Ever since June 2010 when Satoru Iwata brought the 3DS out on stage at E3, the gaming world has been really anxious to get its hands (and eyes) on the 3DS and see what this system can do and how it can do 3D without the “goofy goggles”. Japan has had it for a while, but today the system released in the states.
Size, Shape and Controls
When it comes to size, the only minor differences is that the DS Lite is just a little bit longer on top and it looks to me like the D-pad on the DS Lite is a bit bigger. I keep my DS Lite for two reasons. One, it is the Zelda special edition DS that came with Phantom Hourglass, and two, it plays my GBA games.
I really like the analog nub. I like using it for Lego Star Wars III and Pilotwings and I think I’m really going to like this once I start playing Zelda, Star Fox and Kid Icarus. I also like the move of the power button to the bottom half of the right side. And while I like the idea of start/select/home in the middle, I don’t like how the buttons are underneath the surface; I don’t find them easy to press.
The system looks really well made as Cosmo Black and Aqua Blue make the 3DS a shiny-looking machine. We’re so used to the Game Boy and DS systems getting frequent redesigns, and while Nintendo is good enough to find ways to do it, I think that with this being an evolution of the DSi in every sense, they did a fine job with the form factor and I think it will be tough to improve upon it in the near future. I’m really loving the aqua blue color I have, but I’m sure more colors will be out as special editions of Zeldas and Pokemons and all those games come out for 3DS.
The 3D cameras on the front of the system allow you the opportunity to make your world look like Pandora, except with less blue and better storytelling (Ba dum-kish!). Anyways, showing pictures won’t do any justice for 3D, but it’s pretty neat to see a picture of someone sitting on a chair and seeing the depth of the rest of the room behind them. The camera’s obviously aren’t phone quality, but the camera’s main purpose are for games, not your vacation to Cancun (though girls in bikinis in 3D sounds kinda awesome). The photos below are taken with the use of the AR cards the 3DS came with.
MiiMaker is just like the Mii Channel on the Wii, but you can use the inner camera to take a picture and let the 3DS form a face for you. I expect most people to find the results rather unflattering (me and Xcom weren’t fans of what we got), so you can work from that and customize if you want, or just forgo the picture and build your own.
Internet is not available yet, nor is DSiWare or Netflix. Internet should be quite basic and included with the console, and I think there’s lost revenue for Nintendo in not having the store available while people are just getting the system in their hands and looking for games to buy.
3D 3D 3D
As you start using the 3DS, it might take a bit of time to grasp the visual aesthetic of seeing 3D without the glasses. After all, “3D without the glasses” was a dream years ago, if even that since we’re just so used to being handed glasses as we walk into a movie theater. To me, the 3D depth slider should be a simple on/off switch. You can kind of make out the difference between 100% and 50%, but if you’re into 3D, might as well go the whole 9 yards.
There is a sort of “sweet spot” where you’ll have to hold the 3DS in direct line with your eyesight, or else the image won’t have the effect you want it to. This makes watching someone else play the 3DS tough. When I was hanging out at Xcom’s place, to watch his brother play Street Fighter, I sat on top of the couch with an eagle’s viewpoint over his shoulder to see a decent image of the game.
When you update the system for the first time, an OK Go music video is added to your home screen. I’ll leave the opinions of the music and the accompanying video up to you, but I think it’s a “OK” display of the 3DS’ depth. Man… I really didn’t wanna use that pun…
Two quick gripes to start off. One, Nintendo needs to change the packaging of 3DS games. The simple moving of the system label from left to right is boring. There’s got to be some way of making it look more appealing and really selling home the point of 3D. Make it look more like the Wii’s game packaging. The other thing is the included stylus, which is a bit shorter and thinner than the one my DS Lite has.
Super Street Fighter IV is visually the most impressive 3DS game available now. It’s use of 3D is quite good at displaying depth from the characters to the levels and all of the on-screen text that’s shown. It’s close to the same Super Street Fighter IV that came out on consoles last April in terms of features. The addition of the 3D Versus mode puts the camera angle on your back in an attempt to better show off the 3D visuals, but when me and Xcom played, we liked the traditional viewing angle of Versus mode better. The new cool/cheat feature is the ability to perform moves via the touch screen. To perform a complex Ultra combo, simply hit the button when your meter fills up. It may be cheat-y and the Dead or Alive game is going to utilize it too, but it’s there for you to use. As for multiplayer, Xcom and I played a local match and also played some online matches versus random people, and I have no reports of lagging to give.
Pilotwings Resort is a game that’s graphically solid and is very good at showing off 3D depth, but with 40 missions for a $40 price tag and no multiplayer, the price is tough to justify. I think it’s a fun game, but it’s one I can see myself trading in or selling sometime down the road.
Lego Star Wars III is a good platforming title for us to play as we wait for Kid Icarus and other Nintendo flagship games. It’s your run-of-the-mill Lego game, but 3D is quite good in it, and I think it should be in the Top 5 of launch games to consider getting on the 3DS.
The AR Games are simple mini-games that show off the 3DS’ handling of augmented reality gaming, and it’s quite impressive. When you take the ? card and scan it, your surface area becomes an archery area and has dragons all up in your face attacking you. FaceRaiders is another fun game in which you take a picture of your (or someone else’s) face and shoot them with tennis balls. The final boss is much like Star Fox’s Andross. I’m curious as to how other games will put the 3D cameras to use in the future.
I’ll be playing the games more and will offer up more detailed impressions on Episode 80 of the podcast. I hope you listen in this week!
3D is a drainer. Many reports early on are upwards of 5 hours for battery time. Putting it in sleep mode to use the pedometer and Street Pass aren’t gonna help conserve battery life when you aren’t playing. If you’re in a situation where it applies, maybe buying a second charger for home and the office can help you keep on gaming on the 3DS.
The 3DS can charge similarly to the DS, but the 3DS comes included with a docking station which you can plug into the wall and simply set your 3DS on it. It’s a nifty little thing which you can easily set on and pick up without having to disconnect a wire from it since that wire is connected to the dock.
I’m really liking the 3DS and see a lot of potential for some great games. Dead or Alive and Resident Evil Mercenaries are two standouts for me coming soon, and I’ve already mentioned Nintendo’s heroes in these impressions of the 3DS.
Listen to episode 80 of the podcast when Xcom and I will be discussing the system in more detail. If you got questions for me, please ask in the comments.