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There’s been a fair bit of buzz, both negative and positive, around the announcement of the Nintendo 3DS XL.  Some people cheered at the longer battery life and bigger screen.  Others have bemoaned the potential image quality loss with that bigger screen. 

The thing I’ve heard the most about in the last few weeks, however, is the curious absence of a second Circle Pad on the device.  If they went to all the trouble of making an add-on with one, why not just include it in the update?

I think Nintendo made the right move by doing this and I’ll tell you why.

Some of the best games on the DS were the ones that worked with the control “limitations.”  Games like The World Ends With You, Trauma Center, or Kirby: Canvas Curse utilized the stylus in interesting ways.  The ones that tried to use the touch surface as a second thumb pad, like Metroid Prime: Hunters, were widely considered awkward and even painful to use.

I don’t really want to play first-person shooters or precise three-dimensional games on my Nintendo handhelds.  I’ve always gone to them for things like 2D platformers, puzzle games, and any other interesting touch-focused games.  It’s a tradition I would love to see Nintendo stick to in the future.

On a more practical note, it also makes sense for business.  If the update had two thumb pads, any future developers would have to worry about designing games around them.  Anyone who hadn’t bought the new system, or the hilariously bad peripheral for the standard 3DS, would be left out.  It would split the market in a very unfavorable way.            

I, like many people, waited to buy a DS until Kirby: Canvas Curse came out.  It was an experience you couldn’t really get anywhere else at the time. I implore any developers out there working on 3DS games to stick to the strengths of the system.  The games will almost definitely be better and might just be the system seller the platform still needs.