Today Nintendo announced a new 2DS XL Pikachu Edition handheld to release this month, and enough is enough. I love Nintendo, and it’s one of the few companies I don’t mind throwing money at. However, it’s going too far with the constant special edition systems. Instead of coming out with an entirely new 3DS or Switch, Nintendo really needs to start looking into making cosmetics for its systems more affordable.
I personally own nine versions of the 3DS family of handhelds. Do I need nine different 3DS? No, I don’t. However, Nintendo has made it a habit of releasing special editions of systems that fans can hardly resist. Four of those systems are just regular upgrades, but I had to have the SNES edition of the 3DS XL, and when Nintendo announced it was stopping production of the New Nintendo 3DS I had to make sure to grab one before price scalpers made it a ludicrous possibility.
Nintendo knows how much its fans love its systems and IPs, and it capitalizes by releasing a steady stream of special edition consoles. Usually, this wouldn’t be too horrible, but the fact that everything Nintendo releases almost instantly becomes a rare and sought-after item makes it hard not to snatch up that Zelda 3DS when you see it.
This is compounded by the fact that a ton of these special consoles are locked to a particular territory. Take the SNES edition 3DS XL for example. I would have loved to had a North American version and one that followed the design of the PAL and Japanese version of the console, but the only solution there is to import. Given that 3DS software is region-locked, collectors often end up with hardware that can’t even play the software they have.
The New Nintendo 3DS almost side-stepped this issue entirely with the introduction of changeable faceplates. Instead of paying $200 for a new system, you could just drop $20-30 for a new faceplate set, slap them on the front and back, and get the same result as if you bought a new handheld. Inexplicably, Nintendo didn’t make the New Nintendo 3DS XL with swappable cover plates in mind, and the New Nintendo 3DS didn’t actually start selling in North America until almost eight months after the 3DS XL premiered.
Apparently, Nintendo has had cheap system customization in mind in the past, so what’s the deal? It’s not like there’s not a demand from people to customize their electronic devices. If there weren’t then kiosks in the mall wouldn’t still sell those horrid charms that people dangle out of the headphone jack on their smartphones.
Nintendo hasn’t been as bad about this with the Switch, but we’ve already seen a Monster Hunter XX edition console in Japan, so the time may come when we’re flooded with a deluge of special edition Switch consoles.
This might seem like an asinine thing to be upset about but consider this. As of 2017, there were 132 variations of the Nintendo 3DS you could buy across all territories. That number has increased since then, and it begs the question that why if Nintendo knows people want custom consoles, it doesn’t make it easier and more affordable for fans to get them.