Pros: the 3d effects work, great potential and a killer line up coming soon.
Cons: the price will go down soon, 3d only works if you view it straight on.
Before I start my incomplete review of the Nintendo 3ds I have to give a big hand out to Epinions for being ready for the launch of Nintendo's fast selling portable ever. We have no official place to review any of the hardware just a place for that the category leads set up for us to review that isn't on any of the menus (by the way I am not blaming Kjell or Jeremy for this they have been helpful in the past when epinions screwed something up like moving my review of FFXII too one about a printer), and none of the games are available for review. All I got too say is bravo you screwed up this launch just like you screwed up the search engine for your site.
I got my 3ds a few days after launch I pre-ordered it on line so it took me a couple of days to get it. I got it and I got a copy of Pilotwings Resort because it seem to me the best game for my friends and family too enjoy so I could show off my new toy. I decided to review this now but this is an incomplete review, why because the 3ds is very much an incomplete system. There is no online store yet but there are plans, games are still be releasing that are called "launch games", and quite frankly you can never rate a systems worth until ½ of its life cycle is complete. I should warn you this is also a Nintendo system so it has many features that will make you wonder why Nintendo isn't the king of games, and at the same time have things that make you wonder why Nintendo is still in business.
Anyways the 3ds is Nintendo's newest portable while it may sound like another variation of the DS it is not, it is next generation of portable gaming. Nintendo added in a lot of new features making the 3d just really a small gimmick. But since that is the major selling point let's start there.
When I open my Aqua Blue I noticed that the back end of the top screen is black instead of blue to help your eyes focus more on the screen. On the side is a slider to adjust the 3d effect. When off there is just a single screen working like a normal DS game. But if you flip the slider another screen slides out in the back (I am assuming they are using mirror screens to create an optical effect) and if you're looking at straight on there is a 3d effect. And it's a pretty good one. Playing Pilotwings I could easily see the 3d effect has when turned on full it felt like I was playing a game on a big box in the background and not a slime sized screen. However it only works if your field of vision is on the screen if the screen gets jiggled what you get is a double blurry mess until you center the screen and your eyes get readjusted to the 3d effect. It's cool but in trickery places in pilotwings I turned down the 3d or just flat turned it off so I wouldn't have to worry about the screen turning blurry and screwing me up.
With the 3d turned off graphically the 3ds is equivalent to the wii when it comes to sprite models and areas. Wh Hu island on pilotwings resort looked for the most part the same island I have been running around in Wii fit plus and Wii Sports Resort, a few small things had to be toned down (like no little pictures of Mario) but for the most part it was the same island that I saw in resort with the same colors and textures, other games I have noticed looking at 2d videos of them give me the same feeling that graphically the 3ds is on the same level has the Wii when the 3d is turned off.
Screen size was a bit under whelming when I open it up after playing for about a year on a DSI XL I got use to the screen being huge so playing it on a smaller screen is a bit of a disappointment. The top screen is now a little longer than the old DS to help the 3d effect but the bottom screen is just has small has the original.
Size and heft.
The 3ds is about the size of a DS lite and can be easily carried in one's pocket. It's light weight and causes no cramping to ones hands.
Nintendo added in a big improvement in controls of 3d games, an analog nub. It is white and is big enough for your thumb, and its way more confortable then Sony's little nub on the PSP. It is pretty accurate in moving the characters around in Pilotwings I can't wait to try other software for it.
The control pad is the same type of control pad found on the DSlite and above it's a bit too small but you can still play the games ok. It is no located under the new analog nub making playing 2d games a bit uncomfortable.
The action buttons and shoulder buttons are the same exact places found in other incarnations of the DS 4 buttons on the right hand side and two shoulder buttons. New is the where they put the start, select, and power buttons. Power is where the start button was on the DSI and I have hit it just looking to pause my game. The start and select our now one big bar below the touch screen, and in the middle is a home button that returns you to the 3ds home menu, and suspends your current game until you open another application.
The home menu is also a bit different while at first glance it might look the same has the DSI but a lot of the common features that everyone uses like pictochat (now called gamed notes) and the ability to toggle screen brightness are now displayed on the top and can be gotten to at any time by touching them.so it is now more efficient. I notice there is also a friend's list feature for the system, you still need a friend code but you can now see when
your friends are online with their system. I don't know how well it works because I haven't tried out any of Nintendo's online yet.
On top of all this the system also have motion controls not like the wii's mind you but it is able to sense and movement. That said tilt games that come along better ignore the 3d because I can't see how you can see the 3d effect and move your DS around.
Other stuff that comes with the system.
