Round Table: 3DS Impressions

The new owners of 3DS on Nintendojo’s staff share their impressions of satisfaction and surprise.

By M. Noah Ward. Posted 04/01/2011 11:00 Comment on this     ShareThis

Nintendojo 3DS Impressions

It’s finally here! Several of us have jumped into a bright future of 3D visuals by getting our own 3DSs. Yet not all of us have made the leap, which may also be true for you, too. For those of us who have the hardware and for those of us who want to know what it’s like, you’ll see below our initial impressions of Nintendo’s newest handheld. Are we happy with it? What’s our favorite game? Will our DSs be permanently tucked away in a box in the attic? Find out below.

Kevin Knezevic

By all accounts, 3DS’s launch line-up is not nearly as dismal as many have painted it to be. While it’s true there is no really innovative, “AAA” title yet available for the console, those that were released alongside it are proving to be better than most (including myself) expected. Super Street Fighter IV is, obviously, among the system’s very best games (though I admit to not owning it as I am not a fan of fighters), but Ridge Racer, Ghost Recon, and Super Monkey Ball 3D have all been generally praised by reviewers as well.

While this may not seem like much, we must remember that (at the time of writing this) we are still only days removed from the system’s launch in North America. These four games, though perhaps not exemplary, represent a variety of genres and provide a nice amount of solid third-party offerings for the fledgling console. I am particularly interested in Ghost Recon as I generally enjoy titles like Advance Wars and Fire Emblem, but I decided to abstain from purchasing it for the moment because I already have too many games that demand my attention. While 3DS’s launch was certainly one of Nintendo’s weaker ones (at least in terms of first-party presence), it was by no means terrible.

Thanks to a sale at Toys “R” Us (all 3DS games were buy one, get one 50% off), I was able to pick up Pilotwings Resort alongside Steel Diver (both of which I will be reviewing soon). I do not want to delve too deeply into my impressions of these titles (as their respective reviews would be a more appropriate outlet for my praises and critiques), but suffice it to say I have been enjoying my time with each so far and look forward to playing them some more.

The console itself is just as impressive as when I first laid eyes on it. I must admit I am not the biggest fan of its design (I do not like its “three-tiered” color scheme, and I think DSi is just much sleeker overall), but I love the look of 3DS’s home interface. Right from the get-go the system just feels more sophisticated than any Nintendo console before it. Its friend list in particular is far and away more advanced than any similar feature the company has ever attempted (which, perhaps, may not be saying much, but is a pleasant surprise just the same). That said, you can at the moment only see when someone is online and what they’re playing, not actually interact with them. It’s a bit of a bummer that the feature is this limited for now, but it will assuredly be more fleshed out come the massive system update in May. It almost feels like watching a garden grow– the seeds of something awesome have been sown, but we must wait patiently for them to come to fruition. Whether or not they even will is another question entirely, but I am cautiously optimistic for the future.

While the AR Games are neat, the console’s real killer app is Face Raiders. I honestly cannot sing its praises enough. My time with the title at Nintendo’s media event in January led me to believe it would be little more than a fun diversion, but there is actually a bit of content to it– in fact, what I covered in my preview of the game was but the first of six “stages” available in the final product. Each one features different, progressively more complex types of adversaries to dispatch, and they can actually get pretty challenging. The game encourages you to amass as many faces as you can by taking pictures of friends and family, and it even tells you to take pictures of pictures to build up your collection. This is probably my favorite feature of the game, as finding your favorite celebrities to use as enemies just adds to the hilarity and fun of the title. I spent the better part of my first day with the console scouring the internet for some good pictures, and as a result my personal face collection now includes, among others, Edgar Allan Poe, Emily Dickinson, Orson Welles, Hayao Miyazaki, and Satoru Iwata. Face Raiders, more than AR Games, is the Wii Sports of 3DS, and it’s the kind of game you can go back to at any time and still enjoy completely.

In all, I am very satisfied with my purchase. While the general lack of “must-haves” and the eShop’s delay might be a problem for some, I look at them as blessings in disguise. I have too many games still sitting in my queue to be truly ready for the next generation, so I’ll use the time afforded by these delays to finish up the likes of Radiant Historia and Okamiden. The system is off to a good start with a solid launch line-up, and its future– with Ocarina of Time and Kid Icarus: Uprising just around the corner (not to mention the “secret titles” Iwata cryptically alluded to)– is looking bright.

Andy Hoover

Kevin is completely, 100% wrong. At least about the system’s aesthetics. After finally getting to see a blue 3DS, I immediately switched my preorder from the black system, and I always (ALWAYS) get my electronics in black. That alone should tell you how much I love the looks of my new, metallic blue beauty.

As for the launch line up, I am a bit more positive about it. While no one title is an absolute must-have, there is a strong selection of great games across a variety of genres that should be enough to please most gamers. Pilotwings is a blast, Nintendogs + Cats should please the casual crowd, Ridge Racer exceeded everybody’s expectations, Street Fighter IV is amazing to behold and probably the best fighter ever to grace a Nintendo handheld, Ghost Recon has lived up to the pedigree of its esteemed developers, and the built in software really does an amazing job of proving the 3DS concept.

