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I've changed my mind: I want a 3DS now
by Andrew Testerman

Last year, I didn't want a 3DS. Nintendo's latest handheld had just limped out of the gate like a three-legged burro with gout, and unimpressed me with its exorbitant price point, impotent battery life and meagre catalogue of compelling games.

The bad news is that the battery life hasn't changed, still clocking in at three to five hours depending on brightness and 3D-intensity. I'm happy to say, though, that my other inhibitions have subsided since last April, when I first wrote about them, and I find myself craving a 3DS more and more every day.

What a difference a year makes. When the 3DS dropped in March 2011, it did so alongside very few 'must-have' games, with Super Street Fighter IV 3D Edition taking the trophy for the best of the system's launch titles. It took months for the system's most-anticipated games to hit shelves, and even then they were largely ports of games released more than ten years ago: Star Fox 64 3D, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D, and so forth.

Even if I did feel like trying out Steel Diver or Pilotwings Resort, the cost of entry was far too great. The 3DS launched at a huge $249.99 in the US, one of the most expensive handheld gaming platforms this side of the iPad. The price point was baffling; the system hardly had any noteworthy tech notwithstanding glasses-free 3D - something that portable gamers weren't exactly clamouring for - and Nintendo had either the arrogance or the cluelessness to mark it $30 above the cost of an iPod Touch, a device in direct competition with the 3DS and possessing significantly more versatile functionality: games, videos, music, and a swanky swipe motion to unlock it.

I was torn at the time. Here I was, former portable gaming junkie, deliberately sitting out the launch of a new Nintendo handheld. I tried coaxing myself into making the purchase, building cases for why I should put down my hard-earned coin for Nintendo's new console.

I couldn't do it.

I vowed instead to wait until the big N got their act together and made me want their system.

How fortunate that Nintendo seemed to come round as the year went on. Perhaps sensing the antipathy towards their new baby, Nintendo issued a massive price-cut made effective on 11th August, 2011, which reduced the cost to $169.99, chopping nearly a third off of the fledgling system's MSRP. The move looked drastic, and some in the media took it as a sign of Nintendo flailing to prevent their new ship from sinking. The move worked, though, with Japanese sales surging during the week of the price-cut and American figures following suit.

It wasn't enough for the price to drop, though. The 3DS's sudden increase in affordability did nothing to soften my resolve, because there weren't any games I actually wanted to play on the thing. It was about this time, though, that a new wave of games started hitting the 3DS. Good, high-quality games that actually interested me, rather than the "Dead Space: Extraction is actually fun if you like lightgun games" malarkey of before. Everyone on Twitter went nuts about Super Mario 3D Land, and I started having vivid fantasies of how much fun Mario Kart 7 would be whilst on the road (may this be the only time that I use the words "vivid fantasy" and "Mario Kart" in the same sentence). Several other non-Nintendo gems caught my attention as well: a port of acclaimed side-scroller Cave Story here, a remixed entry in the Shin Megami Tensei series there, and a brand new, worthwhile Resident Evil game, all had me looking on in envy at the fun I was missing.

Then came the breaking point. I'll always remember when my attitude towards the 3DS shifted from "wait and see" to "I must have this system now." I was having a pleasant, relaxed Sunday, lounging about at home, when I heard five special words that changed my life:

"New Super Mario Bros. 2"

Boom. That was all it took. New Super Mario Bros. was one of my favourite games for the original DS, and the prospect of playing through another 2D Mario game was simply too enticing to pass up. I kept biding my time and looking for a reason to open my heart to the 3DS, and the announcement of New Super Mario Bros. 2 triggered something like a time-lapse shot of a sunflower blooming in my chest.

After a year, I can finally accept the 3DS as a thing I want, and it feels damn good. True, the battery life still sucks, but I can get used to charging my gaming systems once a day; I did the same with my mobile phone. Nintendo's portable efforts are finally relevant to me again, and it's like welcoming back a prodigal son. I'll hold off buying a 3DS until after E3, just in case Nintendo decides to announce a hardware redesign, but the fact that I'm planning to buy it at all speaks volumes about how Nintendo can turn around an unfavourable situation.

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- Andrew Testerman

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