What We Love And Hate About The 3DS, So Far

We got our Nintendo 3DS systems on Tuesday, many days in advance of the machine's March 27 North American release. Today is Friday and, wow, have we been working hard!

We've had a few days to form opinions and notice some things about the 3DS that we love and some that we could do without. We need to share.

From Stephen Totilo, using the 3DS in New York City:

The 3D hasn't blinded me yet: The 3DS box warns that kids under seven shouldn't use the 3DS' glasses -free 3D effect. I'm over seven and my eyes are doing OK. When I play submarine game Steel Diver, I keep the slider at halfway and feel no eye strain. The effect gives the game a couple of inches of simulated depth "behind" the upper-screen and I can keep my focus just fine.

On the other eyeball, it's hard to keep good 3D focus on the flight-sim Pilotwings Resort. Rocking the system left or right just a tad kills the 3D effect and makes the image on the top screen blur. I've been getting around this by reducing the slider's intensity to about 25 per cent, which still produces an effect I prefer to flat zero 3D. I like the effect overall and hope I can become more acclimated to it. I also hope that developers find ways to program increasingly comfortable 3D, if such a thing is within their means.

Loving the circle pad: The PSP's analogue nub was the best substitution for an analogue stick on gaming handhelds… until the 3DS' circle pad. I love this thing. I can effortlessly do quarter- circle turns in Super Street Fighter IV with it (and considering that I stink at Street Fighter, that's saying something). Better yet, the circle pad is backwards compatible with old DS games.

I've been playing Okamiden, a DS game, on my 3DS. Okamiden is a sequel to Okami, a PS3 game in which you controlled the three-dimensional movement of a wolf with an analogue stick. On the DS, you'd have to do this with a d-pad, which produces all sorts of aggravation when trying to trot diagonally. On the 3DS, I make the wolf run in all directions with the circle pad. The circle pad is so good, it makes me want to find my copy of Super Mario 64 DS and play it the right way.

Been relying on cradle for the worryingly short battery life I've been worried about the battery life of my 3DS, which is supposed to last only about five hours. So far, I've not suffered an awkward shutdown, probably because I've been religious about putting the 3DS in its charge cradle when I'm not using it. In fact, I probably should let the battery get closer to zero before doing that, but I find the charge cradle an irresistible convenience.

Excited about Street Pass: I always liked the concept of Street Pass - of letting two sleeping portable game systems exchange data wirelessly - but it was almost impossible for me to experience it on the original DS. The feature required specific games to be in the system, and data could only exchange between those two. I prefer the 3DS' approach which allows up to 12 games or apps to exchange data.

I've set up a team of Ryu, M. Bison, Vega and two other Street Fighter brawlers to automatically battle any other 3DS Street Fighter team my system sniffs out. I've set up my Mii Plaza to absorb nearby Miis so I can recruit them to battle through the light role-playing game Find Mii. I do love the idea of my 3DS exchanging data with hundreds of 3DS-owning New Yorkers, but for now it's all hypothetical. Nintendo could transform my expectations for portable gaming if this catches on.

From Brian Crecente, using the 3DS near Denver:

The 3D hasn't wowed me yet: I too remain sighted after days playing 3D games on the 3DS, but I also remain mostly unimpressed. It's not that the 3D doesn't deliver that third dimension adequately, it's that it hasn't yet made the visual argument to convince me that it is at all necessary. I had high hopes for LEGO Star Wars III. I expected that the latest in the LEGO franchise, which has historically struggled with platforming because of the lack of depth, would finally fix the issue. Unfortunately the 3D hasn't really helped. While the effects in most of the game I play can add a bit of depth to play, I'm still waiting for the game that's going to show me why 3D isn't just neat, it's required.

I'm a fan of the controls: The circle pad is a wonderful, sublime addition to the 3DS' control suite. The direction pad and X, Y, A and B buttons all remain functional (if not a tad stiffer), but none preform as well as that oversized faux-thumbstick. I was delighted to find how easy it was to play games like Super Street Fighter IV 3D Edition and pull off moves with almost no problem. I do find the Home, Start and Select buttons a bit off-putting, but they're so rarely used that it doesn't bother me that much.

Suspending software is a necessary pain: I love the idea of suspending a game, allowing myself to hop right back in without worrying about save points, but I hate the limitations and extra button pushes that entails. Every time you press the Home button to return to the 3DS main menu you're warned that the game is suspended. Every time you try to start virtually anything else you're warned that you're going to lose your suspend. It would have been nice if they had allowed for multiple suspended games. [Note from Stephen: ... or just allowed us to quit an application instead of suspending it!]

