The first thing that really struck me as odd about the Nintendo 3DS was the cartridges. In a world of mp3s, e-books, and even buying OS upgrades for my Macs online, games on cartridges seem very out-of-place.
They did eventually launch their eShop. Though—until recently—the eShop didn’t carry any of the cartridge games. Either a game deserved a cartridge or it was undeserving enough to appear in the eShop. There is now one cartridge game that you can get through the eShop as well: New Super Mario Bros. 2
The next surprise was that eShop purchases are tied to a device rather than an account. They did let me transfer (i.e. copy to new device then delete from old device) purchases from my 3DS to my new 3DS XL, but I can only install a purchase on one of my devices.
The 3DS does have a nifty feature called “Download Play”. How this works is that you buy a cartridge game and then friends can use the Download Play feature to temporarily download a client for the game from your 3DS. This way you can play the multiplayer version of the game without having to buy multiple copies of the game. That makes a lot of sense and mirrors the way that we can buy one copy of a game for the Wii and the whole family can play. Or the way that we can buy a game once in the iOS App Store, install it on all our iOS devices, and the whole family can play.
Well, this would be nifty if not for two things. (1) Very few games support this feature. (2) The games that do support it only support it in a very limited way. So, it ends up just making a worse impression than if they just didn’t have it at all.
I do really like the 3DS. It’s fun to have a 3D camera and glasses-free 3D for such a good price. For me, the 3DS XL is an improvement. The bigger screens and greater battery life are worth the increase in size to me.
But it is weird how so much of the experience seems to be relunctantly dragged towards the present. When I’m faced with deciding whether to spend some disposible dollars on software for the 3DS or iOS, I find it harder to choose in the 3DS’ favor. Which is a shame.