Although we've previewed
the Nintendo 3DS just before it's official launch (31/03/2011) in
Australia, we decided to hold back on a full review of the console in
order to give the unit a thorough testing and more than 10 games later,
we're finally ready to give our final verdict. When it comes to fun,
Nintendo are definitely our gaming forefathers and they've created some
truly entertaining games and consoles. From the intuitive wireless
controls of the Nintendo Wii which have now been mirrored by both Sony
and Microsoft, to their spectacular new console the Wii U (2012) which
takes gaming to a whole new thanks to their touch-screen controller,
Nintendo definitely think outside the square. However with their newest
portable console and the success to the DS, their new 3DS console
supports glasses-free 3D gaming. You heard correctly!
In laymen terms, this
means that you can experience 3D graphics without the need for those
fiddle some 3D glasses that are mandatory in both the cinemas and 3D
compatible TV's. Although we were sceptical at first, the 3D glasses
free technology actually works and games like Dead or Alive
Dimensions, Pilot Wings and Ridge Racer 3D really
make good use of this technology. Add in the exceptionally clear
graphics and higher resolution and Nintendo have definitely changed the
future of games. Unfortunately the glasses free technology comes at a
cost and in order to fully immerse yourself into this technology, you
need to be as still as possible. The limitation of this technology is
that if you move your head slightly, it will cause all the 3D graphics
to dart and then your eyes need to recalibrate to the 3D technology.
This does get a little frustrating, especially if you’re playing games
that require you to move your 3DS console considerably such as PES 2011
or Street Fighter IV. However for what it is, it’s actually rather
impressive and the 3D looks fantastic.
Unfortunately there is
another issue with the 3D technology employed by this console which
drains the batteries quite fast when this mode is being used. Depending
on what game and whether you’re using Wi-Fi, the battery will last
around four hours of constant play but could be less or more. This why
Nintendo created a dock for this console that makes charging quite easy
as you simply just push your console into the charger to start charging
as opposed to a myriad of cables. In relation to charging, the console
takes around 3.5 hours to successfully charge. In relation to 3D, it was
a bit of a hit and miss for the majority of us and after the wow
factor wore off, most games we played was with the 3D effect turned off.
There is a slider on the side of the top screen that allows you to
adjust the 3D effects or disable it completely. This is not to say that
the technology doesn't work, it just has a few limitations and is a
little gimmicky at the moment. Even so, it's a treat to use and maybe
even a little special.
What’s in the
Nintendo 3DS system
Nintendo 3DS AC
Nintendo 3DS stylus
SD Memory Card (2GB)
AR Card(s) (view the
cards using the outer cameras to play supported AR games)
In terms of design, the
3DS is quite sleek and fits well in your hands. Whether you have small
child-like hands or behemoth fingers, you should have no problems in
navigating the unit. It is a little bulkier than the previous DS but
this console has 3D capabilities, a larger screen and is more powerful
so it is a small price to pay for improved quality and features. The
console also boasts three cameras, one while the console is opened and
the other two on the back to take photos and even 3D photos. Buttons are
all in the right places with the new additions being the circle pad that
acts as a type of analog stick (HOORAY). This is located on the left of
the console. It also has slider controls for volume/3D depth control and
button to enable or disable Wi-Fi. The buttons also feel quite
comfortable to use and all the controls, including the shoulders buttons
feel in the right place. The buttons Start, Select and Home are also
nicely located just under the bottom screen. It's a well designed
console in terms of design and no gripes from us.
3D screen, enabling
3D view without the need for special glasses and the ability to
adjust or turn off 3D effect with the 3D Depth Slider.
Stereo cameras that
enable users to take 3D photos that can be viewed instantly on the
New input interfaces
including the Circle Pad, motion sensor, gyro sensor
SpotPass, a feature
that lets Nintendo 3DS detect wireless hotspots or wireless LAN
access points and obtain information, game data, free software,
videos and so on for players even when the system is in sleep mode.
feature that lets Nintendo 3DS exchange data automatically with
other Nintendo 3DS systems within range, even in sleep mode once
this feature is activated by the user. Data for multiple games can
be exchanged simultaneously.
that users can access without stopping game play such as the HOME
menu, Internet Brower, Notifications, etc.
Plenty of built-in
software such as the Nintendo 3DS Camera, Nintendo 3DS Sound, Mii
Maker, StreetPass, Mii Plaza, AR Games, Activity Log, Face Raiders,
Nintendo eShop where
users can view trailers, software rankings and purchase software.
which enable users to transfer already purchased software from one
Nintendo 3DS system to another. DSiWare purchased for the Nintendo
DSi or the Nintendo DSi XL can also be transferred into a Nintendo
functions where both new software designed for Nintendo 3DS and most
software for the Nintendo DS family of systems can be played.
which enable parents to restrict game content by ratings as well as
use of specific wireless connectivity, 3D functionality, etc.
