It seemed obvious when the Nintendo DSi first debuted: offering classic Game Boy titles from Nintendo's decades-long back library would be a perfect fit and a no-brainer parallel to the Virtual Console on the Wii.
But it never happened. Now the upcoming Nintendo 3DS, which won't be released in the U.S. until 2011, will rectify this with a Virtual Console of its own, according to a Nintendo announcement released early this morning. That's great news, but there are a few more surprises that the 3DS unveiled--some of which we had been expecting in the Nintendo DSi, and a few we already knew about that have been revealed in slightly more detail.
Finally, transferred games: The Nintendo DSi, despite being capable of downloading games, had no way to transfer those files to another machine after purchase. The 3DS will allow game transfers from a DSi, according to Nintendo. This functionality has been long overdue, although it's not clear whether this is a "one-time transfer" or a way to license games to multiple devices. We assume it's the former.
Game Boy Virtual Console: The Virtual Console on the Wii is still a great repository of old-school entertainment at mostly reasonable prices. Not much is known yet about the 3DS Virtual Console, but it will exist, and it will support Game Boy and Game Boy Color titles at the least. Various reports suggest Game Boy Advance games may also be part of the equation. We sincerely hope that's true (and can't imagine why it wouldn't be; after all, the original DS was GBA backward-compatible). That immediately adds a tremendous back library to the 3DS.
Better Wi-Fi: The 3DS will able to pick up Wi-Fi even in sleep mode, enabling tagging features and overnight downloads of game updates. This could be useful in persistent games such as Animal Crossing.
3D support for classic Nintendo games: Nintendo showed demos of a 3D Ocarina of Time and other classic N64/DS games in 3D back at E3. It looks likely that we'll see a classic line of Nintendo games in cartridge format. Will 3D carry over to Virtual Console games as well? Hey, we wouldn't mind a few Virtual Boy games for novelty's sake.
Better third-party support promised: Nintendo's game systems have been notorious for being showcases for first-party games, lacking significant support for many third-party franchises. The 3DS aims to address this problem right off the bat, with more-mature Metal Gear, Resident Evil, and Ninja Gaiden titles all announced. Whether this trend continues remains to be seen.