The arrival of the 3DS late last week was the first time that I had seen the Nintendo’s spanky new handheld in the flesh, so to speak. Sure, I had seen the photos and videos, read the articles and even bent the ears of those who had seen the console in various places. But the end result was always the same, “you have to see it for yourself”.
Well, now is my chance and I don’t even have to leave my desk. Bonus!
The first thing that struck me upon opening the box was the amount of paperwork that comes with it. You get a massive manual in a variety of different languages, a manual in English, five quick start guides in various languages, an important information leaflet and a StreetPass Mii Plaza guide. Seriously, save the planet and all that.
Also in the box was a mains charger and a really nice dock. Before I forget, a little wallet containing six AR cards was also present.
Five minutes later, I had a headache. It seems that the warnings about the 3D function of the 3DS are true. Admittedly, I had the 3D slider set to full. But really, five minutes? Don’t panic though, I have a theory. Quite simply, my eyes are not used to seeing 3D images in this manner and it probably put a lot of strain on them. Now, after around a week, I can quite happily use the 3D function without too much discomfort. I firmly believe that it is all about slowly letting the eyes become accustomed to the display.
But was the 3D effect really as good as people say? Well, yes, I am incredibly impressed, as have been everyone that I have shown. To be honest, the most impressive 3D effect that I have seen on the console thus far, and bear in mind that I have yet to see any proper games, was a photo that I took. It was the first attempt with the 3DS camera and I took a picture of some sauce bottles on the worktop. The effect, when viewed in 3D, was amazing. I could sense the depth of the picture and the distances between the bottles.
It is also true to say that there is a sweet spot for viewing the 3D effect. Watching over someone’s shoulder will result in a blurry image and most likely a headache. However, the sweet spot is reasonably forgiving and it seems to be in quite a natural position, not leaving the player uncomfortable.
The unit ships with a 2GB SD card already fitted, providing plenty of space for all of those experimental 3D photos, and a telescopic stylus that slots into place just next to the slightly oversized game card slot. This is perhaps the only real gripe that I have with the handheld. When using the 3DS, pressing the shoulder buttons launches the camera and time and again I found myself pressing the shoulder buttons when trying to take the stylus out. Also, if you are playing with the AR cards, for example, turning the unit around in order to locate the stylus is a bit annoying. I quite liked where the stylus was placed in the DS.
What about the pre-installed software? Well, this is all being discussed in depth elsewhere on the site, so I won’t bore you by recapping. That being said, it is a really nice selection that does a great job of showing off all of the 3DS functions and capabilities. Considering the fact that there were no boxed games to play when the unit arrived, it has certainly kept me well entertained. With the possible exception of the DSi/XL, I can’t think of any other console that lets you have so much fun with just the hardware, without having to spend any more money.
Aesthetically, the 3DS looks gorgeous. We have the blue version and it has a lovely shine to it that really makes it stand out. The circle pad that can be found above the directional buttons works really well and actually has a nice, firm feel about it, not what I was expecting at all. I am not sure that I like the Home, Start and Select buttons, mounted beneath the touch screen. There is very little feedback to the buttons and they can be quite difficult to press.
Obviously, the success of the 3DS will be linked primarily to the quality of the software that is released. But it is certainly off to an incredible start. The unit itself is well built and feels comfortable in my hands, the included software is entertaining and will keep players coming back, and the 3D camera is simply amazing. Price-wise, the 3DS may seem a little pricey. But bear in mind that when the DSi first came out it was around £170, and Morrisons are currently offering the 3DS for a pre-order price of £187. Not really that much difference.
Perhaps the most exciting thing about the 3DS is the promise of things to come. Video entertainment, downloadable 3DS specific games and the infinite possibilities for including all of these new technologies into games in fun and imaginative ways. The future is bright, and it belongs to the 3DS.