Nintendo 3DS Launch: Better Than We Thought

According to many, Nintendo's March 27 3DS launch was a huge disappointment. The system was overpriced at $249.99, consumers complained the glasses free 3D gave them headaches and a lack of compelling software (the absence of Mario the biggest sticking point) gave shoppers little reason to fork over their hard-earned dough.

You have to admit, Pilotwings Resort was really good.

Even the aftermath left critics shaking their heads, as the big N announced it had failed to meet its sales target, four million units, within the first month; it settled for roughly 3.6 million worldwide.

That said, expect to see "3DS Launch" on numerous "Worst Moments of 2011" articles, and for Sony to bring it up right before the company's February 22 PlayStation Vita debut, which promises to have one of the more impressive game lineups in history.

With this in mind, was it really that bad? Considering how things turned out, with 3DS surpassing first year DS sales in just eight months, the launch wasn't as crippling as many would have you believe. On the contrary, it was quite good, not only for the end of March, but because it helped Nintendo lay the groundwork for a successful year.

Super Street Fighter IV 3D was a fine launch title.

Consider early adopters, the ones who purchased the handheld at $249.99. A hefty sum, sure, but they did have quality games to choose from, including Pilotwings Resort, Nintendogs + Cats, Super Street Fighter IV: 3D Edition and Ridge Racer 3D. Yes, none of those titles hold a proverbial candle to Super Mario 3D Land, but they still provide several hours of enjoyment while showing off the machine's capabilities.

Not only that, but these people were inducted into the 3DS Ambassadors Program when Nintendo dropped the price of the system to $169.99 in August. As a result, they received 20 free games, split among NES and Game Boy Advance. Considering the haul (The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap, Super Mario Bros., Metroid Fusion), the additional $80 seems worth it. In fact, we're willing to bet some $169.99 owners wish they had picked up the system earlier, just for the sake of enjoying those classics on the go.

Had everyone purchased 3DS at $249.99, there would be no Ambassadors Program.

As for Mario, withholding the plumber from the launch allowed Nintendo to release not only 3D Land, but also Mario Kart 7 during the busy holiday season, and within a few weeks of each other. The result? Two critically acclaimed and million selling games when 3DS needed a huge boost.

Not only that, but the backlash will help both 3DS and Wii U owners in the long run. Nintendo has a phenomenal sounding 3DS portfolio in 2012, comprised of potential hits like Paper Mario 3DS and Luigi's Mansion 2. At the same time, the whining over the initial price of 3DS and collection of games will probably encourage Mario and Co. to sell its Wii U console at a lower price than initially intended, while delivering a biggest number of must have games.

Releasing Super Mario 3D Land during the holidays was huge for Nintendo.

Was it smart to overcharge for 3DS? No, perhaps not. Should Mario have been there? It's debatable. Had he showed up, would Nintendo have had such a huge November and December?

Bottom line, the 3DS launch was better than most people think, and will quickly become a distant memory if sales remain strong.

Watch out, Nintendo critics. 3DS is set to explode.