Getting my 3DS
Nintendo handhelds; the past and the present.
We’ve all been Nintendo fans at some point in our lives. My generation will remember the big N for the SNES way back in the day in the early 90s. Then the famous N64, then the infamous GameCube, and finally the term now synonymous with every household in the world: the Wii.
My infatuation with Nintendo, however, was always with their handheld consoles. The home consoles were always out my league because they were too expensive, and back then my house had just one TV. In between movies, news, soap operas and cartoons, I knew that in my family of five I’d probably never get the time to play games on the TV. Handhelds though, they were a whole different ball game.
My first introduction to the original Game Boy wasn’t until ’94 when one of my classmates brought one to class just to show it off. Man was I jealous of that cool looking grey brick with green screen that had black blocks falling. Still, I never got it. Then came the Game Boy Color and my best friend bought it in ’99. The GBC was a thing of pure beauty. See through purple casing and all those falling blocks in color! And what’s this Pokémon business of collecting them all? One of the best weeks of my life as a child was when I borrowed that GBC from him, that’s what best friends are for after all. Then came the Game Boy Advance and the GBA SP, both of which I couldn’t get my hands on because I was too busy with my high school exams. O & A Levels were tough in my day.
I did have a casual fling with the Game Boy Micro, but the only game I managed to play on it was Riviera: The Promised Land. Cool as it was though, I sold GBM before going blind by reading all that text on that miniscule screen.
And then there was the Nintendo DS, released in the final year of university. I remember ordering it from the first batch from Lik-Sang (one of the best import sites that Sony sued out of existence!) and actually leaving in the middle of my lecture as the UPS guy called me up for the delivery. I had many a good year with the NDS thanks to titles like Advance Wars, Trace Memory, Castlevanias and too many JRPGs to list. Those were good times indeed. Slowly though, the NDS library started to stagnate, and the entire thing took a turn for worst with “casual games” for babyz and ponyz, going the way of the Wii. Since a long time my DSi has been collecting dust, and now it seems fated to stay that way. And that’s because now I have a 3DS.
Until very recently getting a Nintendo console always meant waiting for months after “worldwide” launch to get your hands on a unit when they’re available in the bigger retail stores through grey market imports. And then too, you’d most likely end up paying way more than actual suggested retail price. Don’t even get me started on the daylight robbery going on at the Wii’s launch, but that was a worldwide pandemic, so I guess I can’t really blame local retailers.
Imagine my surprise, then, when I learned that the 3DS not only launched mere days after the official launch in US and Europe, but also with the complete games library. Active Gulf FZCO did a great job of localizing the whole package for the region. And by localization I don’t mean Arabic manuals and all, but the simple fact that on the packaging of the 3DS and first party titles it says official product for UAE & KSA. It just gives me a warm and fuzzy feeling inside that these are Nintendo products that are “officially” available here and not just grey market imports. What makes me even happier is the knowledge that the 3DS and its games are sold at the US equivalent pricing, i.e. AED 1,100 for the unit and AED 170 for games. Of course, this doesn’t come as a surprise since the 3DS we get here is the American version.
People might be wondering why we didn’t get the PAL version that’s also being sold here through grey market imports. Well, I’m not really sure why, but I’m happy we’re getting the US version. First, because those PAL games are selling for AED 230+ and the 3DS is going for AED 1,399. You can clearly see what’s the better deal here.
The sad thing is that Nintendo has made the 3DS region locked, so PAL games won’t work on a US console, and vice versa. This is going to segregate the market unnecessarily. Again, I’m not sure why the grey market imports are still selling at bigger retail stores, but I’m glad that the official products here are cheaper. And if history has taught us anything, it’s that those amongst us who’re interested in getting 3rd party Japanese titles will want the official “US” console because PAL gets those releases after ages (due to slow localization), if ever.
All in all I’m happy that the 3DS is easily available here. This will be my 3rd Nintendo handheld console and I can’t wait to try out some of the higher profile games that’ll be coming out soon. E3 will obviously be the place to see when the real system sellers will be coming, and from whom. Interestingly I’m also looking forward to Ocarina of Time, not because of the nostalgia factor, but because this is the first time I’ll be playing it. Having never owned a Nintendo home console, first party titles and platform exclusives is something that I have always missed out on. Hopefully Project Café will be good enough for me to invest time and money into it.