For some, change is good, but for Nintendo, change is a way of life. While some companies work with the “if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it” model, Nintendo constantly reinvents itself to stay ahead of the game. 2004 was the big year of change for the the gaming industry. Everyone was abuzz over news about a new handheld system from Nintendo. No one was quite sure how this proposed “Dual Screen” system could deliver more bang for the buck than the GameBoy Advance systems, but they waited anxiously. In November of the same year, the world received its answer by way of the Nintendo DS.
The platinum-colored power house boasted features which seemed ridiculous to some at the time: two screens, one which was touch-responsive, a microphone, and the ability to connect to the internet. All of this frivolity proved to be worth something however, and placed Nintendo’s little handheld that could leaps and bounds ahead of its only competitor in sales. Once third party developers were on board, the DS changed the expectations players had for gaming on the go.
The original DS (or the morbidly obese model, as I like to call it), had a good run for about a year and a half before Nintendo decided they were ready for more. They sent the DS to fat camp, and it came back slimmer and more trim than before. The DS Lite reduced the size of the housing without losing any size on the screens. The Lite was also much lighter and had better battery life than it’s chunky predecessor. As if these treats weren’t enough to entice millions of players to spend their money, there were also brighter screens and a bigger and better stylus. The DS Lite was basically everything we, as Nintendo’s patrons, wished for with the original DS but didn’t get.
Surprisingly, Nintendo still wasn’t satisfied. Nearly three years after the DS Lite was released, the rumor mills started churning out news of the DSi. It would have downloadable content similar to WiiWare that we had all come to know and love. In addition to that, the screens were an entire quarter of an inch bigger, it had two cameras, and amazingly it managed to weigh less than either iteration of the DS before it. DS and DS Lite owners were foaming at the mouth to get their hands on this upgraded version of their beloved system.
Earlier this week, on March 28th, Nintendo gave all pre-existing DS owners a serious inadequacy complex by releasing the DSi again, in the form of the DSi XL. The screens were almost an inch bigger, but nothing else has really changed except for the weight. Unfortunately for Nintendo, their customers seem to be holding out for the rumored 3DS system, thanks to the handiwork of a naughty Japanese reporter.
Will Nintendo’s bold claims of glasses-less 3D gaming be a big enough innovation to cement its future as leader of the pack? Visions of tilt sensors, analog sticks, and force feed back are dancing in our heads as we await E3 and hope for solid details. Even though everything about Nintendo’s 3DS is pure speculation at this point, the imaginations of millions are running wild with ideas about this new concept. It has always been said lightening doesn’t strike twice, but if history shows us anything, it’s that Nintendo loves proving people wrong.
Aron – Staff Writer, RoboAwesome.com