Op-ed: 3DS- Removing Backwards Compatibility
Will Mario and Co. ever nix DS support from a redesigned 3DS?
Nintendo's decision to let DS owners play Game Boy Advance titles on their shiny new (circa 2004) systems was genius. With a plethora of high profile hits available, it would have been foolish to remove the GBA cartridge slot, wipe its hands of the portable and call it a day.
That said, we were confident this feature would remain with DS throughout its life, evidenced by its inclusion with DS Lite (2006).
This all came crashing down in 2008 with DSi. Nintendo added cameras, enlarged the screens and...unfortunately...removed GBA backwards compatibility entirely.
Now to be fair, this wasn't the worst decision ever. A shock to the system, sure, but at this point, we'd mostly had our fill of the GBA and were playing DS games full time. Besides, no one forced us to buy DSi systems, as we were free to hang onto those DS Lites.
On that note, we have to wonder if DS backwards compatibility, currently available on each 3DS, will one day bite the proverbial dust. How long until Nintendo drops the curtain on New Super Mario Bros. and The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass? After all, the sooner Nintendo eliminates DS, the easier it'll be to re-release these critically acclaimed adventures on the 3DS' successor, whatever that may be; 4DS, perhaps.
Now before you start worrying about such a thing, keep this in mind. GBA was a worldwide success, with over 81 million units sold. DS, by comparison, has sold 149 million machines and counting. That's almost double the number of GBAs in the wild.
Nintendo could, in theory, shut the door on all those people, but that could be incredibly foolish, given the sizable user base. The publisher also needs every hook imaginable to convince these folks to upgrade.
Because of this, we don't foresee that DS slot going away anytime soon, especially with the letters "D" and "S" following the "3". What sort of confusion would that create?
For now, be sure to fire up your favorite DS games all you want.