The best thing about Nintendo, apart from the games obviously, has been the fact that it has always walked its own path. By putting a little unknown Russian game in the box, it ensured that the original Game Boy was one of the most successful consoles ever and since then it has revealed new launches when it feels like it, not at E3 time or when the competitors feel they have to stick their heads out and hype.
Here we go again, with a new product that is either an excellent idea, working on current formats rather than looking forwards too early, or, it’s an ugly piece of unnecessary kids’ stuff. You decide. In fact, Nintendo probably hasn’t made this for you, if you’re happy with the 3DS, and who wouldn’t be, then you can happily continue to enjoy it and pretend that this console does not even exist.
From that perspective, it’s a little like the Game Boy Micro, which was a tiny version of the GBA, totally not needed, but still a beautiful piece of kit that fitted in your pocket like a pack of gum. Boy, I loved that silver machine!
Unlike the Game Boy Micro though, this does NOT simply play the same games on a different machine. It takes the selling point of the 3DS (the clue is in the title) and throws it away. You’re basically playing games that have been sold to us as 3D masterworks, but back in the old 2D way. Again I say ‘you’ but the 2DS is an entry point for your little brother/sister to get their first Nintendo console and fall in love with the magic in exactly the same way we did. Except without Tetris.
What this will do is boost the sales of older 3DS titles as well as ‘ancient’ (in terms of how the market works) hits from the original clamshell classic. Look at more recent hits – Mario, Luigi, Animal Crossing, LEGO, Donkey Kong and you’ll see that there are already enough titles to keep new (younger) owners happy before you even start looking forwards.
Actually it you want the real answer to why this machine is coming, you don’t need to look forwards, simply look to the same day. It launches alongside Pokemon X and Y. Coincidence? If you think that then you certainly underestimate the big N. These games will no doubt be the biggest of the year. Sure they would have been massive on the 3DS anyway, but the press that Nintendo receives for the 3D effects being harmful to younger players can now be completely erased. Look! The 3D Pokemon title! In child friendly 2D! It is quite simply a piece of sales genius. They are not looking for you to upgrade your console as they did with the release of the 3DS XL, instead it’s a cheap Christmas gift that will be welcomed by kids unlikely to say “Well, look at the size of it and where is the clamshell?” and more likely to scream “Pikachu!” and become the king of the schoolyard. Which will hopefully allow Nintendo to reclaim its place as king of the games world…