The wait is over! The 3DS launched in the United States last Sunday, the 27th of March. The Nintendo 3DS was shown last June at the E3 Expo and has been eagerly awaited by those who had experienced it first hand and other bleeding edge gamers, but what about the common gamer? I was a bit surprised to find out many people had no idea what the 3DS was and how many assumed it was just another incarnation of the same old DS. With a price tag of $249.99, I’m sure many people are wondering – “Is it worth it?” The short answer is a resounding YES, but let me explain why.
As most people know by now, the concept of the 3DS is full 3D without the use of glasses. The 3DS utilizes autoscopic technology. This essentially renders the images in two layers, a right eye and a left eye to create the 3D effect. Of course, as you may also imagine, it is touchy in regards to the distance from the screen you are and the angle you look at it. Once you actually get a chance to see the 3DS, it will become very clear that this is not really a big issue.
The 3D effect is amazing, and it not something that can be really explained by words or shown in screen shots. I believe Nintendo knew very well that for people to fully appreciate the 3DS they need to play it. For those who want to ease their way into the 3D effect, or simply cannot handle it, there is a slider that adjusts the intensity of the 3D on the right side of the top screen. So what about the graphics power you may be wondering? Several third party developers have gone on record as saying that is more powerful than the Wii. After playing many demos, as well as owning one since it came out, I can clearly see why people say that. The graphics are phenomenal.
And then there are the controls; as the name implies, it is still true to the DS heritage. The bottom screen is a touch pad still and it is important to note that this screen is NOT in 3D. (The top screen is). There are the standard DS buttons as well, however a new addition is a joystick. The joystick was very much needed on the DS, and this feels very comfortable and functional.
Additional things to note about the system itself is the front-facing camera, but there are also two cameras in the back of the unit, similar to the DSi’s one. These cameras enable you to take pictures in full 3D. After playing around with this at the park with my son, it is very cool and looks pretty good. There is also built in Wifi (again like the DS), but additionally you are able to access AT&T wifi hot spots for free (Disclosure: I personally did not make it to a Starbucks to test this yet, so please comment and let us know if it works!) Another cool feature is StreetPass, which is essentially your 3DS swapping info with other 3DS owners you walk by. You will pick up their Miis and exchange other information like high scores. (Disclosure: I’ve yet to walk past anyone that had either a 3DS or one in sleep mode, though I have tried!)
Final things to note: There are some things in the 3DS that either don’t exist or function yet but will be patched soon according to Nintendo. The first and most important thing to note is the browser does not function as of yet. Additionally Netflix will be coming to the 3DS in the near future. Battery life is about 3-5 hours according to Nintendo, and in my experience that seems to be an accurate statement.
I highly recommend the 3DS to anyone and everyone. I’ve had more fun with my 3DS than I have had with any portable system since I was a kid with the original Game Boy. A true sign of success for Nintendo is the fact that my non-gamer wife even finds herself playing it. Even if you aren’t planning on buying this system in the near future, do yourself a favor and at least try it out.
My official rating on the system is:
5 out of 5 – exceptional technology, reasonable price, hours of fun!
* Note 2 April 2011 – In regards to the 3DS’ backward compatibility with DS software, it is indeed functional. I tested this with Pokemon Platinum and the game played fine, the only minor down side is that with the new high resolution 3DS screen the older software doesn’t look as good and also will still display at the same resolution as the DS line; meaning it will not use the entire top display as it is not the same aspect ratio.