June 23, 2012

Nintendo announces 3DS XL - in other news, earth rotation continues

In a move that took absolutely no one by surprise, Nintendo announced YADS this week. (That would be "Yet Another DS" in case you were wondering.) Coming out later this year, (July for Japan and Europe, August 19 for North America), gamers will now have the option to get their 3D handheld gaming in regular or SuperSize with the release of Nintendo's 6th - SIXTH - 6-freaking-th system in the DS family, the 3DS XL.

In case you forgot, here's a list of the DS systems in order of release. The original Nintendo DS, the DS Lite, the DSi, the DSi XL/LL, the 3DS, and now the 3DS XL.

This follows in the grand tradition of releasing the exact same system in a slightly different package. The obvious comparison would be the GBA. There were the GBA, GBA SP, GBA SP backlight, and the GBmicro. Which, of course, was the successor to the Game Boy, which came in the following flavors: Game Boy, Game Boy Pocket, Game Boy Light, Game Boy Color.
(There were also the "Play It Loud!" Game Boys - but those were just original Game Boys with a different color case.  I'm not going to count each color as a different system. That's just silly.)
So that brings Nintendo's handheld game console offerings to a whopping 18 systems. Bear in mind, that most of these models offered little to no actual new features. Despite having 18 handheld systems, Nintendo has only had - and this is a stretch - 6 different handheld game lines. Most people would say 3. They are Game Boy games, Game Boy Color games, Game Boy Advance games, DS Games, DSi games, and 3DS games.

(Technically, Nintendo would say there is a 7th type - and that's the Game Boy Hybrids - which were Game Boy Color games that were backwards compatible with the Original Game Boy. And a possible 8th - DSi Enhanced games, which were DS games that when played on a DSi offered additional functionality, like using the camera in some way.)
(For the record, Wikipedia lists a total of FOUR DSi games. I'm talking about actual DSi carts, not DSiWare which is downloaded from the Nintendo shop, or DSi Enhanced games. So you would be completely justified in ignoring the idea of a DSi game as a format entirely.)

The fact is, though, most of the systems played multiple types of these games. All of the GBA models, for example, played Game Boy, Game Boy Color, and Game Boy Advance games, (except the Game Boy Micro, which was GBA games only). The DS and DS Lite both played DS and GBA games. The DSi, DSi XL/LL, 3DS, and 3DS XL all play DS games and DSi games. And, of course, the 3DS and 3DS XL also play 3DS games.
(If you don't count DSi games as a thing, then the DSi and DSi XL/LL are the "GBmicro" of the DS line, since they only play DS games - but they do offer DSiWare, which is a real thing and has actual value. But it's also available on the 3DS - along with a lot of other downloadable apps and games. So... um... yeah.)
If you look at new features - there have really only been 6 systems. The Game Boy, which started it all, (yes I'm aware of the Game & Watch games - but those aren't consoles - they are stand-alone games). The Game Boy Color, which, of course, added color. The GBA, which was a new system entirely, with updated graphics and more controls. The DS, which added a second screen, touch controls, and even more buttons. The DSi, which added web browsing, downloadable games (not just demos), apps, and a built-in camera, (the Game Boy had a camera accessory). And the 3DS, which added 3D gaming, AR, Virtual Console, and many more apps and downloadable games.
(Again, I would totally understand ignoring the DSi altogether, because it was merely a stop-gap measure between the DS and the 3DS.  Even though the DSi was out for over 2 years before the 3DS - the fact that the DS Lite was in production the entire time and even after the 3DS came out made the DSi a completely forgettable platform. And, for the record, I own one, and have for years. It was an improvement over the DS Lite, but was basically ignored by developers and replaced so quickly and so thoroughly by the 3DS, it will be forgotten before long. The DS Lite at least offers a GBA slot which the 3DS does not have. The DSi offers nothing that the 3DS does not have, and the 3DS version is better.)
So - I know I've thrown a lot of numbers and similar-looking acronyms at you. Let me try to recap and clarify. Nintendo has, since 1989, released 18 different hand held game systems to play what amounts to basically 4 types of games - GB, GBA, DS, 3DS. No system could ever play more than 2 of those 4 types, (ignoring the Virtual Console of the 3DS and non-Nintendo sanctioned emulator Flash Karts). That's a new handheld game system every 15.3 months (1 year 3.3 months) for the last 23 years.

