Why I Stopped Playing The 3DS In 3D

Tomorrow will mark my one-week anniversary of owning a Nintendo 3DS. I'm happy with the handheld - it's a peach. However, six days in, and I've already ditched the 3D. I loathe it, and it's a feature I can do without.

Thankfully, Nintendo allows players to switch on the 3D effect and switch it off. And thankfully, the stylish hardware and elegant software that powers it are compelling enough to warrant a purchase. But the 3D? No thanks.

When I first got the machine, I was amazed by the 3D effect. I still am. I posted tips players could follow in order to enjoy the 3DS in its 3D glory and not get ill. Those tips are certainly helpful, and I haven't gotten sick to my stomach from playing the 3DS. As time has passed, I have gotten headaches and a general worn-out feeling - even with the 3D in its weakest setting. I'm not alone: My wife made it about two days with the 3D and then switched it off, while my seven-year-old played with it for the recommended time and thought it was "really cool". It is cool. It really is. 3D images without the need of stupid glasses!

Before the 3DS launched, there were reports on how it takes twice as much effort for human eyes to reproduce the 3D effect. I've found this to be true. Eye strain has left me feeling like I'm cross-eyed (I'm not, so do not worry). I've been trying to figure out why I'm experiencing this. Of course, it's no doubt a side-effect of autostereoscopy. But I've been wondering if there is something intrinsic to the way that the 3DS is set up that makes players (read: me) more susceptible to issues.

The anecdotal conclusion I've reached is that it is the result of having two screens. The top screen can display the 3D effect, while the touch screen is in 2D. Players typically end up using both while playing, but focusing on the top screen. So while playing, players eyes will focus on the 3D, and then have to re-focus on the 2D as they use the touch screen. This focusing, re-focusing and then focusing again could be the cause of issues I'm having.

The other issue is that the 3DS requires a sweetspot for the 3D effect to be viewed. So you must stay in the same position to view the 3D effect. Shifting position might mean that you have to tweak the 3D effect. Even pressing buttons on certain games, thereby causing the handheld to move slightly, can effect the 3D effect. This makes it difficult to relax — like listening to music and constantly have to turn up and turn down the volume. You can't focus on simply playing.

When the 3DS launched, many Twitter users complained of eye strain, so others do seem to be effected by the 3D effect. I'm finding particular difficulty with the Professor Layton game - reading text in 3D hasn't been fun - and with the special over-the-shoulder "3D view" in Super Street Fighter IV: 3D Edition. The traditional Super Street Fighter IV view in 3D is far more manageable. But even Nintendo's own efforts, like the on-board games and Nintendogs + Cats, are causing my eyes to work hard to produce the effect.

The upside? The hardware itself is definitely worth the purchase. Buy it. If you liked the DS, you will like this machine. It's... a new DS, with better graphics, a better interface and honest-to-goodness online. What else can you ask for? I'd trade my Nintendo 3DS for a Nintendo 2DS anytime. Thing is, that's a harder sell. You can't have a famous Japanese boy band go on television and talk about Nintendo's new wonderful interface for 15 seconds at a time. Well, I guess you can, but, like I said, it's a harder sell.

Nintendo is in the third act of an amazing play. In the first act, it rolled out touch-based gaming. For the second act, it introduced it's take on motion-based gaming. But the third act is a lot trickier. On the Nintendo 3DS, glasses-free 3D is a gimmick. It's a gimmick, and people will buy the 3DS because of that gimmick. But the 3DS is good enough without the 3D effect, it doesn't matter, because the handheld stands up on its own merits without it. The 3DS doesn't need 3D, and neither do I.


    One thing, at least people should get over the 3D fad then - if they already havent already!

      "3D" is so 90's...

    Users complained of eye strain from the 3DS yet they run to their computer or iPhone/Galaxy S boasting super bright screens to post about it on Twitter... real smart!

    Either way 3D like this is the gimmick so its makes sense it wears off after a while, or a week.

    I wonder if it's going to go on and cause as much problems as the Virtual Boy did. It's a bummer though, one of it's main features that makes it stand out from the rest is going to cause people some slight grief. Still though, there's some great looking games for it.


    Which games have you been playing? I've gathered from your multiple posts here on Kotaku that you're definitely pleased with the 3DS, but what are you using it for?

    The lineup looks so weak that I couldn't possibly see myself enjoying it with only the games already released. Maybe once the promised titles hit, and Square Enix gets on board, but honestly, why would I want a 3DS over a DS right now?


    Doesn't this say: The 3D, one of the key features is very poorly designed. But the 3DS is still good because, well, it's a newer DS.

    This is sad. I am sure it will still be fun but cmon, they designed it around 3D therefore lacking in other areas. And if 2 screens makes this process so much harder I wonder why they didn't consider (in my knowledge) making a SINGLE screen console.

    2 screens in itself is a bit of a gimmick and then you go on to say 3D is a gimmick. Gimmicky-gimmick packed with fun Nintendo games. I think Nintendo should of thought more into this and maybe delayed the quick release. It even looks like a DS.

    This is what makes the NGP so much more enticing.

    Let's hope they fix the 3D on the lite, until then I'm waiting for the NGP.

    This doesn't bode well. Part (most) of the reason that this damn thing is so expensive in the first place is because of the damn 3D, and now i'm hearing that it 'doesn't even need it?'

    TBH if the 3D effect is really 'not worth it,' i'd much rather hang out for an NGP - which is essentially a more powerful 3DS without the 3D gimmick.

    I remember trying it at the Swanston str EB demoing. My eyes felt really weird and I was constantly feeling I was poising focus of the foreground and background. It was weird, but I guess if you play it long enough your eyes tend to train themselves.

    I definitely agree with your article. Though I haven't seen or used it myself, I've read reviews, and I'm always wary about how the 3D gimmick is advertised -as most games have demonstrated graphics aren't needed for good gameplay and companies try to sell their crappy consoles by its graphic capability (topic for another article, I think). But I like the new features, and some of the old ones too. And I don't think I'll be using the augmented reality. Also, have you tested the battery time with 3D enabled?

    i can understand why you got sick of it.
    but its because you played it on 3d for a solid periond of time... well that was more your wifes problem. however what im trying to get across is:
    turn the 3d on for like... 5-10 minutes at a time for a treat or to get an edge.
    hey, it works for me ;)

    I bet your looking forward to the NGP then...

    My first thought when I head about the 3DS was "I hope they launch a non-3DS in six months for lower price and better battery performance those those that aren't particularly impressed by 3D."

    Sounds rather similar to complaints and naysayer 'warnings' upon the advent of home television. And then colour TV. And then home computers. And then home videogame consoles. And then hi-def TV. And then 3D HDTV.

    Everything is evil until so many people have it, that we feel left out if we dont have it. Then we realise we were just being iconoclastic assholes.

    If you need to constantly refocus, you're doing it wrong.

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