The Nintendo 3DS
The Nintendo 3DS has finally been released in North America, and we here at Level Up News are excited to get our very own copy! For those of you who want to get one but haven’t gotten around to it yet, or those that are still undecided, here’s all you need to know. First thing first, I hope that everyone is enjoying the new layout of Level Up News. To be honest, we have been waiting a while to launch this so we can post up our information of the Nintendo 3DS. We’ll be releasing some Nintendo 3DS reviews throughout the next couple weeks.
Now In 3D!
Having the ability to play games in 3D without needing glasses? Yeah, we were all skeptical at first. Nintendo, however, has been able to pull it off! The 3D works almost like the holographic images; multiple layers of screens are used to give the illusion of three dimensions. It’s not something that’s going to jump out of the screen at you, more like the image will move into the background. Depending on the game will depend on how the 3D is affected. For games like Nintendogs + Cats, your camera is usually in one spot, so you’ll see your dogs or cats wander around the house in full detail. Games like Super Street Fighter 4: 3D Edition, you will not only see the characters look like actual people, but the detail of the characters shine. For example, Ryu’s bulging muscles look to have much more detail to them than if you were playing without the 3D filter.
You do have the ability to play games the old-fashioned, 2D way. A slider switch on the side of the 3DS will flatten all the multiple screen layers together creating the more traditional view. It’s a great feature to have for people who are sensitive to 3D effects. But after passing the 3DS around to friends and looking at the different games, no one complained about dizziness. Now Nintendo does say to take a ten minute break after every thirty minutes of game time, and I can’t disagree with that. But friends of mine who got motion sickness watching Avatar had no troubles with the 3DS.
And now for the rest…
If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It
Physically looking at the handheld, if you own a DS, DSi, or DSi XL, you own a 3DS. D-pad, ABXY, L&R, Volume switch, power switch, battery indicator, SD card… they’re all in the same place with little tweaks here and there. The volume switch is a slider instead of +/- buttons, the wireless feature is now easier to turn on and off, and the unit comes pre-loaded with a 2GB SD card. Otherwise, it’s physically the same.
Plus, it’s backwards compatible! However, older Nintendo handhelds used LCD screens, so playing DS games on the 3DS makes those fine dotted pixels seem more faded. It’s like watching a VCR tape on your HDTV; you don’t appreciate how crystal clear the HD image is until you compare it against an old analog recording. Nevertheless, I’m not complaining!
That Fresh New Scent
One of the controls some people were skeptical about was the D-pad now being a circle pad. The Sony PSP tried an analog pad, but many consumers thought it was too small and was not accurate enough. The 3DS’s circle pad feels not just better than the PSP’s, but feels more responsive as well.
But the circle pad is not the only thing that consumers are skeptical about. The 3D slider is one of the key aspects of the system, which allows the consumer to set up exactly how they want to play the game. But even if the game is specifically designed for the 3DS, not only will it be optional to play in 3D, but it may not be entirely in 3D. For example, some of the cutscenes in Super Street Fighter 4: 3D Edition cannot be viewed in 3D; therefore the light is not lit and messing with the slider will not adjust anything on the screen.
Like with smart phones and iPads, once you’re connected to the internet you’re always connected to the internet, sleep mode or not. The 3DS will continue to grab data and updates from Nintendo via the spotpass feature. The streetpass feature is an interesting wireless in that if you happen to pass another Nintendo 3DS consumer, the two systems will interact with one another in whatever way they’re designed. For example, in Super Street Fighter 4: 3D Edition you can set up a team of fighters. When the 3DS’s interact with one another, your team will fight the other player’s team. The winner will get different awards, and both will receive the data of the outcome and can rework their team if needed.
The 3DS also has a new notification light that appears on the outer hinge of the system. The light blinks different colors depending on what it’s trying to convey. If it blinks blue, it means you have a new notification thanks to spotpass, green means you have new streetpass data, amber means you have a friend that just got online, and red means your battery will wear out.
Finally, the 3DS also acts somewhat as a pedometer, offering one Play Coin for every hundred steps. These coins can be used in different ways depend on the game, for example in a game like Super Mario Bros., they might be used as a way to get rare powerups for Mario. You can only collect 10 coins a day, 300 coins maximum, but it is a nice way to reward players for getting to that nice shady spot outside and play on a nice spring day.
The Nintendo 3DS comes preloaded with all sorts of utilities as well as some games. On the main title screen you have the option to reorganize how you access games, as well as control the brightness of the games. You’ll be able to see if your friends are online and what games they are playing, and receive new notifications from Nintendo while the 3DS is connected to the internet. Sadly, the web browser is not available at this time and there has been no word when it will be activated.
The software that comes with the 3DS are the camera and music player (like the DSi and DSi XL), Download Play option, an activity log that shows what games you have been playing and for how long, and a pedometer showing you how many steps you’ve taken. One of my favorite applications is Game Notes: You can open up the app and start jotting down notes, whether you’re in game. It will save what you wrote, along with an accompanying screenshot of the game. Then it goes one step further, allowing you to export the note as a file and send it to a friend. This way if someone’s having trouble, you can actually give them a way to help beat them.