Nintendo did a number with the software that comes with the system. First already inserted into the system is a 2gb SD card which is a nice but cheap free bie. There are also several games you can play using the 3d camera but before I get too that let's start with the camera.
If you look at the top of the 3ds you notice there are now 2 camera lenses in the front for taking 3d pictures. But before you get to excited about how the 3ds is going to change the way you take photographs I have to inform you that Nintendo stuck in the same low resolution camera they did on the DSI. Making colors and pictures look blurry and hampering the 3d effect. It's there and it looks good but not has good has the games and not has good has it could have been. Also disappointing there is not has many features to tweak or goof around with the pictures has found on the DSI. Also no way to quick load them on to face book.
The two preloaded games are interesting enough, and show off some of the things the system is capable of. First is the AR games the system comes with a pack of cards. The ? card comes with a bunch of mini games and is the main menu for the game. The Nintendo cards when you view them through the camera pop up into small statues, turning the cards around turns the statues around like it is a real toy, the 3d affect helps them pop out even more. The games on this include things like archery and other small mini games it's an ok tech demo but it's nothing more.
Face breakers is a little more of a game and an interesting one. You can take pictures of people's faces (and it can be pictures of people has long has the cameras can line up right) and the 3ds takes their faces and turns them into enemies that you can shoot. The interesting thing next to the effects is the game isn't control by the control pad but you have to move your body around too shoot all the incoming faces. It's a fun little arcade game.
There is also a Mii channel for creating a mii you can cheat and have the DS make one off a picture of you but the Mii's created like this always have fat heads. There is also a new records books that keeps track of games both DS and 3ds games, how much you have played, how many times, and when the last time you played them are. It also has a pedometer in it that works if you put the DS in your pocket in sleep mode. Not a bad feature but at 250 dollars the 3ds is an expensive pedometer to be carrying with you. There is also street pass mode that allows your 3ds to swap and share mii's with people it encounters on the street.
Unfortunately the system is incomplete has there is no shop channel and no virtual channel services on it yet but they should be out in a month or two.
This one I am surprised at battery life is one of the major advantages that Nintendo has held in the portable market. It's what let their small powered system beat the major juggernauts of the world. The Lynx, Game Gear, nomad, Ngage, Pocket Neo Geo, and the PSP all had better graphics and more features then there Nintendo counter parts. But Nintendo's portables were always cheaper and you could play a long time on the road before switching batteries. No longer with the 3ds. Depending on the game software you're playing. If you're playing a regular DS game it will last up to 10 hours, 3ds game with the 3ds off about 6 hours. But if you're planning on playing a 3ds game with the 3d turned up to max you're going to get less than 3 hours, It takes longer to charge the thing up the lack of battery is definitely a downer.
The backwards compatibility.
The 3ds is backwards compatible with most DS games. They fit in the system slot like ordinary DS games. But booting them up takes several seconds. It gets worse when you look at the picture quality, the colors are a bit fuzzy and blurry, while they don't look pixelated like the DSI XL there definitely not has bright has they should be. What you say you don't want your colors watch out and picture fuzzy then hit the start and select while booting them up and watch the screen adjust so you don't have these problems. However you're going to be playing on a screen the size of a postage stamp in comparison.
For the new analog stick don't expect it to cure the problems with 3d games that the original DS had. Games like Mario 64 and Kingdom Hearts for example. These games were programmed with an 8 direction control pad in mind, the analog slider just mimics those. In other words playing Mario 64 Mario will run in an 8 direction octagon instead of a 360 circle moving it around. Making ironically your movements even less precise then with the control pad. I will be keeping the DSI XL around to play my original DS software.
Final incomplete recommendation.
Don't take the 3 stars and the no recommendation that I am about to give to say the system isn't worth it. I suspect a year from now my ratings of it will go up has new games like Kid Icarus, Zelda Ocarina of time 3ds, Star Fox 3ds, and several other games are launch. Along with other games that will be coming out or rumored to be coming out like Kingdom Hearts 3ds, Mega Man Legends 3, and maybe remakes of Final Fantasy 5 and Final Fantasy 6 in the vein of the remake of FF4 for the DS. Along with a virtual channel feature that will support Gameboy, Gameboy Color, and Turbografix games, and hopefully after a while Gameboy Advance games will be released. Also Nintendo says they are going to monitor the content that goes on there shop and make it easier to get too and buy then the DS and Wii I just hope they keep that promise.
I should also note that the 3ds is 250 right now strictly on a supply and demand curve, it only costs a little more than 100 dollars to produce the hardware, Nintendo knew the hype would be there and are charging early supporters more because they can. Waiting a couple of months for the hype to cool and for Sony to be showing off there next generation portable will cause the price of the 3ds too drop.