Yesterday, Nintendo was in our stomping grounds of NYC for their big 3DS reveal party, which we were not invited to, despite our polite approaches! So unfortunately, I can't give you any hands on impressions, but I can gloss over the piles of word-work my peers have dedicated to the groundbreaking handheld console, and put a touch of the ol' gangsta on it.
Fact: For a number of months, there was endless speculation on Nintendo's 3DS release date and price point. Staying non-committal seems to have paid off for Nintendo, as it helped to build up the reveal jam. So after all the rumors and guessing, the hardware and information reveal seemed to spur a collective sigh of relief from us. The 3DS will stand in a whopping $250, releasing domestically on February 27th.
Opinion: I suppose the price point is fair, considering the price of new technology these days, especially in the 3D area. When Nintendo debuted last generations DSi two years ago, its $170 price tag rebuffed me for some moderate upgrades to the DS model. A $70 bump for cutting edge tech in a neat little package doesn't seem like much to ask, but it's still worrisome.
Fact: The 3D function is controlled by a slider on the side of the screen. Sliding it all the way down turns 3D off, as you slide it up, it keys different depths of the effect. Different games function at different depths, none of which have any sort of configuration, meaning it's your job to figure out what the proper setting is to get the full effect of 3D. It's being said that with 3D disabled, the angle of viewing on the device is spectacular, but when enabled, you need to be looking at it straight on or else the effect becomes muddled or lost.
Opinion: If games don't start including a configuration utility, you waste precious minutes of play time and battery life trying to configure 3D correctly for each game you play. Drag. Also, while glasses-free, the tech seems to suffer some of the same drawbacks of most glasses-required 3D tech. Watch at the wrong angle, tilt your head a slight, whatever, and there goes the 3D effect. Arms are going to have to be held very still for each gaming session to make sure you don't phase between 3D and looks-like-ass-D. Also, people who used the device for a good chunk of the morning have reported headaches.
Fact: The 3DS will be available in two different colors, North America - like Japan - will receive aqua blue and cosmo black options. Of course more color options will be released every few months, and possibly different markets around the world receiving different colors.
Opinion: Black is a safe default option these days, but the aqua blue is a bit of a head scratcher. Granted the color is nice, I just can't see any self respecting adult - young or old - playing with a shimmering blue high tech portable. A birdie tells me that red and purple colors will be available in June, with orange and green following in September. A perfect plan for the early adopter to go out and buy a black 3DS at launch, and trade it in for their true desired color when released.
Fact: Everyone's favorite social system is held over from the Wii, friend codes! Thankfully, the dreadful system has been reworked a bit for ease of use. Instead of generating game-specific codes, the 3DS will have one code per system, which never changes. One add and you're done. Praise be! And along the lines of ease, playing multiplayer locally will not require friend codes to get involved at all.
Opinion: Good riddance to the cumbersome and terribly designed Wii friend code system. For $250, I want some ease of use.
Fact: The system will come bundled with a 2GB SD card as expandable memory for Nintendo eShop downloads and such. All downloads from the DSi are able to be transferred and used on the 3DS. In addition, Nintendo is launching a new 3DS Virtual Console marketplace where you can purchase Gameboy, Gameboy Color, and Gameboy Advance titles, some which will even be 3D enabled.
Opinion: For $250, it would've been nice to have a 4GB thrown in, but it's cool. I'm sure the files won't be too large, so stretching the use of the 2GB is totally plausible.
Fact: Also bundled will be a charging cable, which is the same as the DSi charger. The battery will hold a charge for 3-5 hours with 3D enabled, 5-8 without.
Opinion: No matter how you look at it, 3 hours of charge time is bad. You better keep that charger with you wherever you go, because you'll be out of juice before you know it.
Fact: The 3DS will launch with 12 games out of the gate, with 30 altogether to be released between launch and early June. Bucking the trend of consoles launching with shitty games, the 3DS will have some heavy hitters available on February 27th, assuring fans of all genres are covered. Strong franchises such as Madden NFL, Pro Evolution Soccer 2011 3D, Dead or Alive, Super Street Fighter IV 3D, and Resident Evil: The Mercenaries bolster the 3DS' impressive lineup. Add to that your usual kid-friendly Nintendo titles like Nintendogs + Cats, Pilotwings Resort, and Lego Star Wars III: The Clone Wars, and you have something for everyone.
Opinion: The games may be the consoles true strength at this point. You can't argue with the titles, many of them being well established franchises which made the jump to 3D. There are even more quality titles in the pool of 30 to be available before June, such as Kid Icarus: Uprising, Paper Mario, Animal Crossing, Star Fox 64 3D, and The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D.
Final Thoughts: Similar to the DS and the Wii before, Nintendo in trailblazing in the games industry with a technology that can be considered to be a gimmick. The DS and Wii proved over time that they were any but gimmicks, and now it's the 3DS turn to do the same.
Glasses or not, the 3DS has not changed my opinion on 3D. It sucks. It's needlessly expensive, the immersion is borderline at best, and prolonged use will give you a splitting headache. Who knows, maybe years of use will require LASIK. It has been said that children under the age of 6 should not play the 3DS, so Nintendo has already alienated a nice share of the market.
While the 3DS has the backing of some strong titles, I feel like it is truly held back by some of its more glaring flaws, such as having to adjust the 3D depth for each game, and the steep price. I'm not an early adopter of new technology and hardware unless it's something very special, which I feel the 3DS is unfortunately not. Will I buy it? Probably, when the second coming works out some of its logistical flaws and drops the price. Until then, I'll play with floor samples at department stores, gaming conventions and friends' copies, and I'll try not to walk away with a headache.
PS. Nintendo, now that the 3D is out of the way, please get started on the REAL next technological advancement: holography. Kthx!