The next two were taken straight from the Nintendo Wii. That’s right the Mii’s are back and this time with two independent softwares; the Mii Maker and Mii Plaza. The Mii Maker is just as it says; you get to create your Mii’s here. These Mii’s are also the ones you can use in certain games like Pilotwings Resort and Nintendogs + Cats. The choices are exactly the same as they are on the Nintendo Wii version, but it also allows you to make Mii’s by taking picture of someone. It’s a nice feature, and is pretty good at getting faces right, but there’s nothing like making it from scratch.
You can also receive Mii’s from friends locally or on the Mii Channel. You will be able to copy Mii’s from the Wii to your 3DS, but not the other way. You can also get Mii’s by scanning a Mii QR code or an actual image of the Mii, both can be done directly in the software provided. This is an easier way of transferring your Mii’s to a friend’s 3DS if you can’t meet up with them, such as you’re in different states or countries.
So what are the Miis used for? The 3DS comes with some pre-loaded games in which the Miis are your playable characters: Puzzle Swap and Find Mii. Puzzle Swap is nothing more than a jigsaw puzzle in which you gather different pieces from the Mii’s in streetpass. The second one, Find Mii, is like a mini Final Fantasy meets dungeon crawler game. Using Mii’s you have found, or Play Coins to recruit a Mii, you fight in a turn-based style RPG to rescue the kidnapped Mii.
The last two preloaded games on the 3DS are Face Raiders and AR Games. AR Games use the AR Cards you received when you first opened your 3DS system to play different games such as archery, find the Mii, etc. You can also use the different player cards and summon famous Nintendo characters onto your screen and position them to take pictures. Face Raiders is a highly-addictive action shooting game in which you take pictures of your friends, have them superimposed on helmet helicopters, and use the cameras to find them within your 3D space and blast them with ping pongs balls.
Everyone’s a Critic
There were some things that we had issues with the Nintendo 3DS, the first being the lackluster of titles. Sure, no one ever has an awesome launch with great games to choose from, but for something as powerful as the 3DS it’s a shame we didn’t see a powerhouse title like The Legend of Zelda or Super Mario Bros. to arrive at launch. Even the original DS came out with Super Mario 64 DS, and it’s still being produced to this day. It felt like there were only one or two titles that everyone could choose from depending on what they wanted. For the hardcore, there was Super Street Fighter 4: 3D Edition and Samurai Warriors: Chronicles. For the kids or casual there was Nintendogs + Cats and LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars. But there wasn’t the title that everyone would go for.
Then there’s the actual 3DS stylus and the location of it; placing the stylus behind the upper screen is annoying. Secondly is the size of the stylus itself. It feels as if it went back to the original thickness of the DS stylus five years ago. Even the top of the stylus and how it snaps in looks exactly the same as the original DS stylus. After several uses the small indent where it snapped in wore out. I lost count over how many styluses I lost over the years due to this design flaw. Lastly there’s the battery life, and it’s something that everyone has complained about. On average, the Nintendo 3DS can get anywhere from 3-6 hours of play time, depending on how bright you have the screen, if wireless is turned on, so on and so forth. There have been talks about third party batteries to promote longer play time and rumors that Nintendo may put out a longer lasting battery in the future. But for now, keep your charger handy at all times.
There have also been complaints about the lack of online features such as the web browser or the Nintendo eShop. But remember, Nintendo did come out and state that some of the features, including the Netflix support, would not be available on day one. At one point there were rumors some of the services would go up in June around the time of the Electronic Entertainment Expo. Yet due to the natural disaster in Japan, Nintendo has not given any hint of an ETA for those features. Even the Pokemon Global Link option scheduled for March 30th was put on a permanent delay with no ETA given. Nintendo can’t be blamed for that.
Why Should I Buy It?
I’ve heard many people answer “It’s going to be the first system to display 3D images.” And while that’s a good point, I honestly don’t believe that’s the sole selling factor. The reason you should buy this handheld is simple: It’s the next system. It’s the same reason why you went out to buy the Game Boy Advance or even the Nintendo DS the day they came out. Sure the 3D visuals are nice, but I honestly believe that it’s not the driving force. We compared certain games like the two Nintendogs games or even a full 3D-environment game like Super Mario 64 DS and comparing it to Super Street Fighter 4: 3D Edition. Graphically the system has improved since the last one. Comparing the handheld graphics to a console’s, they’re somewhere between the Gamecube and Wii quality graphics. This is a huge leap seeing as the Nintendo DS felt like it had a tad better graphics than a N64.
If You’re Just Skimming the Article, Here’s Your Summary
The Nintendo 3DS is a nice system. It was well designed and as great potential in the long run of things. There are some drawbacks, like the stylus and battery life, but good outweigh the bad. The system comes preloaded with all sorts of goodies from a journal tracking your gaming to mini-games to play now and then. The 3D visuals are very nice and work great, and what we like about it the most is it’s up to the player to decide between 3D and 2D. Plus the system offers 3D without glasses, and given the public’s recent obsession with 3D movies and televisions, this is something techno-buffs will eat up.. Overall, though, gamers will buy this system simply because it’s the newest handheld, and there’s nothing wrong with that!The Nintendo 3DS,