After waiting for what felt like an eternity, the 3DS finally has arrived. Having decided not to jump into the 3D space until this point, I have been somewhat sceptical of the potential that 3D could bring video games, and entertainment in general. Having sat through Avatar, UP and several other 3D films at the cinema the only thing that I came away with was a slight headache, and yet another pair of redundant “Ray-Ban” look-a-likey glasses.
The major lables were all touting its wears, and the obligatory Nintendo PR machine chugged out the “you must see it to believe it” campaign, consisting of bored Londoners queuing to enter a white box on Tower Bridge, only to gawp and say nothing! And now I too am left gawping…..
The one thing I will state that I had not read on any forum, review, unboxing or advert is that the midnight launch is next to useless. Unless you happen to be at HMV Oxford Street to collect your signed Street Fighter IV copy from Yoshinori Ono, one of the games producers, you will need to charge your new shiny toy for at least 2 hours before you are recommended to play. You may not care now, but the already limited battery life does not need any help in diminishing further. Having painstakingly waited for the charge light to extinguish, I can now tell you it is most certainly worth the wait.
The OS itself runs in a very similar fashion to that of the Wii and DSiXL, and so does’t really need any going over, but the setup itself includes a neat little 3D depth slider configurometer dipulation module, that allows you to set the exact level of 3D that renders the screen most comfortable for yourself. My initial fear I had with this was that by not maxing the 3D slider, was I going to be missing the experience others enjoyed? No. Given each persons unique visual acquity this slider allows you to adjust the 3D depth so you don’t go crossed eyed and start to develop headaches.
After playing with the settings, getting street pass going, building my Mii, and generally making sure I had everything set I started with Street Fighter, and oh my word is it great. I won’t give too much away here as the full review is to follow, but lets just say it’s every bit the game it is on the console, with the 3D adding the icing too the cake. The AR games are some of the best fun I have had with stock portable software since Snake on the Nokia 5210, although not the greatest use of the 3D technology, it makes great use of the camera, and gyro sensors, something which many developers will undoubtedly try and maximise with there coming titles.
Playing with friends, could be as frustrating as before, with 12 digit friend codes ever present, however you can also setup games on the fly with strangers across the ocean. Annoyingly you still cannot then add opponents to a friends list through the game itself, having played my first SSFIV online battel against a Japanese opponent I was wanting to add them to our friends list, but without the code I could see no easy way how.
The look and feel of the system is very solid, and not as plastic as the original DS & DSi’s, all the buttons have a reassuring click. The D-Pad has been moved in favour of the slide pad, which is extremely smooth and comfortable, but now renders the d-pad awkward and uncomfortable. We can only hope that few to no developers rely on this input too often.
In closing, if you were considering the 3DS but weren’t sure of the hype, or thought it may be not for you, I would urge you to reconsider. If you have already pre-ordered the unit and were going to collect at midnight, I would make yourself a Horlicks and get an early night, because you will be up all weekend!