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I have to admit that I really like the idea of the Vita TV. It’s a nice, small console that plays most of the Vita’s retail games and the Vita’s (as well as the PSP’s) PSN games, which includes the plethora of indie games. It also beat the Ouya and Gamestick at its own game, and it really makes everyone who’s slightly interested in the Vita into more-than-potential buyers. It made me think, should Nintendo do the same with their current handheld and make a Nintendo 2DS TV?
Playing Handheld Games on TV? Nintendo’s Done It.
Nintendo fans know that if they did create a 2DS TV, that it wouldn't be Nintendo’s first time making this sort of device. In fact they did it three times already. In 1994, Nintendo released the Super Game Boy, a Super Nintendo cartridge that actually had the guts of a Game Boy within it. Then in 2003, Nintendo did the same thing for Game Boy Advance games, but on a GameCube. The peripheral had the GBA’s hardware in it and you needed a boot disk to access the device. The third device was limited to only playing Pokémon games on TV when Nintendo made the Transfer Pak for the Nintendo 64’s two Pokémon Stadium titles. All was needed after buying these add-ons were the games and you were set!
I wouldn’t have thought it was possible to do a device of this sort with the dual-screened DS since the TV was sort of lacking a second screen, and I doubted any positive “let’s put both screens on the TV” theories after playing the DS-to-Wii port of Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Echoes of Time(shown below). But then the Wii U was announced in 2011, and it tailored to everything a Nintendo device needed to play DS and 3DS games on the TV.
I also thought it was impossible for 3DS games to be on the TV because of Nintendo’s push to have people play the games in 3D. But since many 3DS owners admit that they never use it mixed with the announcement of the 2DS whose main feature is the lack of the 3D screen among others, Nintendo has come to terms of what the consumer actually wants. With those two obstacles in the way, there’s only one limitation: the thing doesn't have a 3DS card slot.
Can Nintendo Make 3DS Games Work on the TV?
There’s the idea of making a standalone 2DS TV and making it its own console, much like how Sony’s doing it for the Vita TV. The problem with that is that I doubt something like that would catch on because it’ll be expensive to make a Gamepad-like controller for the second screen since a Wii U Pro Controller just couldn't compensate. It works for Vita TV because the Dualshock 3/4 are easier controllers to work it with and there aren't many games that the Vita TV can’t play. To alienate the second screen on the DS/3DS is to alienate many of the biggest games on the system. A standalone 2DS TV simply wouldn't beat the Vita TV at its own game. Instead it’ll be a better idea to add value to the Wii U by making it two current-gen Nintendo consoles in one.
I won’t go far pushing a peripheral that has 3DS games plug into the USB port for obviously negative reasons, but it made me think if Nintendo should slap a 3DS card slot into the Gamepad or the console itself. Doing the latter would screw over the current Wii U audience who are the big Nintendo fans who would eat this up. Putting it in the Gamepad however would be cheaper for the consumer and will be an easier sell to those who might want a second Gamepad for when games that support multiple Gamepads come out (whenever the hell that is BTW).
The easiest, fastest and most Nintendo-friendly theory is to not bother finagling a 3DS card slot into the Wii U, and limit the ability to play these games on your TV to 3DS eShop games only. It supports Nintendo’s current push of digital sales while allowing users to choose their device(s). The only thing that is holding this back is the lack of a unified Nintendo Network with multiple Wii U and/or 3DS systems, a fix Nintendo has announced they are working on. You’d bet that I’d second-guess buying games like Pokémon X or Batman Arkham Origins Blackgate on a cartridge if I gained the ability to play them on a Wii U too.
Would Playing 3DS Games on the TV Work Well?
Here’s where the trouble lies. If we assume Nintendo took my last idea of making 3DS eShop games available to play on the Wii U, you would have to worry about taking a game running in the resolution of 400 X 240 (256 X 192 on the regular DS) and blowing it up on a large 1920 X 1080 TV.
This was never an issue for Game Boy games in the past since standard-def TVs were widely used back then and sprite-based games generally don’t look bad on bigger screens. The Nintendo DS and 3DS allowed polygonal games to be made and games like Super Mario 64 DS or Animal Crossing New Leaf wouldn't translate well to a TV display. These games could just use part of the TV like how the PSP did with its component cables, but people don’t buy 50+” TVs to use a quarter of its display.
Because of how horrible games would look on the TV, I doubt Nintendo will develop any sort of device for 3DS games to be displayed on them. I also believe they won’t ever do one again until they develop a handheld that outputs in a resolution that’ll work well with the outputted display. It will work for Vita since their games output natively in qHD that translates well to a HDTV, but Nintendo isn’t in that territory yet. And in all honesty, I don’t think they even care yet.