The Nintendo 3DS' Best Feature Isn't Its Hardware

By Adam Ma on September 29, 2010, 6:54PM EDT

Everyone by now knows that Nintendo's new console, the Nintendo 3DS has a few tricks up its sleeve. It has the heavily publicised 3D features, a joystick, WiFi, a handy charger and what looks like decent online. These things are fine and all, but there's one thing that makes the Nintendo 3DS stand out, especially compared to other console launches and it's something that's almost embarrassing to admit. Taking a look at the DS (in all its forms), it was hard to be impressed with the game line-up. In fact, a lot of the DS' life feels like a smaller rehash of the Wii; a few brilliant games drifting away in an ocean of shovelware. When looking at the 3DS, it's worth noting that fancy looking graphics and neat wireless options mean nothing unless you've got the titles to back it up. And that's something that Nintendo have clearly taken into consideration as they've got serious support from third-party publishers.

Perhaps it's just because the original DS was never really a graphical powerhouse, there were only so many games that could rightfully be ported/developed onto the smaller system. Not to mention how many games seemed to be forced into trying to use the stylus in some manner, though that fad has seemed to dropped off over time. Having games with more depth, more style, and most importantly, more frequency, is the key to running a good system. It's why iPhone titles have taken off so rapidly over just a few years, and why even the PSP is seeing some impressive sales lately.

It's a matter of fact that no modern-day console can turn a decent profit without third party developers and though the DS has held market leader for a very long time, signs show this is turning around. Perhaps the only reason Nintendo has done so well over the years is because of a lack of choice. Competition has almost always been slim, save for the past few years and now that Nintendo is finally faced with having unique and engaging content on other systems they've finally realized that it's alright to bring other developers onto their baby. Naturally, actually having to compete for customers was the straw that broke the camels back, and whether or not we have independent iPhone developers or a stream of high-quality PSP titles to thank is more or less a coin toss.

It's certainly good news that it looks like Nintendo has finally gotten its rear in gear. The 3DS does have some impressive qualities; specs and neat little tools that will surely amuse the old/young/easily entertained. But, the crowning feature of this new handheld has to be the games. They look amazing, and they're arriving in massive quantity. Sure there are a lot of Mario and Zelda titles that will be showing up, but those are the things we expect. Paper Mario is something fans 'called out' months before this sort of hype appeared, but even more amazing is looking at the visually stunning Resident Evil or even the rebirth of the classic Starfox 64.

These are the kinds of titles fans have been waiting for on Nintendo handhelds, and while it's nice to see the usual Nintendo publishers showing up, the real surprise comes in the announcement of games like Monkey Ball, Metal Gear Solid, Dead or Alive and Splinter Cell. It's like Nintendo has finally decided to give fans something more than just a gimmick to play with.

Naturally there's going to be a lot of question as to how much of this momentum Nintendo can hang on to, but for the time being it looks like they're definitely heading in the right direction. Only a few of the titles on their list seem questionable (Combat of Giants Dinosaur?), or too obvious (Mario Kart). The rest seem extremely well thought out, and even more importantly, they look fantastic.

With any luck fans are finally going to be treated right by the mega corporation, receiving more titles like this in the future and far less games that are simply mediocre rehashes. We won't really know the full depth of these games until the system comes out naturally, it's easy enough to make a demo or an impressive trailer of any title, as Sony have shown. But for the time being, this looks like a pretty glorious step in the right direction.

Forget WiFi, the neat little joystick, the new stylus or even that handy looking charger. All gamers want are decent games, with as few gimmicks built in as possible. We can accept the first line of games out of the 3DS will try and take as much advantage from the concept as possible. But as the saying goes, everything in moderation. Let us pray this is the case with the 3DS.

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