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Hands-On Review: Everything That I Love/Hate About the Nintendo 3DS

Hands-On Review: Everything That I Love/Hate About the Nintendo 3DS
Peter Mai/OC Weekly

I have my hands on the Nintendo's newest handheld, the 3DS. As an update to the Nintendo DS, one of the most popular video gaming devices of all time, the 3DS has a lot of expectations to meet. Promising 3D graphics without the need for glasses, along with a handful of many features such as augmented reality, the StreetPass feature, and the ability to push graphics that look as good as the Wii, Nintendo's newest gaming device seems like it has just about everything a gamer can ask for.

However, does it live up to all of the hype, and does it deliver everything Nintendo promised? After spending a few days with it, here is everything I love and hate about the new Nintendo 3DS.

Things I LOVE About the Nintendo 3DS

The Augmented Reality Feature is New and Mind Blowing

That's my right hand, holding my own Mii. Mind-blowing stuff!
That's my right hand, holding my own Mii. Mind-blowing stuff!
Peter Mai/OC Weekly

The Nintendo 3DS' augmented reality, to me, is a feature that's much more exciting than the glasses-free 3D. By placing one of the included augmented reality cards on a flat surface, the 3DS can do a variety of neat things. When I used one of the cards that came with the system, a dragon came out from the table that I placed the card on, and I had to shoot the 3D monster while pointing the system's camera at it from various positions. Sure, I must have looked like a complete idiot playing the game, but I have never seen technology like that in a handheld before. The possibilities for new gameplay features using the augmented reality are very exciting, imagine taking down a virtual Metal Gear in the next Metal Gear Solid game with this technology.

Pedometer and Coin System are Clever Ways to Encourage Gaming Outside

Hands-On Review: Everything That I Love/Hate About the Nintendo 3DS

Nintendo came up with a clever way to get 3DS players to carry their portable systems outside with them. The system has a pedometer built into it, and is able to track the number of steps you take while carrying it around in standby mode. For every 100 steps you take, you're able to earn a coin, which can be used as currency in various games. Clever, right?

By taking your system outside, your 3DS can come into contact with other 3DSs and exchange Mii avatars and data from various games with its StreetPass feature.

Glasses-Free Gaming Works--and Looks Good

A picture I took of my dog. On the 3DS, he would appear on a different plane than the grass in the background.
A picture I took of my dog. On the 3DS, he would appear on a different plane than the grass in the background.
Peter Mai/OC Weekly

The ability to project 3D images without the need for those lame 3D glasses is one amazing feat, and the Nintendo 3DS delivers exactly what it promises. The system has the ability to take photographs in 3D as well, using the dual cameras on the front of the system. I've taken a picture of my dog, my cat, my girlfriend's hand and my ridiculously long tongue. The grass in the background appears to go into the screen, as opposed to my tongue which looks as if it's coming out of the screen. Of course, you can always adjust or turn off the 3D effects off with the slider on the side of the system at any time.

One Friend Code To Rule Them All!

Hands-On Review: Everything That I Love/Hate About the Nintendo 3DS

Gone are the annoying-as-hell friend codes from the Wii and DS. Now, all you need is one friend code for each person you add, and it'll work across all games for the 3DS. Looks like Nintendo listened to everyone's complaints!

Slick, Glossy Finish

Hands-On Review: Everything That I Love/Hate About the Nintendo 3DS

Similar to the way the DS Lite feels like, the glossy finish of the 3DS makes the system feel like a sophisticated piece of technology instead of some kind's toy. Unfortunately, it's also vulnerable to fingerprint smudges and scratches, so it'll be a good idea to invest in a pouch.

Free Game "Face Raiders" is Hilarious and Fun

Freaky and Funny (That's not me, by the way)!
Freaky and Funny (That's not me, by the way)!

"Face Raiders" is a free game that come pre-installed in each 3DS system. If I had known how much fun I would have with this game, I probably wouldn't have felt the need to purchase the launch title Pilotwings Resort. In Face Raiders, you take a picture of your (or your friend's) face, and the face attacks the player. The background is whatever you're pointing the camera at. By turning and pivoting your body, you have to locate the faces in the room that you're playing in and shoot them. The expressions of the faces that you shoot are priceless.

The 3DS is Almost Always Online

Hands-On Review: Everything That I Love/Hate About the Nintendo 3DS

The 3DS is always online- whenever there's WiFi available. This is a big step forward from the older DS systems, which are only online after you spend a few minutes signing in from WiFi-enabled games. At any point while you're connected, you can check your friends list and see who's on, and what they're doing.

