Thursday, May 5, 2011

Is the 3DS For Kids?

Damn. I just read over this before hitting 'Publish Post' and it is definitely an overlong sleepily-worded ramble, so I completely understand if you choose not to read it folks. But I'll be damned if I'm going to have written all this only to delete it (I do that fairly often actually) - so screw it here it is.

I heard that Sony Playstation CEO Jack Tretton recently ruffled Nintendo fanboy feathers in a Fortune magazine interview by essentially saying that the 3DS was for kids. "Our view of the 'Game Boy experience' is that it's a great babysitting tool, something young kids do on airplanes, but no self-respecting twenty-something is going to be sitting on an airplane with one of those, he's too old for that."

Well, I'm sure there will be TONS of twenty-somethings playing them on airplanes and although I do in fact own every iteration of Game Boy (bought used for pennies on the dollar years after they originally appeared), I cannot really argue the basic underlying premise of Tretton's statement regarding the general nature of Nintendo's target demographic for its handheld systems. Or any handheld system for that matter. Don't get me wrong - in addition to my Game Boys, I also own a PSP and am on the lookout for older handhelds like a Game Gear, Lynx, DS, etc. if I can find them dirt cheap, but the idea of playing any handheld in public feels juvenile to me. Then again, I've never been much of a portable gamer anyway even when I was younger so I pretty much never play them even at home, and I'm rarely in public situations where I even have an opportunity to play them either so it really just has never been part of my world - but still, if I were riding the metro to work one morning and had 30 minutes of ride time to kill I'd feel kinda funny breaking out the PSP for a little Chains of Olympus action. And it's just not really something I would feel like doing. But then I'm not twenty-something - I'm forty-something.

So yeah - I wouldn't have worded it in such an alienating and insulting manner but I generally feel that handheld gaming devices are more for children than adults. That includes Nintendo AND Sony. But additionally, Nintendo has historically targeted a younger audience on all its systems than its competitors. That's one reason I always tended to go with another system - the Genesis over SNES, PS3 over the Wii, and the PC was the old standby over pretty much all of them.  I'm not casting stones at so-called childish activities - I'm sitting here watching an episode of Batman Beyond right now and earlier tonight I was playing Thundercats on the C64. I'm just saying, me and Nintendo never quite clicked.

So anyway, I got my first hands-on look at a 3DS this last weekend when a friend of my brothers broke it out at a restaurant (he's 30-something by the way). I'm a gadget guy and I must say I thought the 3D effect was pretty cool.  He showed me some 3D photographs he took that popped out of the screen and then he took a picture of his girlfriend and turned it into a shooter game where I was trying to shoot down multiple copies of her head that were flying around the screen.  Weird and quickly tiresome even for a minigame tech demo, but still, I found the effect technically impressive.

So even though my interest level in portable gaming is minimal as is my interest in Nintendo in general it did pique my curiosity a bit. So when I found myself (much to my chagrin) in Wal-Mart yesterday I decided to check out their 3DS display.

Let me just say that when there is a store display to show off 6 of the 3DS' library of games and the first 3 are Nintendogs titles, well that's not gonna reel in this old gamer.  "But they are totally different games dude!  That's the French Bulldog, Toy Poodle, and Golden Retriever editions!  Plus now they have cats!".  Yeah. Still. 

I'll just put the 3DS on my list of portable devices that I'll buy one day on Craigslist or eBay when the price drops to the $20-$40 range - and since this one starts at $250 I'll probably be a 50-something when I finally get one.

Oh well, now that Nintendo has made me feel even older, let me see what Sony's PS3 Move display has going on.


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gnome said...

Still haven't seen a 3DS myself, but I'm far from excited about it. Then again, I didn't feel bad playing Advance Wars on a GBA micro for hours on a ship back when I was a 20-something...

MadPlanet said...

Ah Advance Wars - my favorite GBA game. Although I didn't play it until I was maybe 38 or so and finally bought a GBA SP complete in box with a multicart and a few GB Color games for like $20. And once again several of the games I got in that package did tend to point to the kiddos - Rugrats, Barbie, Pokemon. Aladdin was pretty cool.

Hey Gnome, have you ever tried out Advance Wars' great grandfather Empire - Wargame of the Century on the PC? Awesome game back in the day.

Fallguy40 said...

We have a PSP at home but I don't use it that much. I can't say that I'm much of a portable gamer either whether it be handheld system or phone game.

MadPlanet said...

Oh Fallguy - don't get me started on phone games. I have zero interest in that shite. I'm pretty sure I will never play Angry Birds regardless of how many casual gamers tell me it's awesome.

Same with social network games except even worse. Screw Farmville.

Fallguy40 said...

Well, I do like playing Bejeweled Blitz on Facebook.

MadPlanet said...

Well somehow those quick-hit puzzle games like Bejeweled seem like a different animal to me. Despite my previous snobbish gamer rant I did used to play a very similar game sometimes on my smartphone and I still play Puzzle Bobble on the arcade from time to time. Guess that's no different.

But not Farmville right? Right?? Please don't tell me you're major into Farmville. Not that there's anything wrong with that!!

gnome said...

I do remember reading Empire review back in the day and had given it a try on a friend's ST, but nothing more. Must have been quite a time sink...

Fallguy40 said...

I don't play Farmville.

MadPlanet said...

@ Gnome: Yeah an Empire campaign could take a while but not as long as you might think. I tried booting it up for a potential blog post a while back but it hadn't aged very well for me so I didn't spend much time with it.

@ Fallguy40: Good! Now I don't have to pretend that it's OK if you did (it's not...). BTW - I got my U2 back so if PSN would ever just get back online already some matches would be in order.

Mik said...

It's the same old story, dear MP: despite being a 20-something myself (well... a 30-minus-something fits better) I can't really play videogames anywere for two reasons: because it's not safe to play while driving (public transport sucks in Italy), and 'cause people look at me and think "Look at that old scum playing like a kid, he'll never grow up!". Maybe I should shave my face sometimes.
But then again, videogames are for us what TV was for our parents: they'll be seen as a devil instrument, until something totally new will replace them. And our kids will love that, while we'll be playing videogames and yellin' at'em.

MadPlanet said...

Public transportation is pretty weak in Houston too Mik, and the city is so spread out with so many suburbs it just never works. Or at least it has never worked for me.

You think you get weird looks - add about 13 years to your age and think of the looks I get man!

I do occasionally get briefly burned out on video games from time to time if I've been playing them a lot but I've never OUTGROWN them. Guess I never will.