Tony’s Time: Peripherals Aren’t Useless
Nintendo has gotten a reputation over the last six years of being a peripheral heavy company. The company has released a number of add-ons for their devices that they designed as a way to enhance a players gaming experience. Many of them are nothing more than a piece of plastic that you strap the Wii Remote into, or attach to the 3DS. Not only Nintendo themselves, but a number of third party companies have also created peripherals for not only the Wii and the 3DS, but the Xbox 360, the PS3, the iPhone and any other gaming device out there. Despite the fact that many people say that it’s a new thing peripherals have been around since the beginning of the era of video games.
These devices are designed because companies, like Nintendo or Mad Catz, think that there is a need or a desire for these devices. The Wii Remote is used as a steering wheel in a number of games and many people actually play the game that way. I’ve tried using the Wii Remote by itself to play Mario Kart Wii and it doesn’t work. The controller is not actually designed to be held in that manner to play the game and many of the buttons are hard or uncomfortable to reach. However, if you strap that controller into one of the plastic wheel shells it becomes immediately intuitive and easy to use. The peripheral did its job.
There has been one peripheral in the news over the last few weeks that I want to talk about. Can we please stop saying that the stand that comes packed in with Kid Icarus: Uprising is the most useless peripheral ever? There’s one site out there that has gone on record more than once declaring the stand to be useless. They compared it to the Wii Wheel in terms of how pointless a piece of plastic is. The person, who is actually a very well-known and respected member of the gaming community, has made more than one video declaring it, “the most pointless device ever created”. He doesn’t need it. He thinks the game is comfortable enough to play without it. I would ask him if he has ever made a video declaring crutches to be the most pointless things ever created by doctors. He doesn’t need them so why should they be made?
Many people have played the game and you can get reactions to the comfort from a number of different people and the opinions vary wildly. Some people say that they don’t need to stand because they don’t have any problem with the game and its controls as they are. Others will tell you that they found it almost impossible to play the game without it and as soon as they started using it the controls became easier to handle and the game was ultimately more playable. So those people are actually very glad that Nintendo decided to create the stand. In this instance it would be like a person who needs crutches because they are having trouble walking. With them it’s easier to move around, despite the limits placed on you. Without them they would be handicapped in some way that could be solved with the use of crutches. Some people are going to need the stand to play the game. Some people won’t. Some people like using the Wii Wheel to play Mario Kart while some don’t. These peripherals aren’t designed with everyone in mind. That’s also why Nintendo includes them for free with the games that they are designed for.
Now you also get those people that say if you need to create this device to make the game playable then the controls are broken and you need to fix them. They also will mention that there is another seemingly pointless peripheral for the system that would make the game easier to play. That may be a valid point, but in the end it’s a useless argument. The staff at Project Sora created Kid Icarus: Uprising with one control scheme in mind. They thought it was the best way to play the game, but felt some players may need a little help, because the system is a bit unwieldy if you hold it with one hand.
As of the time that I’m writing this I haven’t played the game yet, so I cannot attest to the necessity of the stand. I have played a number of first person shooters on the DS and the 3DS that all use similar control schemes. I found them to be generally very playable. I haven’t had any issues with comfort or pain while playing them. I was able to move along in the game with no problem. Is it the most ideal system or situation to be playing that style of game? No. Is it a good way to get around the control limitations of a system so that fans of that style of game can get those experiences? Absolutely. Do I think that the Circle Pad Pro would have been a better solution to the issue of the controls? Without playing the game I would say yes, but I can’t answer that question until I have played the game.
I do however think that there will be a good benefit to having the 3DS stand and I’m glad it’s coming packed with the game. I spend a lot of time at my kitchen table writing articles, like this one, and news stories for the site. Many nights I have my 3DS sitting on the table next to me with the screen propped up so I can have Netflix running as background noise. I’m currently watching through the entire run of Star Trek: The Next Generation. It’s nice having the system there with me, but if I want to see what’s happening on screen I have to look down at the system. The stand will allow me to prop the 3DS up and get it off the table so that the controls for Netflix and the screen itself will be higher allowing me to more easily see the show.
In the end, these peripherals are designed to help some people have a better experience playing the game. They’re not designed for use by everyone. Some people will find that they don’t need them. If that’s the case you didn’t lose anything by getting the stand with the game. It didn’t cost you anything. Throw it out if you don’t want it. Some people, on the other hand, will greatly benefit from the use of the stand and it will be a great value proposition for them. It didn’t cost anything. It doesn’t take up much room in a drawer or on a shelf. It’s not hurting anyone by being made. So just leave it alone. Peripherals aren’t bad. Some people will see them as worthless, but just as many people will find a good use for them and are glad that they’re around. Is the 3DS stand going to be the most useless peripheral ever created? I don’t think it will. Maybe for some people, but for many they will find a use for it, even if it wasn’t the intended use. Does it deserve the ridicule it’s getting? Not at all.