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The Good And Bad Of Nintendo's Direct Announcements

by Bryan Vore on Jan 14, 2015 at 10:55 AM

Nintendo's 45-minute Direct conference held this morning was full of new information about the New 3DS XL, more Amiibos, an untitled Fire Emblem game, and more. While much of the news is exciting, there's also plenty of disappointment mixed in. Read on for all of the good and bad points of Nintendo's Direct.


The New 3DS XL is the same price as current 3DS XL
With all the new features included in the New 3DS XL (improved 3D effects, faster processing, a new right analog nub), Nintendo could have tried to charge a premium over the current product. Instead, the new system will cost $199.99 (the same as the current 3DS XL) when it launches on February 13. Nintendo hasn't announced a price cut for the current XL, but we'd be surprised if it didn't happen once the new system is on the market. Keep in mind, however, that the New 3DS XL does not include a AC charger (see the "Bad" section below) so Nintendo is cutting back somewhat on what's in the box. 

Nintendo shows openness to "cross-buy" for the first time
Sony's cross-buy system has been great for PS4/PS3/Vita owners, allowing players to purchase a game one time and own it on a variety of systems. Nintendo has always forced players to pay for games twice if they want it on both Wii U and 3DS. Now with Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Tipping Stars, fans can finally purchase the game on either system and get a code for the other for free. We hope this is only the beginning of a new wider trend with the company that extends to Virtual Console and other cross-platform titles. No word yet on whether saves transfer back and forth between the two versions of Tipping Stars. While this would be nice, we'll take what we can get at this point.

Almost every new 3DS game announced still works on current systems
As of now, only Xenoblade Chronicles 3D is exclusive to the New 3DS XL. This means those without the cash or desire to upgrade at this time can enjoy their current system without missing out on most upcoming killer apps. Who knows how long this will remain the case? Nintendo has to give the wider fanbase some software incentive to upgrade instead of just hardware tweaks. With New 3DS exclusives, they would be supporting the new platform and all its bells and whistles while ignoring the 45 million-plus 3DS units that are already out there in consumers' hands. It's a tough choice.

Wii digital re-releases are headed to Wii U, and they're cheap
Almost all Wii games could be played on the Wii U via a separate emulation menu, but now certain Wii classics will be available for digital download in the primary Wii U operation system. The first wave of classics includes Super Mario Galaxy 2, Punch-Out!!, and Metroid Prime: Trilogy, releasing once a week throughout the rest of January. The best part? During the first week of release, these games will have a promo price of only $9.99 before they jump up to the normal price of $19.99. Even the normal price isn't that bad when you consider rarer games like Metroid Prime: Trilogy command big bucks on auction sites like eBay. Even if you own these games already, the low intro price might be worth buying them again for the convenience factor.

Untitled Fire Emblem project

Hot new 3DS titles announced
The as-yet-untitled new Fire Emblem game is a welcome sight. Intelligent Systems' classic strategy series has a long legacy of quality. I'm also interested in Puzzle & Dragons: Super Mario Bros. Edition. I enjoyed Puzzle & Dragons on my phone, but the endless content and updates made it feel like it would continue forever and I eventually tapered off. This new Mario edition seems like more of a contained experience that you could actually beat, and the Nintendo theme looks great. It also comes packaged with Puzzle & Dragons Z if you're looking for more of a traditional P&D experience.

Marth Amiibo returns
Certain Amiibos in the first wave have infamously sold out, commanding high prices on the grey market. Nintendo confirmed today that the rare Marth Amiibo is getting a second run at some point in the future so that he will be available for use in Code Name: S.T.E.A.M. alongside new Fire Emblem Amiibos. Now where are our Animal Crossing Villager and Wii Fit Trainer re-issues?

Next: The Bad

North American consumers cannot purchase a smaller model of 3DS with removable faceplates as seen here.


Power chargers are not included with the New 3DS XL
To cut costs, Nintendo is shipping the New 3DS XL without any kind of power charging capability. Who does that? If you already have a 3DS you can use that charger, but what about the new consumer? Or what if you want to sell your old system to help pay for the new one? Any sane buyers will require you to include the charger. At $6 to $9, the charger won't break the bank, but it's just a Dick move. Nintendo's warranty is void if something goes wrong while you use a third-party device, so be sure to invest in the official charger or risk getting screwed.

As of now, there is no smaller New 3DS option
Online forums across North America are ablaze at the lack of a non-XL option for the New 3DS. In Japan, the New 3DS comes in big and small variations, so why not here? Certain 3DS fans enjoy the portability of a smaller system and the greater pixel density of the smaller screen. And many were looking forward to the removable faceplates to change the look of the system. Unfortunately, these are only available on the smaller New 3DS so they won't be supported here unless something changes.

The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask New 3DS looks great but...
The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask New 3DS immediately got Nintendo fans into a frenzy, but there are a couple downsides. First, it doesn't come with the very game it's supposed to represent. Second, the limited supply is already selling out at retailers around the web and people are posting the system on eBay with highly inflated prices. If you want the best looking of all the launch systems at a normal price, it may already be too late. 

The change to microSD storage is a pain
If you already own a 3DS, chances are you topped off the default SD card long ago and invested in a new high-capacity card. If you're looking to make the jump to the New 3DS, you're going to have to buy a microSD card now and transfer all of your data to it. Nintendo only officially supports up to 32GB microSD cards at this point, but in the past fans have used formatting tricks to get around the limit. In addition to buying another card, you'll have to purchase a tiny screwdriver as well if you don't already have one. Instead of just popping the micro SD card out like before, you have to remove the entire back place of the system to get at the card in the new system.

Keeping track of Amiibo compatibility and functionality is only going to become more of a nightmare
It's great that Nintendo has a ton of new Amiibos on the horizon, but it's becoming clear that this system is only going to get more complicated. Instead of making games simply compatible or not compatible with Amiibos, Nintendo has chosen to make different figures only compatible with certain games in very specific ways. To make sense of it all, Nintendo maintains a complicated compatibility chart online to tell you who works with which game and how. Is there any other gaming product that requires this much research for a basic purchase? You can try to cover as many bases as possible by choosing a top guy like Mario, but he still does nothing for games like Kirby and the Rainbow Curse, Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker, and Code Name: S.T.E.A.M.. Can you imagine a kid trying to tell their parent or grandparent to buy one of these things? You'll have to send them a photo and an exact description (since now there a two versions of several Mario characters) and cross your fingers that they aren't sold out at the place they happen to shop at. The risk of accidentally receiving the wrong figure that doesn't work at all with your game of choice is uncomfortably high.

It still sucks that you can't store more than one game's data on a single Amiibo
This is already known, but it's only going to get worse as more Amiibos release and more games support them. In case you missed it, an Amiibo can only save data for one game at a time. So if you invested a ton into your Peach figure in Super Smash Bros., you'll have to erase it all if you want to try her out in the new Mario Party 10. Of course, you can always buy another figure every time you want to use that character in a new game, but that's ridiculous. From the start, the whole point of these figures is that they can be used on all kinds of Nintendo games. To limit them to a single save is both foolish and greedy.