The Nintendo 3DS, is one of Nintendo's greatest achievements allowing users to play video games in full 3D without the need of glasses. It uses Autostereoscopy to achieve the 3D effect and uses a slider to turn it on and off. The 3DS takes the same design as the Nintendo DS, but resembles more of a DSi design than anything else since it doesn't have the slot on the bottom to play GBA games and is smaller compared to the DSi XL. The 3DS has many features and is probably one of the few devices that will push technology forward.
Lets face it, its called the 3DS and this is what draws the crown. Like stated before the 3D effect is done using Autostereoscopy. The best way to describe the 3D is to look outside your window. The 3D doesn't pop out like you would see in the movies and I have yet to see the PS3 or a Home 3D movie to judge whether this is done the exact same way. The 3D basically pops in rather than pop out. You still get all the same effects as you would in 3D. You have your foreground, middle ground and background.
You control the 3D via the slider that is located on the top half of the 3DS. This slider adjust the image so you can get a better view of the 3D effect. When viewing the 3DS Screen you are not stuck at one angle like others claim. I found that the 3D can be viewed from several angles if the slider is in the middle. Of course different people might experience different results. I almost never found myself putting the slider all the way to the top and when I did I lost focus and my eyes had to readjust. After stopping for a few minutes after about 5 minutes of gameplay I did get dizzy and felt that I was going to pass out. Keep in mind when using the 3DS, use it when you are well rested and adjust the slider to a position that makes you feel comfortable.
I think the 3D is the biggest draw of the 3DS. That's why it's called the 3DS and not the Nintendo next generation handheld or the DS2. Saying that the 3D is not the 3DS's best feature is like saying the engine on a Ferrari is not the best feature.
The Design of the 3DS is clam shelled. On the outside you have 2 cameras which are capable of taking 3D pictures, The 3D slider bar, the Wi-Fi slider, the volume slider, the stylus, and an SD Card reader with a 2GB SD Card. Within minutes of getting the 3DS I swaped out the 2GB Memory card for a 4GB.
On the inside you will have 2 screens. The top screen is where all the action happens on the 3DS. It has a resolution of 800 x 240 or 400 x 240 per eye. The bottom screen is the touchscreen which has a resolution of 320 x 240. On the top of the 3D screen, there is a 3rd camera which you can use to take pictures of yourself or video chat if Nintendo allows it in a future update. All 3 cameras have a resolution of 0.3MP.
The controls have stayed the same for the most part with the exception of the Circle Pad which acts as a Joystick. The circle pad has a rubber outer layer for grip. I am disappointed in the D-Pad as its a bit smaller and doesn't seem as responsive when you're touching it. The 4 letter buttons are also very small and close in together. The letter buttons do stick out a bit more than the DS version and you do get some feedback but if you have big fingers than it can be difficult to press them.
The Start and Select buttons have been relocated at the bottom of the Touchscreen and in the center lies a Home button which you can use to go back to the main menu. Pressing the home button will take you to the main menu but will not kill the application until you select a different application. This is very convenient as any accidental pressing of the home button doesn't prevent your game from being lost. Pressing the Power button will give you 2 options; either turn off your 3DS or leave it on stand by. Leaving your 3DS on stand by will allow you to trade information with other 3DS users or have various features activated when playing a game. You can also put your 3DS to sleep on on stand by, by simply closing your 3DS. Do keep in mind that closing your 3DS and pressing the stand by button yields 2 different results. You can close your 3DS with a game inside still running and when you re-open it again, the game will continue where you left off however pressing the power button will immediately kill your game or task and you cannot go back to your game. It will however allow you to go back to the Home Screen. One annoyance is that the LED light will always stay power light will always stay on.
The 3DS feels very sturdy and it looks like it can withstand a fall of 3 feet. I am however not going to be testing this as the 3DS cost me $250. The metallic finish does add a nice look to the 3DS and you won't have to worry about fingerprints. It is big, but if you have big pockets you will not have any trouble carrying the 3DS around and will not need a backpack. I have several pants with big pockets, even some dress pants that nicely fitted the 3DS inside of them. I also had enough room to put my cell phone along with it. However I do not recommended the 3DS for jeans or shorts with smaller and tighter pockets and it will get uncomfortable.
The 3DS software is designed similar to the Wii and it's channel system. When first booting up the 3DS there is a slight delay when it powers up. I actually though that I may have received a defective device when I first turned it on as it took 10 seconds probably more for anything to show up. I wasn't keeping track of time as I was literally pissing myself when I didn't see anything come up for a while. When it does boot up finally, you will be guided to set up your 3DS with wi-fi, your birthday, time and date etc. When powering off your device and turning it back on it can take from 5 to 8 seconds for the 3DS to fully power up. This means that nothing will show up on the screen for at least 5 to 8 seconds.
