The next generation of hand-held gaming has arrived. I picked up my Nintendo 3DS first thing this morning at my local Wal-Mart, which was rather uneventful. Maybe it was the fact that my brother and I were the first two people to buy Nintendo 3DS consoles at our store at 7am, and maybe it was because we were at Wal-Mart, but there were only a total of four people when the store opened looking to buy one. My brother and I both picked up the blue 3DS as well as our own copies of Super Street Fighter IV: 3D Edition.
We’ll talk about the game later. For now, let’s focus on the package and the hardware itself.
If/when you buy a launch 3DS, you will get the following:
– Nintendo 3DS Console
– Charging Cradle
– AR Cards
– 2 gig SD card
– Manual + promo materials
Unlike past Nintendo hand-held systems, this one comes with a charging cradle, which you will use a lot. Unfortunately, the 3DS battery life pales in comparison to past Nintendo hand-held systems. At least it functions as it should and doubles as a decent stand for stylus-only games. The AR cards show off the potential for the system, but aren’t really anything more than tech demos. I’d love to see more of this type of stuff in the future.
Now let’s talk about the system itself. It’s about the same size as a DS Lite, which to me is a good thing. As you can see in the image above, the finish on the top of the system is really shiny and reflective. What this also means is that it will attract a ton of finger prints.
What bothers me about the system though, is that from a hardware design perspective, they took some weird steps backwards from the DSi and DS Lite. I can’t speak for the black model, but the blue one has four different colours. The shade of blue on the top is not the same colour or finish as the shade of blue on the controls, which also isn’t the same as the shade of blue on the back. I tried my best to take a picture of the different colour layers above with my iPhone, but I couldn’t get the focus quite right. The inside panel with the 3D screen is black, which makes the system four different colours instead of one. I really wish they would have gone for something more unified.
As much as people bashed the original DS for its sheer ugliness, Nintendo for some reason decided to incorporate many style elements from that model into the 3DS. The system as a whole has a lot more angles to it, which I’m currently not a fan of from an aesthetics perspective. The system’s ‘layers’ don’t sit flush with each other. In the image above, you can clearly see that the layers are different sizes, which makes the whole thing look like a mash-up of different portable hand-held systems glued together. What’s most annoying about the original DS design cues is that Nintendo decided to move the stylus slot back to the top of the system, instead of on the side like the DS Lite and DSi. I thought the side placement for the stylus was perfect from an ergonomics perspective, which makes the decision to move it back to the top an unusual one for me to understand.
Once you get your hands on it, it feels for the most part like a DS Lite or DSi. What’s worth noting here is that the analog circle pad does feel really good and I think would work great for games with 3D movement. As for the d-pad placement, it’s too low on the system to use comfortably. Playing Street Fighter on it has been a chore so far, but we can talk about that specific case in a later post. The other feature worth noting as far as the buttons go is the home button. This button acts a lot like the guide buttons on the PS3 or XBOX 360 controller. During gameplay, you can use it to navigate to other 3DS applications and then go back to the game exactly where you left it. Neat.
You’re probably reading this and wondering when I’m actually going to talk about the glasses-free 3D screen. Let’s cover that now. It works. It works really, really well. Unlike current 3D movies, where the effect appears to pop out at you, the 3D seen in the 3DS seems to go deep within the screen. When you have the 3D settings right and you’re holding it at the right distance and right angle to your face, it’s awesome. It’s also not that hard to find the sweet spot for you. However, when you’re not in that sweet spot, it can be headache-inducing, so be careful.
I’ll continue to play around with the hardware and the one game I have for the time being. Keep checking out In Third Person for more detailed impressions in the future!