Kingdom Hearts. Assassin’s Creed. Resident Evil. Ninja Gaiden. While these titles were being used as the buzz words for the 3DS reveal at Nintendo’s E3 conference this past week, back at home base, our own community was busy unearthing an entirely different set of games. Shin Megami Tensei. Harvest Moon. Super Robot Taisen. Bloodrayne.
It’s apparent by now that the push toward 3D is probably, as someone put it in our comments, Nintendo’s best-kept secret. What started in the Gamecube days (or even earlier), is finally a concept ripe enough to pluck. It isn’t perfect, but it works and will likely be more affordable than any of the new technology demonstrated at E3 this year, overall.
Part of the reason it’s so exciting is because it’s a high-end product from the industry leader at the height of their tenure, and it shows. Judging by the E3 showing, everyone and their next door neighbour is going to be providing 3DS support, and if they aren’t already, they will be soon enough. It’s familiar technology, it’s powerful, and best of all, it looks to add spice to even the most traditional games.
But when you really start to think about the ramifications of the 3DS, arbitrary concepts like “adding spice to traditional games” turn into something a little more…concrete. Sure, for the first year or two, we’re going to see a lot of regular games redone in 3D, and that’s great. We all want that experience. But the 3DS’s mission is so much more than merely sprinkling salt and pepper over existing dishes. This could be the greatest gift to the Japanese games industry in years.
This thing has motion control. It has 3D. It has a microphone. It has a touchscreen. It has both digital and analog control. And perhaps, most importantly, it has the processing power required to put those mechanisms to use in ways that developers couldn’t on the DS. I’d like to think that people don’t associate an increase in processing capabilities solely to a visual improvement. This is a device that could very well bring something new to every single genre in existence, and at a far lower financial barrier to entry than on consoles.
More importantly, it could help open the Japanese audience’s minds up to newer experiences, given that it’s a portable device. For a global audience, this means that Japanese developers can now experiment at significantly lower risk to their bottom lines, and that western developers now have a dedicated portable games platform they’ll be willing to take somewhat seriously.
And when you think about how developers could potentially apply all those years of DS experience to the 3DS, it honestly does paint a very exciting picture of the portable games space in the years to come, in your head. What if we could finally have cross-platform multiplayer between a console and its portable counterpart? What if Square decided Dragon Quest X could be on both Wii and 3DS, the way Echoes of Time was? What if you can now have your glorious Final Fantasy VII remake in 3D?
Personally, I haven’t been this excited about a new console in a while. Part of the reason is that we’re all so well aware of the issues plaguing the industry that the 3DS could finally help resolve. But another part of the reason is that it just looks like so much fun, and I know I’ll be able to afford one.