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Nintendo 3DS first impressions

Nintendo 3DS first impressions

Nintendo 3DS Aqua Blue on launch day

Today was Nintendo 3DS launch day. While many superfans pre-ordered in anticipation of sell-out situations, most people I talked to were able to get theirs at retail without any fuss.

For now, the Nintendo 3DS comes in two colors: Cosmo Black and Aqua Blue. I prefer mine to jump out a bit, so I got the Aqua Blue.

@UPSLynx on the Nintendo 3DS

Rave reviews for the 3DS

This device just looks like the future. The fit and finish are superb, there are all kinds of slick sliders and buttons on it, and it’s got a great heft. It’s an extremely comfortable device to hold, and the screens are gorgeous.

When you boot it up for the first time and flip that slider to full 3D, the feeling you get is pretty much the same feeling you probably had the first time you used the Wiimote.  When I first got my Nintendo Wii, I wrote in November of 2006:

“The very first time you hold the remote and point it at the screen is a magical experience. It is one of those rare “ahhhh… yes, this is it!” moments when you have to wonder why they didn’t think of this sooner.”

Peter Skerritt on Twitter

Impressions from the Twitterverse

That is the exact same feeling I got with the 3DS. Nintendo continues to prove themselves visionary time and again with their bar-raising technology. The moment you see the 3D screen pop to life without glasses, you know you’re holding the future in your hands. It won’t be long before other companies jump on board and imitate Nintendo, just like they did with Kinect and Move. Nintendo may never be able to say “We appeal to the core gamer”, but they will always be able to say “We invented this…”

The 3DS’ main interface is much like the Wii. The buttons are huge, with friendly icons and not many options. This is good for most people, frustrating for those of us who like to feel totally in control of our devices. I couldn’t, for example, figure out how to format my SD card. It comes bundled with a 2gb SD card, but I have a 32gb that I’m not using for much, so I wanted to put it in the 3DS so I could download games and stuff for it. I popped it out, put it in my PC, formatted it there, and stuck it back in.

There aren’t, however, any games to download yet, as the Store feature is missing, as is the DSiWare feature. They’re both “coming in a future software update.” The 3DS today feels very much like a launch-day device.

Not that it matters; there’s plenty to do with the 3DS even if you didn’t purchase any launch titles.

Raiding Faces

I have to dedicate an entire section to Face Raiders. This is the most absurd game I’ve ever played. You start off by taking a picture of your face (or someone else’s). It recognizes the face, quickly 3D maps it, and applies it to an in-game enemy that floats around the room and taunts you. Oh yeah, I need to pause for a moment and tell you that I mean that literally—you play in the room you’re standing in because the 3DS is an augmented-reality gaming system. It uses the two cameras on the back to show you the room through the 3DS screen, so the 3DS becomes a window into an alternate reality. Yes, it’s still your kitchen, and look—there’s your microwave… However, holes are being ripped in the fabric of reality by the floating heads of you and your friends. You have to fire yellow balls at the heads to prevent them from destroying your existence and poking holes into another dimension. The boss appears, and it’s YOUR FACE on a floating, Vader-like samurai head. The mouth grins, the face laughs, and the eyebrows raise in a taunt. The CPU power of the 3DS must be quite impressive to handle all of this in real-time.

It renders 3D quite well over the real-time 3D background provided by the two rear-facing cameras. The augmented reality features are hilarious and frankly, mind-boggling.

The 3DS rejects your reality and substitutes it with its own…

Speaking of augmented reality, there is an app called AR Games. You put a little card on a table and stand about 14 inches above it, with the 3DS pointed at it. You see the card and your table on screen. Suddenly, the table morphs and warps and a dragon pops out of your table. Next thing you know, you’re spinning around it, firing darts at it to kill it. It can take some getting used to—the idea that you have to physically move around the object you see on your screen in order to hit various points on the body. These preliminary AR games are definitely a novelty and a proof-of-concept, as there isn’t that much depth to them, but they serve the same purpose Wii Sports did back in ’06—you hand somebody this device, point them at the card, and they suddenly gasp and exclaim, “WOW, WHAT IS GOING ON?”

Worth the price?

The launch library is admittedly weak, but it promises to get good soon. I didn’t buy any launch titles because none of them were compelling enough. I never owned a DS; whenever I wanted to play a DS game I borrowed one of my kids’ DSes, which annoyed them endlessly. This is why I bought it: To have one in-house at Icrontic for game reviews, but also to serve as my own DS. I’m extremely excited for Kid Icarus. That’s going to be my first 3DS game purchase.

The DS emulation is truly that—it literally drops into DS mode when you tell it to. That’s fine, but it suffers from what I consider the biggest single failure for the DS: the lack of support for WPA2 Wi-fi networks. It’s especially annoying because the 3DS does support WPA2 encryption, but the second you drop it into DS mode, it’s gone. That’s frustrating, because that means I have to set up a second, low-encryption network at home just for the DS to connect to DSiWare.

A minor complaint, to be sure, and one that will only frustrate nerds like me.

