The Zero Hour

Reviews, rants and oddities on video game and film culture.

3DS – Thumbs On Review

So after a year of rumours and speculation, hype and a bit of trepidation, the 3DS is finally on our shores and there’s a lot of hype riding on it, so is it worth it? Yes it is. Now, before I go any further, everything Nintendo has said in its advertising campaigns is true, it has to be seen to believed and if you’re still sceptical after reading this, go find someone who has one and ask for a go, what Nintendo have given us is just almost too much to comprehend and in such a reasonable price. Consider everything it can do; 3 dimensional gaming (with high graphical capabilities that of a Wii, maybe even Xbox 360), video and mp3 playback, 3 cameras, 2 with the ability to take 3D photos and backwards compatibility. If this was a home console, that’d be upwards for £400, plus the need for a 3D TV, setting you back even more. But it’s here, in your hands right now for less than £200.

and then that’s not even the full range, with its Street Pass functionality and downloads that are being launched in May, such as the Virtual Console service, which for those not familiar with the Wii’s similar offering, allows you for a small price to download classic Nintendo games from previous consoles. This one’s going to be more focused on the handheld side, from the classic Game Boy ranges, Link’s Awakening and Super Mario Land (the latter being the first ever game I played) being the torchbearers. We’ve also got Game Gear and TurboGrafx 16 games as well. I’m hoping this spills into GBA territory in the future, allowing people to experience Golden Sun, Zelda: The Minish Cap and if the Wii’s VC’s Hanabi festival is anything to go by, the Mother series translated, perhaps?

But enough wishful thinking and more wish fulfilment, as the darn console sits right in front of me as I type. The first most obvious thing is to point that, yes, the 3D does work. Does it take a while to get used to? Not really. I found that after a brief few seconds of…and I can think of no other way to put this, saying “woah” like Keanu Reeves, you really take in what you’re seeing and it feels so incredible and indescribable that “woah” is pretty much a spot on description.  There are a few little bits that are slightly off putting, you have to stand pretty still for the 3D to work , there’s a “sweet spot” that’s different for everyone that makes all the difference to your viewing. Of course, this is all based on the 3D Slider being on full intensity, switch it down for a more subtle and diluted 3D effect. Or you could just turn it off, but that’s a bit boring.

Size wise, it’s not dis-similar to the DS lite, and a bit smaller than the chunky DS.  I apologise for the messy desk.

One of the first things you’re asked to do once turned on, after taking in the pretty ambient music, is create a profile and date, this is very similar to the original DS’ software, except now you get asked about online from the get go, rather than on a game by game basis, clearly, this is Nintendo taking into account the hassle of the previous generations faffing about with friend codes and connections. Interestingly, you’re encouraged not to use your actual name, which seems weird to me, but I reckon this is for anonymity on Streetpass or online gaming, because Nintendo are aware that kids play these games consoles (why else would there be a parental control option?)

Being the tight student I am however has affected my purchase and this analysis somewhat in that I can’t afford any games. Well, I could, I just won’t be eating for the next few weeks, so I decided it would be a good opportunity, not only to test out the software that comes with the console, but it’s backwards compatibility. First off, they’ve brought back the Mii’s from the Wii system, having created an avatar for myself on both that and the Xbox 360, I found myself not exactly keen to make a 3rd one, but was quickly won over by the fact it’s thankfully not just a copy and paste of the Wii’s version, there’s more options and the touch screen controls work phenomenally well in the programs favour, whilst on the Wii you could spend a good 10 minutes waving your remote trying to get it right, here I created my Mii in about 2 minutes, you can’t delete your personal Mii though, which could be a bit disappointing if you only wanted to use novelty Miis, but then the thought of you having a chin-wag with Hitler, Chuck Norris and Peter Griffin (people HAVE made these already) is delightfully surreal and hilarious.

I checked out Face Raiders next, which let’s face it, is up there with Katamari Democracy in terms of absolutely weirdness. First of all, you take a picture of your face, and then you play a game where that face has been placed in Super Mario’s Propeller hat and is attacking you with kisses. This means you have to fight back by throwing bright yellow balls and moving the screen (the games background is based on whatever your 3D cameras are pointing at). There are some really neat 3D effects like them blowing a whole in your wall and the faces coming at you and snogging you. After a couple of minutes, you then fight the ultimate Samurai final boss, eg, you in a Samurai helmet, which reminded me a bit of Starfox (I kept expecting Slippy to go “Enemy shield analysed”) and has me craving the upcoming Lylat Wars remake. It’s utterly barmy and very Japanese, but it’s perfect introduction to the capabilities of the 3DS. Following this, I checked out the 3D camera, which I think I may need to spend some more time with, as I could never take the photos and make them look good in 3D because I could never find the right angle to look at it in, however, there’s a nice little tutorial hosted by a parrot, which is very handy, it’s not for budding photographers, just a bit of fun. Oh and there’s a face smasher option where you can create a chimera of 2 people’s faces, sort of like “If these two had a kid, it would look like this” I haven’t tried it yet, but it sounds delightfully twisted. I may take a picture of my flatmate and a panda and see what happens.

Now, whilst using the slide pad and the buttons to navigate the menus is all fine, to really test out the capabilities of the controls and the button and the consoles backwards compatibility, I popped in my copy of Pokémon Black. Now, this is where the difference between the consoles show. Graphically, the game looked a bit more dull with the edges cut off, now Pokémon Black still had pixilation problems on the old DS and here it just makes it more apparent, it’s still fine to look at and play and the Slide pad works wonders for movement and feels really smooth to use, it’s not perfect analogue control though and is very reminiscent of the PSP’s nub, except less awkwardly placed. On the subject of which, below it is the classic Nintendo D-Pad that surprisingly doesn’t feel as uncomfortable as I thought it would, although some people are going to have problems with it, so it’s probably best to stick with the slide-pad. Also, the buttons don’t feel as responsive as they have on the DS, I miss the deep reassuring click that it offered on the shoulder buttons and the home/start/select buttons at the bottom need to be really pressed down to work, but these are such small problems that in about a month after getting used to it, I’m sure it’ll feel natural. Finally, very impressed by the speakers, they go VERY loud when they need to, I haven’t tested out the music playback yet and I imagine there are music junkies who’ll disagree with this, but I found the audio to be pretty high quality and superb…I can only imagine how good Ocarina Of Time’s audio will be in a few months…

So even with all the augmented reality cards, the street pass, the aforementioned music playback and some actual 3D games that I’ve yet to try out, already the 3DS is worth the £190 odd I paid. Even though the launch line-up is missing that killer launch title, Nintendo have taken a huge risk launching, what is a risky console anyway, on its name alone and I think that it’s definitely paid off. The 3D is fantastic, it looks gorgeous, the built in software is exciting in itself at the potential of just what the console can do and this is just the tip of the iceberg. I wrote a post a few days ago about how it’s wrong that pre-launch it was being compared to the Virtual Boy, well those comparisons have effectively been fired at with big yellow balls and destroyed, the 3DS is a fantastic piece of tech and if you’re reading this in the UK. Go out and treat yourself, if you’re reading this in America, I hope this has you salivating for glasses-less 3D. The future’s here and it’s copyrighted Nintendo.

EDIT: I’ve found the Mii QR code snagging technique, want some Alexiswylie goodness on your 3DS? Of course you do.


One response to “3DS – Thumbs On Review

  1. James brown 10/11/2011 at 21:52

    I was reluctant to buy this product, but I start seeing some cash from day 1

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