I have had the 3DS for 4 days now. Here’s my overall impression:
It’s pretty damn good and it’s only going to get better from here.
Still here? Cool, let’s see what else I have to say.
What’s in the box?
The 3DS is the most deluxe package Nintendo has put out since the original NES. You get the System installed with a 2GB SD card, a set of 6 AR cards, an inductive charge stand and power cable, some quick start guides and a digest sized full-color manual. The system is pre-loaded with multiple games, camera software, a Mii creator and a simple sound editor/player. With a quick system update, there is also a 3D music video from the band OK Go.
The system itself is almost the exact same size as the Nintendo DSi. On the outside edges you will find volume control, a Network communication switch, the 3D slider, an IR port, headphone jack, power plug, housing for the cartridges and stylus and a series of indicator lights for various functions (power, notifications, networking). Inside you find the 2 screens, Circle pad, + pad, ABXY and the home and power buttons.
The top screen is about the same size as the screen on the PSPgo ( A little smaller then a regular PSP) and much bigger then the Dsi/DSlite screens. The touch screen is exactly the same size as the DSi. The top screen is crisp and smooth with the see-it-to-believe-it glasses free 3D on or off.
The 3D is amazing. It works effortlessly I have not a single complaint. It significantly adds a sense of immersion to any title I’ve seen it applied to. It’s still an Oooh-Ahhhh feature but as I get used to it I find myself looking down my nose at 2D gaming. I think the 3DS will do for 3D screens what the iPod did for digital music.
If you don’t like or have an aversion, susceptibility or immunity to 3D, you can turn it off using the 3D slider. The slider is mounted on the side just like a volume control. You can also disable 3D in the system settings parental controls.
Without 3D, the 3DS still offers a pretty competent upgrade from the previous generation DS. I personally have never played with the 3D off but I imagine the price tag is probably very steep if you’re not interested in the 3DS’ primary feature.
The system comes with 3 games built in: AR Games, Face Raiders and Mii Plaza.
AR (Augmented Reality) Games, as the title implies, is actually composed of multiple games and toys that use the 3D camera and AR cards listed above to do some pretty incredible things with any surface they’re placed on. You’ll see your desk turn in to a Lava filled mountain or a place for your Miis to hang out. You can quickly unlock the ability to take pictures of any and all of your AR exploits. This is THE killer app for the system as it is a completely new gaming experience that any gamer should be ecstatic to try out.
Face Raiders is a simple motion and camera based shoot ‘em up using picture of your friends faces as enemies. It has a decent amount of depth...but can is also one of the best games to showcase the system to your friends. The more ‘faces’ you collect, the more you unlock in the game.
Mii Plaza has been a good way for me to showcase my Mii and find out who near me owns a 3DS. It a social game built around the 3DS’ innovative Streetpass functionality. If you pass by anyone who has a 3DS, whether your system is sleeping or you’re playing a game, their chosen Mii will go to your Plaza. Anyone who visits your plaza can help you complete Jigsaw puzzles featuring Nintendo franchises and help explore a Dungeon full of hats for your Mii. If noone is near you with a 3DS, you can also use Play Coins to purchase puzzle pieces and adventurers for the dungeon.
Speaking of Play Coins: the 3DS has a built in Pedometer. For every hundred steps you take, you earn a coin. You can earn up to 10 per day. Those coins can be spent in almost all games on the 3DS, even 3rd party developed games. You can use them to unlock characters in Star Wars, new challenges and toys in AR Games, buy collectible figurines in Street Fighter etc. These combined with Street Pass heavily encourages me to bring my system everywhere I go.
Mii Maker is almost exactly like the Wii version of this avatar creation tool. It has a few more components (eyes, noses etc.) to build faces and a decent photo mode that will generate a Mii based on a photo taken in the software. The photo generated Miis tend to be pretty close but require a bit of tweaking. 1 out of the 4 Miis I made this way required no tweaking at all. You can transfer Miis from you Wii as well as other 3DSs. Miis are used heavily in Mii plaza, but they also appear in the AR games as well. I expect to see these guys pop up pretty frequently just like the Wii.
Nintendo 3DS Sound is simple sound playback software. It’s exactly like the previous version on DSi except for a few small improvements and a 3D makeover. You can use it as a MP3 player (it actually plays MP3s as well as AAC files), a voice/sound recorder and there’s some fun little filters you can play around with and apply to music or sound files on the 3DS. I have only used it for about five minutes and probably won’t use it much more. If you don’t have an MP3 player, it might do in a pinch.
Nintendo 3DS Camera is, in my opinion, worth the price of admission alone. It takes goddamn 3D pictures. You can draw on them or apply effects before or after you take the picture. The mystery picture mode my favorite toy: it blacks out the screen so you can’t see your subject and chooses a random effect (like a negative) or adds a playful addition (like a UFO flying in the background) to your photo. It includes many standard camera features as well, like self timers, contrast, focus (2D and 3D focus). It saves you pictures in both 3D and 2D format on the SD card which is pretty convenient. Also, it takes pictures in 3D.
I’ve already made mention of Street Pass above. The system is also capable of Internet capability via WiFi. Spot Pass is supposedly a function where the system will automatically update and transfer applicable data if it passes by any open WiFi connection. Nothing packed in and neither of the titles I’ve purchased takes advantage of this functionality.
There is now an online friends list, which lists which friends are online and what they are playing at any given time. This system uses the formally dreaded Friend Codes except it is now 1 code per system instead of 1 code per game. It’s as easy as trading a phone number on-line or you can automatically pass it over local wireless. I’d originally read it would pass automatically if you played locally with someone but that did not occur when I played Street Fighter against a friend at work. I was able to easily pause the game and pass it through the friends list though.
In the end, the connectivity is far from perfect. Wireless and WiFi connections a snappy, free of lag and are a huge improvement over the previous DS and even the Wii. However, as of now, there is no way for you to communicate easily with friends. You might be able to pass a message through your Mii Plaza or constantly update your Status...but your better off just getting on the phone or yelling across the room.
Just like the Wii before it, the 3DS lives up to it’s potential right out of the box thanks to the pack in software. The camera and the AR games offer the new experiences possible only this system. The overall presentation of the 3DS is a little more mature then what Nintendo normally offers but maintains the compelling and playful style Nintendo is known for. The device as a obvious message, “The 3DS is for having fun”, and is geared to be the next leap as a truly social platform. I’m very satisfied with my purchase and I hope you found this little review helpful.
Feel free to ask any questions in the comments, I’d be happy to answer any of them.