Remember all those crazy 01Net rumours that everybody thought were absolutely mental, insane and totally bonkers last month? Well they just weren’t mental, insane or totally bonkers enough for Nintendo. Frankly, I don’t think anything is anymore. It turns out that at least one of those rumours is true. True and horrifying.
Originally leaked by Japanese weekly mag Famitsu and later confirmed by Nintendo, the monstrously ridiculous “Expansion Slide Pad” adds inches upon inches of thick cheap plastic, two shoulder buttons, a butt-fugly appearance and a second analogue nub to your 3DS. Oh lord.
Pictures and my poor attempts to suppress nerd rage after the jump.
So.. errr, umm. Yeah. This is what it looks like.
But it’s not just ugly, it’s absolutely stupid. Stupid as a stupid does. When those rumours first surfaced, my mental image of a second analogue nub comprised of a small device that clipped to the underside of the unit, plugged into the system’s power port and rested neatly on the area below the 3DS face buttons on the right hand side. It wasn’t an ideal mental image, given that it might have interfered with closing the unit and would have been a little fiddly, but hey, is there a truly faultless way to add a second analogue nub to a handheld months after the final design launches? Probably not, but in my mind’s eye at least my idea seemed a little less clunky than what Nintendo have conjured up. What we have in reality is an enormous cradle in which your 3DS sits. It renders your old charging cradle totally useless. It makes both screens off centre, which is kind of a big deal on a device that has an incredibly small viewing angle for 3D images. It pretty much laughs in the face of your pockets and any sense of true portability. It is, to be totally blunt, a badly implemented bad idea. It’s a monstrosity.
To be honest, I’m struggling for words. It’s just baffling, isn’t it? It’s uglier and less ergonomic than any smart phone, tablet or dedicated gaming handheld on the market. It still would be if you taped a bag of potatoes to your mobile of choice for comparison. At the very least, it shows just how laughably off the pace Nintendo are when it comes to understanding the current market trends in the mobile space. In the age of sleek iDevices, HTC handsets and – whisper it – the PlayStation Vita, Nintendo have brought to market an add on that makes their otherwise good looking handheld look like something left behind in the 1990s, wedged somewhere between Britpop and the Spice Girls. It’s kinda funny.
Only there’s a side to this that’s really not funny. Right now, I’m not sure I see the funny side at all. I’m actually pretty hacked off and feel like I’ve been taken the piss out of as an early adopter. I’ve defended the 3DS and Nintendo’s strategy a lot over the past few months. A struggling handheld, a bland and sparse launch window and even a dramatic price drop I can deal with. A just about passable online system and a totally backwards pricing model for downloadable games I can deal with. But this? This is more than an ugly handheld peripheral. It’s a sign that Nintendo just doesn’t know what the fuck it’s doing. A sign that the company has made elementary mistakes with the 3DS design, with it’s marketing and with their whole strategy for the device from the offset. The “Expansion Slide Pad” stinks of another panic solution to a desperate problem. Who knows, if they throw enough of those at the 3DS, maybe some of them will stick.
In Nintendo’s defence, we don’t truly know what this device is or what it’s for, and I have to remind myself of that every time I see this farce and commence on an aneurysm inducing rant. It’s announced alongside Monster Hunter Tri G, so there’s a possibility it might just be to coincide with that one particular game at Capcom’s request. Even so, if Capcom have made enough noise to prompt this sort of reaction from Nintendo, then you’d have to think other developers will have done the same. Especially those who intend on working on both 3DS and Vita projects. I’ve read a lot of Nintendo apologists insisting this is simply to add extra control inputs to Monster Hunter and Monster Hunter alone, but I can’t shake the feeling that if other developers see the hardware out there to do more, then they’ll want in on the act as well. There’s no way games such as Resident Evil Revelations and Luigi’s Mansion are going to pass up the opportunity to use a second nub if one exists. At that point, fragmentation of the library joins consumer confusion and irritation on the long list of major concerns for Nintendo, be it in the long or short term.
We will almost certainly get to see whether this is simply a clumsy mistake or a total disaster at Nintendo’s scheduled conference on September 13.
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