Saturday, April 16, 2011

3DS and a little "depth perception"

It's been a couple of weeks since I picked up my Nintendo 3DS.  I've been putting Nintendo's latest handheld through its paces since then, and I've been letting my thoughts come together into something concrete.  So, is it just a passing fad or is it the best thing since sliced bread?  Well, truth be told, it's neither.  I've spent enough time with the system and played enough games that I can put together a nice little breakdown on my thoughts.

Okay, let me start off by saying that I can understand why people seem to be concerned about the 3D on the 3DS.  The first time you see it in action, it's a little surprising.  For starters, the 3D doesn't pop out at you like you might expect it to when you hear "3D".  Instead, when the 3DS has the 3D on, images seem to fall back into the top screen.  It's almost like the you could reach into the top screen to grab some of the elements.  It's a nifty little trick, but the eyes don't particularly like being fooled at first.  After the initial shock to eyes wears off though, the disorientation wears off quickly and you're left in awe of what the handheld is capable of.

Y'know, as I typed that last sentence, the words "what the handheld is capable of" are echoing in my head.  Before I go back about all the great things in the 3DS, I've got to go off on one of my biggest gripes with the 3DS ... it's just not living up to its capabilities.  I don't mean that in the usual "the developers need to learn how to unlock its secrets" capabilities.  I mean the "WHY THE HELL ISN'T THIS WORKING OUT OF THE BOX?!?" capabilities.  Sure, I can understand that things like the announced Netflix compatibility might not have been ready at launch, and I'm okay with that.  But when you've got an icon to surf the web on the 3DS menu and it's not functional, when you promise more chat capabilities and fail to deliver, or you tell people about your proprietary 3DSWare store and IT ISN'T functional either?  Well, you can't help feeling that maybe the 3DS was released a little too early.  Hey, don't get me wrong ... I do love playing on the 3DS so far, but waiting until major update (currently scheduled for late May) to activate a handful of out of the box features isn't something that should be easily forgiven.

The features aren't the only thing I'm hoping the update takes care of.  My time with the 3DS hasn't been exactly "error free".  A couple of times, while playing Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Shadow Wars, I got the dreaded "An error has occurred." Black Screen of Death.  It also happened once while I was playing LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars. All three times, I just restarted the 3DS and everything was fine for the rest of the day, but considering the reports of the BSoD by other 3DS owners, it's something that seems to be more than just a fluke occurrence.

Now, don't get me wrong. I might be critical about the 3DS in some ways right now, but it's mainly stuff that will (hopefully) get fixed after the May update.  Right now it's the early adopters that will be feeling the initial pain.  Aside from these early issues, I'm absolutely loving the 3DS experience.  First off, someone at Nintendo seemed to finally be listening when it came to its not-so user friendly Friend Code system.  Previously, DS games required friends to swap codes for each and every game they played.  With the 3DS, though, your friend code is tied directly to your system.  Once you and a friend swap codes, that's it.  Plus, you can access your friend list from the menu to see who is online and what they're playing.  Of course you can't actually chat with them (yet), but it's still progress over the earlier DS systems' way of handling friends.

Although I spent some time earlier venting about the features that weren't included on the 3DS out of the box, I've got to give a lot of credit to what Nintendo did include.  For example, the AR Games and Face Raiders are both a blast to play.  Face Raiders is a fun, goofy excuse to take pictures of your friends and abuse them, but it's also a way to get your friends interested in picking up a 3DS for themselves.  And as for the AR Games, it's fascinating to play around and see how the the game interacts with the world around you.  One bit of warning, though, and I can NOT emphasize this enough ... BE CAREFUL WHEN YOU PLAY THE FISHING GAME.  Let me say that again:


Why all the emphasis on one part of a preloaded game?  Because after you lower the lure and get a bite, you're supposed to jerk the 3DS system up to hook the fish.  Without fail, ever single person I've seen (myself included) has yanked the system up and put a huge amount of stress on the 3DS hinge holding the top and bottom screens together.  Luckily, I haven't heard of anyone snapping their 3DS in half yet, but I'm sure it's only a matter of time before I do.  It's a little awkward, but just make sure to get a grip on both screens if you decide to go for a relaxing little fishing trip with your 3DS.  Otherwise all the king's horses and all the king's men won't be able to put Humpty Dumpty together again (but maybe Nintendo support will).

So at the end of the day, do I think you should pick up a 3DS or not?  If you've got a DS or DSi already, I think you could probably wait it out a few months to give Nintendo a chance to work a few of the minor kinks out.  However, if you're in the market for a handheld or if you're like me and just want to play with the latest and greatest toys, you can't go wrong with a 3DS.  It's a phenomenal piece of technology and well worth the price of admission.

Hey, if you're on the fence and have any questions about my personal experience with the 3DS, or if you already picked one up and just want some of my thoughts on what's worth picking up, just let me know.  I'll do my best to help how and where I can.

Later ...

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