Ambassadors, Droughts, and Frankensticks: A 3DS Story

Yesterday, internet, those of us who bought the 3DS back before the price drop received the second and final wave of ambassador titles, so I thought I would talk about the stumbling and successes of everyone’s favourite stereoscopic 3D portable. For those of you who avoid gaming news like its a bag full of spiders, I’ll fill you in on what the 3DS is. It is the successor to the DS, a Nintendo made handheld and the best selling handheld gaming device ever made. The major differences between the DS and 3DS are that the 3DS has glassesless 3D, a gyroscope, and far better online functionality (still like two generations behind, but really good for Nintendo).

It also comes in the most badass colour ever: turquoise

I didn’t think the 3DS was too expensive when it came out. I mean, glassesless 3DS is a pretty novel idea, and it seemed to be much more powerful than the PSP. I held this belief until I heard about the pricing of the Vita. The Vita is Sony’s new handheld thats due out in February. It is significantly more powerful than the 3DS and it is launching at the same price the 3DS launched at. Even before this, Nintendo clearly regretted its pricing strategy and quickly dropped the price of the handheld significantly in order to boost sales and apologized profusely to the public. I mean, I know that gamers frequently want apologies for what they see as mistakes that gaming companies have made, but this was a mistake. The first rule for inspiring confidence in your product is to not apologize about how much you made mistakes.

Reggie doesn’t care about you and your logic

So what about all of the people who just bought the 3DS at full price. In my experience companies just say “too bad”, but, in this case, Nintendo (possibly on an acid binge) decided to actually make amends. Those who bought the 3DS early were granted the title of ambassador (and the diplomatic immunity that goes with it, I can only assume), and they were to receive 20 free games, 10 NES and 10 GBA. I’m sitting here with my new 10 GBA games and I can say with full certainty that this was an amazing deal. Firstly, nobody else even has access to downloading the games at this point, and all of the GBA games are top of the line (there are some stinkers in the NES lineup).

Like many NES games, Balloon Fight was made while the creators were on heavy doses of LSD

The second major problem is one that anyone who frequents a message board relating to the 3DS knows: the lack of games. The 3DS didn’t have the best launch, actually it was kind of crappy. Its two major titles at release were Super Street Fighter 4 and Pilot Wings. Pilot Wings played like a demo and SSF4 was a port of a console game. Then there was nothing, for awhile. This made it hard to justify owning a 3DS. The release of 3D remakes of Ocarina of Time (you know this one right?), Devil Survivor Overclocked, and Star Fox 64, certainly helped the system in terms of library, but it also made it seem like it was a system of remakes and ports, and that it lacked original content. Of course every new system has a drought of games at the beginning of its life cycle, but for some reason gamers took this one to heart. With the release of Mario 3D Land, and Mario Cart 7, the 3DS is finally picking up steam, but the lack of games still dogs it.

NintenDOGS it, am I right?

From the first time I laid eyes on the 3DS, I knew they had made a serious mistake: it only had one analogue stick. Its predecessor, the DS, mainly played 2D games, so a second analogue stick wasn’t useful. However, anyone who played the PSP would know that the lack of a second analogue stick was one of the biggest problems with the system. You see, internet, there’s a reason that two analogue sticks are industry standard for 3D (not stereoscopic) gaming. You use one stick to control your character, and, vitally, the other to control the camera. The PSP suffered tremendously for this, requiring the claw hand formation to play some games effectively.

That hand will give me nightmares for the rest of my life. Where are the other fingers!?

Like the price drop and ambassador program before it, Nintendo did the right thing, which is the opposite of what a business should do: they apologized. The are now in the process of releasing the Circle Pad Pro. This monstrosity, nicknamed the frankenstick, is a huge, hulking add-on to the 3DS that artificial gives it a second analogue stick. At least we know they’re trying.


So, the 3DS has had a rocky year, but it also surpassed the DS’ first year sales in two-thirds of the time. Its library of games has been growing steadily. Eventually Nintendo will launch a redesign of the handheld, and incorporate a second analogue stick into it, but until then, the question is: Am I bitter that I paid full price, and will have to rely on the frankenstick? No, because these ambassador games are just too good.

Oh, DON’T use the 3DS to beat up plants. It all makes sense now!

– Mistranslations for the Modern Gamer


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