Monday, 12 September 2011

The 3DS Analog Add On - What to Make of the Second Stick

So, recently it has come to light that the Nintendo 3DS is getting an add on for use with at least the next Monster Hunter game: a peripheral that will give the 3DS a second analog stick. Even though at the moment it is uncertain whether any other games will support the add-on, people are still very unimpressed at the announcement, which they believe could be the first inkling of a redesign at this early stage of the handheld's life cycle. Certainly there have been redesigns before, but it seems that a number of factors have added up to this becoming more of an issue than Nintendo had thought it would be.

Console and handheld redesigns are nothing new, after all: the first Game Boy had a redesign in the form of the Game Boy Pocket. The Game Boy Advance had the SP. The Playstation family have had their slim redesigns, the 360 has its special editions, and so on. Even redesigns to address the flaws of the initial release are common, with ones like the Playstation's initial overheating problem and the original Xbox's disc reading capabilities being addressed in subsequent releases. So why all the bitterness directed towards Nintendo now?

The answer seems three-fold: timing, the userbase, and potential.

The timing and the userbase kind of go hand in hand on this issue, so it's best to cover them together. This announcement of the second analog stick seems to indicate in the minds of many that a redesign for the 3DS might be right around the corner, and the fact that it seems to be happening so early in the system's lifespan means that the initial adopters are seemingly left high and dry. Combine that with the fact that the price drop caused some of the people that were formerly on the fence about buying a 3DS to take the plunge and you have a rather large, rather vocal group that feels slighted. The suggestion that the system should have had two analog sticks from launch might be a somewhat unfair one to make at the moment, but in light of what's happening now it would have doubtless spared Nintendo a lot of headaches and even more criticism from voices that are now saying that the handheld might have been pushed out of development too early for its own good.

The third part: potential, is also a strong reason behind the current mood of those that have taken issue. I'm not sure how much stock to put into this personally, but there are people out there that think that the lack of a second analog stick from out of the gate has hampered the system's potential, and that if the 3DS is about to get a second one, either through the addition, a redesign, or both, that there will finally be games that will be of a higher calibre than what we've been seeing currently. While many would hail this as a good thing, the people that bring this up are also quick to point out that the system should have been designed with such support and capabilities from the start in order to ensure a higher quality output. While I don't agree 100% with that assessment, there is some merit to it, and surely if Nintendo itself adopts the second stick for some of its first party games we could see a wider spectrum of titles than what is currently on the table.

Perhaps more than anything though, is that people seem angry at how poorly this entire thing is being handled. Nintendo has been somewhat evasive regarding this whole issue, and while the designs might change the current way that the add-on looks is failing to inspire much, if any, confidence. The notion that people that just got a 3DS might now also have to shell out more money (just how much more is an unknown factor at the moment, but it will probably be more than zero) is less than appealing to everyone that only bought one due to the price drop. All in all, it just seems like a strange misstep on the part of Nintendo, if and when the overall health of the system.


  1. Seems kind of strange to have a touch screen on something that requires two hands to use it, too. But that's just me talking.

  2. I own a 3DS, another stick would be nice. Plus it would just give more room to hold onto the thing. As is it is already not easy to hold it comfortingly.

  3. I was going to drop the cash on the new price-dropped 3DS, but now I'm going to wait because of this. So that's at least one person that's holding.


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