Nintendo 3DS First Impressions


When I first heard of Nintendo’s new handheld that would come equipped with no-glasses-required 3D, I was very excited. I couldn’t wait to have one of the demo units drop at a store nearby so that I could check it out myself, seeing as how I couldn’t make it to any of Nintendo’s press events. When I read that Best Buys had finally put them in their nearest store, I headed over during lunch to check it out. The demo unit had Pilotwings Resort, so I experimented with hand gliding and piloting a plane while trying to adjust the 3D effect to get the best experience in the few minutes I had with the machine. When it eventually reset to allow the next person a go, I walked away with a strong desire to wash my hands, a headache behind my eyes, and the burning question of why anyone would pay $250 for this.

A few months later a colleague and I were discussing the 3DS, our similar experiences with the demo unit, and finished our conversation by stating that we would never pay $250 for something that didn’t seem to be a large improvement over Nintendo’s DSi. Not five minutes later I read the news that Nintendo had announced a price drop of nearly $80 for the system. This had me seriously considering a purchase, but what clinched it for me was reading the news about Walmart dropping the system’s price three days early. Not only would I be able to save $80, but I’d also be a member of Nintendo’s ambassador program, allowing me to download 10 NES and 10 Game Boy Advance games at no charge. As a result I headed over to Walmart before work on the 9th and picked one up.

At the time I had simply wanted to get one as a replacement for my DSi with the potential of getting some 3D games in the future. Because of this I wasn’t expecting a lot from the system, but I was pleasantly surprised by just how much stuff came with it that demonstrated all of the capabilities the 3DS has to offer. First, all of the menus are in 3D. This leads to some cool effects when selecting different menu items, such as icons spinning around in 3D space, not to mention actually making navigating around the menu somewhat enjoyable. The best included items that come with the 3DS though have to be the augmented realty games.

If you’ve never heard of it before, augmented reality (AR) takes the environment that’s around you and adds/modifies it with the aid of some device. In this case, the 3DS and its 3D outward facing camera system. It comes with two AR games: Face Raiders and AR cards. Face Raiders is a simple game where one first takes a picture of a friend’s face, which is then used in a shooting game where said face flies around the environment and it’s then your job to move spin in place and find them floating around the room. Defeating all of the floating heads will “unlock” the face for later shooting pleasure. The AR cards are quite remarkable on their own as setting them down on a table will cause 3D versions of your favorite Nintendo characters to pop out, allowing you to move them around the card’s vicinity and pose them. There’s also an activity card which actually modifies the environment on which the card sits, creating a target practice game where the table develops hills and valleys into which you must fling arrows at targets. At the end there’s even a dragon that bursts through the playing field and attacks the player, causing you to weave back and forth to avoid its attacks.

On the other side of the coin, I’m not a big fan of the new 3D camera. Compared to some of the pictures that I’ve taken over the years with my DSi, the 3DS’ images seem grainier. Also taking an actual 3D picture seems a bit odd. The end result seems to be multiple 2D images layered one on top of the other. I was also not happy to see the friend code system back again. I don’t believe that many of my friends will be picking this system up, but it would be nice to add my friends in my 3DS without having to troll for friend codes only to get responses back like, “Why did you spend your money on that?” or “How old are you?”

I didn’t pick up any 3D games with my 3DS, but I was fairly impressed by everything it had to offer out of the box. While the included games are simple, they really demonstrate what the 3DS is capable much better than just playing a demo of Pilotwings Resort at a Best Buy. If at all possible, see if you can find someone who already has one to play a game of Face Raiders or experiment with the AR cards, as this will give you the best experience with the machine.

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About the Author

Having over 25 years of gaming experience, Zach knows a thing or two when it comes to one of his favorite entertainment activities. Additionally, he has also written many articles previewing and reviewing titles which can be found in various places around the net, including