The unit even comes with
gyroscope technology that like an iPad or iPhone which allows you to
tilt the device as a controller or while you are playing augmented
reality games. For example, you might use the gyroscope to place a
racing game so when you tilt to the left, the car will move to the left.
Monkey Ball 3D uses this technology which is actually fun but
unfortunately this hampers the 3D effect because of so much console
movement by the user.
One issue with the
launch of the console is that it lacked real internet access. Thankfully
accessing the internet via Wi-Fi is now available as Nintendo have
released a patch to rectify this. I’m not sure why Nintendo held back so
long but it’s great that it’s finally here. It was a strange one because
the console even had an icon for the internet which did put a dampener
on it for some 3DS users. Happily, it's now available. Also, the Wi-Fi
of the 3DS is quite decent as well and we had no dropouts whatsoever.
When connected to our router or hotspots like Federation Square in
Melbourne, it stayed connected and done what it was supposed to do.
Just like the DS, the
3DS boasts two displays, a top screen which is the 3D screen and
supports a resolution of 800x240 with the bottom screen or touch screen
boasting a resolution of 320x240 and in conjunction, both screens work
quite well. Viewing angles is acceptable, although for best results,
you need to view the unit directly head on. As mentioned, the camera
supports three VGA cameras of 0.3 megapixels which translates to around
640x480. The two rear cameras allow you to take 3D images that is a
nifty trick of smoke and mirrors. One issue with the screen is that it
is a little too reflective so in bright lights, it does hamper your
+Control Pad, L/R Button, START/SELECT
Circle Pad (enabling
360-degree analog input)
3D Depth Slider
(enabling smooth adjustment of the 3D level effect)
HOME (HOME button
brings up the HOME menu)
Wireless switch (can
disable wireless functionality even during game play)
Nintendo have also
upgraded the operating system of the 3DS that allows for more user
interactivity and control of what you can do on the console such as the
Mii Maker to create your own virtual people or the Mii Plaza that allows
you to collect and interact with other 3DS units via StreetPass.
StreetPass is an interesting feature that basically allows your games to
play against other people while you walk past them in the street. You
might come over after going to the city and discover that your 3DS has
been busy with Super Street Fighter IV or some other title. The console
even comes with two augmented reality games that are AR Games and Face
Raiders. They are nothing special and could be considered more tech
demos as opposed to games but it does showcase this technology well.
LCD display, enabling 3D view without the need for special glasses.
Capable of displaying approximately 16.77 million colors. 89.6mm
display (76.70mm wide, 45.97mm high) with 800 x 240 pixel
resolution. 400 pixels are allocated to each eye to enable 3D
Lower ScreenLCD with
a touch screen capable of displaying 16.77 million colors. 76.70mm
(61.46mm wide, 45.97mm high) with 320 x 240 pixel resolution.
camera and two outer cameras. Resolutions are 640 x 480 for each
camera. Lens are single focus and uses the CMOS capture element. The
active pixel count is approximately 300,000 pixels.
Communication2.4 GHz. Enabling local wireless communication among
multiple Nintendo 3DS systems for game play and StreetPass. Enabling
access to the Internet through wireless LAN access points (supports
IEEE802.11 b/g with the WPA™/WPA2™ security feature). Recommended
distance of wireless communication is within 98.4 feet. This can be
shorter depending on the enviromental situation. WPA and WPA2 are
marks of the Wi-Fi Alliance.
Gaming is where the
console really shines and there's some spectacular launch titles
available for this console. Dead or Alive Dimensions looks
amazing on this console and best of all, it plays extremely well.
Ridge Racer 3DS is probably the most fun I've had with this series
since its launch on the PlayStation and then we have Steel Diver, a
submarine simulator. It's great that we are getting more adult content
for this console. However these games pale in comparison to some of the
awesome upcoming titles that have yet to be released which include
Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Kid Icarus and even a new Metal Gear
Solid. Needless to say, we’re very excited. Given that, developers are
really supporting this new console and compared to the Nintendo DS,
games have improved leaps and bounds on this console thanks to its
crystal clear graphics, 3D and more powerful CPU. Did someone also
mention a new Mario game! You betcha! However some developers are
resting on their laurels and are producing shovelware. These are bad DS
ports that now support 3D graphics… not cool.
Now that Nintendo have
released a software upgrade for their Operating System on the 3DS, this
is probably the best time to purchase this console. The games on this
console are amazing and Nintendo have really upped the ante in the world
of potable gaming. However the biggest issue is that the 3D does zap the
battery and this is dependent on a quite a few factors. Hopefully a new
third party battery will be available and I'm sure that Nintendo will
address this issue in the next version of this console whenever it gets
released. Even so, the technological achievements of the 3D and the
improved graphical capabilities of the 3DS have sold us. It may not be
perfect but it's a valiant attempt and challenges the way we play and
view games in the 21st century.