Nintendo to Release Analog Stick for 3DS - What's going on over there?

Bill Loguidice's picture

Nintendo 3DS Analog Add-onNintendo 3DS Analog Add-onFor those who didn't catch it, those bizarre rumors of Nintendo releasing an analog joystick add-on for the 3DS are true. What's bizarre about this $20 add-on - besides how quickly this will be released after launch - is that it will require a AAA battery. Some are speculating that this is for some type of rumble feature - something Nintendo has tried a few times before on their handhelds and never supported beyond a few games here and there - but it could simply be because of the way the expansion clips in and is utilized that may it require a power assist. This of course does nothing to help the 3DS's anemic battery life, so why Nintendo didn't address the REAL issue here (hint: it wasn't the lack of a second analog stick) and make it a combination rechargeable battery slice and analog stick combo is beyond me, but then Nintendo has not been making much sense in the past year anyway, be it the anemic Wii game release schedule or the seemingly panicked series of "corrective" responses to a tepid 3DS launch.

Frankly, Nintendo doing a HUGE price drop for the 3DS shortly after launch spurred sales enough where you think they wouldn't have to do this analog stick thing (which, by the way, adds another set of shoulder buttons!), but these days there's no telling what's going on behind the scenes over there at Nintendo HQ. Perhaps Nintendo has projected that the sales boost won't be sustained, or perhaps they're somehow fearful of the wide 2012 release of Sony's Vita, but I really doubt either scenario. While I've gone on record stating that I believe this is the last sustainable generation for a dedicated mainstream gaming handheld in the light of already good enough smartphone and tablet gaming (which will quickly get ever more powerful due to the amazing amount of competition in those spaces, outpacing anything possible in dedicated gaming handhelds), there is still this generation to keep the proverbial good times rolling at least somewhat like they were before the iPhone kicked off the smartphone craze and threw a monkey wrench into the whole portable gaming thing.

Naturally this analog stick add-on kind of minimizes Nintendo's other announcement of 3D video recording with the 3DS, which is rather neat, but it will probably be more of a novelty than anything particularly useful anyway given the handheld's inherent power. There was also the usual announcement of additional entries in their popular franchises, which of course Nintendo has been leaning on almost exclusively of late.

Oh, and one more thing... If anyone thinks for a minute that this analog stick add-on doesn't mean that a combined 3DS hardware revision isn't coming sooner rather than later, then I guess you probably also think that Nintendo is fully in control behind the scenes these days...

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Rob Daviau
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No surprise here....

I am glad I was not one of the early adopters, I usually am not anyway but especially in this case. well aware of Nintendo's track record of multiple revisions especially with their handhelds. I always let the fanboy's be the Guinea Pigs, now I have been saying all along I had no intention of getting a 3DS until I see enough titles that are of interest to ME and I am not one for the typical nintendo 1st party fare, I mean interesting 3rd party titles. IF that ever happens then I will consider the 3DS, by that time I am sure they will have released a revision or two that incorporate all the features of this
analog joystick add-on as well as longer battery life and maybe even bigger screens for the same current price or less not to mention a more vast library. IF nintendo manages to do all that then and only then will I consider it. Personally I hope they make me want one by pulling it off though I am not going to hold my breath.

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Shawn Delahunty
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Is this early-onset SEGA-itis?

I finished listening to Chris Kennedy's recent podcast last night, and now reading this, I'm wondering if there's a common thread. Chris argued, not always convincingly, that Nintendo ought to drop the hardware side of things (especially gimmickry like this clip-on dingus). He drew an analogy to what happened to SEGA, and how they converted to a pure software house. I think his point about the dearth of third-party development for the Wii, Wii-U, Wii-Them, Yuu-Thems, or whatever else they're going to announce next, was spot-on.

Now I'm only moderately familiar with the range of Nintendo systems, as I've never owned one personally. Despite that, I have kept up with things by reading tech-news and reviews of their stuff all these years, plus playing them at friends' houses and so forth. I am also aware of the add-on junk which has trickled out of them for their various systems.

