The Teen First Look: Nintendo 3DS

nintendo 3ds first look

The 3DS— it’s finally here. A device where watching 3D doesn’t require you to wear those annoying glasses, a game system which allows you to take that glasses-free 3D anywhere you want in your pocket. We’ve had a chance to test out Nintendo’s latest and greatest portable game system and while we haven’t spent enough time with it yet to give it a full on review, here are our first thoughts.

Design

nintendo 3ds vs ds liteDS Lite vs 3DS (click on pic to enlarge)

In terms of size the 3DS is remarkably the same size as the DS Lite and therefore should fit fine in any pocket. The 3DS actually improves a lot over the DS Lite, as not only is it the same size, but the inside top screen of the 3DS is so much larger than those on pretty much all prior DSes (except the monstrous DSi XL) it makes all those other DS screens of the past seem downright pathetic. Everything just looks so much better on here regardless of what we were doing and whether it was in 3D or 2D. Larger and better with the same thin, pocketable design– what more could you ask for?

And the bottom touchscreen is also much nicer compared to previous versions of the DS, and by that we mean you don’t need a stylus to use it (though there is one in the back of the 3DS if you ever want to).

Software

nintendo 3ds ar games first lookAR Games on the 3DS

The software on the 3DS is also the best we’ve ever seen from a portable Nintendo system. For one not only do you now not have to restart the 3DS every time you want to switch an app or game (something that annoyed me personally to no end whenever I used older versions of the DS), but the built-in games and apps on the 3DS are not just cool but really fun as well. We really love playing the AR Games (also known as a tech called augmented reality. Basically, these are special cards that you put in front of the 3DS’s outer 3D cameras which “read” them to make games “pop out” from them on the screen). Not only do they look ridiculously cool (particularly when in 3D) but they are also pretty fun too.

In addition the 3DS is loaded with built-in apps like a 3D photo app (which lets you take pics in 3D), 3D photo game called Face Raiders (also pretty fun. Here you take a pic of someone’s face and try to “shoot” it down– something which is much more fun when played in 3D), Mii Maker (where you can create a Mii based on a pic of yourself), 3D video app (right now this only plays Ok Go’s White Knuckles music video, but still, 3D videos are pretty sick) and a sound recording app called 3DS Sound (which basically allows you to record sounds and do minor mixing like speed up/slow down etc.). Of course the 3DS’ software is missing a few pretty big things right now like a web browser, Netflix app, and game store, but all 3 are said to be on the way in a later software update.

Cameras

3ds back 3d cameras

The cameras on the 3DS are decent, but don’t think they’ll be replacing any real camera or decent phone camera anytime soon. When taking simple pics like a close up of a face the 3DS was fine (in both 3D and 2D and on the back and front cameras), but otherwise pictures again came out, well, eh. Not great, not completely horrendous.

3D Games

madden on nintendo 3DS

Madden on the 3DS– its pretty sick

And of course the big thing everyone wants to know about the 3DS is how well this plays games and more importantly, how well it plays them in 3D. We’re proud to say that when it comes to gaming, the 3DS is a major step up over the DSes of the past. Graphics are much sharper (particularly in 2D mode) and the new joystiq is much better and easier to use compared to the older D-Pad arrows. 3D games (in our case, Madden and Pilotwings Resort) looked very nice, but this tech is still very new and far from perfect. We constantly found ourselves adjusting the 3D slider to lower the 3D, either because if you move slightly from looking straight on at the screen the picture gets really messed up or because the 3D was irritating our eyes (which it can do from time to time particularly if you keep moving the 3DS while playing. Again, even slight movements can throw off the 3D effect).

Still, its glasses-free 3D and if once you do figure out the right angles to play you’ll find it to be pretty incredible– and something we think will only get better as the tech evolves and games take better advantage of it.

Wrap Up

nintendo 3ds vs ipod touch

The 3DS vs its current biggest competitor: the iPod Touch

We’ve only been able to spend a few minutes with the 3DS thus far, but from what we’ve seen it’s a pretty solid game system. That being said, from what we’ve seen right now is it worth the $250 or are you better off going for a $229 iTouch? That’s a tough call as both the iTouch and 3DS are pretty incredible little devices but personally right now I’d go for the iTouch. It’s thinner, has a much better battery (the 3DS from our early experience has a battery life of only a few hours with 3D on– definitely not enough for a full day of on the go gaming), can do a ton more (it’s got over 300,000+ apps available right now), and is cheaper (not just in the $30 for the actual device, but also in apps with most iTouch games costing $1-$10 compared to the 3DS’ average game price of $30). Though if the 3DS follows the trend of all the other DSes and within the next few months gets a price drop to the much more enticing $200 range (something we honestly don’t see happening until at the earliest the fall/holiday season of this year when there will most likely be– if the last 4 years are any indication– a new, much more powerful 5th generation iTouch  and of course, the NGP) then this is a whole different ball game.

For now though, while we’re very impressed with the 3DS and it has a lot of potential (particularly with those major software updates that should bring Netflix, the game store and web browser), with all the other portable gaming options on the way we’re not sure we can say its worth rushing out to buy just yet.

What do you think of the 3DS? You like the whole idea of glasses-free 3D or would just prefer something with an awesome, large 2D screen? And if you’re looking for a new portable game system you gonna go with this over an iTouch or PSP2/NGP? Sound off in the comments.

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Posted on April 4, 2011, in First Look/Reviews, Video Games and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. The 3DS is certainly top of the line in Nintendo’s DS series, even coming as a preference over rival companies’ technologies. The system produces a dynamic 3-D affect that is sure to amaze!

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