(Nintendo - company, or cultural icon?)
If you’re a fan of multi-dimensional entertainment, with a penchant for handheld gaming, the Nintendo 3DS might be for you. Despite somewhat clunky visuals – the Nintendo brand offers something unique to gaming.
For those who first interacted with Nintendo in their 90’s childhood, the Gameboy likely occupies a warm place in their hearts. I remember playing Pokémon Red, and constantly being eradicated in Star Wars: A New Hope on my trusty ‘grey brick’. In fact, the Pokémon Red theme song still gives me chills.
It’s this legacy that keeps it competing with tablets, smartphones and high definition. Reliable, fun and generally not too expensive, Nintendo products are the old faithful handheld gaming option.
The 3DS has a screen that has a three-dimensional option that doesn’t require special headgear to use. This works quite well – even though I am not a fan of 3-D displays as I find they give me headaches – but using it on its low setting makes it fairly impressive to look at.
It comes with a very endearing and amusing set of stock features, some of which are reliant on the StreetPass feature. Unfortunately, I didn’t come across any others in my travels to unlock these games (it automatically interfaces with nearby 3DSs to exchange your Mii and gain tokens).
Apparently, by earning tokens through StreetPass you unlock a puzzle game, and StreetPass Quest, a fun take on rescuing a king/queen with armed dogs or cats. The good news is that by progressing through this game, you win themed hats for your Mii avatar!
That sounds like a typically Nintendo approach to me – although I really don’t understand the appeal of themed hats as a motivation.
As you might expect, the 3DS is “big in Japan”, reaching 5 million sales back in February. Its global sales are approximately 17.6 million, 88.9% of the handheld gaming market (the rest goes to the unhappy PS Vita, a measly 11.1%).
While the 3DS’s early sales were underwhelming, Nintendo quickly changed their tactics and gave it a price cut – with the new price, it took of rapidly, even filling Sony with hope that they too would succeed. However, while Sony predicted Nintendo’s success as a sign of their own future, they failed to take Nintendo’s strategy into account when doing so.
By cutting prices, Nintendo managed to counteract the smartphone and tablet gaming option – did they enjoy success because of this alone? No – Nintendo is a cultural icon (both in the East and I in the West). They brought us Donkey Kong, Super Mario, Pokemon, The Legend of Zelda and Kirby.
Sony has its own brands, of course, but it simply couldn’t compete with Nintendo’s 23 year legacy. After all, the PSP (Playstation Portable) only entered the market in 2003, compare that to the original ‘grey brick’, the first Gameboy, which premiered in 1989.
Nintendo! I choose you!
It would seem the global market agrees with me.