All of this started me thinking back through console history a bit. And the SEGA example kept cropping up. During the early- and mid-1990's, SEGA churned out a confusing mix of consoles, and some really atrocious, low-number runs of clip-on/plug-in doo-dads. Worse, they had so many different system configurations, that customers were not only confused about which hardware to buy, but which software they should get. Cartridge based? CD-Based? It just felt like an unorganized mish-mash of things.

It's quite possible that I'm incorrect, but this feels very similar. Nintendo has thrashed in the marketplace before, with the Virtua-Boy and so forth. But the 3DS seems like a pointless product, featuring some questionable gee-whizzery, and sacrificing the battery life, which was an unofficial Nintendo handheld trademark of sorts. Now introducing dubious add-ons?

I'm purely speculating here, but I have a weird deja-vu kind of feeling, so I'll make a prediction. When Microsoft and Sony announce their next-gen console, I predict that Nintendo will bring one out also, perhaps even beating them to the punch on the release date--but it may suffer the fate of the DreamCast. It might just be a revolutionary machine, but one which lacks 1 or 2 "must-have killer features", and that will doom the product. (If the DreamCast had come with a DVD drive, SEGA would have vaulted to the top of the heap for a while longer I think.)

Anyway, that's my wholly uninformed, over-caffeinated take on things.

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Bill Loguidice
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Wii U
bitsweep wrote:

I'm purely speculating here, but I have a weird deja-vu kind of feeling, so I'll make a prediction. When Microsoft and Sony announce their next-gen console, I predict that Nintendo will bring one out also, perhaps even beating them to the punch on the release date--but it may suffer the fate of the DreamCast. It might just be a revolutionary machine, but one which lacks 1 or 2 "must-have killer features", and that will doom the product. (If the DreamCast had come with a DVD drive, SEGA would have vaulted to the top of the heap for a while longer I think.)

Anyway, that's my wholly uninformed, over-caffeinated take on things.

You mean AFTER the Wii U? No, I think that will be it for Nintendo for the next generation even after they release the Wii U and both Microsoft and Sony release their 360 and PS3 successors. Nintendo is beating both Microsoft and Sony to the next gen punch by at least a year with the Wii U by releasing in 2012, though much like the Wii, may not have the horsepower to last the whole next generation since it will likely only approximate the power that the 360 and PS3 have had since their respective launches. Nintendo needs to hope that the Wii U's gimmick and usual Nintendo franchises will sustain it through those times.

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Chris Kennedy
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gimmicks
Bill Loguidice wrote:

Nintendo needs to hope that the ___'s gimmick and usual Nintendo franchises will sustain it through those times.

That is pretty much their philosophy at this point, right? Bill - I erased the term "Wii U" from the quote to illustrate that that is their style. That is what they do - they find a way to make themselves different and bank on it. It is high risk, but can also be high reward.

Does Nintendo keep trying to go Sega with add-ons? Do they release a hardware revision before THIS Christmas? There isn't much time.

I think they have to try to pull all the stops with the 3DS while also keeping their hands on the plug. They have got to get it in the consumers' hands while smiling and nodding at 3rd parties and saying, "See! You should develop games for it!"

Personally, I am not liking where this is going. Nintendo's moves seem like desperation moves to me, and that is the telling tale as to how this 3DS thing is selling - which is "not well."

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Bill Loguidice
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Nintendo analysis
Chris Kennedy wrote:

That is pretty much their philosophy at this point, right? Bill - I erased the term "Wii U" from the quote to illustrate that that is their style. That is what they do - they find a way to make themselves different and bank on it. It is high risk, but can also be high reward.

Absolutely. What's different with the 3DS though is that, like I mentioned, Nintendo usually denies anything is wrong with their strategy until much, much later in the process. They blinked/flinched UNUSUALLY early with the 3DS, which, when you combine it with the lack of releases on the Wii in the past year, really makes you wonder what's been going on over there.

