VG Tribune

Opinion: 3DS Games Should Be 3D!

January 23, 2015 / 2:07 PM

By: Zac Erickson

3DS Games Should Be 3D!

On the most recent episode of Nintendo Dads, I went on a bit of a rant about the fact that Citizens of Earth on 3DS didn’t have any 3D effect to speak of. A while back, I had similar complaints about Ultimate NES Remix. Other games that have come done this include Pokemon Battle Trozei and, of course, Pokemon X/Y and Pokemon ORAS. This is becoming more and more common, and it is a pretty big issue for me.

Reasons NOT To Make Your Game 3D

First, let’s tackle a few of the reasons why developers don’t put 3D into their games. First, especially in multiplatform games, adding in 3D is potentially a lot of extra work. I think this is likely the biggest reason the Citizens of Earth on the 3DS isn’t 3D. Can you imagine if they would have had the resources to make it 3D though? The classic Earthbound psychedelic background recessed into the background during battles would have added depth to the visuals, and 3D parallax effects always look great. Overall, I get that opting for a 2D only game is a cost-cutting measure, but I think it’s one that ultimately hurts the final product.

In the case of Pokemon XY/ORAS, the reason that the game jumps between 2D and 3D seems pretty obvious: the game engine could handle 3D in areas that were high in polygon count. As soon as you enter a 1v1 battle or a secluded area like a cave, the 3D usually kicks in, and it looks great. However, frame rates take a hit as a result. In the long term, I’m hoping that this year’s Pokemon title will be consistently 3D on the New 3DS.

Finally, some games may just not benefit from the 3D effect very well. Both Pokemon Battle Trozei, a matching puzzle game, and Ultimate NES Remix, a NES minigame collection, are most likely examples of this. Would adding 3D to those games’ core gameplay benefit the way it handles or the way you experience? Some would argue no, but every time I turn those games off, they feel flat when compared to other games on the system.

Why 3D in 3DS Games is Essential

I’m sure there are more reasons why devs don’t use 3D, but let’s move on to reasons why it’s important to implement 3D, even if minimally, in every 3DS title. Naturally, this logic doesn’t apply to things like Virtual Console. However, take a look at the 3D Classics from both Nintendo and Sega and you’ll see that even those games can benefit from 3D.

Reason #1: The 3D Comeback is Nigh

Granted, the 3D on the 3DS up until now has been less than stellar. However, with the arrival of the New 3DS systems, and their improved 3D effect, 3D is due for a comeback. More people will be using the 3D while playing games. The number of people who will be disappointed by no 3D is going to grow. I don’t think its unreasonable to expect consistent 3D across the board if people want to use it.

Reason #2: Expectations Are Everything

Have you ever paid the extra money to go to a 3D movie, only to find out that there was literally no 3D in the entire movie? It’s infuriating. When you go to a 3D movie, you expect to get a 3D movie. Similarly, the Nintendo 3DS is a 3D system. “3D” is in the name. Nintendo has created a handheld experience that is consistently 3D 99% of the time. In the cases of both Ultimate NES Remix and Citizens of Earth, I purchased the game, downloaded it, and then realized it wasn’t in 3D. I felt like these games weren’t playing by the rules, especially since there was no indication during my online buying experience that these games would only be in 2D. There’s nothing quite like a disappointing first impression.

Reason #3: Do Your Best Work

My Grandpa was a cowboy, he’s old school, and he don’t take no s*** from nobody. I remember him teaching me an important lesson as he forced me to work around his stable: “Anything that’s worth doing is worth doing well.” That’s what makes me so angry about this. A 2D only game on a 3D platform is a sub-par product. I see games like Shovel Knight and Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse, and I see games that saw an opportunity to use the 3D effect to improve the experience. Moon Chronicles is an example of a DS port that received extra love and care to bring the visuals and 3D effect, and it is better for it. In fact, I challenge you to name a single game that was harmed by the 3D effect. It hasn’t happened.

I think Nintendo could do more to encourage developers to use the features of the system. At the very least, it should be made very clear that the 3D effect is not used when purchasing games on the eShop. I really don’t think that it should be up to the consumer to fact check any time they make a purchase. Just like when we walk into the showing of a 3D movie, we should be able to trust that when we purchase a 3DS game, it will be in 3D.

About the author /


Neuroscientist. Podcaster. Father. Geek. Zac has always preferred handheld gaming over consoles, and spent a big chunk of his youth with his face buried in his Gameboy. He has a wide range of professional interests, mostly centered on a multidisciplinary approach to improving quality-of-life, multimedia approaches to education, and the gamification of self-improvement.

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