The 3DS Diaries: Day Four

The 3DS Diaries: Day Four
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So the 3DS is released in Australia this week, but we just received one on Friday. So partly to inform, but mostly so I can mix business with pleeaaasure, I’m going to be running a daily diary of my experiences with Nintendo’s latest exercise in wizardry. Ladies and gentlemen – welcome to day four of the 3DS Diaries.

Today set a worrying precedent, a precedent that may end up being indicative of my 3DS usage over the next year. This precedent may also be relevant to your 3DS usage, should you end up buying one this Thursday.

Said precedent is this: I was on the train this morning, a train journey that usually last roughly 35-40 minutes all up, and despite the fact that my 3DS was snugly packed in my bag the whole time, not once did I feel like playing it.

Here’s the thing – my iPhone is in my pocket. It fits there, smaller than a wallet. Getting it out of my pocket, as you’d expect, is simple. It also has the ability to multi-task – I can go on twitter, I can check facebook, I can listen to music, I can play a handful of very cheap, accessible games tailor made for a quick five minute experience.

Compare that to the 3DS. It’s a bit chunky. It fits in my jean pocket. Just. But I’m worried about it in there – it cramps my style and hurts when I sit down. It doesn’t have 3G so I can’t check Twitter or Facebook. I can’t listen to music while I play.

If I want to play games there are multiple barriers to entry. First, I have to open my bag. Then, I have to open my 3DS carry case. Then I have to flip open the screen and remove the stylus from its unwieldy position at the back of the console.

But that’s just the beginning. If I want to change games, I have to go into my carry case again, and pull out the game from its case, replace it, put the other game back in the case and only then am I good to start playing.

Now this may seem picky, it may seem like the ramblings of a 20-something, mouth breather with the attention span of a stoned gnat, but we are living in the age of convergence – wherein there exists a device that allows me to rapidly switch between multiple kinds of gaming, music, and social media in literally seconds. In that regard, the 3DS can feel a little old fashioned.

Part of it has to do with my (current) lacklustre selection of games. A couple of weeks back I did switch out my iPhone for the DS Lite – when engrossed in Capcom’s Ghost Trick. That was a type of gaming experience not available on the iPhone, and provided a large enough point of difference to convince me to put away said device and focus exclusively on a game for once.

I have no doubt that, at some point, a game will be released on the 3DS that is compelling enough to convince me that the process of getting my 3DS ready for play is worth it. I suspect that Pilotwings Resort, when it’s finally released, may be that game. But for now my iPhone is too slick, too simple, too accessible.

In some regards the 3DS – by comparison – feels like a last generation handheld device.

Click here for previous entries in the 3DS Diaries series.


  • That is an interesting take on things.I had not considered this. It would not stop you playing or purchasing the 3DS, but as i do most of my mobile gaming on the train, the idea of changing a disc or whatever would be a pain, especially in peak hour when you are totally surrounded…

  • I have to agree, I know the feeling all too well. I don’t have an iPhone, but it doesn’t make wielding the DS around any easier (and in turn potetial 3DS). I tried playing the DS on the bus the other day whilst listening to my iPod and had a difficult time juggling all of them as I wrestled for my GO pass (QLDer) on my way off. Journey home I opted for just the iPod.

  • I used to play my PSP standing up on a peak hour train – such was the strength of my dedication. But like you Mark, nowadays I find myself defaulting to my shiny new android phone.


  • I’ve found that worrying trend myself and hate it. I enjoy the games on the DS much more than anything on the iPhone. Yet I’ve found it difficult to find the time to finish finish Spirit Tracks, Professor Layton, etc, because I never bother to take the DS with me when I go out. This is admittedly partly because I no longer catch trains, but I used to carry the DS with me EVERYWHERE in case I had a spare 10 minutes.

    It’s definitely a worrying trend that a die-hard Nintendo fan such as myself is now behaving like this. They’re going to run in to trouble fast if they don’t start expanding the capabilities of this device.

    On another of Mark’s points, a flash card with downloaded copies of games I have already bought is sadly a necessity if I do take the DS out. I’m sure it’s illegal, but I like to think of it being the same thing as ripping CDs or DVDs for personal use.

    There was mention of the 3DS having this capability at one point: . Want to follow up if there was any truth to this Mark? You’ll probably get a “Nintendo does not comment on rumours or speculation”, but it can’t hurt to ask right?

  • This sounds a lot like my experience with the DS. It was my first portable gaming device, and I was all excited that now I could play games wherever I went. But in the end it was too big and unruly to be worth the trouble bringing it with me most of the time.

    I really ought to get a smartphone, so far though the market and technology has been shifting so rapidly that I’m wary of jumping on and getting stuck with a particular peice of tech.

  • I think one of the other problems you have is…

    “a train journey that usually last roughly 35-40 minutes all up”

    At the moment there is a meager selection of games, but depending on the game that 30-40mins might not be worth the effort, as you might need some more time and I know I generally don’t like to play games with a heavy story to be broken up every half hour.