The joys of a pedometer and Street Pass: I'm really loving the few things I've been able to test out with the Street Pass and built-in pedometer. I love the notion of a gaming device that doesn't just ask you to get outside, walk and mingle, but rewards it. Hopefully there will be a lot more to come as developers sink their teeth into these new tools.

Slow transitions drive me insane: The 3DS seems to take it's time transitioning between the menu and anything. It's a minor delay, but it's already starting to bug me. Hopefully an update or tweak can iron this minor nitpick out.

The built-in games are the best: From the fabulous AR Games to Face Raider to that fun little Mii-centric role-playing game, the tiny little freebies that come with your 3DS are the best choices for gaming so far on the system.

The cradle is sexy: I love this things cradle. It has pins on the back that allow you to drop the 3DS down without having to worry about plugs and just instantly start charging. I also love that it's designed, seemingly, to allow you to play the system as it sits in the cradle, there's even a little access panel on the back so you can swap out games without lifting the portable up. What I don't love is how often I seem to need to sit the thing down because of a low battery warning.

A stylus-dependent touchscreen is annoying: I've got an iPhone and an iPad. That means I'm officially over using a stylus to do things on a touchscreen. Unfortunately the 3DS' screen doesn't seem quite ready to ditch the stylus. So I find myself digging around behind the console, pulling out the stylus, extending it and then using it, all in the middle of a game like LEGO Star Wars III. Not good. [Note from Stephen: Agreed! In this iPhone era, my reflex is to touch a touchscreen with my fingers, not a stylus. I keep forgetting and smudging my 3DS' lower screen.]

What's missing: Internet browsing and the e-store still isn't here. Nor is the ability to transfer your purchases from your DSi. They're promised, but not yet delivered. I'd also love to see a built in video player on here and maybe a music player that has a better user interface then does the one found on the DSi.

Those are our impressions so far. We'll continue to have more on the 3DS as we approach its March 27 launch in North America. If there are things we haven't covered that you're curious about, let us know.


    okami was a ps2 game, not ps3. it was also ported to the wii

    Okami is on the Wii and PS2, not PS3.

    Give the 3D another week or so. I found after 2 weeks of playing with the 3D on full my eyes have 'learned' to adjust and I don't get any of the tiredness or wonky-vision that I had in the first week. This is on Ridge Racer and SFIV, so I can't vouch for this in the titles you guys played.

    Got to let your eyes adjust over time, I recommend short 5-10 minute sessions for the first couple of days, and the gradually increase your time. Also playing for the first time is a lot less stressful on your eyes if you relax as much as possible. I found the first day I got it I was trying to play as much as possible after a tiring day at work and ended up with a bit of eye-strain. Of course everyone has different vision ans such, but that's 2¢.

    "Okamiden is a sequel to Okami, a PS3 game in which you controlled the three-dimensional movement of a wolf..."

    Okami was never on the PS3, it came out for the PS2 in 2006 and later it was ported to the Nintendo Wii in 2008.

    That backwards compatibility is pretty sweet. Mario 64DS on a dpad was torture

    The whole point of the stylus is precision...
    You can't beat a stylus' precision with any finger.

      You havent been using the iphone lately have you, while i would have agreed with you 2 years ago, now its no prob, actually its very accurate even though its fingers

      while i used to favour the stylus its a pain in the ass getting it out, especially the telescopic ones, every time... but the real pain in the ass is replacing it, i am not talking about a ds stylus but the ones for windows mobile 6.0 and 6.5... find any shop that sells stylus for them

      You havent been using the iphone lately have you, while i would have agreed with you 2 years ago, now its no prob, actually its very accurate even though its fingers

      while i used to favour the stylus its a pain in the ass getting it out, especially the telescopic ones, every time... but the real pain in the ass is replacing it, i am not talking about a ds stylus but the ones for windows mobile 6.0 and 6.5... find any shop that sells stylus for them or for anydevice

        What's happened in the last 2 years? Did your fingers shrink to give you an accuracy of a few pixels? Stick with your cheap phone games if you don't like depth and control in interactive entertainment.

    @all the people crying foul over Okami: the I think it's safe to say that the author meant to say PS2, and mistyped. I suppose that would happen alot if you write "PS3" way more times a day than "PS2".

    It's not the end of the world.

    Also, the difference in the touchscreens is the technology used, the DS line have RESISITIVE screens, which work on two layers of material, you bridge them while pressing down, that's how it knows where. Most phones are now CAPACITIVE, which work by your finder distrupting the magnetic field on the screen, and that's how it knows where you're pressing.

    You can't use a normal "dumb" stylus on a capacitive screen, and they cost more. It'd say that's why Nintendo hasn't switched, because these things are selling like hotcakes anyway.

    Okami wasn't a PS3 game,it was.... just kidding.

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