It’s no secret that the 3DS is underperforming; third parties are cancelling titles, and despite a massive sales boom created by the recent price drop, the system still only managed to be second in sales in the month of August, according to retailer tracking service NPD. But where as Nintendo has usually been slow to react and content to do their own thing, they’ve publicly admitted they’ve dropped the ball on the 3DS so far, and now they’re bringing out the big guns to recapture the public’s attention.
It was already known that an improved port of the Wii/PSP Monster Hunter 3 would be coming to the 3DS, but Nintendo dropped this year’s “megaton” surprise by announcing that the latest “full” entry into Capcom’s mega-popular Monster Hunter franchise was in development for the 3DS. A trailer was shown, which probably wasn’t actual gameplay but nonetheless illustrated the changes that are coming for the series: the game’s world is now one massive, seamless world rather that the segmented “zones” from previous games, and a new, rudimentary platforming mechanic seems to be part of the game. Nintendo president Satoru Iwata never mentioned the word “exclusive” though, so there’s still a chance it could come to other platforms; despite what the fanboys may tell you, the Monster Hunter series has always been a system polygamist, and Capcom has released and ported the series on almost every major console thus far. Likewise, no details about an international release were given, though considering that TGS is a Japan-specific event, it’s not really a surprise that nothing was mentioned about American or European releases.
While Monster Hunter 4 stole the show, Nintendo also showed off a new Dynasty Warriors game for 3DS (the series is still inexplicably popular, despite not having evolved since the PS2 days,) and a new action game from Square Enix ridiculously titled “BRAVE DEFAULT: FLYING FAIRY.” Not much is known about the new Square game other than it’s Engrish-tastic title and it’s super deformed, cute art style, but if it comes to the US, you can definitely expect a name change. Sega also announced a new entry in their popular Project DIVA series of rhythm games, though like every other entry in the series, it probably won’t come out in the US. Nintendo’s focus on third party titles during this press conference was their blatant way of refuting the rumors that third-parties were abandoning the system en masse, and with all these new announcements, it certainly appears that third party support will continue for the 3DS, at least in Japan.
The 3DS release list isn’t all third party software, however: Nintendo showed off more footage from Luigi’s Mansion 2, which was recently unveiled at this year’s E3, as well as footage from a new 3DS entry into the Animal Crossing series. The best surprise announcement from Nintendo themselves was a new Fire Emblem game, which will hopefully recapture the quality from the GBA and Gamecube/Wii entries and avoid the stupid design decisions of the original DS entry.
It wasn’t all good news on the 3DS front though: the much anticipated Kid Icarus, which was originally intended to be a launch-window title for the 3DS, was once again delayed, with Nintendo now only committing to a vague “Winter 2012” release date. The game was the first 3DS game shown to the public, so it’s kind of strange that the game is taking so long to come out.
Will these new titles be enough to rekindle the public’s 20 year long love-affair with Nintendo handhelds, or will the PS Vita manage to overcome the PSP’s relative failure and finally surmount Nintendo’s handheld monopoly? Only time will tell, but Nintendo’s made it clear that if the 3DS is going down, it’s at least going to go down swinging.