I thought I’d share some of my thoughts here for those looking at getting a 3DS, and those on the fence about getting one, as despite the mass media coverage I still don’t think the “hands on” info has been good enough. I’ll cover one quick thing first, which really needs to be addressed and actually hasn't been so far. I’m calling it the…
When you turn the system on for the first time, you’ll go through a small setup wizard. All of this takes place in 2D. At the end, the system will announce it’ll be activating the “3D” and counts down. Then, the background behind the displayed Nintendo Logo slides back into the distance and the system shows off its auto-stereoscopic display for the first time.
And you’ll most definately say “Whoa”.
Then, you’ll get into the menu and start clicking around, and then you’ll say “Oh”. As in “Oh, is this it?” And you’ll feel disappointed. Things aren’t popping out of the screen at you, you’re not ducking for cover, and this “depth” everyone talks about feels kind of… off. Something’s not quite right. This is the 3DS-yndrome. Don’t worry; it’s entirely normal. After messing about with the console for five to ten minutes, your brain will “click”. Suddenly, the reason the “depth” feels off is because “depth” isn't what's happening here; it's frankly the wrong word. “Depth” is the horrible 3D crap hastly dragged across movies these days that makes everything feel like a Pop Up Book. The word you’re brain is now scrambling for is “volume”. The 3DS grants users the ability to feel the volumetric properties of a displayed object by sight alone. A ball, for example, now feels like a tangible and solid ball rather than a flat picture of a ball sticking out of the screen, like you’ll see at the cinema. The “click” is your brain now buying the concept that what you’re seeing is a real, tangible 3D object and not merely 2D images layered one top of another, as many people complained about at the movies. And when it happens, you’ll mentally say “oooooooooh”.
Welcome to the future of gaming.
"If this was on the 3DS, you'd be shitting bricks"
I’ll address the major points before giving my overall opinion.
Firstly, eye strain. No beating around the bush: you’re going to feel it. I feel a noticeable strain at the cinema, however the strain is definitely less here. Even at full “volume” (see what I did there?) the stereoscopic display on the 3DS is gentler on the eyes. However, reducing the stereoscopic effect reduces the strain; you’ll physically feel the difference as you move the slider - and it’s a bloody strange feeling when you do it, let me tell you. Anyway, I play at roughly 75% of the effect, and I feel literally zero strain. To each their own; just find your own sweet spot and roll with it. Now, for those worried about “getting your monies worth” fret not; reducing the effect doesn’t mean lowering the “wow” factor in any way. It simply moves the furthest point of the screen closer to you. You’ll get your monies worth at anything above the dead lowest setting before turning it off.
This brings me neatly to the second point.
Is it a gimmick? Straight up answer: yes, but it’s a damn good one. Now, let me clarify. It doesn’t feel like a gimmick. It doesn’t feel cheap, half assed or even weak. The auto-stereoscopic display here is frankly incredible, and it’s really something special once you get past the 3DS-yndrome. However, this isn’t a “game changer.” Due to the requirement placed on developers by Nintendo that all 3DS titles work with the effect turned off, gameplay alterations are going to be minor at most. The volumetric details enable the player to better sense distances, which certainly has playability applications, however you’re not going to get games on the 3DS that use the display to create entirely new, unseen, never-thought-that-shit-was-even-possible gameplay. Someone had to say it, so there it is.
This brings me to the third point.
Is it worth getting the 3DS if you don’t like stereoscopic displays, or can’t see it? Again, simple answers. If you like Nintendo games, then yes. If you don’t, then frankly no. Again, someone had to say it, but there it is. The 3DS relies on it’s auto-stereoscopic display as a fairly major draw card, and taking that card off the table reduces the system to little more than a powerful DS. So, if you love Zelda, Mario and all the usual Nintendo-system games, then jump on board – this is easily their best handheld yet. However, if you’re not into those games and don’t like or can’t see the stereoscopic effect, save your money – this isn’t the console you’re looking for.
And finally, the last major point.
Is it worth the price tag? I paid AU$298.00 (which is US$298.00 – yay Australia!) and I feel like I got my monies worth. At AU$350.00 however, I’d have to recommend against it. If you get a game with it, then by all means go for it, however for the console itself AU$298.00 was pushing the envelope a little. If you can’t see or don’t like stereoscopic display, then again I’d have to say wait it out; when the price drops you’ll get a better deal for what you’re going to really experience; a more powerful DS. Without the “3D” it’s tough to recommend it at it’s current price.
So, there are the major issues, and frankly some of them are deal breakers. I don’t want to lie or dress it up; the Nintendo 3DS is not for everyone. If it is for you, however, then you’re going to bloody love it because damn, is thing good. Its feel solid, but not heavy, and the whole system just feels better than the DS. The 3D is crisp, clear and just plain engrossing; I found myself fiddling with the menus just taking it all in for longer than one really should have. It can be a little hard to get the sweet spot right at first - however after the initial few minutes, it's becomes pretty natural. You can play it on your lap or it front of you, and adjusting the system doesn't really mess the effect up too much as long as you keep it at the right angle, which is pretty forgiving. Battery life is a little weak at just over four hours on mine - which was right out of the box and playing with wireless on, full 3D and maximum brightness. It's not terrible, however it could have been better.
Overall, I've a had really positive experience with it thus far. The 3D effect is different to what one would imagine - more subtle, in a way - and yet at the same time it's infinately better. It just takes a little time to get past that 3DS-yndrome for it sink in properly. Playing with one at a kiosk might not give you enough time to really appreciate the added volumetic properties on display.
So, do you have one? What are your thoughts? 3DSes for all, or are we all riding the gimmick train into Ports-ville?