Greenyz (Francis Basco) and BigGumby (Dustin Grissom) have both had their 3DS’ since launch (Greenyz went to the midnight launch!). Although some people may not be as impulsive as we were when buying the next generation Nintendo handheld, there are some people out there that may still be questioning whether now is the time to buy a 3DS, or if there even is a time at all. With this feature, Greenyz and I (BigGumby) are hoping that we can put your worries to rest, and help you with your lingering question: Should I “drop in” or “drop out” of getting a 3DS? To do this, we are going to run through all of the key features with the system, including the user-interface, the hardware, the built-in software, it’s online offerings, StreetPass and SpotPass, the eShop, and, of course, the 3D effect. So, let’s get started!
BigGumby: I’m pretty impressed with how the system looks and feels. Unlike the previous DS models, this feels less like a toy and more like a sturdy piece of state of the art technology. Wouldn’t you agree?
Greenyz: Definitely. It’s a such drastic difference comparing the 3DS and the original DS. Although my screen does seem a bit wobbly which can be distracting.
BigGumby: Yeah, the screen doesn’t seem to stick in a position as well as the DSi did. What do you think about the new Circle Pad? Personally, I think it’s fantastic. It works great, and it’s super comfortable. It is a huge step up for handhelds in terms of control.
Greenyz: Yeah it’s really surprising how great it is. It’s extremely smooth. Although I did seem to rely a bit more on the d-pad when playing Street Fighter since it doesn’t seem to detect subtle movements that well. But other games that use the circle pad don’t seem to have the same problem, so it might just be the game.
BigGumby: I had problems with the circle pad in street fighter as well, it hurt my thumb after awhile. Besides all of this, everything else is all pretty much like the older DS models (besides a plethora of helpful LEDs!). One complaint I do have, though, is the placement of the stylus. I was so used to having it on the right side of the DSi that having it on the back is a major downgrade and an annoying issue.
Nintendo goes for a sleeker design with the 3DS
Greenyz: Haha yeah. When my friend first tried out the 3DS he had a bit of trouble finding the stylus. I’m also glad to see the return of the volume slider. I feel I have more control over the volume when I have one. I also feel it’s a bit weird having the headphone jack in the center of the device as opposed to somewhere off to the side.
BigGumby: Yeah, some weird design choices. Another weird design flaw would be that if you leave your 3DS closed for too long, it’ll eventually leave 2 straight line on the top screen, this can be easily wiped off with your fingers, but it’s kind of odd that this is present, although it’s not a big deal. I love the telescopic stylus though, it’s pretty helpful with people with big hands!
Greenyz: Yeah I agree. How do you feel about the colors? I’m pretty disappointed really. Cosmo Blue seems a bit distracting and black seems a bit too boring.
BigGumby: Yeah, the colors are a bit lacking, but I’m sure they’ll be more down the line. I personally got the black one and I think it looks pretty nice. All in all, it’s a wonderfully crafted system, but with a few tiny flaws here and there.
Greenyz: Yeah I’m pretty satisfied.
Greenyz: So the biggest thing about the 3DS is its ability to display 3D without the need for expensive glasses. It’s pretty crazy seeing it in person. Surprisingly, rather than seeing objects popping out of the screen, you get a feeling that you’re looking into a window.
Seeing the HUD of games on different planes has to be my favorite use of the effect so far. How about you?
BigGumby: I love the 3D, but most of all I love showing it to people for the first time. Those videos Nintendo made with 3DS first time reactions are almost spot on!
My favorite use of the effect is probably the 3D dioramas in Pilotwings. If you move one in the perfect position, it literally seems to be popping out of the screen 1 or 2 inches! I had to show everyone!
Greenyz: I should spend more time with that game since I haven’t even seen one yet, haha. So how high do you usually set the 3D slider to get your preferred 3D effect?
When I first opened the device, the slider was usually at the lower settings but as I spent more time with the device I seemed to prefer putting the 3D slider really high sometimes at its maximum level.
Not far from the truth
BigGumby: I’ve had pretty much had the same experience as you did with the 3D slider. Start low, then eventually slide it up higher and higher. I think it depends on the game. For most of the built in software, I can put it on maximum and it looks great, but for Pilotwings I usually put it up 3/4 the way to the top. The effect looks great nonetheless.
