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Nintendo 3DS Review

Posted March 1st, 2011 by ahmad

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While others are only just getting their first “hands-on” previews of Nintendo’s brand new 3DS handheld, ButtonMasher’s Man in Japan 8-bit has got his hands on a hot launch console in Japan and kindly agreed to share his thoughts with us – the first Nintendo 3DS review published in New Zealand! Our thanks also go out to fellow ButtonMasher community member ZedameX (who himself has received an import unit) for his contribution to this review. Actual photos of the unit will be uploaded shortly.

This is a review of the Japanese 3DS. I have tried my best where possible to use the official English names for games, applications and features.

Nintendo is first off the block in the next generation of handhelds with the release of the Nintendo 3DS in Japan last Saturday. It boasts a glasses-less 3D screen, improved graphics, and unique connectivity experiences with other 3DS users. But will it live up to its predecessor which stands king of the handhelds with over 144,000,000 units sold?

black-and-aqua-blue-3DS

At first glance the 3DS looks a lot like the DS, but Nintendo have actually made few design changes in the 3DS. The first thing I noticed when I picked it up was how square it felt. Nintendo have given the 3DS quite sharp edges and made the top half slightly larger than the bottom, Nintendo have stated that this is to make the 3DS easier to open. It feels very sturdy and comfortable to hold. The surface has a nice glossy metal finish to it with an anti-fingerprint UV coating on the top surface to keep it clean. The pictures I had seen on the internet didn’t really do it justice.

Volume control is on the left side along with the SD card slot. On the right is the wireless switch and LED light, as well as the 3D slider control which is attached to the top half next to the 3D screen. On the top is the game slot IR port and stylus, which is now made of metal and extendable. The bottom has charge LED, power LED, and a centered headphone jack. There are two cameras on the outside to take 3D photos, and one on the inside.

slider

The analog control feels very comfortable, and can be used by DS titles as well. The placement of the D-pad doesn’t feel too bad, and the buttons are of the clicky variety. The start, home and select buttons and placed almost flush under the touch screen.

Nintendo 3DS game boxes have been redesigned to be thinner and more eco friendly.

When you turn it on you are greeted with the menu on the touch screen, from here you can select what game or application you want play with. Once you are in a program or game you can press the home button at anytime to bring you back to the menu screen. At the top of the menu there are 4 icons: Game Memo, Friends List, Notices, and Web Browser (not yet available). These can be accessed without having to end whatever program you are currently running.

A new feature to the 3DS is Game Coins. These are coins that are collected by simply walking around with your 3DS on (or in sleep mode). For every 100 steps you take you get 1 game coin. You are granted a maximum of 10 coins a day, with a total of 300 coins allowed to be held at any time. Game Coins are used in games to unlock extra content and seem to be used as a backup to when you are unable to find people using StreetPass.

StreetPass is the official name given for tag mode which has been implemented in a few DS titles recently (Dragon Quest 9, Pokémon Black and White, Nino Kuni). When StreetPass is active the 3DS constantly sends out a signal to try to connect to any other 3DS consoles in the area. When it connects to another 3DS, information from all your games that use the StreetPass feature is exchanged. StreetPass is active in both sleep mode and while playing games. This seems to have a bit of potential. I don’t know how well it will go down in NZ – I guess it depends on the success of the 3DS.

Nintendo have almost grasped the idea of online gaming. You get one friend code to use on your system for all games. Once both parties have registered each other’s codes you can view when they are online and what they are playing. The problem is that there is no option to send messages to your friends. You can write a comment to place above your Mii for all your friends to see. I guess it is better than nothing, but online Pictochat would have been awesome.

The 3DS actually has some games and applications that are preinstalled. I’ve tried to go through each one to give an explanation and some impressions. Please note that the e-shop and web browser are not available at launch. These will be included with the first firmware update at the end of May.

3DS_menu

Activity Log

This keeps track of all your walking and gaming activity. It tracks statistics for games such as how many times you’ve access it as well as how long you have played it. Pretty simple but useful if you are into that sort of thing.

Nintendo 3DS Camera

Allows you to take pictures in 2D and 3D. There are a few effects you can add to photos. Not the greatest camera in the world but it is interesting to take 3D pictures.

Nintendo 3DS Sound

You can record, edit and playback sounds. It also supports MP3 and ACC file formats. It also has sounds effects so that you can play along with your music. It also includes screen visualisations that can play while listening to music, including Excite Bike, Star Fox and Rhythm Heaven. It’s pretty pimped out with options. I don’t know if it will replace my current music device though, as taking out the SD card to load songs onto it can be troublesome (I’m a lazy person).

Mii Maker

This is much like the Wii version, but with added content to customize your Mii with. You create Miis to use in your 3DS. There is also an option to use the camera to assist in Mii creation. Using your picture the 3DS will try to create a Mii that looks like you. The results weren’t so great; in fact they were terrible for my face. You might be better off making a Mii from scratch.

Mii Plaza

Mii Plaza is the application where you select a Mii for using in StreetPass. You can also add extra information to share such as hobby and dreams (these are predetermined). Mii Plaza also contains two mini games “pi-su atsume no tabi” (Piece collecting journey) and StreetPass Quest.

In “pi-su atsume no tabi” you have to collect 15 pieces to make up puzzles of Nintendo character and games. Pieces can be collected by either using StreetPass or using Game Coins.