The 3DS is $249.99 at Amazon right now. That’s definitely a high price, and one that most would consider appropriate for a full-sized console system. However, when you consider the futuristic technology you’re holding in the palm of your hand, it becomes understandable. We go out and spend hundreds of dollars on smart phones and tablets and other devices, all which do the same kinds of things—some faster, some brighter, some bigger. The 3DS, on the other hand, does something ground-shatteringly new. Without trying to sound cliché, it truly does bring gaming to an entirely new dimension. Any geek should be able to appreciate that.

Nintendo 3DS – Cosmo Black

Nintendo 3DS – Aqua Blue

Comments

  1. QuadWhore
    QuadWhore What I've been hearing a lot of is that the plastic is very cheap and the button design is very uncomfortable. However, knowing nintendo, that does sound like total bullshit.

    I really want to try one out, these sure do sound impressive.
  2. Cliff_Forster
    Cliff_Forster I think pre orders were probably soft because this is just one of those things you need to see in person first. A photo on the internet just can't explain the effect. I can't wait to see one first hand.
  3. primesuspect
    primesuspect
    QuadWhore wrote:
    What I've been hearing a lot of is that the plastic is very cheap and the button design is very uncomfortable.

    Total BS. I don't find that to be the case at all.
    I think pre orders were probably soft because this is just one of those things you need to see in person first.

    I agree. I think most people see the weak launch lineup, and aren't excited about 3D. Then, tack on the high price to that and you have a tipping point that says "Meh, I'll wait."

    I made my decision the moment I picked one up and played with it at SXSW at the Capcom booth. Seeing it with my own eyes and realizing what was going on was the decision-maker for me.
  4. CB
    CB Hopefully they'll have one set up at Best Buy or someplace like that, so people can play with it, and see what the big deal is.
  5. GHoosdum
    GHoosdum The problem with demo units is that everyone will have access to play, and Nintendo issued a warning about children under the age of six using the 3DS because it could cause vision problems in developing children. With a demo unit at Best Buy or some such, any kid can just walk up and play it.
  6. fatcat
    fatcat
    GHoosdum wrote:
    Nintendo issued a warning about children under the age of six using the 3DS because it could cause vision problems in developing children.

    HOT COFFEE IS HOT!

    so what happens when a 7 year old goes blind using his 3DS? ;D
  7. kryyst
    kryyst I'm just finding it hard to get excited about it. I love my DS but again I've found that the ongoing lineup has been relatively stale when compared to what's coming out for iOS and Android. My favorite DS games are several years old now.

    I was hoping that the 3DS would enlighten and excite me but so far other then revamping some games into 3D I'm just not seeing the draw. While the iOS and Android game markets are putting out more games at significantly better price points and with a much greater variety.

    I mean iOS has a WoW equivalent in the pipe. That could be insane.
  8. Bandrik
    Bandrik
    QuadWhore wrote:
    What I've been hearing a lot of is that the plastic is very cheap and the button design is very uncomfortable.

    While I agree that this is BS, there does seem to be some software issues for some early 3DS adopters. You can read a full article here, but the summary is that some users are getting a "black screen of death". A firmware update was released, which may fix the issue.

    I'm always a little nervous when I hear this sort of stuff. After getting some PSP lemons in a row and then the Red Ring crap, my tolerance for game system lemons is at a stretching point. =P
  9. Thrax
    Thrax Spent the past few hours with my 3DS, and it doesn't feel cheap to me.

    /me shrugs

    (omg pokemans)
  10. MAGIC
    MAGIC I just bought a dsxl, zomg so big. pokemans is sawesome.
  11. UPSLynx
    UPSLynx I love, love, LOVE my 3DS. I took a dump while winning two street fighter 4 online matches in a row presented in glasses-less stereoscopy. To much information doesn't negate that it is awesome information.

    The AR stuff really blew my mind. I had no idea just how cool all of that stuff would be. This conglomeration of technology just... it just owns.

    As for the "Black screen of death", everyone is making far too big a deal about it. I had one (and only one) happen to me last night while playing Street Fighter. I rebooted the device and continued to play. That was it. The device wasn't bricked, and it was barely more than a minor inconvenience. This isn't to the scale that Xbox saw, and the actual percentage of people "gravely affected" is rather small. Whatever.

    Build quality is awesome. It doesn't feel cheap at all. It has such a satisfying girth to it, it's heavy and solid, the way I like my devices to be. It doesn't feel fragile. The buttons feel just as they did on the DS, if not a touch nicer.

    The start, select, and home buttons suck though. I'm not a fan of the whole "sort of soft fake ish buttons" style. Give me a button or nothing at all, don't do that funky faux-pushbutton style.
  12. UPSHitman
    UPSHitman So what your saying is that you had the best dump ever?
  13. Bandrik
    Bandrik THIS DUMP IS THE BEST DUMP EVAR!! IT IS EXTREME!!!!

    That's when you know you're really hardcore. Now if you'll excuse me, I'll have to let you go; my cookies are done.
  14. UPSLynx
    UPSLynx
    Bandrik wrote:
    THIS DUMP IS THE BEST DUMP EVAR!! IT IS EXTREME!!!!

    That's when you know you're really hardcore. Now if you'll excuse me, I'll have to let you go; my cookies are done.


    I have to go get..... them.
  15. ardichoke
  16. cola
    cola I got one as an early birthday present last weekend, and the ideas and technology are amazing, but it doesn't fit well in my hands, and I get wrist cramps when I play SSF4 QQ

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