So, what’s your opinion on the 3D’s viewing angle?
Greenyz: I felt the sweetspot for the 3D was at a reasonable distance but at times of intense gaming, like in Street Fighter, I found myself moving outside the angle either through the wobbly screen or my reactions to the matches.
Anyone that’s ever tried a 3DS knows when you move out the sweetspot not only does you lose the 3D effect but your screen gets really blurry which can sometimes really mess up your game. How do you feel about this?
BigGumby: The “sweet spot” isn’t very flexible, for sure, but it’s not as big of a problem as some may assume. Occasionally my hands start to drift to the left or right during playtime (bringing the system along with it). This causes the screen to get a little blurry or start to show a double image. It’s quick to fix but I wish it were a bit more flexible.
BigGumby: So, let’s get into the user-interface of the system. The UI is quite similar to the DSi’s menu system, but with a list of improvements. This includes improvements to both the functionality of the menu and the visual finesse.
Greenyz: My favorite feature is how easy it is to organize applications. Having control over how many rows and columns is a welcome feature. Easy access to the web browser and friends list is great as well.
BigGumby: Yep, it’s pretty much easier to do everything. Speaking of the friends list, let’s go more in depth about that. Friend codes are still present, but luckily you will not need to exchange friend codes for each individual game! It’s definitely a step forward, and the friends list is presented in a pretty cool way. You can see your friend’s Mii, when he/she was last online, what their favorite game is, and what they are currently playing. It’s definitely an improvement over the Wii and DS!
Greenyz: Yeah it’s great. The only real problem is the fact that you can’t talk or message any of your friends through the 3DS. It’s a small complaint and Nintendo can always add it in if they want to in a later update.
“Need more charac” indeed
BigGumby: Yeah, it’s kind of annoying when the only way to communicate with a friend is through a 12 letter status message everyone else on your friends list can see. I spent like 20 minutes trying to figure out how to fit a sentence that asked you whether Super Mario Land was any good or not in 12 characters, I ended up using “SML worth it?” Nintendo has the ability to change this, let’s hope they do!
Greenyz: Yeah the text limit is weird. So with the new system Nintendo’s set up you’re now able to do multiple things at once. For example, you can browse the Internet, check your friends list, write notes, and take pictures even while you have game running. It’s really neat.
BigGumby: Yep, it’s a powerful machine. If you get stuck on a certain point in the game, you can click the home button, then the internet browser to look up a walk-through, all while not interrupting your game! You can also take notes on certain games to help you out.
BigGumby: Let’s get into StreetPass now, I think it is one of the system’s most unique features!
Greenyz: It’s the best new feature the 3DS in my opinion! I love it. Being able to get new content in-game just by passing by a person that has a 3DS is great. Just seeing random 3DS owners that you passed by is fun in itself.
BigGumby: To me, it’s a system seller. It’s fantastic and makes you want to bring your 3DS everywhere you go! Which is helpful with getting Spotpass updates, too (we’ll go more into that in minute). StreetPass is utilized in many retail games, such as figure battling and collecting in Street Fighter, but it is also used in a few built in games on the 3DS. There is a mini-RPG built into the system, called Find Mii. Your Mii is taken captive and you must use other people’s Miis you find with StreetPass to defeat monsters to save your Mii! Really cool! Also, there is my favorite, Puzzle Swap. In Puzzle Swap you exchange puzzle pieces that other 3DS users have obtained to complete a 3D diorama or picture based on famous Nintendo franchises. It’s super fun and addicting. Have you had any StreetPass hits?
StreetPass is easily one of the best reasons to get a 3DS
Greenyz: Yeah I’ve had a few, mostly when on campus. Find Mii and Puzzle Swap are some of my favorite games on the 3DS. It’s really fun to pop open your 3DS each day and play a short game of Find Mii and collect a puzzle piece that others have collected before.
BigGumby: It’s a great feature, but if you can’t get any StreetPass hits (keep trying!) you can use Playcoins. You gain play coins by simply walking. There is a built in pedometer, every 100 steps you take you get a play coin. You can use these to buy Puzzle Pieces, to hire characters to fight in Find Mii, or use them in retail games that support them (like buying costumes in Street Fighter). Another cool feature built into the 3DS is SpotPass. Your 3DS is always looking for an access point, SpotPass automatically connects your 3DS to the internet and downloads DLC and other cool things to your system. This gives you a persistent online experience not unlike Xbox Live.
