When the 3DS was announced in March 2010, I knew it was only a matter of time before I bought one. It wasn't the wonder of 3D or even the games Nintendo was sure to release that gave me this moment of clairvoyance. It was the simple fact that eventually, I buy every system. The only question was how long it would take Nintendo to sell it to me.
And so last Wednesday, the time finally came. I walked into my local game store and bought a used 3DS... over a year after its initial release.
1) Launch Issues
When the 3DS launched last February here in Japan it cost a staggering ¥25,000 (a little over $300 USD). This was a major investment to say the least—especially compared to the ¥13,000 (about $157 USD) I spent last week to get one. Moreover, there were no launch titles that made the investment seem worthwhile—not even Professor Layton and the Mask of Miracle.
Worst of all for me as a gamer living in Japan was the announcement that, unlike the DS, 3DS games would be region locked. Yes, I do speak Japanese, but some games are just so complicated in story or scope, that I would rather play them in English. With that choice taken away from me, I wondered if it would be better to just wait and buy an American 3DS.
2) And Then the World Shook Itself Apart
On March 11, 2011, a mere thirteen days after the launch of the 3DS, the Tohoku Earthquake quite literally rocked Japan. Even 150 miles south of the epicenter, my bookshelves were emptied and my belongings scattered. The trains and buses stopped running and the devastating tsunami was at the forefront of everyone's mind. For the next few weeks we suffered constant aftershocks and power outages. Simply put, when you have no heat or lights and you're often worried about finding drinking water, going out to buy a new game system seems more than a bit foolish.
Slowly but surely things returned to normal but the games that came out in the months following the quake did little to change my mind about not needing a 3DS—especially with the lack of originality in the 3DS' ever expanding lineup.
Fact time: The top 10 best-selling games of the 3DS' lifetime consist of five sequels and five ports/remakes of past games. There are zero new IPs. In fact, the most popular new IP—Steel Diver—comes in at number 39 with only about 170,000 copies sold worldwide.
Still, heading into the Tokyo Game Show 2011, there were enough titles out or on the horizon—original or not—for me to consider buying a 3DS until the announcement of. . .
3) The Frankenstick
The Circle Pad Pro, as it's now called, is an accessory that adds both buttons and a second thumbstick to the 3DS. To me this was an alarm bell that announced a new model of 3DS was coming soon—just like the DS Lite followed the original DS. And though Nintendo has repeatedly stated this is not the case, the very existence of the Frankenstick quelled any interest I had in buying a 3DS.
1) No New 3DS in Sight
It's been six months since the announcement of the Frankenstick and we've seen nothing of a new 3DS model. While I personally believe/fear one is still coming, I can overlook the eyesore/potential waste of money that is the Circle Pad Pro because of. . .
2) The Games
As with any system, you buy one when it hits a point where there are enough games for the system you are itching to play. With Resident Evil: Revelations, Super Mario 3D Land, Theatrhythm Final Fantasy, and upcoming games like Kingdom Hearts Dream Drop Distance and Professor Layton vs. Ace Attorney—I finally felt now was the time to buy. But moreover, I bought one because. . .
3) It's My Job
We here at Kotaku East are all about hands-on impressions with the newest Japan first/only titles you want to hear about. So with prices low, an ever growing list of good games, and a new Kingdom Hearts just days away, I just had to ask myself, "What better time to get one?"