Category Archives: Gear
Netflix was released today on the Nintendo E-Shop for the 3DS. Surprisingly there is alleged 3D content that will be arriving exclusively for the 3DS. Too bad they couldn't also enable it for PS3. I like 3D movies but they would look much better on my 50" 3D plasma TV ( Oh well. It's free to download and comes packed with a 30 day free trial. We'll let you know what we think after it's been put through our rigorous testing regiment.
I’m going to evaluate the 3DS in multiple categories. Is it all hype, does it have a future, is it doomed to fail? Read on to find out what this veteran gamer thinks.
The overall look and feel of the 3DS is sleeker than the DSI and not as plasticy as the DS Lite. The 3DS sits near the DSi in terms of size. The color schemes are odd but pleasing on the eye. Aqua looks a bit more toy like in color scheme. When opened the top and bottom screen contrast greatly. Seems this was the color made to appeal to kids and those attracted to bright shiny objects. Additionally the gradient color scheme stands out more with the Aqua blue. Nintendo’s Aqua Blue is more like a greenish Blue. Through the 3 layers it becomes more apparent.
Cosmo Black sports a more conservative look. Like a professional rocking the dress shirt and tie. It’s color scheme blends well together as opposed to the contrasting scheme of the Aqua Blue. It has a sleek gadgety look to it. This is the model meant to appeal to males and adult gamers. I prefer it to be honest, but that’s just my preference. The colors just meld better in the Cosmo Black model. The top screen is probably the most odd color out of this scheme as well. It’s simply a much darker black.
The muffin top seems to be loved and hated. I dislike the look but enjoy how effortless it makes opening the device. I’m eager to see how the hinge holds up. Nintendo went with a different hinge type than they used with DS Lite and DSi. The small isolated hinges on DSi and DS Lite were prone to cracking in the middle after long term use and/or shock from a drop.
The 3DS sports 3 slide controls. The volume, 3D depth, and wireless sliders. Retained are the 4 face buttons A B X and Y and the directional pad. The directional pad has been positioned lower on the device. This is and odd design choice and doesn’t feel comfortable when compared to previous d pad placements. You do get used to it but it’s a design element I personally dislike.
The power button is on the bottom right of the device and looks and feels a bit awkward too.Thankfully it’s positioned near the touch screen and shouldn’t be easily pressed on accident. I do see people accidentally hitting the wireless switch when in intensive gameplay.
The circle pad’s positioning is better and more comfortable. It also feels really good. It’s obvious the circle pad will be the preferred primary movement method in 3DS titles.
The hardware itself feels solid in the hands. You can put it in your pocket but it has more bulk than most other gadgets. Overall the design is visually appealing but has some odd choices in relation to button type and placement. The muffin screen also falls into odd design choices.
Overall verdict for design, aesthetics, and durability: B
Now the 3DS may be visually appealing, but what do you do with it? Well you play with the device’s numerous built in features. There’s more to them than you’d expect too. I’m going to keep this section spoiler free. Wouldn’t want to ruin the fun for anyone. Out of the box the 3DS has: AR Games,Face Raiders, Mii Plaza, Mii Maker,Nintendo 3DS camera, Nintendo 3DS Sound. Additionally a 3D Ok Go video is added after a firmware update . Here’s a brief rundown over the top tier of the built in software.
AR games is a concept that’s been done before but not like this. There is essentially a menu system used to go into the various AR features and games. To access it you simply place the question mark card on any surface and follow the onscreen directions. Additionally stuff gets unlocked via play and another method (Clue save those play coins) The AR cards can be wigged out by interference and things like someone turning the card sideways. There’s essentially a small error message, then everything picks up where it left off. Not too bad.
Face Raiders is a collection of games where you capture faces via the 3DS camera and shoot at them using the 3DS’ built in gyroscope. The technology is pretty impressive. The static image of a face will be morphed into 3D and even contorted to create various faces one would make. It’s odd but cool. Definitely worth checking out. Also the later stages aren’t a pushover be prepared.