    Mark – Not trying to derail, but would be interested in a quick hypothetical, If it were the NGP with 3G… would you have got that out today?

    Despite being larger
    Imagine the same games were available
    Even though we don’t know what kind of multitasking it can do.

    • It would honestly depend on what games I had on the hard drive.

      But I see myself having the same problem with the NGP. The iPhone is so small and easily accessible, that I might find myself just getting the iPhone out instead.

  • I play my DS (or PSP) on the train but I don’t really have a problem with having to carry around multiple games.

    Usually I’m just playing one game at a time anyway so I just play whatever is plugged into the console and don’t have to switch to anything else.

  • I’d just be glad that the only problem I encountered while riding on CityRail was that I didn’t want to play my 3DS. lol

  • I’d like to think that rather than the iPhone being more pleasurable to use on the train than the 3DS, it is as you hinted whether the material is engaging enough. For instance I am pretty hooked on Pokemon Black right now, and so whenever I’m riding on a train or bus I will most likely be whipping out my DS (original) and play it, standing or sitting.

    I suppose for me it’s more convenient for me as I carry with me a messenger bag, so I can just plop it back in fairly easily when I disembark. And if I want to listen to music, I have an iPod nano to keep my company. If you look around the train though, you’ll notice that people still read paperbacks and newspapers like the MX, despite their bulk compared to the iPhone.

    • Difference is that print media has a big difference to reading it on the phone

      When it comes to getting your game on though the only difference is the quality

  • I like this article, it partially reflects some of my own thoughts on the 3DS. I’m unsure as to what role it would play in my life.

    I have an iPhone that I use for mobile gaming/entertainment that also competes with physical books for public transport time. I have an Xbox 360 and a Wii and a bundle of retro consoles for home gaming.

    In the past I’ve owned a Game Boy, Game Boy Colour, GBA and DS. I really don’t feel as though I need or am even going to use a 3DS. I have hardly played my DS in years.

    The region locking makes it an even less appealing prospect. My current thoughts are maybe once it comes down to $200, if there are enough good games, I might buy one.

    Hopefully developers start using 3D in an innovative enough way so as to deliver fascinating new gaming experiences unique to the medium (otherwise it’s just a gimmick). This is what will probably convince people like me in any case.

  • I think the hardest part of using a portable gaming device out and about, particularly on a ~30 minute public transport trip is that there’s not enough time.

    I take my trusty PSP-3000 whenever I’m going anywhere on PT, or I may have to wait around somewhere for some reason. (neither of which happen very often) Only problem is, my favorite games, such as Tactics Ogre, Monster Hunter and the like don’t lend themselves to a short gaming session.

    Couple that with being distracted by your surroundings (checking what station you’re at, what that weird smelly dude sitting next to you is up to, etc) and it’s hard to really give it a good shot.

    Then, when you’re home, it’s console or PC time.

    I find my handhelds get their most use dorking out on the couch in a cbf mood, or playing in bed of a night.

    That being said, I still love my PSP like a spoilt child after however many years, and I’ll be buying an NGP on day one, if possible.

    Then again, I don’t own an iPhone, and have no plans of purchasing one.

  • Haha! I find all of this quite funny. Im in a similar situation, but kinda opposite. When im on the train or at work bored, I find myself itching for a game. But at the moment I only have phone gaming. Yet the games for it either bore me or frustrate me with their touch only controls, so I dont bother. Im hanging for my 3DS to remedy that situation with real games and controls.
    You guys can have phone gaming!

  • Having to cart a cartridge around for every game you want might want to play whilst out and about really is one of the downfalls of system like this and is really what makes cartridges like the R4 convenient. (Worth pointing out I don’t own an R4 cartridge)

    Apart from delivering games online allowing you to carry around multiple game on your system, would be nice Nintendo offered some way of allowing their users to legitimately install their game onto their DS, for instance if every cart had a unique encrypted code that tagged a game/cartidge with your account online (so essentially to install a game, you must have the device connected to the internet). It does pose an interesting problem in that what happens when you want to sell/trade the game and I guess in those instances they should allow you to “uninstall” the game untagging it from your online account essentially giving you the install back, I think on of the Bioshock games did something like this (in that uninstalling the game gave you an activation back).

    I’m sure there’s a hundred holes that could be poked in something like that above, but it would just be nice if Nintendo put some more thought into how games are accessed/delivered to the end user.

  • Even though they’re easy to carry around in my handbag, I’ve never really thought of my DS or PSP as portable in an out and about way.
    They are however, perfectly portable in an around the house way. They’re great for when someone else is using the TV, or when you’re in bed trying to wind down and you don’t even have to stop playing if you need to go to the toilet.
    I feel self-conscious when I game in public and it takes away from my enjoyment. At home I can immerse myself in the games the way I like, while being comfortable.

    • This is definitely a thing for me – my DS is currently in my handbag so that I can play Pokemon Black on the 30-50 min trip to and from work. When I open up the DS (as I did on my 3hr trip to Sydney on the weekend) I’ll happily play Pokemon for hours. If I have it running at home, I play it while waiting for a game to load, while cooking dinner, while (yes) on the toilet.

