With 3DS in need of must have games, the big N just made a puzzling decision.
Last week, the Internet was abuzz with rumors concerning a new Pokemon game announcement. Said game (games, rather) turned out to be Pokemon Black Version 2 and Pokemon White Version 2. The platform? Nintendo DS.
In the words of Norm MacDonald...wait, what?
We have no issue with Game Freak (the developer behind the Pokemon series) and Nintendo conjuring up a sequel, despite the boring title; hello, Mario Kart 7. So much for using one's imagination. Goodbye, HeartGold, SoulSilver, FireRed and LeafGreen?
What's next, Super Mario 3D Land 2? Don't answer that.
More important is the choice of platform. Yes, we know Nintendo has been able to sell over 151 million DS systems worldwide, but that's not the point. Far more DVD players are in the wild, but you won't see Hollywood director Martin Scorsese ditch Blu-ray to make his latest film, Hugo, DVD only.
But wait, 3DS is backwards compatible with all DS games. Fair point, but Pokemon Black Version 2 and Pokemon White Version 2 won't take full advantage of what the system has to offer, unless Nintendo can somehow put 3DS specific features on the cart, something that up until this point remains doubtful.
This means the game won't fit the top 3DS screen, nor will it display in glasses free 3D. You can also forget about StreetPass/SpotPass support for trading Pokemon with random players, and this may affect the ability to provide downloadable content moving forward.
On top of that, the decision to support DS with a big time game sends a very mixed message to consumers. DS isn't dead, but we had the feeling it was on the way to a well-deserved retirement, joining predecessors Game Boy, Game Boy Color and Game Boy Advance.
Now, all of a sudden, the machine is alive and well. What now? Will future Pokemon games debut on the handheld? Will Nintendo reveal new DS titles at this year's Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in June?
What about 3DS? The machine picked up considerable steam during the 2011 holiday season. Heck, Nintendo even released Pokemon Rumble Blast this past November, suggesting the next official entry in the Pokemon series was practically guaranteed to be 3DS exclusive.
Now, we have no idea when that'll happen. Meanwhile, DS will continue to be a low cost alternative to its successor, especially with a potential triple-A title on its way, a game that'll probably reach U.S. shores in the fall.
This, despite Sony releasing PlayStation Vita in the U.S. and Europe last week. 3DS is on a role, no question, but it certainly would have benefited from having Pokemon Black/White Version 2. An exclusive isn't the same as backwards compatibility.
Bottom line, Nintendo made the wrong move. The goal should be to convince consumers to make an upgrade, not hang on to their old systems. We have no doubt hardcore fans will line up to buy this game, since they always do, but moving 3DS hardware is key, and we just don't see that happening when it comes to Pokemon.
That said, the big N better hope this decision doesn't backfire.