, where if an adult holds it, it'll blow off their arm, but I can't see a ton of people, not saying it won't happen at all, who can vote or drink alcohol, flocking to buy this thing without some other outlier to it; most likely the price. Those people in the video just looked goofier then usual, and it wasn't because they were cartoon representations of real people.
Is if for Picard or Professor X?
I did have another thought however: Older individuals.
The DS had a big following with the older demographic who were able to use the system for other things, like playing Brain Age
to keep spry, or to grab some of those carts that weren't games at all, but lifestyle aids, like recipes or just ebooks. At the time the DS XL was brought out not to appease gamers who wanted to see their games on a bigger screen, as it seems we've adopted with the 3DS XL, since players complained about the baseline system's screen was too small, but for people who weren't gamers who just couldn't read the tiny type on the smaller DS screen.
That demographic hasn't really been talked about on the 3DS at all, specially since everyone, including Nintendo, have been enamored since the 3DS' launch with whether or not Nintendo is failing themselves out of the business of making games. The older demographic has been more or less left behind, where I'm sure some of them are savvy enough to know theres an upgrade to be had but may not exactly feel included in the discussion any more.
So I'm just a tiny big surprised that we didn't see people 50+ playing the 2DS, showing off the benefits for them. They'd benefit from the blocky tablet design that doesn't ask you to hold the system at a certain angle to see clearly, or really hold it at all, if you can rest it on the fact that it does away with the imposed notion that you'd have to subject your failing eyes to the idea of 3D.
The 2DS, chopping the competition
I mentioned the wedge-like form factor a few times now, and its exactly that: A slightly tapered block.
As a person who has problems with his hands (as far as I know, its psoriatic arthritis), handhelds, sadly, have become more and more painful for me to hold over the years. The only way I can play both my 3DS or my Vita is with the help of a 3rd party grip add-on.
The buttons seem to be in good places, the buttons seem centered on the machine, as to make the balance of having to hold the entire system all at once seem a little less daunting, even though they have said that it weighs less then the 3DS XL
. I've seen some people say they think the buttons are too crammed together, that it'll be murder on big hands, but I'm not seeing it to be any different then the current setup on the other iterations -unless thats their point.
The placement of the buttons seems to be in such a way that you also won't run into one of the base 3DS' biggest complaints: the sharp corner edges. Those corners on the baseline 3DS (I don't know if this was an issue on the XL, I've never really heard any complaints about it) were absolute murder on my palms, and even forced me not to play the system for months after launch because of the pain it'd cause me. It wasn't until got a Dreamgear comfort grip did I finally feel like I could hold the system without remorse.
Really the only thing that concerns me a bit about holding the 2DS is the fact that there doesn't' seem to be anything to really grip to behind the machine, so some people might have trouble holding it in that respect. An example of this is the woman playing with the man at the table, she's having to curl up her digits to get a good grip. She's having fun, but she's being paid to -we won't be.
Due to similarities, cheese and 2DS' can be used as doorstops
I feel like Nintendo could have fixed that situation by giving the back of the system a bit of a curve inwards, as to create a grip-able area of its own, without the need for a secondary device to create one (I don't know if any will be in production, but I have a feeling there will be a market for one.. Also.. Are they going to bother with a Circle Pad Pro for this iteration too? Some games really do benefit from it, but having to buy one for every version is getting to be quite stupid)
Overall, any handheld should really should be about games over aesthetics, but I really can't deny that I love my 3DS because I was lucky enough to track down a Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
edition 3DS when they were released. I just love the thing; its such a beautiful sight that I go against the grain of my OCD and have chosen not to put the top portion of my aforementioned comfort grip on the top part of my 3DS. However, colors and graphics are just an option, but can be an important one -just look at how many 3DS' sold after they released the red one 6 months or so after the systems launch: they flew off the shelves.
What you'd see about the 2DS from looking at it is that the majority of it is black. The backing is black, possibly because your not really looking at it at all. The front is black, like the top section of the prior iterations, as to provide contrast between it and the games (which I had thought was a move made to make the 3D easier to see.. So this is an odd thing to keep up with to me). Its basically black, whether you like it or not. There is color, but its around the sides, and isn't much. Its not even totally worth saying theres different colors at all, because all you'll be paying attention to is black.
And that loops me back to my Zelda Model. I don't think they'll really do special 2DS', which is sort of sad. Without any colors to background from other then black, they seem somewhat limited to what they can do. I mean, I guess the skies the limit, and they could, but I'm just imagining more scroll work type effects (beautiful, effective, but can be a bit boring and not for everyone) like they did with the Zelda 3DS or the Gamepad for the new Zelda Wii U bundle, and a lot less, maybe cooler, things like a yellow system thats made to look like Pikachu's face. They could change the backing of the system to a color to match the side and that'd change the battlefield for special release versions, but (and I'm just speculating) I'm having a hard time imagining them doing that here. It just seems like they're going to force us to paying the premium of the clam shelled, 3D, iterations of the system. Maybe thats part of the strategy, maybe thats a weird accident. I kind of can't wait to see.
It all may not matter overall, but people love to have unique things, and these things sell like hotcakes. Nintendo is just opening themselves up, again, to lose out to the varied 3rd party peripheral makers out there, to design better system looks then they provide as a base.
I'm tackling the screen separate from the form factor because theres some odd things happening with the 2DS' screens. First being the screens aren't actually screens, but a single screen being sectioned off.
To me this is just weird. Cost effective maybe more then anything, but it suggests a few things about the whole screen situation.
1) The entire screen is a touch screen. Even though the top portion is blocked off from touch, and no DS or 3DS games handle anything having to do with touching the top of your game.
