Yesterday, January 14th, Nintendo held their first Nintendo Direct of 2015 and barreled their nuclear-powered Hype Train right into the laptop of every eager boy and girl at work. The internet was abuzz with rumors and predictions of what they’d be announcing and showing off. I wasn’t able to watch it live but there were a few key terms I kept my eyes on the twitterverse for: NEW 3DS, ‘Xenoblade‘ and ‘Free Lunch‘ And boy, two of those fantasies became reality.

Good Heavens, look at those arms

Good Heavens, look at those arms

I’ve never owned a Wii or and don’t own a Wii2 so I was never able to play the three amazingly clever and loved games that Operation Rainfall’s hard work got localized from EU to the NA territories. So like any well-to-do, red-blooded American, I watched someone else play these games on the internet. I watched EmiruHD run through the Ico+Castlevania hybride Pandora’s Tower, and saw him play Fashion Souls Light in the very chic action RPG (with stealth sections that aren’t terrible and puzzle solving that might be) The Last Story. But when it came to Xenoblade Chronicles, I saw that European YouTubers had uploaded runs of the game that had playlists that were 120-200 parts long. It was just too vast for me to get into. There’d be 20 videos in a row of a random assortment of Homs just running around a green field picking up blue orbs with no dialog and no commentary. Context is very important in a JRPG otherwise you’re just pressing X until the text stops and you have all the loot. Then, by the grace of angels, Chuggaaconroy started doing an LP of this game some time last year and that man knows how to give a game some context. I was immediately pulled in by Chuggaa’s excitement  and by Reyn’s muscular arms. Incredibly vibrant fields with dynamic weather, a battle system that required positioning and strategy and a setting that wasn’t Fake!Old England falling into the onslaught of an Old Evil.  I began contemplating borrowing an forgotten Wii from friend just to get my hands on this game. But just 2 months after this LP began Nintendo announced that Xenoblade Chronicles would be coming to their handheld. I was so ecstatic until I realized that the game would be exclusive to the NEW 3DS hardware upgrade that they had just announced in the same Direct.

So yesterday, all of the stars began to align: The Direct confirmed what leaked scans foretold, the NEW 3DS IS coming to the EU and NA in a few short weeks and Xenoblade will be following it with a release date in April. I got everything I wanted except for a free lunch but I am not quite ready to express my devotion to the console in the only way publishers these days recognize, and Pre-order the console. I still am holding on to resentment because Nintendo is essentially forcing me to give up my perfectly good 3DS XL just 1 short year after getting it by locking Xenoblade to the NEW.

Besides my backlog of unplayed games and uninstalled Steam data, I am not a collector of video game paraphernalia. No action figures, no Prima strategy guides, no Amiibos, and only the buttons I wont at GaymerX last summer. I also grew up in a Sega Genesis and then Sony PlayStation household so I don’t have much blind nostalgia-based loved for them. I have owned 4 Nintendo handhelds in my life, and played each one to the point of it becoming non-functioning: My brothers and I shared a fat, gray, OG GameBoy back in the day. I got an upgrade to a black GameBoy Pocket just months before the GameBoy COLOR was released. I replayed Pokemon Blue and Link’s Awakening on that for years until I bought a Zelda themed DS from a kid in college. When the shoulder buttons stopped working on that, and my cousin stole my Acekard with a dozen games on it I finally gave in and got my current 3DS on a Black Friday sale.

My Perfectly Fine 3DS XL (and a selfie)

The sticker I got when I bought Gears of War 3 that I saved for 2 years to put on something special. And a photo of me in the background

I know people who have ordered a new 3DS (or two!) a year, for that special Pikachu edition or that really bland Mario and Luigi bundle, or the Japanese-only Charizard. That doesn’t appeal to me, I only get a new console when I need one. When mine falls apart or when technology makes a great leap. Nintendo is notorious for repackaging and re-releasing one product, but at least they usually offer some clear advantage in the new generation. GameBoy Color made that insane leap to from greens and blacks to hues of white, blue and red on the screen. The upgrade to the SP from the Advance gave us the clam shell that has mostly stuck around to today. The DS, obviously, brought the second screen and the 3DS brought 3D that no one really wanted and that many developers completely ignored after the first year. In fact, the big budget and in-house game Pokemon XY had such horrible 3D coding it would slow the game down to a crawl whenever you enabled it. The 3DS, thankfully, also kept the upgraded wifi settings that the DSi brought.  Now this NEW 3DS…adds another stick….and is thinner…and bigger. This feels like what the 3DS should’ve been from the start and honestly that turns me off from buying one even further.

Xenoblade Chronicles seemed to be the Killer App, not gonna buy a Wii and a $60 disc from Amazon for it now, and all I need to do is jump on the NEW 3DS hype train… but then today I saw some screen caps from the game and really, I am just not impressed.

xenoblade comparison

These first comparison screens from last year were vague enough to give me hope but…


But then this picture came out with the Nintendo Direct and…ick.

The fields and structures in the background just look…terrible. Super pixelated and muddy. The bottom screen is a boring black space of nothingness where a map and character portraits were cut and pasted. We haven’t heard of any sort of upgrades in the port that might persuade me even further. With things sitting this way I really don’t see a reason to act against my instincts, so that NEW 3DS will probably just be sitting on the shelf at Nintendo World.


One more bit of information came to my attention that has nearly killed any chance of me getting the NEW 3DS.

1)I was reminded that only the non-XL models of the 3DS would have changeable plates.

There are so many different colors and special editions for the 3DS that there’s bound  to be one cute enough to break throught darkness of any hear and bring a smile to any grump. The swappable plates offered even further cuteness and personalization. But, for reasons unexplained, this feature was limited to the small model. As NA is only going to be getting the XL, we will be missing the entire  face-plate craze! For now, unless you’re getting the special Majora’s Mask or Monster Hunter version, you can just get plain Red or Blue NEW 3DS. The EU region is even getting a super cool bundle with faceplates and a Mario DS cradle.  What  a NIntendont.