Greenyz: So the camera functions of the DSi make a return in the 3DS. This time though, you’re able to take 3D pictures as well. Have you tried it out?
BigGumby: I have, actually. I’ve taken a few pictures just to test the 3D out, and I have to say, it works great! It’s really cool seeing the objects in your house popping out of your screen, but it doesn’t end there. There is this really cool mountain-making thing you can do when editing pictures, it makes for a sweet 3D effect. You gotta try it! The interface is pretty much the same as the DSi’s, but sadly there isn’t an option to upload to Facebook. Also, the image quality isn’t great, but it gets the job done. Have you tried it out?
Greenyz: Yeah I have. I actually haven’t messed around much with the editing tools but seeing 3D pictures is really cool. Camera quality is pretty bad at times but when you’re outside on a sunny day, you can get some really nice shots.
Lack of Facebook sharing is a bit disappointing but it makes sense since you can only really see 3D pictures on displays that can show 3D. It would have been nice, at least, for Nintendo to have added a feature where you could share pictures with other 3DSes.
Miis are back!
BigGumby: Yeah, hopefully there is a firmware update in the future that related to the lack of sharing photos. The 3D photos are definitely worth messing with, though! So, next up is 3DS sound, yeah?
Greenyz: Sure. So another returning feature of the 3DS is a sound app where you can listen and record your own sounds and music. Unlike the DSi though, you can listen to music when the console is closed. That was a problem the DSi had and it’s good that Nintendo fixed it for the 3DS.
BigGumby: Yep, you can also listen to MP3s this time around, thankfully. You can also listen to what others are listening to via streetpass, which is a pretty cool feature. Other than that, nothing else has changed much from the DSi’s sound app.
Greenyz: So besides Find Mii and Puzzle Swap, Nintendo had other pre-installed games like Face Raiders and the AR Games. These games use the 3DS’ camera to capture your environment as their backdrops. I honestly just enjoying drawing 3D stuff on my desk which game did you find the most enjoyable?
BigGumby: Face Raiders is a really fun way to show off the system to other people, but it’s not something you’re going to keep coming back to (although there is a surprisingly large amount of content packed into the game). AR Games are cool, but I played them once and never went back. You definitely need to check them out though, I had more fun taking pictures of my Mii and Nintendo characters like Samus and Mario in the real world. It’s pretty cool but won’t hold your attention for a long time.
The built-in software is fun… but not for long
Greenyz: So besides playing games and taking pictures, the camera for the 3DS can also be used to create Miis, the avatars that first appeared on the Wii. I haven’t had much luck getting accurate representations using the camera creator, how about you?
BigGumby: I made a Mii of myself and a Mii of a few of my family members and friends from scratch, they resembled who I was trying to portray, but didn’t look exactly like them. Then, once I met up with my friends, I tried the picture feature and was pleasantly surprised by the accuracy! The creations from the picture were better than the ones I made from scratch, so I suppose it varies from person to person and how you take the picture. Although sometimes it can be a bit unflattering!
Greenyz: Haha definitely. Anyway after getting past Mii creation you can use your Mii in a ton of different games just like the Wii. Like you said earlier it’s used for Street Pass games and some AR stuff.It’s cool that you can accessorize your Mii with hats that you’ve earned from Find Mii but it’s too bad they don’t show up anywhere else except for the Mii Plaza games. My favorite hat so far is the Kirby hat! What’s yours?
BigGumby: Haha, I’m loving my Metroid hat! You’re right, it’d be cool if they carried over to the Mii represented on your Gamecard. Oh well!
BigGumby: So, the eShop was recently added to the 3DS in a firmware update. It’s a huge improvement over any online distribution Nintendo has ever done! It blows the slow and ugly DSiWare shop and Wii Shop channel out of the water!
Greenyz: Haha I guess. Since I only ever go to the shops when I know what I’m going to buy, I rarely had problems with the shop. The interface is much nicer though.
BigGumby: Before, that is all you could do in a Nintendo shop. But now, you can discover things! The setup is great, it gives a lot of advertisement to games I’ve never even heard of before! It’s a huge improvement, and there’s even more coming soon! Netflix is coming this summer, and 3D trailers for games and upcoming movies (a 3D Green Lantern trailer was released recently) are already on the store. I’m looking forward to what’s to come.
