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Thursday, June 23, 2011

An Overview Of The Nintendo 3DS


The 3DS is roughly the same size as a DSLite featuring two cameras on the outside and one one the inside. There is a widescreen display on the top part of the device and a smaller screen on the bottom measuring the same as original DS screens. The top screen is used for the 3D display and the bottom is the touchscreen for control. To the left of the bottom screen is a Joystick and a D-Pad and on the right is the normal selection keys. At the bottom of the touchscreen is 3 hard keys for Select, Home, and Start. There are stereo speakers on the sides of the top screens. On the outside there are the obvious shoulder buttons on the top, a volume slider and SD card slot on the left, an audio jack in the middle of the bottom and a WiFi switch on the right side. On the inside there is a gyroscope and an accelerometer which measure speed and change in direction in order to control certain games and applications. A charging cradle also comes with the device allowing you to just set the 3DS in and have it charge. It is not required to use this cradle however I personally found it much easier to do so. I found that overall the build quality of the device was solid and I enjoyed the feel of the system in my hands. A downside however is that it is difficult to fit into most decent sized pockets and so you may find yourself carrying it in a coat or bag.

Size Comparison, DSL on top. 3DS on bottom

3D Screen

The top screen can display in 2D and 3D and is controlled by a slider located on the right side of the display. At full power the screen is best kept only a few inches from ones eyes. The screen uses a type of technology which allows different images to be sent to each eye. In my experiences the 3D works well. However in my opinion, it is nothing more than a gimmick. There is not much use to the 3D and it does not work well with motion based gaming due to the fact that your eyes must be located in a specific area in order to view the effect. Overall I find it a nice little extra to have but not incredibly useful. And also a side note, I found that the screen was harder to see in sunlight even when it was only slightly bright out.
Size Comparison Between Motorola Droid and

Included Software

The 3DS comes loaded with games and apps that let you experience the best features of the system. There is FaceRaiders which takes pictures of peoples faces and turns them into enemies whom you must battle in the world around you using a view from the camera. You move around using the devices gyroscope. There is another game which uses Augmented Reality to display different environments and characters over the real world using special cards as reference points.There are two Mii related programs. The first being the Mii Maker which allows you to make and share Mii's and the second being the Mii Plaza which uses the Mii's collected via StreetPass (More on that later) in order to play two mini games. There is also a Photo application allowing for the taking and minor editing of photos in both 2D and 3D as well as a music application, Download Play, an activity log and a video by OK GO that can be viewed in 3D. The included software in my opinion is actually rather fun to use and can almost certainly entertain you for quite some time.

Street Pass

StreetPass is a built in feature that when turned on allows the system to communicate with nearby systems while in sleep mode. There are games that will use this feature as well as software that is included. The Mii Plaza uses street pass in order to retrieve the Mii's of other people in proximity in order to be used for mini games. The street pass feature requires that wireless communications be enabled and that your device be in sleep mode as well as you must enable street pass for each program that will use it. Once enabled it works in the background unnoticed. This feature has worked very well for me in the past and I have picked up quite a few random peoples Mii's just randomly walking around however I feel that this will only be benificial to people in large areas such as cities where people are more likely to have the device.

Web Browser And E-Store
Nintendo released an update to the 3DS system to include a Web Browser and e-store for game downloads. The web browser can be used during games by returning to the homescreen and selecting it the icon from the top row of icons. It is a bare bones type of browser only really intended to help gamers look-up guides to what they are playing. It reminds me of the Wii browser almost identically and load times are very slow. The bottom screen is used to scroll around the page, select items, and type on the keyboard while the top screen displays more of the page in a higher resolution. Flash is not available on the browser from what I have seen so that means no videos. Overall I believe users will find the web client useful for looking up guides and not much more, but then again, who needs more?
The e-store is nicely polished and gives for a simple way to browse and download games and other applications onto your device. I have not seen any games for free yet on the system but there are free trailers for upcoming games. There is a section for DSiWare games to be downloaded as well as sections for classic titles which have been remastered to use the 3D effect. There will surely be more added to the store as time progresses and hopefully we will see demos pop up however unlikely that may be. 

 Overall Impressions
Overall I find the system a very fun product that is full of interesting software and features that could make it very suitable for many audiences however while I enjoy all the features it comes packed with I also find that some of the features are no more than gimmicks and are not all that useful. Also with the device not being entirely finished yet and very few games having launched so far that are not just remakes of old games to work on the 3D screen I can not entirely justify the $250 price tag unless you have some extra money laying around and feel comfortable with purchasing a future investment.

What would you do to improve the 3DS system? Leave your comments in the section below and don't forget to click that follow button, it deserves some love to ya know.

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