It’s been a little over a year since Nintendo first announced the ‘New’ 3DS. The surprise announcement came as a shock to many, especially the 40+ million 3DS owners who were around at that time. Seeing it was such a strange surprise, many were quick to doubt the system; not knowing exactly how it would fit in, especially with the name looking to cause a lot of confusion.
Fast-forward to now and one can easily see that sales wise, the system has been doing reasonably well. For instance, in Japan, the new variant constantly outsells its older counterpart on a weekly basis. Worldwide, the system has also overtaken its older iteration, and as a result, has helped boost the entire 3DS brand to new heights; this was more than likely the whole purpose of it anyway, similar to how Apple releases “S” versions of the iPhone shortly after the launch of the previous model in order to push profits.
With that in mind, why would I even think that the system has been “underutilized”? It’s been doing just fine sales-wise, so what could be problem? Well — what happened to the main component behind all of the ‘improvements’? You know, that ‘new’ processor?
The ‘new’ behind the New 3DS is all thanks to the improved processor that powers the system. Because it’s a more capable chipset, the system can handle more intense levels of operation than that of its past self, allowing for improved speeds, functionality, and even new gaming experiences. It certainly is great that Nintendo was able to make so many improvements, while still selling it at a very affordable price, however, the true power of the new processor has seemed to have been underused for the most part.
While Nintendo has been pushing the faster speeds and improved 3D functionality, the fact that the system can run more demanding games has been almost completely hushed. Now it is true that this was the main concern that many of the aforementioned doubters had: “How would Nintendo, as well as other developers, deal with a fragmented platform?” Of course now, we can see that it really never turned into much of a problem at all.
As of the writing of this article, the New 3DS only has one exclusive title — Xenoblade Chronicles 3D. The fact that Nintendo even chose this game is strange, but what’s been even stranger is still the fact that we haven’t seen anything after it. True, there have been instances where the extra power has been put to use in other ways: like how Miiverse can only be accessed on the New 3DS when playing Super Smash Bros. or how the 3D features are exclusive New 3DS version of Hyrule Warriors Legends.
Going back to Xenoblade 3D, the reason why we haven’t seen or heard about anything after it could simply be because it didn’t sell enough copies. As I already mentioned, it was a strange choice in the first place, but I can also see why Nintendo may have picked it. As some of you may know, the game was originally a Japanese-only release. Only after the Operation RAINFALL campaign did Nintendo finally decide to bring it to the West, but by then, millions had already pirated copies. Add this to the fact that it was only made available at Gamespot at a very high price tag, and it’s easy to see why the company would want to revisit it — they hoped it would help the title to garner more genuine attention. In addititon to this, it’s also likely that they wanted the game to ride on the coattails of the Wii U’s Xenoblade Chronicles X.
Regardless of the specifics behind Xenoblade 3D’s situation, it did manage to prove one thing — the ‘New’ 3DS’ processor really does pack a punch.
The original 3DS was never really much of a powerhouse. While it was more modernized than its predecessor, there were already smartphones and tablets on the market that outclassed it not too long after it launched. We can even add the Vita into the equation for the sake of the argument. Even so, it wasn’t exactly a slouch. Early on, we saw titles like Kid Icarus: Uprising and Super Mario 3D Land — games that arguably look to be in the realm of the Gamecube. This was already a huge step-up from the DS, which had titles that look liked advanced N64 games.
With the New 3DS’ processor, as proven by Xenoblade, Wii-like visuals are possible. Considering that was an open-world title, that means that some serious optimization had to be done. With that in mind, I can only wonder how smaller-scale titles would fare; even a title like Super Mario Galaxy, for instance. While many are salivating over the dream of seeing Super Mario Galaxy in true HD — how great would it be in 3D? Considering the popularity of the series, that would be a guaranteed system seller; more-so than Xenoblade could ever hope to achieve on a handheld.
Having now considered the possibilities, my question should make a little more sense: has the system truly been underutilized? I honestly think so.
So far, the extra boosts in titles like Smash and Hyrule Warriors have been nice, but the whole “must upgrade” factor has been lost. For completely new adopters, indeed, the New 3DS is the cream of the crop. For previous owners though, the incentive isn’t all that big. Every brand-new title sans Xenoblade that has come on the scene since the inception of the New 3DS has been compatible on both versions of the platform, so what’s the point?
In the end, It’s hard to say exactly where Nintendo is headed with the New 3DS. There’s still a good chance that we may see more ‘new’ experiences, especially after the big holiday rush subsides. Even so, it’s still a matter of wondering. If they do decide to continue as they are, then the New 3DS shall simply continue to carry the brand name until it’s time to be put to bed. Of course, that’s the boring outcome. There’s a lot of titles that would work well on the system; not even just from the Wii era, as shown by the 3D-remastered Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask. How about Wave Race Blue Storm, Metroid Prime, Super Mario Sunshine or even — F-Zero GX?
Oh, the possibilities…