Monday, March 28, 2011

Tech: Nintendo 3DS

I am once again crossing that threshold between professional writings and personal for this article. It has been over a day since I purchased the Nintendo 3DS, the newest hand held gaming device by big N. Let me cut to the chase. Is it worth it? In the short term, no. But this has nothing to do with the hardware, or the novelty of the 3D, which is, in a word, phenomenal. No, the shortcoming is with the game library that came out at launch. Don't get me wrong, Super Street Fighter 4 was the tipping point for me, but as of this writing, that all there really is. I'm thinking of getting Ridge Racer, and Pilotwings, but truth be told, I'm only considering that as a justification to use more of the 3D features. In the long run, this is more evolutionary than revolutionary, and when Zelda comes out, along with several other titles, this will be the device to be had, even if it will be in its inevitable 3Ds Lite form.

Now for the long description. I purchased the 3DS since I am a pretty heavy mobile gamer due to my traveling schedule. I usually carry on me my DS Lite, and my original PSP fat (hacked of course) so that I can keep myself entertained on planes, airports, and hotels. So the 3DS was an enticing option.

The 3DS is, in a nutshell, an updated version in the DS and DSi line. All titles for those platforms are playable, with the addition of the new 3DS titles. Covering 3 generations of the platform is pretty impressive, considering that the DS only covered the DS and Gameboy Advance, and the DSi dropped the Advance and only played DS and DSi titles. The problem for me, however, is that I do still have a good collection of Advance titles, such as the re-releases of Zelda 1 and 2, Phantasy Star, and several Final Fantasy installments. So, for me, it looks like I'll still be carrying around the DS Lite. Which brings up a major issue with the 3DS, the battery. The battery, for me, lasted around 3 - 4 hours. Of course, I did crank the 3D the entire time, but from what I have read, turning the 3D off doesn't make that big of a difference. So on a plane ride for me its no big deal, but I might be switching over to the Lite mid flight.

Once the 3Ds is turned on, it borrows a lot of its "feel" from the Wii. Thats hard to describe in words, but the overall tone, color schemes, and sound effects seemed very Wii'ish. Thats not a bad thing by any means, and navigating the menus is a very intuitive. The 3D camera is really slick, as is the AR games.

But the real meat is in the gaming. I spent all my time playing Street Fighter, of course. And to be honest, I was blown away by the 3D. It really is unlike any gaming experience I have ever had. Just something about landing that final special move, and the camera panning around with real perceived depth is just breath taking. I was a little disappointed that the two hood rats were missing from the background of the North American Diner stage, but I suppose there is only so much processing power in this handheld, and processing the "Oh Snaps" might have been too much.

There are several features that have a notice that it will be featured in some future update, such as the web browser, which means there are pieces of the entire 3DS experience that are missing. But I guess thats what I get for being an early adopter.

Like I said above, this is a really neat device. But the short term benefit just seems lacking. Long term this can really be THE device to have, especially once the game library grows, especially considering that DS and DSi titles cannot take advantage of the 3D capabilities. But once the Zelda, Mario, and Laytons come out that do take advantage of these features, this is going to be a great system. And something about the Professor Laytons stylized art might be really slick with the 3D option turned on =)

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