Talking tech since 2003

portable-n64Take a look at the portable Nintendo 64 pictured to the right. This custom-built device runs on a battery and plays all of your favorite N64 classics. It manages to squeeze almost all of the buttons in — the d-pad didn’t make the cut — but, on the downside, it’s a bit thick. You can attribute that thickness to the fact that it must house Nintendo 64 cartridges, which are kind of thick themselves.

Well, that and it has an entire Nintendo 64 system inside of it.

But while I’m complaining, let me also take issue with the form factor of this portable Nintendo 64. For a portable machine, it isn’t very portable. You won’t be putting it in a pocket. Heck, it’ll take up a lot of room in a backpack. And it lacks the clamshell design that most modern Nintendo portables use, which lets you pocket the device or toss it into a bag without worrying about damage to the screen.

Really, it feels like it was designed by someone who doesn’t have millions of dollars in resources. And that’s because it was. This portable Nintendo 64 was created by a fan of the system who didn’t have R&D, a design team and a professional manufacturing system in place.

nintendo-2dsNow, let’s look at the Nintendo 2DS.

Here’s a portable that had the full faith and credit of Nintendo’s bank accounts behind it. It had access to Nintendo’s research and development team. It was given the thumbs up by Nintendo’s designers. And yet I can’t stop looking at it and wondering what the hell happened — how Nintendo, a company that has owned the portable market ever since the first Game Boy was released, could green light the 2DS.

I certainly don’t doubt the market for portable gamers who can do without 3D. What I do question is how many people are going to look at the 2DS and be attracted to the reduced portability and the exposed screens. Those who plan on taking this system anywhere will need to invest in a case for it, and if you spend even $15 on a case, you’re only $15 away from the original $160 3DS.

That system uses the clamshell design and can fit into a pocket. And if you don’t like the 3D effect, you can turn the slider down. Problem solved.

The button placement is a bit odd. How many tablet owners hold their tablets in the middle while in portrait mode? Not many, because it’s awkward. Yet that’s what Nintendo is asking gamers to do with the 2DS. And the slate design also knocks out some of the usefulness the 3DS packed in. Example: being able to place the system on a table and play Netflix on the hinged display.

The 2DS follows the lead of pretty much every other product that’s come out of Nintendo, lately. The system serves a purpose but has flaws that cannot be ignored. The kind of flaws that should have killed this product in the idea phase, back when people were sitting around a tablet asking, “Okay, it doesn’t do 3D. What are its other features?”

Except someone at that table probably said, “It doesn’t need any! Just knock $30 off the price and market it to little kids. That’ll be our target market. Little kids who have dumb parents.”

GameTrailers joked about the 2DS, saying it hoped Nintendo would combine the 2DS and the Wii U into a “how to look like idiots and sink a major company straight to the bottom of shit ocean” bundle. As ugly as Wii U sales have been and this 2DS system is, such a bundle is not out of the realm of possibility.

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