StreetPass Quest is an RPG like game that makes use of StreetPass and Game Coins to progress. Your Mii has been imprisoned and you need the help of other Mii’s you meet with StreetPass to battle through stages of enemies to save you. Each Mii you meet gets one turn at fighting. You can also use Game Coins to hire a hero for a turn if you can’t find anyone using StreetPass. I managed to get past the first stage with the help of one Mii on StreetPass and a couple of heroes. After defeating the enemy I was rewarded a treasure chest that contained a Mario hat for my Mii to wear in Mii Plaza.

Mii Plaza is basically a show piece for StreetPass, but it is actually pretty fun. I had been walking around all day hoping to get a hit using the StreetPass feature, finally some mother rode past me on her bicycle with her kid on the back playing a 3DS. She was riding fairly fast too so I was surprised that it could exchange all the data in time. I’m sure as more people buy them it’ll make for some fun commutes to work on the train.

AR Games

AR-CARDS

Included in the box with the 3DS are 6 cards to use with the AR (Augmented Reality) Games. Essentially you place the “?” card on a table and use the camera of the 3DS to view it. Some boxes containing games it will pop up on your table and from there you shoot at what you want to play. There is a target shooting game, a billiard type game, a fishing game, a drawing application and a couple of photo applications. The 3 games are very short and only take about 2 to 3 minutes to finish. The other 5 cards are of Nintendo characters that are used for one of the photo applications. Once you lay the card down the character will pop out and you can change its pose, position and size to take a picture. There are 6 extra games you can unlock by using Game Coins (more target shooting, free fishing, a clock, etc) It’s fun at first, but it’s too short for the hassle of pulling the cards out. I’m sure some will find amusement it taking photos with Miis and Nintendo characters.

Face Raiders

This is the face shooting game that comes with the 3DS. You take a picture of a face and the 3DS maps it to ball like spaceships that fly around your surroundings (augmented reality style) trying to attack you. You have to physically move around making use of the 3DS’s motion controls and camera to look for and shoot any faces you see. Not really the type of game you want to play in public. The faces are automatically animated to make certain expressions; some of the outcomes can be quite funny. The game play is very simple I don’t think it is something you’ll come back to often, but is a good tech demo to show people what 3DS can do.

Nintendo Zone

(Availability not yet confirmed in NZ). This application allows you to connect to 3rd parties (like McDonalds) when you are near an access point. The content you can access depends on the 3rd party.

The 3D glasses-less screen is the major feature of the 3DS. Although I had already seen the technology in use before in cameras and cell phones I was still impressed when I got to see the 3DS for the first time. The 3D works really well, and the “sweet spot” is fairly robust. I am able to hold the 3DS at arm’s length and the effect still works. Tilting the 3DS up and down doesn’t break the effect, so I could easily play in 3D on the train without any troubles. Tilting it side to side on a vertical axis the images starts to flash breaking the effect. The 3D-effect slider control works well too. During static dialogue scenes in Layton increasing the effect clearly made the background move further back.

After initially playing the system for a couple of hours I did experience a slight sickness when I looked down at my cell phone screen. Also my eyes were feeling a little sore and tired. This might have been due to the fact I was feeling tired beforehand. I haven’t experienced anything like it since, but I don’t think marathon 3D gaming sessions will be doable though.

While most of the time I felt like the 3D was a cool effect, it didn’t really feel like it was adding anything to the game play. This was until I played the AR fishing game. When I first played this game I had the 3DS set to 2D, and I found it quite hard to tell where in the water my hook was landing. Once I turned on the 3D it made it a lot easier to judge the distance my rod was sticking out, so I could easily place the hook down near the fish.

The graphics are certainly a big step up from the DS. It’s always hard to tell how good they can be from launch titles. Although with the new PSP releasing at the end of the year they might feel a little dated soon. I’m not really too concerned about that myself thought – I still have a Famicom plugged into my TV.

It’s pretty hard to tell how long the battery will last. Nintendo have stated it should last 3 to 5 hours playing 3DS games and 5 to 8 hours playing DS games. There are 5 brightness settings and an energy saving mode. I had the system in sleep mode for the most of 2 days (turning it off at night) with a few hours gaming before the battery went into the red.

The 3DS has a lot of potential and as with all systems can only be as good as the software that is developed for it. The launch titles that are on offer are pretty slim, but there seems to be a steady flow of games scheduled for release. Nintendo have stated that they are working hard to get third parties to develop for the system.

New Zealand launch titles are as follows:

- Super Street Fighter 4 $TBA
- Nintendogs and Cats $TBA
- Pro Evolution Soccer 3D $89.99
- Lego Star Wars III: The Clone Wars $89.99
- The Sims 3 $69.99
- Ridge Racer 3D $89.99
- Rabbids Travel in Time 3D $89.99
- Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell 3D $TBA
- Rayman 3D $89.99
- Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Shadow Wars $89.99
- Asphalt 3D $TBA

The 3DS is 100% compatible with all DS games, but it is region locked [BOO! – Ed.]. This means it can only play 3DS, DSi and DSi enhanced games from the same region [The three regions are Japan, USA, and “Aus/NZ/UK” – Ed.). DS games are not locked so you can still play these.

The system is scheduled for release in New Zealand on March 31st and will be available in two colours – Aqua Blue and Cosmo Black. Each system comes with a charging cradle, AC adapter (identical to the DSi/DSi XL charger), 2GB SD card and 6 different AR cards for a RRP of $479

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