From its Japanese launch right through to today, the biggest issue facing Nintendo's 3DS has remained consistent: an almost total lack of quality, original titles. Finally, things are about to change. Super Mario 3D Land and Mario Kart 7 both release in the coming weeks, and there is every reason to believe that those games will equally please Nintendo's fans and its accountants. In fact, one wonders whether Nintendo would have had to drop the 3DS's price at all had either of these games been available at the system's launch.
In a question and answer session following Nintendo's recent Semi-Annual Financial Results Briefing (in which new 3DS features were announced), Nintendo President Satoru Iwata addressed the 3DS's software shortfall, examining its origins and discussing how it is being handled right now.
"We failed to offer strong software titles without long intervals in the first half of this year, but it was not because we did not place importance on offering them one after another. Even when we understand the significance of this, we are sometimes unable to do so. We should have prepared a more thorough backup plan. We were planning to launch software in the first half of this year without too many intervals. However, we ended up delaying the launches of multiple software titles, and we could not make up for it."
"For us to provide software titles one after another, one idea is, 'Isn’t it possible for Nintendo to stock some of its software titles instead of launching them as soon as the development is completed?'"
"We are taking on this sort of challenge for the Nintendo 3DS. For example, when we look at the software lineup for the year-end sales season, it is so dense that, if we added any more software, the total sales would not increase. Accordingly, we have intentionally delayed the launch of some software titles to early next year."
Iwata's language suggests that Nintendo has had to delay some 3DS games simply because they were not ready to ship, while now games are being held to avoid cannibalizing sales. Given the paucity of post-launch Nintendo published 3DS games, it is easy enough to draw some conclusions.
Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D was never slated to be a launch title, and hit its projected June release. Super Mario 3D Land and Mario Kart 7 must always have been holiday titles, and it's tough to imagine that anything was held back to make room for Pokemon Rumble Blast. That leaves only the recently released Star Fox 64 3D (with its cost issues) and the as-yet-undated Kid Icarus: Uprising. Could either (or both) of those titles originally have been slated for the first half of the year? After all, early rumors pointed to a May release date for both games. Furthermore, are there other first-party 3DS games that remain unannounced?
Iwata's statement is just vague enough to avoid pinning the 3DS's software failings on a specific developer, though it begs another question: is Kid Icarus: Uprising complete? We went hands-on with Uprising way back at GDC 2011. Could this be one of the finished games that Nintendo has "intentionally delayed"? If so, do you support the decision to hold it for next year, or would you rather play Uprising now? Let us know in the comments below.
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