Jetsetter: Nintendo’s import future lies in the arts rather than games

jetsetter nintendo 3ds promising import future lies arts rather games louvre

Way back in the long, long ago of 1997, I was 15-years old and traveling across Europe for the very first time. While my horizons were certainly broadened by the journey, they were still limited by my teenage brain. Appreciation for the finer things in life was something I was still getting a handle on. For example, whilst visiting the Louvre in Paris, France, I could barely pay attention to the staggering collection of find art around me. How could I when I’d discovered a killer French import game store just hours before? They had the Japanese version of Final Fantasy VII! The German release of Terranigma! A Sega Saturn version of Mega Man X3. While everyone else was gawping at how very surprisingly small “La Gioconda” is – that’s “Mona Lisa” to y’all – the Jetsetter column devoted to import gaming was being born.

Pyramid_at_Louvre_Museum_Paris_France1Perhaps my distraction from one of the greatest repositories for human expression on Earth would have been different if the Nintendo 3DS existed back then. Forget the fact that the graphical oomph and Internet connectivity of a 3DS would have blown my mind out my ear at the time, what would have really grabbed me would be using a gaming device to engage in a real world location. Nintendo 3DS Guide: Louvre, a new slice of software made in conjunction with the museum, lets you tour its goods at home but also while browsing in person. Skip the bazillion Euro audio tour and jack in your 3DS headphones for a chance to hear the history of a DaVinci painting. Pretty sweet, right?

Louvre isn’t just a neat piece of information technology, it’s also the very first region-free Nintendo 3DS cartridge officially produced by Nintendo. Region-free, for the uninitiated, means that whether you buy the English or Japanese versions of the Louvre cartridge, it will work in any Nintendo 3DS console from around the world. Up to now, the 3DS has been miserably region-locked, keeping importers across the globe from trying out interesting games that likely won’t be localized for their particular country or culture. Like the Louvre itself, the Louvre cartridge shows there’s potential for the 3DS to become an international treasure trove. 

Hopes for import gaming represent just one facet of the Louvre package. The other is the evolution of the Nintendo 3DS as a multipurpose cultural tool. Nintendo has a long history of using its gaming machines to introduce non-gaming software for cultural enrichment. The Nintendo DS in particular led a wild second life around the world after it was introduced in 2006. While people were chowing down on games like New Super Mario Bros., Nintendo was lending out the Nintendo DS technology for other purposes.

photo_main

How’s this for an import experience:  sitting square in the middle of Kyoto’s temples is the Shigureden. A museum opened in 2006 thanks in no small part to financial contributions from former Nintendo president Hiroshi Yamauchi, Shigureden (pictured above) has a more focused collection than the Louvre. It’s devoted specifically to a specific type of Japanese poetry, tanka, and a card game called “Hyakunin Isshu Karuta.” It’s an austere space, dimly lit and layered with tiles of vividly painted tiles covered with traditional illustrations and poetry. Nintendo equipped the facility with custom Nintendo DSes when it opened so every visitor could read supplementary information about the poetry and history of Kyoto traditions, as well as play the card game and write their own poems. The Nintendo DS was an essential part of preserving a distinct pocket of the culture.

PS_3DS_Nintendo3DSGuideLouvre_enGBToday almost everyone visiting museums in these major world cities has an insanely advanced computer in their pocket. Phone or tablet, it’s technology more powerful and versatile than a Nintendo 3DS by a wide margin. An iPhone retina display can offer a far richer interactive visualization of the Louvre collection, that’s for sure. 

For my part though, I think the Louvre guide is more at home on a Nintendo 3DS than a phone or tablet. When I go to museums now, I’m inundated with a barrage of push notifications, text messages, Facebook updates, and Fantasy Football scores chirping out of my phone that keep me from paying attention. The best part about the Nintendo 3DS in the modern age is that it’s specific, meant for only certain tasks, so that when you’re using it there’s intent.

That’s the Nintendo 3DS’s role in the modern import landscape. Not a versatile, do anything device, but a home for games, art, and information to been consumed and paid attention to fully. Nintendo 3DS Guide: Louvre is such a small thing that could represent such a significant step.

Product Review

Huawei’s monster Mate 20 X makes the Galaxy Note 9 look small

The Huawei Mate 20 X has a 7.2-inch screen, but is surprisingly manageable to hold, yet still a little too big to carry around. Huawei’s pushing the phone’s ability as a mobile gaming handheld, challenging the Nintendo Switch.
Deals

The best Nintendo Switch deals and bundles for October 2018

Looking to score Nintendo's latest hybrid console? We've smoked out the best Nintendo Switch deals right here, including discounts on stand-alone consoles as well as bundles that feature games like Fortnite and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.
Gaming

You're not a true fan without these Nintendo Switch exclusives

Who doesn't love a good Nintendo game? If you're looking for great first-party titles for your Nintendo Switch, take a look at our list of the very best exclusives available right now.
Gaming

The hottest Nintendo Switch games you can get right now

The Nintendo Switch's lineup started off small, but games have steadily released as the console continues through its second year. Here are the best Nintendo Switch games available now, from Super Mario Odyssey to Fortnite.
Gaming

The best video games to gift this holiday season, from ‘Spider-Man’ to ‘Hitman 2’

The holidays are quickly approaching and you might be looking for ideas on what to get your favorite gamer. Here are the best games you can buy for your gaming loved ones this holiday season.
Gaming

Have problems with your Xbox One? We have the solutions

The Xbox One has evolved over the years, but so have its problems. Thankfully, we have solutions for some of the console's most enduring problems, whether you're experiencing issues with connectivity or your discs.
Gaming

Why are game studios run like sweat shops? The human toll of ‘crunch time’

After the revelation of 100-hour work weeks in Red Dead Redemption 2’s development, we spoke with a number of developers about what it’s like to work in crunch culture in the game industry.
Computing

Gaming on a laptop has never been better. These are your best options

Gaming desktops are powerful, but they tie you down to your desk. For those of us who prefer a more mobile experience, here are the best gaming laptops on the market, ranging from budget machines to maxed-out, wallet-emptying PCs.
Computing

Choose your weapon wisely -- these are the best keyboards for gaming on your PC

Your PC isn't complete without one of the best gaming keyboards on the planet. We have a list spanning full-sized models to compact versions from Razer, Cooler Master, Corsair, Logitech G, and more.
Gaming

How you can give your PS4 a fresh start with a factory reset

Learn the many ways you can factory reset your PS4. From reverting your settings to factory to doing a full wipe and reinstalling the latest PlayStation firmware, we cover it all here, step by step.
Gaming

The Xbox app lets you access your console while away from home. Here's how

Microsoft's Xbox app can't do it all, but it does allow you to access your profile information and launch media content directly from your mobile device. Check out our quick guide on how to connect your smartphone to an Xbox One.
Virtual Reality

Oculus Rift, HTC Vive head-to-head: Prices drop, but our favorite stays the same

The Oculus Rift and HTC Vive are the two big names in the virtual-reality arena, but most people can only afford one. Our comparison tells you which is best when you pit the Oculus Rift vs. HTC Vive.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: A.I.-powered cat toys, wallets, food containers

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Product Review

It's got game. But the Razer Phone 2 is still crippled by its camera

The Razer Phone 2 will impress with its gaming prowess and 120Hz screen. But if you care at all about taking pictures on your phone, skip it. While Razer has improved the camera, it’s still short of the competition.