The Mii maker is an improvement over the Mii maker available on Wii. There are a couple more tweaks available for some of the items. The ability to start from a photo can result in pretty close to way off caricatures. Thankfully you’re given the option to edit later in the process. Transfering and sharing Miis is easier than ever. QR codes are interesting and can even be sent via e-mail.
The last piece of included software I want to touch upon is the Nintendo 3DS camera. True the 3DS camera’s are low quality, however the 3D effect still can be mesmerizing. It’s completely possible to take pictures that will actually “pop” out of the screen. The effect is rather entertaining. However those are the types of visuals you need to adjust your focus for. Layered objects tend to create the better 3D effect. Distance isn’t a hindrance on 3D pics. To test I took a 3D pic of an adjacent building from the 15th floor of our corporate offices. The building was fully 3D and the camera even caught a moving car w/ almost no image artifacts. Pretty impressive for such low quality cameras.
Worth mentioning is software not available yet that will be with future firmware updates. This includes the web browser, Nintendo E Shop and 3D video camera, and the DSi data transfer utility to mention a few.
So we have some sweet freebies built right in. Well what else can we do with a 3DS? Two words. Street Pass and Spot Pass. Spot Pass is a groovy feature that has immense potential. To initiate a Spot Pass you’re 3DS needs to be playing a supported titles or be in standby mode. Obviously you need to enable the feature first. If you’re at home in range of your router or within range of a McDonalds access point you could receive a spott pass. Content can range from DLC, demos, videos, notifications, and anything else developers can think of. It requires no interaction from the device owner.
After finishing that super sized number 2 you may notice the glowing Blue LED. Spot Pass has done it’s job and all you did was eat a couple of cheeseburgers. As of this writing SSFIV 3D Edition and DOA Dimensions support Spot Pass. SSFIV 3D Edition allows user’s to receive figurines while DOA will allow special rare DLC costumes. Remember you do nothing to get this data. You simply need to be near an access point with your 3DS in standby mode.
Street Pass is the localized version of Spot Pass. Street Pass is supported out of the box with the Mii Plaza. SSFIV 3D also supports Street Pass with it’s figurine battles. Works like Spot Pass except no router or access point is required. Having another Street Pass enabled 3DS within range will activate the glowing green LED signifying a SteetPass transfer has occurred. Nice thing about this is there can be 12 Street Pass titles active at any given time. No need to have the cartridge inserted or associated software running.
The 3D is impressive but the effectiveness of it is determined by the developers implementation and the end users eye health. Pilot Wings uses 3D very well. SSFIV uses it well in the fights to show depth, however the intro and ending videos are NOT 3D. truly an odd choice on Capcom’s part. I would recommend anyone interested in the 3DS’ 3D effect check it out at an in store demo. See if you can perceive the 3D before you plop down $250! Adjust the 3D slider and find your comfort level. I personally play with it at the lower %30. Finally parental controls allow parents to disable the mode for gamers under the age of 7.
Additionally there is a pedometer built into the 3DS. Through the pedometer you can earn play coins. 1 coin per 100 steps. You can earn up to 10 a day. Thus far AR Games, Mii Plaza, and SSFIV support play coins. Mii Plaza actually has two modes that encourage play coins use, but place more emphasis on new and repeat Street Pass transfers. Like most aspects of the portable Play Coins has immense potential. Setting a limit ensures gamers don’t exploit the system to gain a buku amount of play coins. If only we could get more than 10 a day. Here’s hoping for an increase in a future firmware update.
Finishing off the system features I’d like to discuss the 3DS online and online multiplayer aspects. We still have a friend code but just one this time. The code is universal across all games and specific to each 3DS. You can manually enter the friend codes or exchange them over local wireless. Once that’s done you can actually see what game someone is playing at any given moment. Also the friends list will be supported by every online title. Gone are the days of keeping a notebook of friend codes!!!! Honestly the online is impressive, even more so considering this is a Nintendo device! It’s very XBL and PSNish and a welcome addition. My one beef is you can’t send messages to people yet. You can set a comment like on PSN, but that’s about it for now
System Features are cool but need time to develop. The potential is there as is initial support My verdict: B
Rounding out the review is the final category. Retail software releases.