Also, I really want to take this opportunity to encourage people to take a look at Samurai Warriors. Yes, it maintains a lot of that love-it-or-hate-it hack-n-slash gameplay, but a slew of new features has increased the tactical depth tremendously, it does a great job of supporting the system’s features, and the 3D in it is absolutely incredible. All in all, I say this easily trumps the launch of the original DS, N64, and even gives GameCube and Wii a run for their money, simply because equal parts quantity and quality are sometimes better than a single heaping mound of quality like Smash Bros. Melee or Twilight Princess.

Finally, I just have to talk about the 3D effects and maybe try to give people a better idea of just how significant they are to the experience. For those of you who haven’t tried the system and have been less than enthused by Hollywood’s recent attempts to revive 3D, let me tell you that 3DS is a million times better. The fact you don’t need glasses is impressive in its own right, but the effect 3D has on gameplay, while not paradigm shifting, is commendable. Unlike movies, you have control of perspective when you play a game and having the 3D effect available for these interactive experiences is much different. While the game remains the same, the inclusion of depth simply improves the immersion significantly and even makes gameplay elements where spacial recognition is important more realistic.

It’s sort of like the hardware jump from N64 to GameCube or PS2 to PS3: the gameplay didn’t really change but the all around greater presentation had a profound effect on the overall experience. Also, I simply must praise 3DS’s sound, which is an absolutely monumental improvement over every DS iteration, not just in the audio fidelity but also in the quality of the speakers.

I could go on and on, but I want to leave some of my comrades something to say!

Aaron Roberts

Guys, don’t even think about the launch lineup or the “launch window” lineup. What’s really amazing about 3DS is that it has the potential to make gaming social in a new way. Not a Farmville way, but through SpotPass and StreetPass and such. You can have a game where other people’s transferred Miis try to rescue yours. You can take pictures of other people’s faces for Face Raiders — and by the way, I’m looking forward to doing this with nearly ALL of the people I know.

Nintendo 3DS LED Notfication

I’ve also noticed most of the bad things I’ve heard about this system are either A: not true, or B: not that bad. For instance, it’s not that hard holding the system in the “sweet spot.” The 3D isn’t giving me headaches, and I’m not having issues with battery life, either. Here’s a ProTip: turn the brightness down! That’s right, folks, if the system isn’t set on the brightest light setting at all times, the battery doesn’t burn out as fast. I have yet to really need to turn off the 3D slider other than out of curiosity. This system is a great deal of fun in a whole new way, and it’s completely motion sensitive, in case you forgot!

James Stank

I never got a chance to play 3DS before I bought one. I was purchasing the system based on all of the positive reactions that I’ve heard, and I can say now that they were right on the money. Without even turning the system on, 3DS is arguably Nintendo’s best looking system ever, thanks in large part to the metallic paint. The difference between 3DS and Nintendo’s other handhelds from an aesthetic viewpoint is that 3DS actually looks expensive, and feels like a technological powerhouse. You don’t get that feeling when holding a DS Lite or DSi, which makes 3DS something new for Nintendo.

Once I actually turned 3D on, I was blown away. The 3D effect definitely works, and works well. The pre-installed games like Face Raiders bring back memories of Wii Sports as they show just what 3DS is actually capable of. As some of the others have said, the 3D viewing window is much larger than what I had expected or heard about. It is no trouble at all to keep yourself in the “sweet spot,” and you don’t need to keep your body in a rigid position to do so. I’ve also yet to get a headache from using the system and the 3D slider is always in the highest position.

Aaron is definitely on the money about the misconceptions of 3DS. I had heard that Face Raiders was tough to play since you had to actually move and this caused the 3D effect to disappear. In my experience, that’s not true. Sure, if you’re shaking your 3DS like the Happy Mask Salesman shook Link, the 3D effect will vanish. But I was able to move around my room with the 3D effect on and never lose it. Others have said that old DS games don’t look as good on 3DS, but I’ve seen no noticeable difference. I guess if you turn on a DS game and look for the absolute minor details you’ll see a difference, but the majority of us won’t care. We just want to play our games, and they look fine on 3DS.

I’ve yet to run into a battery situation, but I don’t have any 3DS games yet so I can’t really say much on that topic, though when I play my 3DS I’m usually at home so battery life wouldn’t matter anyway. The circle pad is one of the best additions to the system. While I wish there were two of them, Nintendo really nailed the design, and makes the PSP’s analog nub look horrible in comparison. I can’t wait til May when the rest of the features are made available, since it will seem like a second launch for the system. For the time being, I’m loving my 3DS and think it was definitely worth the investment.

Positive reviews all-around for 3DS. Do you have one and are similarly happy? Let us know in the comments. You can also check out this week’s table of contents if you’re looking for some 3DS friend codes!

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