Talking Point: Nintendo's 3DS Press Conference

Is the 3DS back on track?

There are some ‘monster’ games on the way

You know what we’re getting at in that tagline, or if you don’t then you’ve not been paying attention. Not only was Monster Hunter 3 G unveiled, a 3DS version or expansion upon the Wii’s Monster Hunter Tri, but Capcom also announced that Monster Hunter 4 will be coming to the 3DS. So far, there has been no announcement that this will be released on the upcoming PlayStation Vita. That doesn’t mean that this is a 3DS exclusive, not yet, but if it transpires that way it will be a significant boost for the handheld, particularly in Japan. Monster Hunter has been a major franchise for Japanese gamers on the PSP, so it'll be quite a coup if Nintendo seizes Monster Hunter 4 for itself.

Beyond that, confirmation was provided that Super Mario 3D Land, Mario Kart 7 and Pokemon Rumble Blast will release before the holiday period; surely providing a sales boost in the end-of-year shopping season. The list of titles due in 2012 is also extensive, with more Professor Layton on the way, Luigi's Mansion 2 and Kid Icarus: Uprising also representing first party efforts of particular interest. Throw in the likes of Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance alongside some of the titles listed earlier in this article, and there's plenty of content on the way.

As stated earlier, there are doubts amongst stockholders in particular whether the extensive line-up has enough big draws to significantly expand the 3DS user base. It must be said that the list of titles contains a broad variety of genres and styles: to adopt the broad-stroke approach, both veteran and less experienced gamers should be able to find games that tickle their fancy. Are any of them blockbuster hits? Consumers will decide that.

Some freebies and improvements on the way

Announcements this week weren’t limited to the live press conference or subsequent statements in Japan, but there was also a concerted effort from Nintendo of Europe and Nintendo of America to publicise other 3DS improvements on the way. For example, it was confirmed that a system update in November will bring 3D video recording functionality and ‘new experiences’ in the StreetPass Mii Plaza.

The StreetPass content will be welcomed by those who've been able progress through the original Quest and Puzzle challenges. More content is always a good thing, and if the 3DS user base continues to grow the prospects of successfully completing these challenges will increase. The addition of the previously hinted-at 3D video recording was a welcome announcement too. It will be a fun feature, undoubtedly, but the low resolution of the 3DS camera will limit this app’s potential. Will it be a replacement for a genuine camcorder or even a high-end smartphone? No. Is there potential for some time-wasting fun? Absolutely.

Another announcement of free content that seemed to spur the imagination was a launch date for the free download of Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Anniversary Edition. Available from 28th September to 20th February 2012, this isn’t a simple port of the GBA title, but rather an enhanced edition with additional levels, weapons and an all-new one player mode. Available for DSi owners as well, this release is an undoubted act of generosity from Nintendo; a fitting celebration for the 25th anniversary of the Zelda franchise.

Both of these areas of content are a step in the right direction for giving 3DS owners incentive to actually use the wi-fi on the device. With the Wii in particular suffering from users not bothering to go online, there are signs that Nintendo are making online connectivity a priority. More will need to be done, however, such as retail releases with genuine online multiplayer options.

We’ll be exploring what Nintendo can do to boost eShop downloads and purchases soon, so keep an eye out for that feature following the launch of Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Anniversary Edition.

Is the 3DS fighting back?

When looking back at a week of announcements and reaction, it seems fair to say that the 3DS is still in a state of flux. On the one hand, the list of upcoming titles is impressive, there’s new StreetPass and video camera content on the way, and the Circle Pad extension is starting, just a little, to look like a more enticing prospect. On the downside Nintendo’s stock value responded poorly, and there are continuing fears that the 3DS will struggle to perform. It is truly a stand-off between Nintendo and nay-sayers, as Iwata repeats the promise that Nintendo will maintain its existing business model, offering its own hardware and retail titles at a traditional price point.

So what do you think? Which announcements from Nintendo grabbed your attention, for good or bad reasons? Are the upcoming games exciting and varied enough, and is the Circle Pad expansion winning you over? Finally, do you think the 3DS is on the comeback trail, or are there difficult times ahead? Let us know in the comments below.


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