Today’s announcement of Nintendo’s new, entry level handheld the 2DS left me excited but also pondering what could come in the future. While I applaud the idea of creating a version of the 3DS that will let more cash-strapped gamers in on the fun, what I wish Nintendo would do next is follow in the footsteps of a competitor; Neo Geo.
The Neo Geo X is essentially a portable Neo Geo with games downloaded to SD cards. The handheld itself looks sort of like a marriage between a PSP and an iPhone, but the charging dock (for the Neo Geo X Gold models, anyway) is a recreation of the original Neo Geo that opens like a clam shell for you to insert the device. For fans of the original, the Neo Geo X is an excellent nod to the original while simultaneously pushing the brand into the future. What I’d like to see Nintendo do is make their own version of this wonderful little time machine.
Think of the endless possibilities if Nintendo began making recreations of their old handhelds. Take the basic form factor of the original handhelds and incorporate modern features like internal memory, back lit screens, and rechargeable batteries. Collectors and fans would love to get their hands on reproductions of these old classics and be able to download dozens of titles to them. A wifi-enabled Game Boy with a 32-gig SD card? Yes, please!
I’m not suggesting eliminate the Virtual Console, of course. I love that the service brings so many different games together onto one device along with new titles and I never want to see that go away. What I’m positing is that Nintendo’s name and back catalog is so strong that they could easily branch out and reach a more niche audience within the gaming community.
It’s not that consumers have never embraced this sort of idea before, after all. Pass through any Walmart or Target during the holiday season and you’ll see replicas of Colecos and Ataris pre-loaded with games; there’s even an excellent reproduction of the SEGA Genesis available! The videogame industry is so old at this point that there are legions of fans from different generations who love to relive the games of their youth, so why not appease Nintendo fans the same way?
While I believe keeping the form factor the same is essential to drawing in fans (and keeping things fun!), the inclusion of modern amenities like wifi and rechargeable batteries is equally integral in order to keep things accessible for new and old fans. Being able to download games directly into these devices would keep costs low for Nintendo and open the doors for games that wouldn’t have a shot of seeing re-release otherwise. A move like this could both please older fans and bring attention to games that might otherwise go ignored sitting in silence within the walls of the eShop.
Some might say this isn’t the most practical move for a videogame company to make, but for Nintendo it would be child’s play. The Game Boy continues to have massive brand-recognition and would be the perfect launching pad to make something like this happen. Here’s hoping that Nintendo can one day bring its own version of the Neo Geo X to the marketplace!