The following is a reply to a most interesting article found on Gaming Gauge written by Oregano. It takes a look at the idea that the Nintendo 3DS could offer the same experience, if not a better one than that found on the Wii, thereby pretty much killing the latter as soon as the new handheld is released. With said release being tomorrow in North America (and just yesterday in Europe), now seems like appropriate timing for a reply! First though, I suggest you read the original post.
PS.: If you’re not interested in reading motion control back story, skip to right below the picture of an aqua blue 3DS.
This isn’t a counter argument in any way, I would like to clarify that; in fact, I agree with the original post but felt like adding more to it. First off, there’s little doubt in my mind that the Wii will be rendered almost irrelevant some time in the near future. With the release of the Nintendo 3DS, the Wii will have been outclassed in practically every field. One thing that’s been very clear ever since the system was released, and indeed even announced, was the fact that it would not follow the quasi-tradition of improved power as its main feature. No, Nintendo instead chose to take a huge risk at a time when the company was in marginal trouble after its GameCube failed to meet expectations, and bet it all on innovation versus improvement and gameplay vs eye candy.
It paid off. Big time. The Wii quickly became not only one of the most sought out consoles ever released and was practically impossible to find for most of its first year on the market (it took me several months to get one despite waiting in line on day one, but that’s another story), but it also become one of the best selling systems of all time. The direct result of that was putting Nintendo back on the map and on top of the gaming industry, a place the company once held dear, and bringing a whole new crowd of consumers. Despite the far more powerful hardware of its competitors and their arguably more “hardcore” approach (depending on your definition of that term), it did the blunt work of shifting the gaming landscape and continuing the work of the DS.
For better or for worse, the impact has been so strong as to force Microsoft and Sony, both of which had previously dismissed the Wii’s motion controls as a joke, to build their own accessories for their respective systems as a way to… Well, copy the Wii, pretty much. Yet, despite having even better hardware and making use of newer technology, neither can even approach the success of the original. Fairly impressive sales numbers for Microsoft’s Kinect and Sony’s questionable claims to having been working on its motion control system “like, totally way before the Wii, man” can’t do much about the fact that accessories can’t really compete with out-of-the-box equipment. In other words, they’re generally not as appealing to consumers, especially inexperienced ones.
Blah blah blah. You’ve probably heard variants of the above, but here’s where things get interesting. Handhelds have always been known to be technologically pretty inferior to their home console counterparts. Smaller size constraints, reliance on batteries and various other factors have understandably resulted in that. The Game Boy Advance was similar to an SNES back in the Nintendo 64 to GameCube transition while the DS is comparable to an N64; that’s reflected on Sony’s side, as the PSP is pretty much somewhere between the original PlayStation and a PS2. However, because the Wii was already so underpowered at release, what we’re seeing here is a portable system that actually catches up with a home console. Details are a bit burry, but we’re seeing something that stands either around the same level as the Wii, but games like Resident Evil: Revelations indicate something that closely approaches a downscaled Xbox 360.
Perhaps even more importantly though, is that even the Nintendo Wii’s trademark motion controls are made largely obsolete by what the 3DS offers. Various pieces of equipment found inside at least match, if not outclass what can be found on a Wii Remote that’s been upgraded with the MotionPlus attachment! What Infra-Red pointer it lacks is more than made up for with a touch screen, and while it shouldn’t be swung around like a Wii Remote, it technically could detect that is simply more appropriate for sensing angles. At the cost of a lower resolution, we of course get real no-glasses 3D and two screens. What’s left? Nintendo’s own games have always sold their consoles more than anything else. In fact, here’s a challenge: Think back to any previous Nintendo-made system you may have owned and what games you liked most; chances are that at least half of those were made by the company. However, since this system is also made by them and is newer, it’s unlikely that they’ll give their white box the same attention they previously did, upcoming Kirby and Zelda games notwithstanding. Quality third party developers, meanwhile, are also excited to develop for the new handheld even though their presence was lacking on Wii.
EDIT: I was reminded by a friend of something the Wii does have over the 3DS: A more simple local multi-player experience. While the latter does support both online and local multi-player, playing it with friends obviously requires owning one device per player, which makes things pricier and more complicated than simply owning one home console and a few controllers. Also, any portable system has a much smaller screen than basically any TV you could find on the market, though they wouldn’t be too portable otherwise.
Indeed, we now have a system that’s outclassed in almost every way and whose biggest competitor is its brethren. Here’s another thought, though: Remember how Nintendo said that, since the Wii wasn’t made with horsepower in mind, it could last longer than consoles typically did? What about when Sony said that their PlayStation 3 was so powerful that it could make it ten years on the market? Microsoft also echoed similar statements, and all three first parties have been following through so far, about half a decade later. Let’s not be gullible though; it’s likely that they all have strategies planned just in case they need to really get going with their next systems and that’s likely going to happen the moment that one of them makes an announcement regarding that. As much as I hate referring to the gaming industry as a war, this situation reflects a cold war. Once Nintendo feels that it needs to one-up itself and announce a new, more relevant home console, who’s to say that the other two won’t suddenly change their minds about a decade-long generation?