OK, so we didn’t see a jumbo-screen “Nintendo 3DS XL” at this year’s E3 industry trade show like Japanese newspaper Nikkei predicted. Nintendo didn’t drop any mind-blowing news about upcoming releases for its current handheld, either. But the company did show off its commitment to the system with a solid lineup of actual games…and, you know, none of that casual-market-grabbing media-center connectivity or any singing, fitness, and dancing titles.
The emphasis for the 3DS during this E3 was on a few key genres from both first- and third-party developers. Show goers were able to experience 2D platformers like New Super Mario Bros. 2 from Nintendo, Castlevania Lords of Shadows: Mirrors of Fate from Konami, and Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion from Disney Interactive
3DS owners who dig role-playing games can look forward to Paper Mario: Sticker Star and the unceremoniously confirmed English version of Fire Emblem: Awakening, both from Nintendo. Plus, Square Enix is bringing out Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance, Final Fantasy Theatrhythm, and Heroes of Ruin for its 3DS summer lineup.
Lastly, fans of fun, silly games are likely to be giddy over the new Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon and Scribblenauts: Unlimited. All of these different styles of games are perfect for playing in bursts on a handheld.
To top things off, Nintendo is giving current 3DS owners some special treatment. They can watch 3D trailers for the upcoming first-party titles through the online eShop. Plus, for Pokémaniacs who are bitter over Pokémon Black and White 2 showing up on the regular Nintendo DS, the company is giving them a couple of consoling, game-enhancing apps.
Compare all of this juicy 3DS news with the state of the system a year ago. The console was off to a shaky start for a couple reasons: 1.) its original high price and impending, unprecedented six-month-anniversary price drop and 2.) the primary first-party titles were ports of decade-old Nintendo 64 games.
Fast forward to 2012, and Nintendo just dedicated a big chunk of its hour-long press conference during E3 to the portable console (complete with plenty of cheesy jokes) in order to help build hype for the 3DS lineup. Though a lot of the featured software is approachable for casual audiences, none of it should alienate the core audience. Instead, these games are better tuned for passionate fans who are primarily focused on playing. What an novel concept, huh?
I think it’s great that Nintendo and its third-party-publisher friends still see the value in throwing core gamers a bone or two and are not completely chasing after emerging, less-traditional markets. We'll have to see which of these titles are any good, but for now, it's the thought that counts. Now, if only Nintendo could run a similar game plan for the Wii U….