      Between the extra effort to get it out and the self-consciousness of playing games on the bus, though, I always revert to the book in my bag or a quick Facebook check on my phone.

  • Mark,

    Although I agree with your points I would like to know more how the bouncing around of a train would actually affect the 3D and your perception of it. If it keeps dropping in and out because of the small movements I would find that much more frustrating than changing cartridges.

  • I have an hour long train ride to uni every weekday, there and back.
    I have a bag for all my uni stuff and alternate my PSP and DS. Currently playing Pokemon White and FFVII on the PSP.

    Because I have so much time, I can really get into the game and play a decent chunk. So for me, thats the best time ever to play portables

    • That’s a good point – I think once you start getting over a certain amount of time it becomes viable. Especially if you’re guaranteed a seat on the train.

      I get on at Parramatta station and change at Town Hall. That’s about 25 mins. It’s not always enough time, and if I’m unlucky I may be standing for the whole time.

  • I’ve pre-ordered my 3ds as a replacement for my ps3… In that 4days out of 7 I’m not at home, i’m at my girlfriends house instead.. I tried carting my ps3 between places but its just way too much effort.. and the TV is tiny at her place! (Dragon Age just isnt as epic when your character used to be 3 feet tall and has now shrink to 3 inches…)

    Portability is still a key point here, particularly to people who are in a similar situation to me! but maybe not in the way you would think..

  • Yeesh, I definitely wouldn’t recommend playing a 3DS on a city-rail train anyway, unless you want a lad to run off with it.

  • Probably lucky you didn’t whip it out. It’s likely to get stolen. Especially if you happen to be on the Penrith or bankstown lines.

    As for me I kind of miss the daily train ride. It gave me a chance to read loads of books and finish loads of GBA/DS games I wouldn’t have otherwise. Sitting in traffic is just not the same.

  • yeah ive been tossing up if i should get a 3DS with many of the points above being the reasons against.

    I wasn’t able to finish zelda spirit tracks (i LOVE zelda games) not because the game was bad, i actually really liked it but because i just didn’t enjoy playing on the DS anymore, i always find it hard to get comfortable with the little stylus and buttons plus the screen is tiny and low res.

    with so many gaming options now available when at home my consoles or PC win (choosing between all of them is hard enough) and as i cycle to work i now only get minutes to spend on portable games and for that the iphone/android is perfect.

    At the moment i really only want one because its new and ive never not got a Nintendo console on launch (since i was capable of buying them myself) but right now i really dont think id use it

  • Personally, I hate the iPhone touch controls. I just don’t think they work at all, or at least with the games I play. I’d rather flip out my handheld gaming machine. Swapping carts doesn’t bother me. I usually only want to play one or two games. Though I admit, I love my PSP Go. Having all my games on it is great.

  • Question. I’m flying to the US in a year or so, how would a 3DS go with that? Hearing about the 3-5 hr battery is making me wonder if it would be worth taking one.

  • i caught the train for high school daily (15 mins each way) and in first year uni, have to catch it for 30 mins each way, in high school the trip was too short and i’d have friends, for uni however, im finding i dont bother with the ds, my ipod playing music and often a book are good enough, 25 minutes isn’t quite enough to game properly and more importantly screen problems (brightness etc) mean that even my laptop’s out of action on the train most times.

    however, i still need to get black and white

  • Well I don’t catch public transport and when I go out I usually don’t have time to play portable gaming devices. Honestly I only want one for ‘Metal Gear Solid 3D’ So I’ll happily wait untill then.

  • I find the only mobile gaming o get up to is with emulated arcade ports.

    All other mobile games seem to just lack… substance.

    Not to mention my phone is always playing music, the 3ds is perfect for me.

    I wonder how your experiance will change once the 3ds ware is active.

  • I find the only mobile gaming i get up to is with emulated arcade ports.
    All other mobile games seem to just lack… substance.
    Not to mention my phone is always playing music, the 3DS is perfect for me.

    I wonder how your experience will change once the 3DSware is active.

  • i never use portable games on the bus or train, i always think they will be stolen…

    but then again, i catch the bus that ends up in mirrabooka, so any perth people will get why i’m so cautious

  • When the DS first came out, I carried it in my pocket to uni every day. Especially since for the first semester, I had a 5-day timetable. Every train trip out to Penrith and back (mainly back), I’d pull it out of my pocket and start playing it. The paint on the corners is all worn off from carrying it around so much…

    I never had a problem with the Phat, so I can’t see myself having a problem with this. I was a big fan of the small-sized games too, since it meant that I could carry two spare ones in one of the card holders in my wallet. Very handy. And I’d often continue to play it as I changed trains at Lidcombe, and as I walked home from the station to my house. Even with headphones in, it easily slipped back into my pocket, and out again when I needed it.

    Umm… I forget where I was going with this >_>

  • I reckon the problem is that there are not yet enough games that get people obsessed enough to play with their 3DS at any opportunity possible. It’s just a matter of time though. I remember before I lost my DS I was playing it every time I was on the train.

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