I’ve been waiting for the day.
The 3DS is garbage. Okay, maybe that's a bit strong, but hear me out: it has some of the best Nintendo games of the past 10 years in The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds and Super Mario 3D Land. It is the home of the first fully mature digital storefront for Nintendo’s games, and the first place I played gems like Gunman Clive and Steamworld Dig. By all accounts, it’s a great platform, which is why it’s so unfortunate that the handheld itself is so poorly made.
The problems really start with the aesthetics of the handheld; it’s just not a pretty device to look at. The design team is, theoretically, the same ones that brought us sexy devices like the Game Boy Advance SP and the DS Lite, so it’s a shame to see the original 3DS in all its taco-style glory. This would be forgivable if the system didn’t have so many other fundamental flaws.
For starters, the shoulder buttons on the original 3DS are known to give out. Secondly, my D-Pad has a distinct lack of sensitivity to the point where I feel I need to press much harder than I should have to. The worst offender, really, is the fact that the ridges surrounding the bottom screen will dig into the top screen when the system is closed, leading to large vertical scratches on the 3D display. I had it fixed under warranty once, the same time I got my shoulder buttons fixed, and stupidly didn’t think to put a screen protector on so it happened again a year later. I cannot look at my 3DS without noticing the vertical scratches.
I could live with those irritating scratches and less than ideal D-Pad, but eventually my “A” button began to lose responsiveness too. I can repeatedly, and definitively, press it without getting any response from the system. The handheld is over three years old, so maybe that’s somewhat forgivable, but combined with the other problems I’m not in a mood to forgive.
I purchased my 3DS at the system’s launch in 2011, so it’s entirely possible that these issues got ironed out later in the production of the hardware. Presumably they got ironed out in revisions like 3DS XL and 2DS, but those aren’t exactly “upgrades” as much as they are sideways steps towards improvement. While the 3DS XL is by all accounts a much better piece of hardware than the 3DS, it’s huge. I wanted the improvements in that system, but not at the expense of the system’s portability, so I waited.
I was all set to finally cave and pick up a 3DS XL this holiday, but decided I would hold off a few more months to wait and see if they would release a remodeled version of the standard unit. Finally, a few days ago, they have. And not only is it a remodel, it’s a true DSi-stlyle upgrade, complete with a beast of an exclusive game in Xenoblade Chronicles (a game I still haven’t played yet).
I won’t argue with others that this clearly does not make much business sense. Splitting the 3DS market at this point feels like potentially a really bad move, but as a consumer who’s been itching to replace his launch system with a shiny new model, I couldn’t be happier. It still may not be as sexy as the DS Lite or GBA SP, but it’s a major step in the right direction.