I became interested in the Nintendo 3DS shortly after I heard about it all those months ago. I wasn’t obsessed with getting one due to financial restraints and the fact that I had several other projects going on at the time. And I still have tons of games to play. However, recently I went to my local big electronic store and bought a 3DS. So here are my thoughts on the system. And be prepared for tons of comparisons to the old DS.
First, when the sales associate handed the box to me, I remember how heavy it felt. When I got home and opened the box, there was the manual, a quick setup guide, AR cards (a bit more on that later), an AC adapter and the system itself.
My 3DS is a deep red with a glossy finish. When I look at it hard enough in the light, I can see my fingertips. The 3DS is about 5.25 inches by 3 7/8 inches by 0.75 inches. This is much thinner (and smaller) than my fat turquoise blue DS. The top screen is about 3.5 in size and the bottom screen is about 3 inches (I measured diagonally). This is, oddly enough, the same screen size as my old DS. So why does the 3DS screens feel a bit bigger? I believe a big part of it is because the 3DS tackles on a widescreen viewpoint compared with the DS’ traditional box screen approach.
The usual buttons are all there too: A, B, X, Y, L and R. What’s very different and is still taking me time to get used to is the fact that the start and select buttons are push buttons underneath the bottom screen. Heck, there’s even a home button between the two (I’ll be talking about that when I get to the system part). I find this odd as the start button tends to have an important role in games (especially on my DS). I don’t know if I’ll ever adapt to it. On the plus side, the power button is a small popped button on the right side of the screen instead of being above the D-pad. So I’m not worried about accidently pressing the button.
The thumb stick seems to be a nice inclusion. It fits my thumb perfectly and slides around with ease. As such, holding the system feels quite natural and is less bulky than my old DS. With my DS, I had to use my pinkies to prop the system so I could hold onto it. With the 3DS, I can easily hold it in a hand with my thumb providing enough weight to keep it steady.
The system’s OS reminds me a lot of how the Wii functions. In fact, it would be rather cool if I could move games back and forth between systems. Anyway, the system contains little icons to represent each application or game. You can set-up how many icons are on screen at once. Furthermore, the 3DS can naturally hook up to a wireless Internet connection (depending on the modem type) and browse the Internet. What’s neater is that you can disable the Wi-Fi with a flick of a switch.
What impressed me even more is that entire games, 3DS games that is, can be purchased and downloaded onto the system. I guess this means that the 360 and PS3 having a monopoly on that anymore.
Besides the other methods of connectivity, the 3DS also has an AR (augmented reality) game function. What you do is load the application and place a special card down on a flat surface. Oh, and make sure that the area is bright as the camera is quite insensitive to it. It’s rather neat to something that’s originally flat spring to life. I just can’t imagine it staying in the spotlight other than a few hours.
The same is true for the camera function. Sure there are two camera lenses. The thing is, I have a phone and an iPod that do the same thing. It’s also much easier for me to share pictures using those devices than it is to use the 3DS.
Yet overall, I like the 3DS. Yes, I see it as a DS on steroids. It certainly is trying to a cross between a game system, the Wii and the apps that a smartphone uses. What I like about it is how natural it feels in my hands. I like the widescreen and how natural the thumbpad feels. This is most definitely an upgrade over my turquoise DS. Depending on what you get, it’s still expensive for those on a [graduate] student’s budget and I lucked out paying $150 for the system and a game. Ultimately, only time will tell if the library makes it worthwhile. For now, it certainly is fun. I’m going to enjoy every second I can out of it.