The holiday season is upon us and some of the best deals of the year are quickly popping up at your favorite store. One gadget you may have overlooked in recent years could actually be one of the most useful. The Nintendo 3DS may not have the capacitive touch screen or wide-spread and diverse app catalog the iPhone has, but there are several interesting features of this little handheld gaming device that could bring a smile to gamers both young and old.
Recently, I found myself at the local megastore in search of gifts for a particular youngster in our lives. I came across a Nintendo 3DS display, which I had for months prior, but this time I couldn’t help but to notice a significant discount being offered by the store. Against my (and my wallet’s) better judgement, I walked out of the store with a Nintendo 3DS.
Now I do intend to hand the gadget over to this youngster, when they’re old enough to enjoy the 3D experience, but for now my wife has allowed me to test the gadget out and relay my experience to the fine readers of LockerGnome.
Here are five reasons you may (or may not) want to buy a Nintendo 3DS.
This is perhaps the most obvious reason you should consider coughing up an extra $20 for the 3DS over the DS Lite. Not only is the 3D in the Nintendo 3DS actually pretty impressive, but the augmented reality games are actually pretty groundbreaking. I had a lot of fun trying out the various character cards that came with the 3DS.
I couldn’t write about the 3DS without mentioning the actual gaming experience that playing in 3D offers the user. Zelda: Ocarina of Time is an old Nintendo 64 title recently re-released for the 3DS in order to bring new life to the classic game. After playing with it for a few hours, I have to admit that experiencing my favorite old Zelda title in 3D has indeed made the game fun again, even for a 28-year-old gamer that has been spoiled by Call of Duty, StarCraft II, and countless hours of Neverwinter Nights. I’m a lifetime fan of Zelda, and playing Ocarina of Time again in 3D has brought back memories and will undoubtedly give me more than a few new ones as the weekend continues.
There is a big downside to the 3D on a 3DS. You have to be facing directly at the screen in order for it to work. The image provided on the top screen is 800 pixels wide, giving each eye 400 pixels to focus on. If you shift your gaze too far to the left, right, top, or bottom, you’re going to start seeing double which can really throw you off while playing. While 3D is a great feature, I’m sure many users simply switch it off when they aren’t specifically using the 3D camera and/or viewing 3D photos using the browser.
The Nintendo 3DS Internet Browser is an open-source browser that gives the user the ability to look up recipes, check the news, and quickly find out how to get past that one level in a challenging game. While it may appear to be a handy feature, it has its share of drawbacks.
The Nintendo 3DS Internet Browser is slow, underpowered, and not supported by many popular sites out there, including YouTube. For a pocket computer that has 3D photo capabilities, I expected more out of the box.
That being said, if a built-in browser is a deal breaker for you, you’re probably not seriously considering a 3DS over a device powered by iOS or Android. The 3DS does shine when it comes to viewing 3D photos. Without glasses required, these images work great on the 3DS browser.
Saying that the Nintendo DS platform has better games is like saying that OS X is a better operating system than Windows. It’s relative, and the experience will vary dramatically between two individuals.
For me, a game that takes you on an epic journey is a big deal, and not a lot of games made for iOS currently provide that kind of experience. While this may change in the future, right now the titles that seem to have the longest play time (for me) are still the ones made by major gaming houses that have a long history with Nintendo. Zelda, Mario Bros., etc. are all games I grew up with and enjoy playing for hours on end.
On the other side, I definitely enjoy the capacitive touch screen and experience that goes along with that on iOS. There are more games to choose from, and I feel that I get a significant bang for my buck. Nintendo could do with a pricing restructure, though this still means that some more lengthy and epic titles would still come with a slightly higher asking price.
I don’t know about you, but there’s nothing more uncomfortable for me than trying to play a console-style game on an iPhone or iPod touch. I know, I’m supposed to like the experience and feel of a truly touch-friendly experience, but sometimes I just want to feel the buttons and direction pad under my fingers. The 3DS has a comfortable and intuitive interface to it that’s easy to navigate and play, and that’s more than enough to get me hooked on fun games.
That said, I’m not exactly jumping for joy at the prospect of having to use a stylus to type on the microscopic on-screen keyboard provided on the 3DS. Outside of simply playing the game, the experience of doing things like entering a search query on the browser is more of a hassle than it’s worth.
The 3DS is a great choice for anyone that doesn’t feel like dealing with covering the very screen they’re trying to experience the game on with their fingers just to control the character.
Just like the App Store for iOS, the Nintendo eShop brings downloadable apps and content straight to your Nintendo 3DS. Netflix, classic and modern Nintendo games, video content, and apps like Pokedex 3D are all available to Nintendo 3DS users.
The age-old association between Nintendo portable gaming devices and cartridges may finally be coming to an end thanks to initiatives such as the Nintendo eShop.
Don’t expect this shop to have as abundant a range of apps as the PSP, Android, or Apple app stores. If it’s variety you seek, you’re probably better off looking elsewhere.
Over all: The Nintendo 3DS is a great choice for less casual handheld gamers that want a full-on gaming experience in their hands without having to lean on more expensive devices. The 3DS is a great choice for kids and adults that just want to kick back and enjoy some entertainment.
While I am personally rather impressed by the on-board cameras, social gaming experience, and other benefits that have long been associated with the Nintendo DS line of products, I’m most surprised by just how much fun playing a game on it can be. Sure, there are better devices out there for most casual and serious gamers, but I can’t help but to like this one.
For me, the Nintendo 3DS falls in the “win” column, but only by a hair. There are undoubtedly plenty of gripes to come out of me yet as I continue to explore the features and failures of the platform.