The Nintendo 3DS Brings A New Dimension You Never Thought You Needed… Until Now
Wednesday, April 6, 2011 16 Comments
I’ve spent about a week with Nintendo’s newest beauty, the 3DS, and I’ve got all the juicy details you need to know. Those “hands-on” sessions you tried at Best Buy WILL NOT do the system any justice at all. In fact, Ninty’s newest handheld, despite a few questionable design errors, is going to take the world by storm.
Let me begin with the question you all have probably been asking since Nintendo revealed the three-dimensional wonder at E3 last year: Does the 3D actually work? Yes, it does, but unlike the 3D movies you pay way too much to see at the movie theaters, the 3D presentation is less about things popping out at you, but more aimed at adding depth to the games you play. What does that mean exactly? It’s hard to explain, really, but I’ll give it an analogy. Say someone showed you a photo they took of the street they lived on and asked you to tell them how far away their house was from where they were standing when they took the picture. It’d be a bit difficult, wouldn’t it? But if they actually took you to the street itself, it’d be pretty easy for you to answer that question. It’s this concept of depth perception that really pushes the 3D element past the gimmicky slander and truly adds something new to gaming.
The 3D effect is pulled off by using two magical screens developed by a Narnian Sorcerer that transmit slightly different images to each of your eyes, fooling them into perceiving depth. The 3D works great, but is definitely dependent on a sweet spot. The 3DS must be held directly in front of you; any slight alteration in angle with give you a blurry or ghosting effect. This has led to me to turn the 3D off completely when playing games like Street Fighter, since basic button pressing will make the system sway and turn, just enough to distort your perspective.
In case you didn’t know, the 3DS has got way more power under its hood compared to the DS. It’s a big jump in graphical capabilities, sporting Wii-comparable graphics right out of the box. This makes me really excited to see what developers can pull off with the new hardware, assuming the developers actually try to make good games, unlike what they did when the Wii came out.
There have been some complaints about people getting dizzy or nauseated playing the 3DS, and for those people I offer a very simple solution: take a break. Nintendo offers the same puzzling idea. If you play the 3DS with the 3D for too long, you might feel some eyestrain, and people prone to motion sickness might feel a bit woozy, sure. At this point you can either turn the 3D off or turn it down. Let me make this clear: you don’t have to have the 3D on full blast at all times, in fact, the system was designed with a 3D slider where you can customize the right amount of 3D for yourself, so you don’t feel like vomiting all over your new shiny DS. What’s funny is that I didn’t hear of any complaints like this when the system launched in Japan earlier this year, but with America being the stubborn and indulgent country we are, I’m not surprised people aren’t taking the hint. But, I digress. I won’t open up that can of worms.
The visual design of the system is pretty simple, as the system resembles the size and feel of a DSi, but adds the analog slider, bumping the traditional D-Pad to the bottom left of the system right under it. Start and Select buttons have been moved right underneath the bottom touch screen, and though they look like they’d have the same kind of touch sensitive buttons early Android phones sported, they’re just regular buttons hidden underneath a thin layer of plastic. Between those two buttons lies a much welcomed addition, the new home button, finally allowing you the ability to back out the 3DS main hub at any time to check notifications, change brightness, and switch games.
One of my biggest gripes about the physical design of the system was the completely unnecessary movement of the stylus holder. The DS Lite, DSi, and DSi XL both place the stylus on the right end of the system, allowing for a quick and easy method of taking out a stylus, right at the grasp of your middle finger. Apparently, someone at Nintendo thought it’d be really funny to move the stylus to the left of the game slot on the back of the system. If it were to the right of the game slot, I wouldn’t be complaining so much, but with the right hand being the designated stylus-holding hand, it’s seriously perplexing as to why Ninty made this decision. Watch someone take their stylus out: they either have to turn the DS around completely or close the system to be able to pull it out. This leads to almost everyone I’ve seen play with it set the stylus down on their lap or on a table in front of them rather than slip it back to its slot, which I’m sure will lead to thousands of lost styli in no time.
I know the 3DS has gotten a ton of flack for its 3-5 hour battery life, and though I agree that’s really shitty, the 3DS comes equipped with a neat charging dock, so you can lay your 3DS in it every night to avoid a dying system the next day. Rocking the 3D at full strength will drain your battery faster, as the system has a total of three screens burning at once. Turning off your Wi-Fi and dimming your brightness settings will help ease those battery woes, and a few after-market accessory companies have already released extended battery kits to squeeze a bit more juice out of that puppy.
Another gripe I have with the system is its lack of launch features. There’s a ton of promise on the way such as Netflix, a Shop Channel with Virtual Console, a Web Browser, and more, but my problem is that we’ll have to wait until spring or later for these features when some of them could have been ready at launch. The fact that there’s a web browser icon in the menu of the system that doesn’t do anything really pisses me off.
The 3DS also has the ability to let you register friends, via a one-time exchange of Friend Codes. This is just for the system itself, meaning you won’t have to do this with every online-capable game like before (thank god). Once mutually registered, you can see when your friends are online and what they’re playing but, for some reason, you CANNOT interact with them in any way. With the Wii having built-in capabilities to message friends at launch and the 3DS doesn’t, I see this as a HUGE oversight. I’m hoping this will be rectified in an upcoming system update.
One of the most cocaine-like addictions I’ve gotten hooked onto is the new feature called StreetPass, and if you have a 3DS already, you know exactly what I mean. StreetPass is the ability your 3DS has to constantly search for other 3DS’s around it, so long as your system is on with StreetPass enabled. What does that get you? Well, it could mean a lot of things. For starters, the system has a couple of built-in games made just for StreetPass, including a pseudo turn-based RPG/dungeon crawler called Find Mii, where your Mii is captured and locked away in a castle, and only your Friends you meet via StreetPass can save you. The more people you interact with in this way, the larger your army grows. You’ll need a ton of people in your army, because these wimps get scared off really easily fighting all the ghosts protecting their castle. If you don’t take your 3DS anywhere to StreetPass, or you just have no friends, you can buy these weird cat-soldiers with Play Coins, currency you build up by walking around with your 3DS, using the system’s pedometer.
Other third-party games like Street Fighter have StreetPass features as well, with Street Fighter sporting trophy battles whenever it finds another 3DS with Street Fighter save data on the system. Even if the game isn’t inserted in your system, your stats will be put against your new opponent, and you can view the results next time your power it up.
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