Thoughts on Nintendo’s New 3DS.

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Today brings the launch of Nintendo’s New 3DS. After owning one for the last three weeks, I’ve had a lot of insight as to how I’ve used it daily, and how using a device that’s only focused on one thing is much preferred.

As mentioned before, the handhelds I used to own before smartphones were the standard, was a Game Boy. Now with devices that can do much more than play games in 2015, sometimes there can be a drawback, and in this case its games.
There’s nothing quite like playing a fully immersive game with actual buttons and a d-pad.

Nintendo are a unique company, as they’ve always strived to be different and find opportunities where others have simply retreaded the same ground. With the release of the new 3DS today, this focus on games is reinforced.

I imported mine from Australia nearly a month ago, and with my job requiring me to be travelling a lot, I wanted something I could bide my time with without having my Macbook Air out as before.


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Design

The new XL fits well in my long fingered hands, with me being able to play Ocarina of Time 3D with ease. The addition of the C-Stick is welcome, but it’s more of a nub that you find on keyboards on certain laptops, so it feels stiff, but not a chore to use. Attacking Sheik in Super Smash Bros 3DS with this was fine, and i can see it being more of a camera-stick than being used for anything else, something which Majoras Mask 3D (also out today) uses with great ease. If ever someone wanted a reason why it’s called the C-Stick, I wouldn’t be surprised if they said it was because it stands for ‘camera’.


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Except the charging port and the four shoulder buttons, everything is now placed at the bottom of the device. The cartridge slot is to the left, while the headphone jack is in the middle, with the power button to the right. The four buttons of A X Y B are coloured in classic SNES colours, which is most welcome. The letters on the 3DS XL are in this colour, while each of the buttons are fully coloured on the regular New 3DS.

I did ponder getting the normal New 3DS just so it could fit in my pocket, but after trying one first hand, it just was too small for my hands, and playing a fully 3D game on a smaller screen didn’t seem appealing to me.

At first try, I did think the analogue stick wasn’t much to rave about, as it feels like moving a small coin on a spirograph, when I’m expecting a freer stick similar to a Dual Shock 4 or a Gamecube controller. But over time it’s grown on me, and it’s more than usable when controlling Mario or Link.

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Reading up on the original 3DS, there was a lot of complaints about the 3D itself, of how you would have to sit completely still in order for it to work properly, or worse yet, if it did work, you’d get nauseous. Not the greatest of unique selling points.

But 80% of using this new 3DS, there’s next to none of these issues, but admittedly, I had to switch it to 2D on a train after 15 mins, only because the train itself with its jolting and stopping repeatedly. But even throughout this, the 3D was always accurate, and I didn’t get to see two Link’s at once. This is because that there is another camera beside the front facing one, which tracks the player and quickly alters the 3D so it doesn’t become distracting. If you were to play this in a low light environment, you’d see a red light emitting from this camera, letting you know that its at work.

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As I’ve become more of a casual gamer over the years, I can easily play a game for a half hour, suddenly stop, and then carry on a day later for another half hour. This lasted five days in total, and bearing in mind with the device having two screens, one 3D, and Wi-Fi and NFC constantly on, it’s very impressive. Leaving it on one day at 90% brightness lasted eight hours, so if you wanted to go through Ocarina of Time from the Deku Tree to Jabu Jabu, by all means.

But with this comes a bizarre choice from Nintendo, in that there’s no charging lead in the box. I thought it was only because that the device is charged by mini-USB, and I thought it wouldn’t be an issue. But when it did die on the second day, I realised the port is completely unique, so I asked for a favour from a colleague for a spare lead. Even though you can get one from Amazon for around £1.50, it seems odd that this is missing from the box, and there’s more than enough space in there to contain one. So if you are a new ‘New 3DS’ user, be prepared to buy a lead before it arrives.

Finally, it also comes pre installed with a 4GB micro-SD memory card, so you can store your purchases on. I thought this wouldn’t be nearly enough, but I’ve bought a full game, two virtual console games, and many demos, and I haven’t reached even 2GB left. The only concern, is if I wish to replace this, I have to get a screwdriver, unscrew at the bottom, and replace the card. Far too much hassle for a simple task.

UI

This is where the bottom screen is mainly used with the stylus that’s between the power button and the headphone jack. To buy 3DS games and classic entries, you go to the ‘3DS Shop’, where you can buy full priced games or Virtual Console ones, such as classics from NES, Game Boy, Game Gear, but oddly not SNES. Hopefully they’ll be released on the system soon so Super Metroid can be played.

Playing a 3D version of Streets of Rage from the Mega Drive was a unique mix of old and new. The familiar music and levels were there, but the stereoscopic 3D turned it into something different and new. You could tell exactly where Axel was, and the crisp display made it even better. Even filters such as making it look as if it was being played on a 90’s television is a nice touch, and the fact that you can save your progress anytime you want is also helpful for a casual gamer like myself.

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Something I discovered which isn’t detrimental to the New 3DS per say, but more to Nintendo: If you buy a game that’s also available on the Wii U on the same account, you have to buy it again. As I’ve been an iOS user since the beginning, I’ve always been used to the fact that if I buy something, I can simply redownload it on an iPad with the same account. Same with a movie or tv show. The fact that I can’t is a rare example where Nintendo is completely blind to today’s requirements of its customers. If you pay for something once, you should be able to redownload that on another system. Imagine pausing a game on your 3DS and then resuming it on your Wii U. Something I thought would be standard and appealing to Nintendo, but even this isn’t possible in 2015. Hopefully this gets rectified sooner than later.

Other than this, the UI is simple, and uses both screens well to browse the system and its shop.

Overall

After owning a smartphone for nearly eight years, no company in that area have seemed to create a way of playing an immersive game on a touchscreen well. Granted, some such as Sonic 1 & 2 Remastered pull it off, but playing something like Tomb Raider II on an iPhone 6 is a challenge itself.

Nintendo knows that with good, immersive games, buttons are the way to go, and when you have a system as good as the New 3DS, it justifies itself having it carried with me along with my iPhone and Macbook.

The hardware itself is a much needed improvement in its 3D feature, and the C-Stick is a benefit to those games that need a better way to control the character. It’s only drawback are certain features that are being held back by Nintendo itself. If they become more receptive to its customers like Apple have been in recent times, they could have a greater chance of being the company to go to for immersive games on the go with incredible focus.

Ultimately in this day and age, the phrase ‘less is more’ is most welcome. Focus wins out, and it has here.

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