Here’s the chink in the 3DS suit of armor. For a launch the software is ok. Anyone thinking it’s bad is wrong. Recall a few years back when DS launched. That was a poor software launch! All of the titles certainly have that rushed feel. SSFIV while sporting insanely awesome online multiplayer neglects to use 3D in intro and ending videos. WTF?! Capcom? Pilot Wings resort supports NONE of the 3DS sweet builtin features. No multiplayer, no Street Pass support to show off your awesome 3 Star Rating on the Gold class Missions. Still it’s a launch and things can only get better. It will be nice when we start seeing titles that weren’t rushed just to meet the launch window.
Retail Software takes a definite hit. My verdict C
So the final breakdown goes as follows:
- Design Aesthetics and durability: B
- Built in software: A
- System Features B
- Retail Software C
- Final Overall Score B
Early adopters will easily be occupied till the AAA titles start showing up this summer. Expect some big 3DS news to drop at E3 and the Tokyo Game Show this year. Anyone on the fence may want to wait till this summer to pick one up. Early adopters and Nintendo fans will find plenty to do to make the wait easier. I don’t see the price going down anytime soon. As for the inevitable successor, let’s call it 3DS Lite, it’s further off than than most of the VG sites will lead you to believe. Based on past Nintendo trends you can expect roughly two years to pass before we get a new and improved version.
As far as battery life goes the 3DS is ok in my book. I can take it to work w/ Street Pass and Spot Pass activated work all day, play a few games on break and bring it home with 70%-90% charge remaining. Those in for a long commute 2-4 hours will not get as good of mileage. I’ve read accounts of 3 hours of charge but haven’t experienced it myself. To conserve battery power, I have my brightness set to 3 and power save mode enabled. I still play in 3D and keep wireless on at all times for Street Pass and Spot Pass.
All in all I recommend the 3DS. Still I advise you test one out first to see if the 3D works for you. Also I’d recommend anyone not enticed by the initial software releases hold off. There are amazing games on the way, just no killer app as of yet. Finally I’d ask that your usage be taken into consideration. Are you a bus rider with a long commute? Are you going to play in bursts or long stretches? How long will you be away from a charger or the awesome docking station?
Feel free to comment if you have any questions or want more info. I will try to reply to all comments within reason. Love it hate it? Share your experience in the comments section.
Shawn’s Comment: Sony Computer Entertainment announced their follow up to the Playstation Portable and the failed update PSP Go. This next device is suppose to be a complete revamp of the portable gaming system. They have put everything into this thing, dual analog sticks (a must for first person shooters), touch screen and a first for portable games a back side touch pad so you don’t have to obstruct your view then playing a “touch” game. Coupled with a ton of other promised features this looks to be a huge edition to the mobile market. Now we just need to find out how much it is going to cost.
Below is the official press release from SCE. See the original post here.
- Stunning OLED and Revolutionary User Interface
- Super Oval Design and Dual Analog Sticks
- New Game Medium
- CPU: ARM® Cortex™-A9 core (4 core)
- GPU: SGX543MP4+
- External Dimensions: Approx. 182.0 x 18.6 x 83.5mm (width x height x depth) (tentative, excludes largest projection)
- Screen: (Touch screen) 5 inches (16:9), 960 x 544, Approx. 16 million colors, OLED Multi touch screen (capacitive type)
- Rear touch pad Multi touch pad (capacitive type)
- Front camera
- Rear camera
- Built-in stereo speakers
- Built-in microphone
- Six-axis motion sensing system (three-axis gyroscope, three-axis accelerometer), Three-axis electronic compass
- Built-in GPS
- Wi-Fi location service support
- Keys / Switches:
- PS button
- Power button
- Directional buttons (Up/Down/Right/Left)
- Action buttons (Triangle, Circle, Cross, Square)
- Shoulder buttons (Right/Left)
- Right stick, Left stick
- START button, SELECT button
- Volume buttons (+/-)
- Wireless communications:
- Mobile network connectivity (3G)
- IEEE 802.11b/g/n (n = 1×1)(Wi-Fi) (Infrastructure mode/Ad-hoc mode)
- Bluetooth® 2.1+EDR (A2DP/AVRCP/HSP)