Big Screen Movies Come to Nintendo’s Smallest Screen

Netflix is launching today on the Nintendo 3DS. It’s not the most natural partnership, but it could be great news for parents.

The service is only available to existing Netflix subscribers, and it’s likely this will be restricted to those with a streaming subscription now the company is offering three different unlimited packages (streaming + discs, streaming only, and discs only.) The app itself is free of charge and can be downloaded from the Nintendo eShop. It will sync with Netflix access on other devices so, for example, you can start watching a movie on the 3DS and then pick up where you left off through the Wii.

Clearly for lovers of big screen, high definition movies, this isn’t exactly a winner: the 3DS only has 240 horizontal lines, is a relatively small screen, and has a screen shape that’s too wide even for movie theatre resolutions.

Still, my guess is it’s going to appeal mainly to parents who wouldn’t dream of giving their kids an iPad or a smartphone, but are still looking for a way to keep them occupied without surrending control of either the TV set or computer. Unfortunately the service works by Wi-Fi streaming, so unless you have a portable hotspot such as the MiFi, it’s not going to work on long car journeys. Parents will be able to control which movies are watched through both the 3DS itself and the settings on the Netflix account.

For now at least, the Netflix movies will only be available in 2D. However, Nintendo itself is launching a separate service in Europe and Japan today that allows free downloads of both 2D and 3D videos, with a US version expected later this year. It appears the videos will be more in the realm of demo clips than Hollywood movies.

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