Greenyz: I have one criticism though about the new shop. Like you said, there’s a bunch of new trailers that released recently. I was so excited to see all the new trailers in 3D. For once people would get a better grasp of what the games would look like when running on a system. The problem though is I had to wait for each trailer to download individually before I could download the other. It would have been much nicer if I could have downloaded multiple videos at a time instead of waiting. Did you have an issue with this?
The eShop is a huge improvement over the Wii and DS shops
BigGumby: This has been an issue with all Nintendo systems. Unlike the Xbox 360 or PS3, you cannot download videos or games in the background while you do something else. You have to watch a little animation that shows the progress of your download until it’s done. It’s a bummer, as that’s something I really would have liked fixed. Luckily the progress is more apparent than it was on the Wii.
Greenyz: Alternatively Nintendo could release a video channel just like the Wii’s Nintendo Channel, where we could stream multiple videos. Easy access is really all I care about.
BigGumby: You can go to a game’s page on the eShop and check out screen shots, a description, and even videos. These videos stream, but it seems to only work for 2D games (like DSiWare games).
Greenyz: Oh cool. Hopefully 3D games get the same treatment. Anyway most of the DSiWare games and apps have made it back on the 3DS. It’s great for those who missed some games, but for those who’ve already bought software on the DSi, there’s an option to transfer those games to the 3DS. I recently gave my DSi to my brother so I haven’t tried it out. Have you?
BigGumby: I actually sold my DSi to one of my friends (yeah, I’m not nice enough to just give it to him like you did to your brother, haha), so I couldn’t try this out. Haha, so I guess we’ll skip that part! But yeah, there are over 250 DSiWare games to download right now. You can either buy an eShop card at a store, which only come in an increment of 20 dollars, or use a credit card. The lowest amount of money you can put in with a credit card is 5 dollars. Along with DSiWare and video downloads, there is also the Virtual Console and original 3DS downloads. Pokedex 3D and a remastered version of Excite Bike in 3D are free.
Pokedex 3D: Free on the eShop!
Greenyz: (haha I bought my original DS from a friend :P) That brings another thing I’m not too wild about but I’m willing to look past about the eShop. I was hoping now that Nintendo embraced cash prices, as opposed to points, you would be able to directly buy games and spend the amount of the actual game. Instead you have to prepay a certain amount of money for an in-store balance that you can then buy games with. It sort of causes problems when your left with a dollar’s worth of “change”. Everything is price above a dollar so my balance is basically useless.
BigGumby: That does get annoying, everything is priced at $_.99 plus tax, so you always have left over change after buying something. I guess at some point it’ll amount to something, right? I am glad that Nintendo got away from the “Every NES games is [blank] dollars and every [blank] game is [blank] dollars.” The pricing is much more dynamic now, it all starts at 1.99 dollars and can go up in increments of 1 dollar from there. It makes sense for when a game that doesn’t have much content, like the Gameboy game RadarScope, costs less than another Gamboy game, like The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening DX, that is worth more. In the end, I’d say the positives definitely out-weight the negatives, wouldn’t you say?
Greenyz: Yeah, definitely.
BigGumby: I think that that statement, that the positives definitely outweigh the negatives, works not only for the eShop, but for the whole system itself. It’s a fantastic system and has a lot of potential! I’d definitely recommend you make the investment, especially considering all of the great games coming out this year!
Greenyz: It’s really tough to say. I usually buy new gaming consoles at launch just to mess around with the system and see what kind of potential the feature could bring to gaming. But if what you want is content, I’d say wait a bit. The 3DS is in its early stages. The software lineup is small at the moment, a lot of promised features like Netflix haven’t come out yet, and there’s few 3DS eShop exclusive games at the moment. So if you want a lot of games and features on your 3DS, it’s best to wait for more content to come out first.
BigGumby: I say take the investment route, games ARE coming, so why not buy it now? If you are thinking of trading in your old DS for a 3DS, I say do it now. But hey, we both like the system and we both understand that there aren’t many retails games worth buying right now. You make the choice that suits you best! Hopefully this feature will help you on your purchasing decision!