The 3DS is the latest Nintendo console to offer 3D gaming without the need for glasses. They failed in the 90’s with the Virtual Boy, which made people sick after playing and suffered from a lack of decent games. With over 15 years of research behind it, does the 3DS deliver the goods or fall short? 3D or not 3D, that is the question…
I have been waiting for the 3DS with bated breath. Reading for months about its development, the games coming up and people’s comments about how it is bad for your eyes. Finally after attending the midnight launch like a true geek, I have a 3DS to call my own. Happily, after shelling out almost £250 for the device, I can say it is an essential purchase for any fan and gamers in general.
The 3DS feels like a far better quality DS when held. Moulded in some form of plastic, feeling overall chunkier and sturdier than the DS. Of course it’s heavier thanks to the extra tech inside, but feels more on par with the stylish PSP. There is now an analogue circle pad like the PSP as well as the standard control pad. Even the little stylus fitted into it has a lovely metal sheen and extends which is a nice touch and feels more ‘grown up’ than the DS. Once again the dual screens are the big selling point, especially now the top screen shows 3D. The top screen is wider than the bottom and seems to have a far higher resolution than the DS.
So does the 3D work? Yes, though unfortunately it depends on the sight of the player; some may find the full 3D effect too much so will have to turn it down. Nintendo have cleverly included a slider which lets players control what they see, to avoid any issues regarding eye strain. My eyesight seems to be fine so I can enjoy the full 3D effects with no problem. To describe is quite difficult. The images do not pop out at you like you would expect from say a 3D movie. Instead they seem to go further away into the screen, doing the reverse of what we expect. It also takes a few seconds to hit the ‘sweet spot’ which is when the 3D effect suddenly kicks in and hits you. This is when the games really stand out and the ‘wow’ factor hits.
Nintendo have put a lot of extra stuff into the 3DS so people without any games (?) can still enjoy. The built-in software has a variety of games such as Face Raiders, which allows you to take a photo of yourself and put you into the game where you can shoot your own face to your heart’s content. The Streetpass feature is a cool idea; basically you can unlock hidden games, items and info from other players you pass in the street. Unfortunately I have not tested this out as I do not feel happy walking down Holloway road with my 3DS visible to all. Maybe Nintendo think we all live in lovely areas like in their adverts?! Still it’s a neat idea which has lots of potential. The 3DS also has a 3D camera, which allows you to take 3D photos, which can also be viewed on 3D TV’s and monitors.
So what are the bad points of this wonderful little device? Well, the 3D is amazing, but at this stage it’s not revolutionary, more of a great feature. I’m sure though those Nintendo first party games will change this. Some of the games need movement of the 3DS, which utilises a built-in gyroscope, but when moved the screens blur and the 3D effect is lost. A big disappointment was the 3D camera. It reminds me of a fairly bog standard camera phone camera, fairly blocky and in poor light, you have no chance of seeing anything. Lastly, the battery life is dreadful. With a full charge you’ll be lucky to get 6 hours play. No doubt in years’ time when we have 3DS 2, it’ll have better battery and camera.
To close, the 3DS is amazing. There are a few bad aspects such as the camera and battery, but it feels so fresh to play. I have shown a few non gamers and everyone so far has been wowed by the 3D effect and wanted to keep playing. The launch games admittedly seem a little poor, but the best is yet to come, with Mario, Zelda, Mario Kart, Resident Evil to name a few. For doubters, I’d say try before you buy, but everyone else should spend their cash immediately!
Super Street Fighter IV: 3D Edition
At the launch this was the game on everyone’s lips. It is the first street fighter game to appear on a Nintendo console since the SNES. The game is more or less a perfect port of the 4th game for the 360. For newbies, there is the nice inclusion of touch screen controls, to unleash super attacks with ease. The graphics are excellent, in 2D or 3D mode. This is definitely one of the best games to show off the 3DS capabilities. The screen just before you fight shows an amazing 3D fire effect which made my jaw drop. Capcom have included online modes so you can take on the world’s best, and believe me, if you see a Japanese player, you will get owned big time!
The downers in the game are few. It can be a little awkward to control at first, using the circle pad, I spent a lot of time jumping instead of pulling off hadoukens. Also, the graphics are fantastic, but the backgrounds are completely static, which look a little odd. As a fan, it was annoying to see the infamous chicken man from the Chun-Li stage, sitting as still as a statue, not chocking his chicken!
If you have a 3DS, you probably bought this as it’s the best of the launch games.
Ridge Racer 3D
Ridge racer on the N64 was a great game and the DS version was also a decent conversion. Now we have the 3DS version, which is not a port, but is a fresh version, closer to Ridge Racer on the PS3. The game is very fun to play, with excellent graphics and super-fast. There are the usual game modes, such as Grand Prix, Arcade, and Time Attack. All pretty standard stuff, nothing new to speak of. There is the nice inclusion to take a photo of yourself and your face appears above your car as you race.
That is probably Ridge Racers biggest fault. It offers nothing new. In fact, modes are missing, which hurt its score badly. There is no online mode, which is an absolute necessity for a launch game for a new online enabled handheld. The graphics on the cars are really poor also, which contrast the excellent tracks. The announcer voice over is also extremely annoying, so play it with the sound off!
Ridge Racer is a decent racing game, but offers nothing new. The game is so fast that the 3D graphics aren’t actually that noticeable, which is a shame, but not really a negative thing. The lack of online modes stops it being an essential purchase, but if you want a decent racer until Kart arrives, it’s the best so far.
Nintendogs and Cats
The original Nintendogs was a great little game for the DS, which introduces gaming to a totally new audience. It got boring pretty quickly, but offered voice recognition and touch control to make it the best pet sim out there. This sequel for the 3DS offers the inclusion of cats for the first time, but is essentially the original game, with better graphics. This is definitely one of the best games visually, in 2D or 3D mode. With the 3D mode turned on, the fur of the dogs looks super realistic and the environments have a fantastic feeling of depth. There are new items to use which make use of the 3DS hardware, such as balloons to blow up and you can take photos of your pets with the camera.
Sadly, the game feels like the older game just a bit flashier. The cats are cute, but you cannot teach tricks or take them for walks. They feel like a rather pointless addition. There is also no online mode; however there are Streetpass features, which unlock new species of dog. The game also apparently features face recognition, so your pets see your face via the cameras and respond, but to be honest, it’s pretty much impossible to know if this feature actually works or not.
Nintendogs and Cats is a great showcase for the 3DS graphically. Fans of the genre will probably buy it regardless, but it really is the same game with kitty bells on.
As a Nintendo fan, I’m ashamed to say I never played the original Pilotwings on the SNES or N64. I was looking forward to this game out of all of the launch games I purchased. The game is based on Wuhu Island from the Wii Sports games. Essentially you control your Mii character and fly around the island using a plane, hover jet pack, or glider. The missions include tasks such as flying through rings or landing on sea perfectly. The game is fairly short, you can complete after 4 hours or so, but its replay value is getting perfect scores and unlocking everything 100%, which is more hard-core than most games.
Graphically the game is superb. In 2D mode, the game is on par with the Wii visually, but in 3D it is breath-taking. The illusion of depth is amazing in this game and probably shows off the 3DS ability the best. I dare anyone to fly through the volcano centre and not be impressed by the 3D.
Pilotwings is probably my favourite launch game. It is a joy to play and the graphics are great. Don’t be put off by people saying it is too short, stick with it more and it’s a little gem.