3DS Impressions

The haul!
Though I wasn’t originally planning on getting a 3DS for a while, Shaun and I were lucky enough to receive one from my mom last week as an early Easter present! Thanks, Mom! It’s that lovely blue color, and came with Nintendogs + Cats Toy Poodle and Super Monkey Ball 3D. Now I’ll be the first to admit that the launch lineup for the 3DS was rather lackluster, so unfortunately I wasn’t particularly enthralled by either of these games. Nintendogs is cute (I never played the original, incidentally), but the novelty wears thin pretty quick–especially after taking your virtual dog for a walk and watching it do its business on the street. It does do a nice job of showcasing the 3D capabilities, particularly when your dog jumps up and licks the “screen.” 
Super Monkey Ball is a series that I also have never gotten into, purely from lack of interest in general more than anything else (I haven’t read reviews, I don’t know how popular it is). In Super Monkey Ball 3D you can choose from three modes–the regular adventure courses, Mario Kart-like racing, and multiplayer. I think the first option is where the “monkey ball” comes from, as your monkey of choice will roll around through short courses in a hamster-ball like apparatus, the goal simply to get to the finish line while collecting bananas. Yawn. The racing was a little more interesting, for me at least, and felt kind of like a preview of what a 3D Mario Kart would look like. Oddly, I found the 3D in Super Monkey Ball to be less crisp at higher levels than Nintendogs. As I moved up the slider to increase the 3D effect, I quickly began to see a double-image that really aggravated my eyes. At a lower level the double image seems to disappear and I found it much more pleasing to look at that way. I can’t comment on the multiplayer, but I assume it’s probably very similar to the other modes.
Now on the 3DS itself! I only have a DSlite, so I can’t compare the 3DS to the DSi or XL, but in terms of size and weight, it seems about the same as my lite, only a little thinner. I’m even carrying it around in the same case that I was using for my DSlite. As most of you probably know, the top screen is wider than the bottom, and another notable upgrade is the addition of an analog stick on the left side along with the traditional D-pad. I began playing Pokemon White on the 3DS, which I was previously playing on the DSlite, and have noticed that the slimness of the console means that I have to bend my fingers at a slightly increased angle to press the buttons, which I find slightly uncomfortable. I think it will take getting used to, but isn’t a major downside by any means. What I have found, is that even though I want to use the D-pad for Pokemon, the lower positioning of the D-pad due to the addition of the analog stick means that it isn’t really that comfortable to use the D-pad for long periods of time, where it was fine on the older DS models. This means I found myself using the analog stick just because it felt more comfortable.
I know I touched on the 3D capabilities a little already with regards to specific games, but I’d like to say a few more words on it before I move on. It is, after all, the driving force behind this new handheld!
I have to say I haven’t really been bitten by the 3D bug yet–when I go to the movies I always opt for the cheaper 2D tickets, and when the 3DS was announced I was more excited by the fact that it was just a new system rather than the whole “3D without glasses!” thing Nintendo is going for. So, how does the 3D really stack up, then? Well, after hearing that the 3DS gives people headaches after 15 minutes or less of gameplay, I have to agree. When you’re not used to looking at the 3D top screen, it can be quite eye straining to view with the slider turned all the way up. That said, Nintendo made a very smart move by making the 3D adjustable. I enjoyed playing on a very low 3D setting–I could still see the 3D effect but it didn’t strain my eyes nearly so much. It’s a little frustrating that you have to angle the screen very precisely to be able to see the 3D effect well, though. Even so, all games can also be played in 2D, and they still look nice and crisp. I’m still not completely sold on the magic of 3D, but I’m hoping future titles will make a believer out of me.  
Face Raiders–free with every 3DS! (source)
One thing I find really intriguing about the 3DS is the Streetpass–the idea being that if you walk around with your 3DS on sleep mode (closed, but still on), you can swap information with other 3DS users you pass during your day. With Nintendogs + Cats, you can share pictures of your pets and even send presents to other players. I’m not sure of Super Monkey Ball 3D has any Streetpass functionality, but I don’t believe so. Even without any games, by using Streetpass you can get info on other 3DS players such as what game they are currently playing or download their Mii, which will then be sent to your Mii Garden to be viewed at any time (I believe this also unlocks some mini-games as well). I’ve only tried Streetpass once so far, when I knew I would be around a fair number of people, but regrettably I didn’t pass any other 3DS owners. The possibilities of the Streetpass are really interesting, I think, and I look forward to see how future games will take advantage of this new technology.
Finally, I’d like to comment on Face Raiders, an augmented reality shooter that comes already installed on the 3DS. In this game, you take pictures of faces, which are then used to create these little enemy face ships you have to shoot down. It’s a pretty funny concept, and I enjoyed playing around with it. There’s something oddly satisfying about shooting at your own face. The game also makes use of the camera in real time (hence “augmented reality”), so rather than shooting at faces superimposed on a pre-made background, you’re twisting and turning your hands to move your 3DS around your living room, or wherever you happen to be playing (imagine how silly you’d look in public!). Apparently, though, there is an incentive to play this outside–any faces that show up in the background while you’re playing will be added to your game (source)! 
All in all, I’m really excited to have gotten my hands on a 3DS so soon after it was released (thanks again, Mom!). Unfortunately, the lack of a strong launch line-up means that for now, I’ll probably just be playing my old DS games until something good comes along, but I am certainly looking forward to what the future holds.

About Anne Lee

Also known as apricotsushi. Anne can be written with the kanji for apricot (杏), and sushi was the most quintessentially Japanese thing I could think of when I was 13, resulting in my goofy, albeit memorable, nickname.