I genuninely like the Nintendo 3DS, but it’s definitely far from perfect.
I picked one up for $169 just before the price drop. Cosco decided it would be a great idea to lower the price early. This allowed me to get a 3DS for the discounted price and still qualify for Nintendo’s ambassador program – I totally worked the system yo.
The first title I popped into my shinny new aqua blue handheld was The Legend Of Zelda Ocarina Of Time. I’m pleasantly suprised by how fluid and accurate the 3DS’s joystick feels. It would be nice if it had dual joysticks though; the fact that it only has one will limit the kind of games developers create for the 3DS (this could be why there is a rumored dual analog redesign in the works). The dpad also works great but I don’t think many games (other than fighting) will actually end up using it in their control schemes. The 3D feature can’t be used in conjunction with the handheld’s motion control feature. Maintaining a clear line of sight and moving as little as possible is important to maintaining the 3DS’s 3D effect, having the motion control feature on as well as 3D is impossible. To me, this seems like a major design flaw.
Aesthetically, the 3DS looks great; it’s sleek, solid and well designed. My main issue with the console is the volume, 3D and WiFi adjustable sliders. They all seem poorly manufactured and loose; they wiggle all over the place. The new extendable stylus is great and fits snugly into the back of the portable. The charger docking bay is also a cool extra; you don’t have to use it but it certainly looks nice. I’m not a fan of the black glossy backing that frames the handheld’s top 3D screen. In my experience, this material shows small hairline scratches far too easily. I had similar issues with a laptop I recently purchased that used the same kind of plastic.
The system’s 3D performance actually surprised me. Ocarina Of Time looks fantastic on the 3DS and although the 3D didn’t really add anything to OoT’s gameplay, it certainly looks awesome. Pilot Wings Resort is the only title I’ve played where 3D actually changes how a game plays; it allows you to judge distances slightly better than if the game is played in 2D. Other titles like Steel Diver make little to no use of the 3DS’s 3D capabilities. Interestingly enough, the graphics in every game I have played so far, look much sharper in 3D than with the feature turned off.
An issue many gamers might have with the 3D effect is the fact that it needs to be adjusted for every single game. Certain titles look better for some people with the slider set to max whereas other titles look terrible. It’s all about experimentation and there’s no one size fits all setting. With most games, I was able to find the 3D sweet spot in only a few minutes.
The 3DS’s multitasking doesn’t really work the way it should either. Returning to the home screen is simple enough; you just press the home button under the bottom touch screen. If you open up a new app, a game or one of the built in software applications, the original app you had open, closes. This makes multitasking on the 3DS pretty pointless. The only applications I’ve been able to open up without closing the other apps I had open were the 3DS’s web browser, notes, friends list and camera.
The web browser is competent enough, although it doesn’t feature flash support. I don’t see myself ever using it though, after using a touch screen smartphone for years, navigating the internet with a stylus just seems awkward and strange. The system’s main menus are clean and intuitive but seem a little iPhone-ish.
Even though Nintendo will never admit it, with the 3DS, they are essentially adding a bunch of features that have been available on the DS Lite for years through the use of flashcards. One of the stand out additions is the Nintendo eShop, a great idea that’s poorly implemented. The ability to download old Gameboy, Gameboy Advanced and new original games directly to your handheld is a great concept, but where are all the awesome titles? According to Nintendo they’re still on there way. However, right now, the eShop looks extremely barren.
Another big issue with the 3DS is it’s absolutely horrible battery life. I don’t know what was going through Nintendo’s mind when they thought it would be a great idea to release a portable console that has roughly three hours of battery life. This terrible figure can be improved slightly by turning down or turning off the system’s 3D feature. But why would you want to do that? The console’s called the 3DS and you probably bought it to game in 3D. I find myself constantly plugging it in to charge.
The main problem with the 3DS is the fact that there is a complete lack of quality games for the handheld. It’s been out for a few months now and Ocarina Of Time 3D is the only title worth buying the system for. If Nintendo wants the 3DS to sell like the DS Lite, then they need their awesome AAA franchises on the handheld. The good news is the big N is bringing a new Mario, Mario Kart and Kid Icarus title to the 3DS. These games are a great start but quality third party games are also important for the 3DS’s future – Nintendo franchises can’t carry sales alone.
Overall I like the 3DS; it’s a sleak sexy machine full of interesting ground breaking technology. The problem is there just aren’t enough games out yet that really show off what the handheld can do. If all goes according to plan this may change in the very near future.