 
Things I HATE About the Nintendo 3DS

Horrible, Horrible, Placement of the Stylus

The stylus is located here, out of your right and left hand's reach. Horrible design decision.
The stylus is located here, out of your right and left hand's reach. Horrible design decision.
Peter Mai/OC Weekly

The stylus is located right next to where the games are inserted, under the system's top lid when it's open. It's way out of your hand's reach when you need to access it while the system's in use. The DSi's stylus can be pulled out right next to where your right hand is located, so players can quickly pull it out or stick it back in without any effort. Why Nintendo decided to move it to a less convenient area is beyond me.

To add to the inconvenience, the stylus is also retractable, and it takes two hands in order to extend it. The problem is that you don't usually have two hands available to do this when one of them is busy holding the system. What I usually do is extend the stylus with my mouth- which is hardly sanitary or a good idea if I want to keep the thing in good condition.

Crappy 3-5 Hour Battery Life

The 3DS does come with an attractive charging cradle. Just make sure it's always there before you use it.
The 3DS does come with an attractive charging cradle. Just make sure it's always there before you use it.

All of the horror stories that you've heard about the 3DS' short battery life are basically true. The system can probably last only 4-5 hours on a full charge. After about an hour and a half of making my Mii avatar, playing Pilotwings Resort in 3D, and taking 3D photos of my cats, the battery had already been depleted by 33%. Doing the math, that means that I could have had a total of 4.5 hours of battery life to do various things on the system. Knowing Nintendo's history of updating their handheld hardware, a selling point for the next 3DS will probably be a better battery life. Hopefully, Nintendo will release a stronger, replaceable battery soon.

The Lower Screen of the 3DS is Almost as Small as the Original Nintendo DS'

The touch screen size of the 3DS is barely bigger than the original "DS Fat" screen. Lame!
The touch screen size of the 3DS is barely bigger than the original "DS Fat" screen. Lame!

The original DS (you know, "DS Phat") has a lower screen size of 3 inches. The lower screen of the new 3DS is 3.02 inches. Ridiculous. This is a huge step down in screen size if you've used the DSi (3.25 inches), and especially the DSi XL (4.2 inches).

3D Effects Only Work at Specific Viewing Angle

Make sure you keep your view of the top screen centered to see the 3D properly.
Make sure you keep your view of the top screen centered to see the 3D properly.

The 3D effects work just fine, as mentioned above. However, they only work if you're viewing them at a very precise angle. Tilt the screen or adjust the way you sit even just a little bit, and the 3D image looks like a blurry mess. Some games that require movement, such as the augmented reality feature, becomes a mess because the player will continue to "lose" the 3D image. I've resorted to turning off the 3D on numerous occasions just to avoid this annoyance.

$40 For "Standard" 3DS Games is a Rip-Off

Hands-On Review: Everything That I Love/Hate About the Nintendo 3DS

Yep, $40 is what it costs for most 3DS games, including the launch titles Nintendogs + Cats, and that 3DS Lego Star Wars game. Considering that games from companies such as Square-Enix typically cost $5-$10 extra per game, you can expect to pay up to $50 for a Nintendo 3DS game. After being spoiled by inexpensive (and always on sale) iOS games on iTunes and PSP games on the Playstation Network, it's going to be hard to buy a portable game for that much money.

Start, Select and Home Buttons Are Huge

The Select, Home, and Start buttons are too large, and difficult to press.
The Select, Home, and Start buttons are too large, and difficult to press.

Not only are these three buttons huge, but they take a bit of force to press them. The three large buttons take up the entire length of the lower screen, instead of the smaller ones found on the Nintendo DSi.

Backwards-Compatibility with DS Games Look Worse

Nintendo DS game "Dragon Quest VI" looks better on a DSi. This is the game on the 3DS.
Nintendo DS game "Dragon Quest VI" looks better on a DSi. This is the game on the 3DS.

I hope you didn't sell your DSi to buy the 3DS. Playing original Nintendo DS games on the new 3DS somehow makes the games look worse. The games are stretched out on the new system, making the graphics look blurry, and the text difficult to read. If you've purchased a 3DS from a DS Lite, you might not notice a difference. However, DSi and DSi XL owners may want to stick to their old systems to play older games.


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