Though Nintendo fanboys like to deny it, the maneuvers with the 3DS are at least in part a reaction to what's going on with smartphones and tablets. It really is good enough for most people these days. Smartphones have certainly hurt the digital camera market and GPS markets as well, for instance, so this is certainly not unique to handheld gaming. The fewer devices people can carry around, the better for them, particularly if said multi-function device can rival what the "single function" device can do.

Chris Kennedy wrote:

Does Nintendo keep trying to go Sega with add-ons? Do they release a hardware revision before THIS Christmas? There isn't much time.

Personally, I am not liking where this is going. Nintendo's moves seem like desperation moves to me, and that is the telling tale as to how this 3DS thing is selling - which is "not well."

I suspect Nintendo is working feverishly on a final design for a 3DS revision, a la the DS Lite versus the original DS. It's highly unlikely we'll see it until early 2012, though, but that's probably sufficient timing to temper whatever momentum, if any, the PS Vita has at that point. Naturally, being well within a year of the release of the original 3DS combined with the major price drop and now the release of this $20 add-on, continues to poke at the early adopters, which may have some long term consequences, particularly when it comes to the Wii U.

In any case, you're right, Nintendo has to start executing intelligently again, and do it quickly. They still have sufficient cushion and goodwill, but that certainly won't last indefinitely. As it stands now, and considering how they confused a lot of people into thinking that the Wii U is just an add-on for the Wii rather than a new platform, they have a lot of work ahead of them through 2012.

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clok1966
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I just cant believe these

I just cant believe these guys dont see the writing on the wall (nintendo and sony), or are they both pulling out all the stops to milk the final days of handhelds being .. well handhelds only? There will always be a market for them, but Not like it was 2-5 years ago. The sad thing is that stick thing looks like something you buy off a website like EXTREME DEALS.. while it sure looks functional, its much like you guys are pointing out.. like a "oh no do something quick, we designed wrong" marketing thing.

Bill Loguidice
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clok1966 wrote:

I just cant believe these guys dont see the writing on the wall (nintendo and sony), or are they both pulling out all the stops to milk the final days of handhelds being .. well handhelds only? There will always be a market for them, but Not like it was 2-5 years ago. The sad thing is that stick thing looks like something you buy off a website like EXTREME DEALS.. while it sure looks functional, its much like you guys are pointing out.. like a "oh no do something quick, we designed wrong" marketing thing.

I honestly do believe it is a last grasp before the final gasps of the dedicated gaming handheld market being something significant. For this generation, it STILL can be a big deal, though not to the levels of the previous generation. They could certainly milk another 5 years or so from dedicated gaming handhelds, but then I predict they'll HAVE to move onto smartphones and tablets in a big way if they want to continue in something other than a niche. People simply won't be carrying around lots of single purpose devices anymore, even though, obviously, the 3DS and Vita do so much more than just play games.

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davyK
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This is an odd development

This is an odd development for sure. Haven't read too much but I've heard something about a version of Monster Hunter for the 3DS which would be a big deal in Japan and control would benefit a great deal from a second stick. If it was sold as part of a package deal as the classic pro was with the Wii version it may not look as such an odd step.

Maybe there are unexpected FPSs waiting in the wings too - which with 3D and online support would be an interesting proposition in the West - can't think of any other reason for this though.

Bill Loguidice
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Thoughts...
davyK wrote:

Maybe there are unexpected FPSs waiting in the wings too - which with 3D and online support would be an interesting proposition in the West - can't think of any other reason for this though.

One thought I had was that because of the 3D, using the built-in gyroscope is impractical for camera control, meaning the original intention appears to have been you move the device about to change your point of view. Clearly, this doesn't work in practice because it's very difficult to keep your eyes locked on the system for the 3D effect to work while you're moving, hence the need for a second analog stick as a replacement. With that said, I'm probably way off base because you would think they would have realized that long before release...

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davyK
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yeah - thought the 3D/tilt

yeah - thought the 3D/tilt options would be one or the other to be honest. I have heard though that Starfox 3D uses the tilt well so it can be done it seems.

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