3DS Doesn't Need Another Circle Pad
Nintendo's an infamously stubborn company, especially when it comes to admitting mistakes, so it's tough pinpointing the exact moment the publisher decided its 3DS required another circle pad, or that its current design was inadequate.
Was it shortly after seeing Sony's PlayStation Vita, a system with two analog sticks?
We may never know, but those who think the machine needs a redesign (even Nintendo employees) have simply missed the point.
3DS didn't get off to a bad start because it has one circle pad. The handheld struggled because of the big N's $249.99 launch price and a lack of compelling software in March and the months that followed.
Portables are normally cheaper than home consoles. It's a fact, and Nintendo's the perfect example of a company that continuously delivers excellent hardware at affordable prices, starting with Game Boy and going all the way to the DS. Charging consumers $250 was simply the wrong decision, and the publisher paid for it.
On top of that, the launch games lacked pizzazz. A new Pilotwings excites hardcore Nintendo fans. Everyone else? Not so much. And it's safe to say Mario and Co. underestimated Nintendogs' appeal.
At the end of the day, buyers want Mario and Zelda, Kirby and Pokemon. That's what they expect, and Nintendo failed to deliver.
You could also make the argument that the games after launch have been, well, blah. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D and Star Fox 64 3D are both highly entertaining, but they're also ports of games that debuted more than ten years ago. Even some hardcore players passed up the opportunity to re-experience these classics, both of which cost in excess of $30 a piece.
Bottom line, it's all about the games. That made sense in 1989 when Nintendo launched Game Boy with Tetris just as much as it did when the publisher released Super Mario Advance and F-Zero: Maximum Velocity with Game Boy Advance.
Should Nintendo have put another circle pad on 3DS to begin with? Maybe. It would've certainly made the device more future proof; even many iPhone and iPad games have virtual analog sticks.
That said, we don't think the gaming world would have this discussion had Super Mario 3D Land been available day one with the system. Another circle pad wouldn't have made any difference.
Besides, the 3DS already has second analog capability via its touch screen, which offers pinpoint precision accuracy with the stylus, a control type we've seen countless times in such titles as Metroid Prime Hunters and Dementium: The Ward for DS.
Obviously, we don't work at Nintendo, so it's tough to say what's going on inside the Japanese headquarters. Panicking over the initial design, though, seems a bit premature.
Just give us the games. It's all we wanted.