So when Nintendo announced the 3DS XL, it was not a shock. It was not news. It was the clock ticking again. It happens.

Oh, and Nintendo is already hard at work to replace the 3DS. Shigeru Miyamoto told reporters that last week. Just a couple of days before the 3DS XL announcement.... So, the clock will tick again. Probably 15 months or so after the 3DS XL. I'm thinking the Super 3DSi Advance SP.

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JAmes said...

They recycle too much. There's 100's of bundles, with different shell covers,games, etc etc.. boring. I have a ds lite and the so called "browser" is horrible and lacks wpa wifi compatibility, not to mention it needed an "expansion card" to add ram on the device, otherwise, no internet browsing.

Chad said...

One thing that sets Nintendo apart from other console makers is that Nintendo never loses money on the console. Everything they sell you, the console, extra controllers, and of course, games, all of that has profit built in for Nintendo directly.

Most console makers sell their systems at a loss, knowing (or at least assuming) they will make it up and more by selling games, accessories, and other content. The console is the "loss leader" to get you locked into their environment so they can sell you stuff for years to come.

Nintendo sees consoles as yet another profit stream, so they have more of a reason to crank out these incramential updates.

To put it in perspective, the PSP and the DS both came out around the end of 2004 (depending on which part of the world you are in).

The PSP has 6 versions altogether (1000, 2000, 3000, PSP Go, PSP-E1000 - no WiFi only in Europe) had 2 major revisions - the PSP Go and the PSP Vita.

During that same time period, from 2004 to 2012, the DS had all those revisions listed above, DS, DS Lite, DSi, DSi XL, 3DS, and 3DS XL.

The variations between the numbered models of the PSP are very minor compared to the difference between a DS and a DSi.

My point is, there would be a reason - minor perhaps - to own both a DS Lite and a DSi, for example. One can play GBA games, the other can play downloadable content. There is no reason to own a PSP-1000 and a PSP-3000.

james said...

Very much like Apple mindset Nintendo is. There's some references of what you say in the Sega's history in eidolons inn website, a read I recommend.

Regarding the psp, they improved the console, had wifi with no ram cart needed, always had the hability to play music, videos, and see pics, card reader, universal plug-&-play sockets, and the price of either games and console just kept coming down, which I appreciated a lot. The Nintendo hardware was always much more expensive than Sonys (DS lite, an inferior system, was always more expensive than the psp here, with meager screens and awful D-pad controls while doing diagonals, they never learned about changing this). Games for the DS were also much more expensive, and I think the bigger screen DS came late, that was a big let down in their strategy. The bigger screen makes a great difference in enjoyng their games. Something that Sony always kept, and it was perfect sized.

Then the psp homebrew just took it to another level, custom media player, emulators, some game ports, psx emulation. I had bought some psp games, those which I really liked, but the diversity of what was unlocked in psp by cfw was what really compelled me to make the purchase. And I have no need to buy different psp models just like you stated (same goes with DS bundles and case stickers), but Nintendo thinks we do with their hardware, for profit, of course, and because they had more handhelds than Sony in its history (so they played with backwards compatibility on their newer systems). But still, being the DS and PSP released on the same time, could one play NES64 (they didn't had a 32-bit system, so..) on the DS like the PSP played flawlessly PSX games? I don't think so. And with such a small screen,... terrible experience. Again, I'm comparing both because they were on the same handheld generation.

Currently, both consoles are stored and I don't use them that much, I moved to android which has the very same things I grew to enjoy on a system today.

And don't forget, you could charge the psp with an mini-usb plug too. I read your thoughts on this regarding tablets! It's a... must have! ^^

The Vita, well, it's just too expensive, the games library isn't very attractive and it's too locked and agressively directed to online download & sales for my tastes (like your kindle tablet impressions I recall). But it was a huge jump in terms of hardware quality, much higher than what Nintendo offered with the 3ds (again, on the same generation of Vita, although Vita came out later). I would buy it if I could play ps2 games... God Hand being an example of such games, or in other hand, Shadow of the Colossus ^^. Still, I like to read about what's going on, and mostly on the Chinese industry or independent projects , like the k1 gba team or the newest Ouya. They are always trying new stuff and offering alternatives.

Take care!