Kid Icarus AR Card Nightmare

26 03 2012

Now that the Nintendo 3DS game Kid Icarus Uprising has hit the streets, we finally can get a glimpse behind the curtain at Nintendo’s end game regarding this title.  The answer is, marketing.  What was the question, you ask?  The question was, why did this game get delayed so much?  It was one of the first announced titles for the 3DS and it’s taken a long time to get it into consumer’s hands.  I haven’t had a chance to play the game proper yet, but I have been noticing some very telling trends on Nintendo’s part.

The big lure for me when it comes to Ikarus Uprising is the augmented reality aspect of the game.  I’m a sucker for “new tech” like this (although it really isn’t that new) and I collected baseball cards as a kid, so being able to play a little collectable card game in 3D seems cool to me.  Sort of like a mix of Battle Chess and that game C3PO and Chewbacca played on the Millennium Falcon in Star Wars.  There’s only one catch, though: getting the cards.  As I wrote about previously, Kid Icarus Uprising AR cards are being offered up for ¥100 ($1.20) a pop with chocolate snacks in Japan, but that totals only 20 cards and Nintendo has promised “hundreds”, a figure I initially poopooed; but now seems rather likely after seeing this:

 

 

That is the official Kid Icarus Uprising strategy guide.  It comes with 24 AR cards for a price of ¥980 ($12.00).  Granted, that beats the price of having to buy single random cards with snack (the chocolate puffs are delicious, though) because you run a high risk of getting doubles; but then I saw this as well:

 

DS + Wii and Nintendo Dream magazines

 

Two different Nintendo magazines offering even more cards.  But the cards being offered in DS + Wii and Nintendo Dream magazines overlap with the cards that come with the guide and the cards offered up with the snacks.  For example, the card for Black Pit (Dark Pit in the US… you could never get away with calling him Black Pit in the States) comes with the guide and with DS + Wii magazine.  Alternately, the card of Death, which I got by buying the Ikarus chocolate snacks, is also comes with Nintendo Dream.  This makes collecting a full set of the cards very confusing and costly.  In the instance that you were to get lucky and get every card from the snack series without any doubles (a statistical improbability) the cost to get all the cards I’ve seen would be ¥4,750 ($57.50), just ¥630 ($8.00) shy of the cost of the actual game.

In the past, Nintendo did something similar with the e-Card reader for the Game Cube and the Game Boy Advance.  For the game Dobutsu no Mori (Animal Crossing) you could buy packs of cards that added various items to the game.  You could also play various Nintendo branded collectable card games using the device.  What we’re seeing with Icarus is a revisiting of that same strategy.  There is no way anyone can underestimate the amount of money Nintendo has made selling Pokémon cards.  If Icarus captures even a fraction of the interest that Pokémon has, the Big N is in for another cash haul, and that speaks loads for the future of Nintendo released 3DS games.  Imagine being able to buy packs of cards that upgrade your carts in the next Mario Kart.  How many would those sell?  I guarantee that the next Pokémon card game will be 3DS AR enabled.  That’s going to move cards and systems.  The technological implications are cool, but think about the cost to you, the consumer.  If I didn’t own a 3DS and wanted to get into this card thingy, my cost to buy the system, game, and cards would be ¥25,130 ($304), a sizable investment.  And that’s not even including the cards I don’t know about yet.  Kids can’t afford that.  Just when did playing video games become less about having fun and more about making an investment?


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