2)They basically hint, and I know I might catch flak for this, that theres no reason they couldn't just make a tablet -specially when you factor in the entire design of this iteration. And that will somehow lead into some peoples arguments that Nintendo should just make apps instead of anything else. And I don't want to get into that, cause its not a good argument, or at least not one I want to perpetuate.
3) The bottom screen really doesn't have to be smaller then the top screen. I mean, its all one screen, so why do this? Is it because the available games, software and the other versions aren't able to stretch to fit the area it'd create? Is it some sort of touch design issue, where these games would get confused if it was stretched. I really wish I knew more on it, because its a curious thing. Your cutting costs making it one screen, but your not using all of what your using? That still seems wasteful.
Not a huge leap now...
It just seems to me that it wasn't a big deal that the resolution between the DS and 3DS was different, it seems like we've made due on that. It also doesn't seem to matter too much that the top screen on the XL is bigger then the baseline 3DS, or that (I think) the 2DS' screen size is the same as the XL.. So I don't totally see why they couldn't do something to make the size of the top and bottom "screens" here, equal.
Second overall thing about the "screens" is that they're pretty much right there, out in the open, because you can't close the 2DS.
I mentioned that I'd hit on the clumsy kids in another section, and this is it. Kids. You know what?screw that. Even adults. Are wreaking balls, it seems like these days more then ever. Sure accidents happen, but it seems like we're in this weird place where most of us don't have a ton of money to spend on expensive items, even a little over $100, but we're perfectly okay running a train all over what we do have. I just get this really bad feeling looking at this that people are going to go about thinking "Oh, Nintendo quality!" and just flinging this thing around, where they wouldn't do the same with their slightly more expensive 7' tablet. I'm just picturing a ton of broken screens in the future, and that really frustrates my OCD.
One speaker, right there on the top left
I'm going to touch on this lightly, because I don't know enough about it right now, but from what I can see, the 2DS only has one speaker on it. I don't know if they've put the other one somewhere else or what, but from what I can tell its not going to be stereo sound, and thats an odd choice.
If this is true, then I have to imagine they're thinking that a lot of people, like myself, don't use the sound on most games any way, or simply opt to use headphone of some make, if not for games, then to watch Netflix (P.S: Wheres the Hulu Plus app we were promised 2 years ago?). Either way, you just don't see a ton of mono sound on handheld gaming devices, and that isn't exactly a positive difference.
They couldn't do larger then this?
Poor battery life:
"...though the funny-looking handheld does support slightly better battery life -- 3.5 to 5.5 hours for 3DS games compared to 3 to 5 hours on 3DS, and 3.5 to 6.5 hours on 3DS XL."
-Jordan Devore, Destructoid
I've said it before way in the past: a half hour is hardly a blip of time for a gamer who's really enjoying what they're doing, this isn't really "better" in any way.
The hinges, and the ability to open the clamshell design, on the prior iterations created a gap that a battery obviously couldn't compete with. You'd think that something that doesn't need to bend, but could have all the space of an XL, and it can't even match the XL's battery life. And by all accounts from simply looking at it, with the tapered design, adding it all up I just can't figure out how they couldn't manage to put a bigger battery in.
I don't know, I'm a little disappointed here. It might seem like I'm kicking the dirt and shoving my hands in my overalls, but I'm started to get the impression that handheld makers are going out of their way to keep battery life around 5 hours, when we're all making it pretty clear we'd be happier with 8 to 10.
And thats all before the fact that I can't quite understand how it pulls so little battery life, but doesn't have the power draw of the additional 3D functionality working against it. Is it just that they've put a 3DS battery in, instead of an XL, or is there some sort of leak? Aside from the 2 screens that are really 1, the lack of 3D, and the general design of the thing, I don't see how this is any different. It just doesn't feel like it should be pulling this power struggle.
All these colors mean something. They'll tell us one day.
It [u]could[/u] fracture the market:
Much of the sentiment I feel like I've hit on, weaving through this whole post, is that the 2DS' market seems to be all over the place. Not knowing exactly who its for hurts it a bit. I'd love to say, "a lot,"
but only time will tell on that. If the 2DS takes off I don't think it'll be the form factor of the device or who its marketed to, that sways people to it, but I could see it being the the price. Gamers will go about getting their games as cheap as they can, if only so they can go get more games with the savings.
Most of all I could just simply destroy the 3D market. People aren't very fond of it any way, so if they could abandon it for a greatly reduced price, they probably will. I meant it when I said earlier that systems should be about games, and this is just a more painless way of accessing the DS/3DS/eShop library. The 3D market may need to be sacrificed to do that, and possibly
, the other iterations of the 3DS with it. Again, only time will tell.
I can guess, but I just don't know!
I realize that it seems like I'm pooping allover the 2DS parade. I'm not trying to. I love the 3DS as much as I've loved all Nintendo handhelds, and my initial knee jerk reaction to the 2DS was very
positive. But then everything sunk in a little bit, and I got to thinking about it while I really looked at the system and yeah: here we are. In fact, even thinking back on the top of this post I said the 2DS was a bit underwhelming. But if I was able to pull this much out of it it obviously wasn't. It just feels that way to me, even after spending so much time on the thought of it, and thats really not all that good, either.
Feelings are a big part of this industry, an industry ridiculously driven by feelings, be them speculations on how somethings going to do on the market, or just plain nerd rage across the variety forums we've set up for ourselves to bark on. If I can go on and on about this, mixing the positive with the negative where I can find it, and still be underwhelmed.. Well.. Thats just not too good.
I just hope the 2DS doesn't cause Nintendo to fall as flat as the name implies.