Release Date: 3/27/2011
Colors: Cosmo Black, Aqua Blue, Flame Red, Pearl Pink, Red
Nintendo is well-known for making hardware that takes huge risks. While they usually fail software-wise, they tend to soar in hardware sales. The 3DS started out pretty poorly with crappy launch titles and a steep retail price ($250). About 6 months later Nintendo dropped the price to $170 (the same price as the Wii and DSi XL) and suddenly sales rose and third-party developers jumped on board. I wonder why… Now that the 3DS is in full swing I finally got one for Christmas this year and got several games to tinker around with this bad boy. I actually have to say the hardware is well-built and very impressive despite my early speculation that the hardware would be a complete failure.
The whole system is just completely new because not only is the system capable of 3D, but it also has more powerful hardware so they like GameCube/PS2 quality. The main menu is designed more like the DSi, but leaning more toward what the Wii looks like. You can now use the Mii Plaza, plus a bevy of built-in apps that are pretty neat. When you start the thing up you will notice some hardware changes like an analog stick which completely changes the way DS games are played. The top screen is only capable of 3D, but it’s slightly bigger (3.53″) kind of like the DSi XL (4.2″). The bottom screen is the same size which I found disappointing, but there was something about technical issues that keep the touchscreen from being 3D.
The system has a 1ghz processor which is about 10x what the other DS systems are capable of (133Mhz) and the GPU is also more powerful. To show this power off the system comes with AR (augmented reality) cards of famous Nintendo characters that you use in the built-in game AR Games. Setting the question mark box down in front of the camera acts as a menu with different games like shooting targets, billiards, being able to pose the characters to take 3D pictures, and other crazy games. This is actually very impressive and it’s so neat to just see these guys pop out of real life onto the 3DS. My only complaint is that you can’t do anything with the characters other than posing them.
The second game is Face Raiders which takes your face and puts on flying helmets that you shoot down. This is kind of freaky and fun at the same time, but it helps show off the great AR abilities of the system. Other than this the menu is in 3D as well as most of the eShop, but I can’t explain how much it just pops and makes playing games that much more fun. It didn’t hurt my eyes at all even with the 3D depth slider all the way up, but you have to view it almost straight on, or the view shifts and the 3D goes away, so the whole idea isn’t flawless. The 3DS is capable of downloading some apps that are pretty fun, but overall the eShop is lacking in good games. The majority are remade original Game Boy games that no one really misses, but over time it will expand…I hope. The 3DS also features StreetPass which will exchange info on games you own when you pass people in the car or when walking which is lots of fun. The system also has a pedometer that awards coins that can be used in certain games to unlock stuff. SpotPass allows you to download and unlock items in games when near a center when outside. This is so much fun and adds some unique qualities to games.
Even when playing games for an hour or more my eyes didn’t even hurt, and yes even when I was tired. Some games work better than others, but overall the 3D effects really add to the experience and make most 3DS games unique from regular DS games. Of course, you can play regular DS games, but the top screen puts black bars on the side to compensate for the larger screen, but I found this was kind of stupid and should be full screen. The battery life is also shorter because of the more powerful hardware, but it has some pretty good power-saving features to extend this. One other advantage is that the 3DS takes SD cards and has internal storage plus it has a 2.4 GHz wi-fi card for super-fast internet speeds. 3DS games also (FINALLY!) save to the SD card instead of on the cartridge due to the size capacity of the 3DS cards (plus price hikes).
When it’s all said and done the 3DS is well worth the money and there are enough great games to consider a purchase. The 3D is revolutionary and actually works with the games, but just make sure you try an in-store demo before buying because the 3D will not work for some people or it may hurt your eyes. For the low price and great features, I would go pick one up right now!