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Portable Gaming... IN THE THIRD DIMENSION

Portable Gaming... IN THE THIRD DIMENSION
03 Apr 2011 05:46:58

March 27, 2011. This was a date that I've been waiting weeks for (and had my financial planning for the past few months centered around). The reason: the Nintendo 3DS has finally arrived in the United States.

Starting things off, on the release day of the system, I went to my nearby mall to pick up my copy of the system, which I had reserved since the end of last year. Along with the system, I also picked up two games that I reserved as my starter games. Afterwards, I swung by Toys R Us, and taking advantage of a one day only sale in which you get 50% off a 3DS game if you buy another one at full price, I picked up two more games for the system. In the end, this is a picture of everything that I bought on the day the 3DS came out.



After fooling around with the system for a few days, here's my initial comments on it.

The 3D Effect:

It's best to get this out of the way first: yes, the 3DS is able to pull off 3D effect rather effectively without the need of glasses. I'll get to the camera portion of the effect later, but when it comes to games, it does feel like the characters (and the text/lifebars) are sticking out. As for video, while we won't be experiencing more of that feature until probably May (when the major update is launched), the first system update (which came out the day after the system was released) includes the OK Go music video "White Knuckles", which definitely made me flinch when the dogs were running to the camera (aka it shows how capable 3DS is when showing videos in 3D).

Of course, there's the usual side effects of needing to readjust your eyes after seeing the 3D effects, which happens a few times with me when I try to use the computer after playing a game in 3D. Luckily, the system screen includes a slider, thus allowing the user to turn off the 3D (which I do when not playing a 3DS game, using the camera, or watching the OK Go video).

The Games:

Of the launch title games that have been released, here the ones that I picked up, as well as my comments about them.

Pilotwings Resort: Pretty much the main first party game to showcase the 3D effects that the 3DS has to offer. I saw a demo of it at Best Buy the weekend before the 3DS was released, and I can tell you that the effects definitely made it feel as if the various flying machines were coming out of the screen. Right now, I've only completed one mission. However, I did manage to pilot my hang glider in a volcano in the free run.

Ridge Racer 3D: Played the game a couple times now. There's there's not much to say about the game itself (it's the same old Ridge Racer that inspired a meme as a result of the disastrous Sony press conference at E3 2006). However, the game does have a couple of good 3D effects (i.e. confetti sticking on the screen each time you finish a lap).

Samurai Warriors Chronicles: The game is basically a 3DS version of the Samurai Warriors franchise. However, it does have a couple of unique perks worth checking out:

1. The fact that the main character in story mode is created by the player by choosing a gender and answering a few questions to determine his/her role;

2. Unlike other Samurai Warriors games, you can switch between characters during battle, thus ensuring that all bases are covered in battle (and dropping fear of the computer AI not being up to task in defeating certain enemies).

Super Street Fighter IV 3D: Most likely the main seller when it comes to the launch title games, and for a good reason. Capcom did a good job trying to cram the Xbox 360/PS3 game on a 4GB 3DS game card without making too much sacrifice (the only major cuts that are noticeable are the background animations and the Japanese language track). Other pluses include the inclusion of the first two alternate costumes for each character, being able to perform moves via touch pad (just as long as no one spams this item a la Marvel vs. Capcom 3 players abusing Easy Mode controls online), and a 3DS only mode that involves collecting figures.

The Camera:

The camera is a mixed bag in my book. On the negative side, as you'll see with the pictures accompanying the camera, the picture size is going to be small when uploaded on the Internet. Second, since there's no flash on the camera, photos will need a decent amount of lighting in order to turn out their best (an example: one the pictures that I took to try out the 3D aspect of the camera probably won't be posted on regular Internet sites on the account that the lighting wasn't that great for a 2D picture).

However, on the other hand, the camera still does a good job in taking 3D photos (too bad there's no way to upload them yet). Also, the camera supports AR picture taking, as you'll see with the three pictures that I took below:







SpotPass and StreetPass:

One feature that I've been trying out recently is the SpotPass and StreetPass features installed in the system. Basically, the feature allows the system to transfer data either via wireless Internet connection or with other 3DS systems.

For the SpotPass, that is definitely working for me, as I've received a few messages during the first couple of days of owning the system (including the news about a system update). Hence, whenever I'm awake and not at work, I usually keep my system on sleep mode in order to keep the SpotPass feature working. Meanwhile, when it comes to StreetPass, I tried this feature out on Tuesday by carrying my 3DS with me during my weekly trip to the mall. Sadly, no one else had the system on them. So, it looks like it will be a while before I really get a chance to try this feature out (i.e Otakon).

Other Features:

Among some of the features that the system has (and my opinions about some of them).

-A Mii Maker program (Miis are basically a Nintendo avatar of yourself), with includes a chance to use a picture of yourself to make a Mii and a feature to copy other people's Miis via QR (so far, I used it to get a Mii of Tsumugi from K-On!).

-A feature in which you can get more Miis (and use them to play games) via StreetPass.

-The built-in game Face Raiders, in which you use the 3DS to hunt down invaders that uses the faces of people that you take pictures of with the 3DS.

-A pedometer that keeps track of your steps and awards coins for every 100 steps, which can be used for the 3DS (so far, the only game I have that uses them is Super Street Fighter IV 3D). Hey, that gives me a good reason to carry my 3DS around.

Battery Life:

Oh yeah, I knew that I'm going to have to cover this sooner or later. Yes, it is very true that the system's battery life is 5 hours tops when the power is turned on. However, there's two things that make it not feel that bad.

The first thing is Sleep Mode, a mode that allows the system to still be on, but with limited power running. Doing that along with my usual playing periods on the 3DS, I am able to go 2-3 days before I charged the system again.

Second, Nyko is coming out with a battery pack that, combined with the one that comes with the 3DS, doubles the amount of time a person can play before you need to recharge it. Hence, I'll probably be on the look out for that when it does arrive in stores.

Conclusion:

Right now, when it comes to recommending the system, that response is N/A, as right now there's only a few games out for the 3DS, and most of the big features won't be out for another month. However, based on what I've seen so far, the system definitely has a lot of potential to be a hit (especially once the big first-party games like Kid Icarus: Uprising finally comes out later this year).
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blackmercury
blackmercury (Russia)
03 Apr 2011, 07:11:55
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Good review
KururuSouchou
KururuSouchou (USA)
03 Apr 2011, 15:46:09
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I recently had the opportunity to mess around with a friend's 3DS, and I was pleasantly surprised. I was skeptical about the 3D, but it actually works very well. And of the launch titles, SSFIV is definitely the winner among them - it also proves that 2D fighters can work on the 3DS just as well as they do on consoles (which may be a first). I'm looking forward to BlazBlue: Continuum Shift II, and I wonder if Capcom will attempt what they did with SSFIV and try making a Marvel vs. Capcom 3 3D Edition. But overall, though, I think I'm gonna wait a while - Nintendo usually tends to slice $50 or so off the prices of their consoles a few months down the line, and there'll be more games by then. In the meantime, Pokémon Black and Okamiden are more than sufficient for my handheld gaming needs.
HONK HONK~
ToonAddict
ToonAddict (USA)
03 Apr 2011, 17:43:37
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That is very understandable, as I myself am currently trying to juggle the 3DS, the two DS games that you've mentioned (only with me having Pokemon White instead of Black), and Dissidia 012.

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