The Wonder of Tech is honored to have guest author David return with his review of the Nintendo 3DS!
Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo’s latest console, hit the stores in the US this past Sunday, revolutionizing gaming everywhere. The device represents huge technological advances but also borrows from prior Nintendo DS consoles.
Nintendo 3DS’s main achievement is to display full 3D graphics without the need for the user to wear glasses, as discussed in 3D Technology Coming Soon from Nintendo! The device has two screens, the top screen displays 3D graphics and is a slightly larger screen than the top screen on the original DS. The bottom screen of the 3DS is a touch screen displaying in 2D and is the same size as the bottom screen on the original DS. The 3DS has the same A, B, X, Y, L, and R buttons and a control pad like previous DS models, but the 3DS also includes a new “circle pad” which is like an analog stick. Finally, the 3DS includes two cameras on the back to take 3D pictures and one camera on the front to take photos in 2D. Motion sensors and a slider enabling you to adjust the depth of the 3D image enhance the gaming experience. A charging dock and a 2GB SD card are also included with the 3DS purchase.
The console’s 3D graphics are stunning and work perfectly for me. The 3D feature adds a true sense of depth to some games, while other games display pop-out graphics that make you want to reach out and touch the images. The screen also looks great in 2D, displaying crisp, clear images in the games.
The added 3D effect provides an experience like no other, where you appear to be looking through a window into your game. The cameras, however, are 0.3 megapixels, significantly lower quality than other device cameras (such cell phone cameras). Not surprisingly, the images from the camera are low quality, which was truly disappointing to me as I had imagined 3D pictures would be as stunning as the 3D images in the games.
The controller buttons and circle pad have a great feel, allowing for precise control. The circle pad moves the camera 360° around a 3D object, providing very accurate movements in games such as Pilotwings Resort. The SD card is a nice addition to the DS package, allowing you to save pictures and music to the card, making data transfer easy.
The depth slider also is effective for adjusting the 3D image for certain games that prove to be a bit intense with the depth, however, I tend to keep my slider at the highest level, giving me images with the maximum depth. The charging dock is new for the 3DS model and very handy, and I find myself placing the 3DS there whenever I’m not using it.
Hardware Rating: 8/10
The 3DS comes bundled with a variety of pre-loaded software for your enjoyment. The software includes many applications: 3D Camera, Sound, Mii Maker, Streetpass, AR Games, and Face Raiders.
The 3D camera allows you to take pictures in the games and then view the pictures in full 3D. The two cameras on the back are the 3D lenses which allow the user to take pictures of anything using the 3D screen as the view finder. You can also take pictures using the lens in the front, which will be in 2D. You can do small, fun edits to these pictures.
The Sound application allows you to record sounds from the microphone and listen to songs transferred from the SD card. The Sound application provides fun manipulation tools such as “radio, trumpet, etc.” and speed and pitch manipulation. The headphone jack allows you to listen to these music files, making the 3DS a music player like an iPod.
The Mii Maker works just like the Wii, with the added feature of face recognition. You can take an image of your face using either camera, which then makes a Mii using your picture. It was fairly accurate using my face. These Miis are used in many games and give you more of a feeling of involvement in the game.
The Streetpass application is a system in which any two 3DS systems in sleep mode (closed, using little to no battery) exchange data when they are close to each other. This data exchange includes Mii’s, and any other game data, such as Nintendogs or any other game that utilizes this feature. The interesting part of this feature, is that the Streetpass data for each game is saved to the SD card, which allows Streetpass interactions to happen for multiple games, without the game cartridge having to be inserted in the 3DS. The “Streetpass Quest” works like a mini role playing game in which the more people you pass, the more items you unlock.
Augmented Reality (AR) games are by far the most interesting and amazing of the games. An AR card, used as a reference point, is placed on a surface, which is then read by the 3D cameras. Once a cards is recognized, the 3DS displays the card’s image on the screen, which looks as if the image is actually appearing in the area around the card, through your screen. This includes fishing on your table or shooting targets and dragons on your floor, all through the 3D screen which makes the action seem extremely realistic. These games are incredibly fun to play and show the true potential of Augmented Reality in the 3DS.
Sadly, the 3D cameras are of poor quality and tend to not recognize AR cards in medium lighting. Additionally, you need to be at a fixed distance from the card. This makes it frustrating to illuminate the card properly and focus the 3DS camera on the AR card. The images displayed on the screen also tend to look “jumpy” and not stationary at all times. This can be quite bothersome, but frustrations are to be expected in a release of brand new technology.
Finally, Face Raiders is a game where you take a picture of a person’s face and then use that picture in the game. The game manipulates the picture to change facial expressions and add humorous touches to it as well. The point of the game is to throw yellow balls at the facial images of that person, which is very humorous to you and that person.
These features, especially AR Games, are very well implemented and show off the 3D qualities of the device. Streetpass will be interesting to those living in densely populated areas, due to the fact that you must be near someone with a 3DS to use this feature. I can imagine having fun using it on a plane trip. Again, the camera’s graphics aren’t the best, but do still show your world around you through a 3D window, which is a very interesting experience. As more games are released, the system will continue to provide a great gaming experience using depth from the 3D and Augmented Reality features to their fullest potential.
3DS System Software Rating: 9/10
Overall, the system ranks about an 8.5/10, as the device provides great features implemented correctly. But the 3DS still has room for minor improvements which will probably be included in the next release. But the 3DS is definitely an amazing gaming experience that is very enjoyable.
Impressed with the Nintendo 3DS? Me too. If you want to be even more impressed, check out the video below where someone disassembles the device. I found it amazing how many parts are contained inside such a small unit. But whatever you do, don’t try this at home because I don’t think you will be able to re-assemble your 3DS even if you watch the video in reverse!
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*Image by Dekuwa
**Image by pinboke_planet