I woke up early this weekend to go secure a Nintendo 3DS for myself at launch. I couldn’t resist the promise of gaming in a third dimension, as opposed to the normal, shitty regular two. Upon my arrival, I noticed that as many as six people were lined up outside of the local GameStop at 9am to pick up their reserved 3DS system and games. Were we wasting our time? Was Nintendo’s newest technology worth the effort?
Nintendo 3DS: setup and augmented reality
Once I got home with my new aqua blue Nintendo 3DS, I immediately plugged in the docking cradle to begin the initial charging process. Two and a half hours of electronic cockteasing later, I was able to turn on the system and set it up. Even during navigation through the handheld’s menus and set up steps, the 3D effect is amazing. It’s primarily used for a depth-based sort of fish bowl/diorama effect, but it is capable of projecting an image outward, which looks just as cool.
After creating my Mii through the use of the camera function, which really only served to have the system tell me it thinks I’m ugly, I started fooling around with the augmented reality (AR) cards. Shooting the virtual dragon via archery on your desk is a lot more fun than it looks in some of the promotional videos you’ve probably seen. You have to duck and dodge when it tries to bite you, while continually hitting the 3D lizard where it hurts. After you’ve beaten it, most of the other options in the AR open up, allowing you to explore a bit more. It’s a fun little distraction, with levels and other stuff that will keep you busy for a little while, but probably not as engaging as a full retail game, though. Speaking of which…
Super Street Fighter IV: 3D Edition
The first game I bought for the 3DS was Super Street Fighter IV 3D Edition. What’s it like? Simply put, it’s a perfect port of the console game. While a little graphical fidelity was sacrificed, and the backgrounds are completely static, it’s otherwise perfect. I was pulling off combos and destroying fools online after just a little practice with the controls. The D-pad, which sits at the bottom left of the 3DS, doesn’t feel awkwardly placed at all, to my surprise. The circle pad works as well as any other analog stick in Street Fighter, meaning it’s all up to the user’s personal preference. If you’re looking for replayability, rich features and strong online, then this is the one game you need to get with your 3DS.
Does the 3D add anything to the gameplay, though? I can’t say it so with any certainty, though it does look friggin’ awesome. I played through arcade mode with the 3D slider jacked all the way up, and it was one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen in a video game; I highly recommend it for the single player experience. However, for online matches, I preferred turning the 3D off completely to benefit from the smoother framerate.
Other initial thoughts
The Nintendo 3DS’ battery life, which has been under close watch for a long time now, is indeed quite short. Expect to charge it completely pretty much every night. However, unless you plan to play it for hours at a time all day, this shouldn’t be a major consideration. Just go about your business, play for a bit, and when you get home, drop it in the included charging dock. While the dock serves the same function as the regular charge cable, it’s a lot more convenient: it provides a standard home for your 3DS, and you can pick it up/drop it off with little mechanical resistance. It sounds like a small thing, but it’s a nice touch for Nintendo to include it in the package, especially given how often you’ll be charging the system.
Is the 3DS an immediate buy? Well, I certainly don’t regret my day one purchase, but with the lack of early “killer app” games, it’s really up to you. Once Mario Kart, Star Fox and Zelda come out, the system’s value will definitely skyrocket. The technology is awesome, and you really do have to see it in person to truly appreciate the effects generated. That is, unless you were born sub-human and can’t see 3D images. In such cases, I apologize on behalf of Nintendo.