Friday, September 16, 2011

Initial Thoughts on the Nintendo 3DS

It's been a little over a month since I picked up the 3DS and I thought I'd share my early impressions of the system.


Nintendo has been rightly and justifiably knocked for the design of the system. I mean really, exactly whose idea was it to release a system in 2011 that doesn't feature dual analog controls? Truly a baffling design choice! Rumors have circulated about a future hardware redesign (as well as a clip-on solution for early-ish adopters like myself), and the latest images from the Tokyo Game Show seem to back that up. I give Nintendo points for quickly moving in to rectify their blunder, but this one was a no-brainer and I remain shocked that it happened in the first place.

This is my future

Some reviews I've read have called the system clunky and unergonomic, but I don't totally agree on that point. True, the PSP is more comfortable to hold and it's form factor is a bit more tightly designed, but even during longer sessions I haven't experienced any hand cramps or other issues related to holding the 3DS unit. Really, aside from the lack of a second analog nub, I don't have any major complaints about the hardware.


Again, Nintendo was knocked for not delivering any AAA titles near the time of the system's launch. I'm no business expert, but to me, having only one analog stick and a lack of system selling titles at launch can only point to one thing...Nintendo rushed the 3DS to market so that they could get a jump on Sony and their PSP Vita. Finally though, after 7 months on the market, the games are starting to trickle in. Currently, I own only one retail 3DS game, Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D. Those who know me well know that I'm a Mercenaries junkie and the 3DS version is VERY solid and fun to play, even without a second analog stick. The reviews of the 3DS version of Zelda: Ocarina of Time have also been very good, though I must admit that I'm not such a big fan of the non-2D Zelda adventures. The holiday season is also shaping up to be quite strong with titles like Starfox 64, Super Mario 3D, and Cave Story (all games that I plan to buy) looming on the horizon.

This game is the shit!

The last time I talked about the 3DS I mentioned that I had purchased mine in time to join the 'Ambassador Program'. Basically, early adopters of the system were promised 20 free games for showing their faith in the big 'N'. 10 of these games were to be from the NES era, while the the remaining 10 were to be GBA titles. The NES games have since become available, and though I questioned the inclusion of a couple of them (Wrecking Crew, Yoshi, Ice Climber), I was happy to see them throw in some bona fide classics like Metroid, Zelda's I and II, and one of my personal old-school favorites Balloon Fight. The GBA titles are slated to become available some time later this year and I'll be sure to weigh in when they do.


So what's up with the 3D? Well, while I'm pretty impressed with the glasses-free 3D effect, I must admit that I leave it turned off when I play. Even on its lowest setting it strains my eyes. It's great for watching story segments or the little short films available for download through the 3DS shop, but during gameplay I need to keep it turned off. What can I say? I'm no great lover of 3D in general and when it comes to gaming (especially portable gaming) I have yet to be won over.

So there you go. In general, I must say that I'm enjoying the system despite its flaws. The battery life is good, and having the backwards compatibility with DS titles gives it an impressive library of titles. As of now, I'm cautiously optimistic about the future of the 3DS. If Nintendo can keep quality games coming, the 3DS with its lower price and 'pick-up-and-play' vibe should be able weather the storm and eventually crawl out from underneath design oversights and a lackluster launch.

Overall grade: B

1 comment:

  1. It's good to hear it's not as bad as I thought (Virtual boy level debacle). I'm keeping my eye on the games, if they put out another Advance Wars sequel for it, I'm 99% in.