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Dakilazical avatar 11:20 PM on 03.28.2011  (server time)
3DS launch impressions: "Why are you getting this then?"

The first thing I did with my new system

“Why are you getting this then?” a mother asks her young son standing in line next to me on 3DS launch day. Her question was prompted after the child gave a big, “Meh…” to every game the clerk suggested he pick up to go with his magical new toy from Nintendo.

“Monkey Ball is pretty fun,” the beleaguered clerk offers.

“I don’t know …” the kid responds. He is even less enthusiastic about “Steel Diver” and “Madden” (which I forgot was even a launch title)

“Super Street Fighter 4 looks pretty cool, that’s what I’m getting,” I suggest. The kid looks at me blankly. Realizing I wasn’t going to be able help him, I pay for my pre-orders and leave the store.

On the drive home, I couldn’t help but think about the mother’s question. “Why AM I getting this?” I wasn’t planning on picking one up but after I saw video of AR games online I wanted to have one just to experience the new technology. Another reason I used to justify my purchase was the fact that I’ve bought every Nintendo system since the Gameboy Advance at launch. Sure, the only game I got with the Advance was “Namco Museum” which grew old quickly. And, yes, after amusing myself with the novel touch controls of “Feel the Magic: XY/XX” for a couple hours and struggling to play “Super Mario 64” without an analog stick my DS went unused for months until “Kirby’s Canvas Curse” and “Mario Kart DS “ came out. Nintendo handhelds have never had the strongest launch titles. I knew this yet I was compelled to purchase one anyways. Why?

Is Nintendo trying to tell me I was stoned when I created my Mii?

When I got home the first thing I did was create a Mii from my photo. I was amazed at how that worked and quickly got my girlfriend to create one too. She loved the Wii and DS but now games exclusively on her iPhone. I thought this might be enough to bring her back to the Nintendo side of gaming. After taking her picture and watching her Mii come to life she was still unimpressed.

“Eh, I already did that on the Wii,” was her response. Unfazed, I then proceeded to show her the AR games. While initially intrigued, she quickly lost interest when she saw how you had to move around the table to play them. “I like my iPhone,” she sighed as she plopped back onto the couch to play another round of “Word Ace.”

“But, but, this isn’t trying to do what the iPhone does,” I pleaded to no avail. I had hoped she’d be taken in by the new technology but she was more concerned about how much cash I’d just dropped when the Kinect I bought a few short months ago sits atop my television, neglected, just staring at me, shooting beams of infared light into my eyes to remind me what a waste of money it was.

After checking out the gimmicks I decided to get down to it and play some games. As soon as I started my first match of “Super Street Fighter 4” I was instantly happy. The 3D effect is pretty neat but unnecessary. I was just thrilled to have such a deep fighting game on a portable. I’ve never taken the time to get good at the game but having it on the go I’ll have more opportunities to take it out and play in bite-sized chunks.

In Jr HIgh if you would've told me that some day I'd be able to look at Cammy from this angle, IN 3D, from the comfort of my own home I would've messed my pants.

While the 3D effects didn’t do much in normal mode, when you play in “3D mode” with the camera behind your shoulder the 3D really pops. I found myself drawn in while playing like this, even if it takes getting used to. The depth of field is amazing and makes the fighting much more visceral. Still, I have one huge huge complaint about the whole setup. Maybe it’s because I’m a button masher but I found I jostled the handheld around so much the 3D effects kept getting distorted when the screen moved. Hopefully this is something that future titles will take into consideration when planning control schemes. The game runs at a a higher framerate without 3D on so I suspect most people will play in two dimensions.

After a couple hours with "Street Fighter" I popped in “Ridge Racer 3D.” While the graphics aren’t anything special, I loved the depth that the 3D gave. When it comes to showing off the potential 3D will have for racing games like “Mario Kart ” or "Burnout 3D" please “Ridge Racer 3D” is a really exciting proof of concept. Still, the key word here is POTENTIAL, the game doesn’t knock your socks off. It's still the same basic gameplay, in all it's sliding glory, which is familiar fun but feels like a relic in this day and age.

While I drifted (no pun intended) off to sleep the question, “Why are you getting this, then?” echoed through my mind. Sure, I’d had fun with the gimmicks and two games but is the 3DS really worth the money? I fell asleep anxiously excited for the next day when I could show off my new toy to the people who will really appreciate it: All the geeks I work with.

Me and Mii and the 3DS and an iPhone in a mirror. Whew, I'm exhausted.

The first thing I did when I got into work was fire up the “OK Go” video and pass the system around. Everyone was blown away. Having had the system for 25 hours and already used to the gimmicks I complained, “The resolution isn’t what I had hoped it would be.”

“Yeah but it’s 3D!” was the consensus from the 3DS virgins. When I busted out the AR cards people were absolutely floored. I watched with delight as my friends took turns messing with it, completely in awe. The AR shooting games garnered the strongest reactions.

My co-worker Adam checking out the AR for the first time. Mind = BLOWN

“THIS is why I got this, then” I thought to myself. It was a delight to see the looks on peoples' faces when they first witnessed the 3D and AR. Who cares if the launch lineup is weak? Who cares if the AR gimmicks will grow old fast? I am showing people a new technology that they’ve never even imagined was possible and that is worth the price of picking the 3DS up at launch.

Now I am sitting alone at my desk. The occasional coworker comes over to check out the 3DS, plays with it for a few minutes and gives it back, probably to never pick up again. I look over my game library and don’t really feel like playing any 3DS stuff. A cartridge catches my eye and I think to myself, “I wonder if…”

I eject “Street Fighter” and pop in “Super Mario 64.” My thumb rests comfortably on the analog stick and I fire it up. A smile comes to my face as I pull off Mario’s jumps and turns with ease. Finally, 7 years later, I am playing “Super Mario 64” on a handheld and not battling the controls. The 3DS might not have the best launch lineup ever but the games I got are fun, the tech is impressive and finally having an analog stick to control “Mario 64” and “Mario Kart” is the icing on the cake. And that’s enough to keep me going until “Ocarina of Time” comes out.

Sweet, sweet analog nub. You'll keep me company until better 3DS games are on the shelf

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