Second, the control inputs are arguably better. While the 3DS added an analog “slider” (essentially a more comfortable nub than what was on the PSP), the NGP will have two analog sticks. Not only will this maximize comfort, this will also make it easier to play shooters and racers on the system. On top of that, there will be a multitouch pad on the back of the system that is a 1:1 replica of the front touchscreen. Games like Little Deviants make compelling use of this, as you “pinch” characters using both touch inputs.
And while we’re on the subject of touchscreens, why does the 3DS still come with a stylus? It’s mostly useless unless you have to input something on a tiny, on-screen keyboard. It’s like the last 4 years of iPhones and Androids never happened. As it stands, it’s just something that you might lose if you’re not careful.
The NGP’s online functionality will be worlds better
Oh, Nintendo. Every time they try to take a step forward, they make it in the clumsiest way possible. For example, friend codes on the 3DS are easier to manage than they were on the DS and Wii. However, your friends list is a cluttered mess. You have to scroll allll the way to the front of your list to add someone new, which becomes a pain as your list gets bigger and bigger. And while you can see what your friends are playing, you can’t send them messages or invites. It’s cumbersome as hell.
With what we know about the NGP’s online so far, it should have zero issue making the 3DS look silly in this regard. We already know that you’ll be able to collect trophies as you do on your PS3, and connecting with your friends will undoubtedly be easier with the use of your PSN ID. With just this alone I’m already excited about going online with the NGP.
But why stop there? We know that Sony will offer 3G connectivity with the NGP, which depending on the data provider can be either a gift or a curse. How cool would it be to download a PSP mini on your morning commute, or to play Killzone against your buddies online while your bored at a family reunion? So long as Sony steers clear of buddying up with AT&T, it brings about some exciting possibilities.
Finally, think about downloading games. While it will be able to download old Game Boy and DSi/3DSWare games, it’s impossible to download full retail games to your system. While the argument that an all-digital download marketplace is still a long way out is valid, it will happen eventually, and probably sooner than we think. Sony and Microsoft have embraced this by offering full retail downloads for their machines, while Nintendo have neglected that part of the market completely. All NGP games will be available for download day and date with their retail counterparts; why can’t I do that with my 3DS? There’s a perfectly fine SD card slot sitting right there.
In typical Nintendo fashion, they’re already behind the online arms race before everyone else is even ready to start. It would be fantastic if they could one day get their act together — make it easy to connect with and play with friends, make it so people want to publish and buy games digitally, yada yada — but I don’t see that happening anytime soon.
So there you have it. As it stands now, I’m extremely happy with my 3DS, even if it’s currently lacking in games. I’m also absolutely stoked about the NGP releasing later this year, and I’ll be there on day one to get my hands on it. While we won’t know how this handheld war will pan out until the NGP sees the light of day, I do know this: Round 2 will be a lot more interesting than Round 1.