The Zero Hour

Reviews, rants and oddities on video game and film culture.

3DS/Virtual Boy comparisons stop HERE!

I think I speak for a lot of people when I say the 3DS is pretty exciting and considering us in the west are less than a week away from launch, that fever is pretty much at its peak. Now whilst the majority of the world have been looking forward to handheld glasses-less 3D, there are a few nay-sayers around. Having been a Nintendo fanboy for the best part of my life, I know which battles to pick when it comes to defending their decisions and raving about certain games. I will admit that the launch titles for the 3DS are quite lacklustre, no Mario game, no Zelda, there’s arguably no “killer app” (Street Fighter doesn’t count, as it’s a 3rd party game). But it’s clearly a testament to how Nintendo works now a days, that they can sell a console on name brand alone, which is a very bold move, especially when that console is a bold move in itself. Of course, inevitably, I’ve heard a few comments from people who are comparing the 3DS to another console…one that Nintendo seemed to want to forget about…yeah, it’s the Virtual Boy.

And that’s why I’m writing this, because people keep making that comparison and it baffles me. The 3DS already is more successful than the Virtual Boy, it’s already impossible for it to flop at this stage (obviously, I can’t speak for a year down the line). Why? Well, simple reasons really. The 3DS is already selling remarkably well in Japan, having (at the time of writing) been Number 1 on the hardware charts, with sales of double that of its competitors. Ahead of its UK release on Friday, it’s already the most pre-ordered games console on Amazon, with 20% more than the PS3 had, plus combined with midnight launches, events to gain hype that have all been positive, the console can’t really fail over the next couple of weeks.

Now, one of the main problems that the Virtual Boy had was how it gave people headaches as they played. Now Nintendo haven’t denied that it’s a possibility with the 3DS, but they’ve given out safety warnings, they’ve shown disclaimers and given recommendations for how long you should be playing, so pretty much anyone complaining about being ill or whatever, I hate to put it so bluntly, but it’s your own fault. Of course, inevitably someone will sue them anyway…

Now, I’m not really a social gamer, I play online every so often and against my friends in split screen, but most of the time, I prefer to play games on my own, but the virtual boy made that even more of a problem and pretty much cut you off from the world completely with it’s really big head-set, which surely must have contributed to its failure. The 3DS, naturally, being a handheld console that you can play on the bus doesn’t do that, and whilst the 3D probably isn’t as good, at least Nintendo were nice enough to give you the option to TURN IT OFF. Which pretty much is the crux of my argument, most people’s problems with the 3DS are getting headaches, the 3D not working for them, or something related to the 3D aspect of it and ultimately, it can just be fixed by simply turning it off. Yes, so you lose its central gimmick, but you still get to play some fantastic games, with fantastic graphics on a fantastic console that offers so much more than the illusion of something sticking out the screen, it’s like bashing the Wii simply on its motion controls (which despite Sony and Microsoft adopting, people still do!), it’s not the hardware that makes a console popular or well-loved, it’s the software. I still play SNES and Nintendo 64 games, nearly 20 years after their innovation has past and been accepted, why? Not because I love Mode 7 or polygonal open spaces, but because the games are brilliant. And the 3DS, WILL have that. Super Mario 3DS is in development, as is a Paper Mario game, Zelda: OoT and Lylat Wars remakes, a Pokémon game is being made, and Street Fighter IV will be out at launch. Virtual Boy had…Mario Clash? Can you name any other killer games for it? I thought not.

Basically, stop comparing the 3DS to the Virtual Boy, it’s already so much better.


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