The 3DS has several channels available such as Mii maker, 3DS camera, Music player, Street Pass Mii Plaza, Face Raiders; a game where you take pictures of different people's faces and shoot them, Activity Log, Download and Play, Settings and of course the good old Health and Safety information. There are also empty channels which can be used for the 3DS virtual console or other channels which Nintendo has yet to release.
Nintendo included 2 mini games (or 6 if you count each AR Card as a seperate mini game) which you can play if you do not yet won any 3DS games. These games are Face Raiders and AR Games. Face raiders is basically an FPS game where you take pictures of several different people and shoot them until you defeat the last boss. There are a total of 6 levels but you can take pictures of as many faces as you can. The faces also have animation and sound effects. AR Games is a set of 6 different cards each containing a different mini game. In order for them to work you must align the cards with the camera in a well lit place and wait for it to load. These cards are required if you are to continue playing the AR Games.
Even though Nintendo did include a few mini games it does feel that the 3DS is not complete. First of all there is a web browser button but pressing it will notify you that the browser has been disabled and should be available within a future update. There is also no way of watching movies at this time or a converter. This of course will hopefully come with future updates. There is a movie included with Nintendo's latest update which shows some random guys playing with cups. Why would Nintendo think we would enjoy this I do not know.
With the launch of the 3DS we saw some great titles released and some not so great ones. What's really disappointing is that there is no Mario, Zelda, Metroid etc. We do however get Pilot Wings Resort and some Puppy game because when I think Nintendo I think Puppies. Thank god for 3rd party support because we do get to play such great titles as Madden NFL Football, PES 2011, Ridge Racer, Asphalt, Samurai Warriors, and Street Fighter 4.
The games resemble 3DS carts but with a little nudge on the side which prevents the software from going into a non 3DS device such as the regular DS. DS game carts do fit in nicely though and it is backwards compatible, however you will not be able to play in 3D with regular DS games. This does have me a bit worries as game carts are usually 8 to 512mb in size limit so bigger games would be a problem on the console. This however is an uncertainty as no one really knows how big they could get in memory but there's always that doubt.
In terms of graphics the 3DS does have decent graphics when compared to the regular DS. If anything I would say the 3DS has Gamecube or PSP like graphics. Of course because this are just launch titles no one knows how better the graphics can get so as of this time there is no way of judging the true power behind the 3DS.
This is what will most likely put off many potential buyers. The 3DS currently sells for $249.99. In my opinion this is a pretty hefty price tag but you are getting a 3D capable device. If you have the cash to buy the 3DS I say buy it and don't wait for a price drop because it could be minimum 1 year before there is a price drop and that's just guessing. It took the Wii several years to receive a $50 price drop and it could be the same with the 3DS. For those holding out for a better version of the 3DS it can also be several years before a new version comes out.
The Battery Life:
Battery life is the single most important thing on a handheld console heck even on cell phones. You can have the greatest gadget out there but with a poor battery life you might as well just have a rock. Battery life depends on a few components such as having Wi-Fi on, 3D on, High Volume and Brightness. With everything to the max you could get between 2.5 to 3 hours of battery life. This can increase if you turn off the Wi-Fi when you are nowhere near a connection or when you are not using it. Turning down the brightness also helps increase battery life and lowering the volume also helps. If you are in a noisy area headphones will also help out or you can turn off the sound all together and just read what's on screen.
If you travel a lot you might consider purchasing a car charger or another wall charger and leave one at home. Battery life is disappointing but for regular use I say it should be enough and just turn off your 3DS when you are not using it.
The Verdict: Buy
At $250, the 3DS is well worth the price tag if you are looking to game on 3D. If you are not looking for 3D gaming then the regular DS or PSP will do just fine and you can get those for a lot less. Specially the PSP 3000 which is $130. It does have a few design flaws which won't get fixed because of hardware and the software is far from perfect but eventually it will get to a point where you will be able to do anything on your 3DS and by anything I mean watch movies and play video games in 3D.
While not the strongest launch line up, there are a few titles worth checking out on the 3DS and I personally recommend: Madden, Asphalt, PES 2011, Street Fighter 4 and Samurai Warriors. There are also a few titles which will launch in April that will keep the library of games growing. \
Performance: Gamecube/PSP like graphics in 3D with great detail. The 3D can be viewed in several angles with the 3D slider in the middle settings. 10
Design: The 3DS is bulky but it does feel like it can take a drop (although not recommended). The Circle Pad is a nice addition and responds very well. The letter buttons and D-Pad could have been bigger. 8
Price: Might turn off potential buyers but it could be years before a price drop or a new 3DS model to comes out. 7
Software: Practically everything is disabled and there’s no reason for Nintendo to put a video of guys playing with cups. Boot up times take 8 seconds. The AR Games and Face Raiders are nice mini games that show off the 3DS until you purchase a game. 6/10.
LifeSpan: Short battery life that only lasts 3 to 5 hours depending on your settings but for the most part it should be enough to get you through the day. 6/10.
Total Score: 74/100