Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Nintendo 3DS

Like a moth drawn to flame... there was no way I could resist the launch of new Nintendo hardware.

Let's get one fact right out into the open - I am a life-long Nintendo fanboy. If you're looking for an unbiased opinion/review of the 3DS, you're in the wrong place, and I am sorry for wasting your time.

That said, There is nothing in this world that makes me feel like a kid again more than new Nintendo hardware. The Nintendo 3DS is no exception. The first thing to notice is the 3DS is just about the same size as your trusty DS lite. It's a little thicker, but really, to the naked eye its pretty spot on. The second thing you'll notice is the top screen for the 3DS is quite a bit larger than the DS lite/DSi.

Then there is the glasses-free 3D. Truth be told, this effect doesn't really work on me. I'm a little bummed about this, but it's due to a life-long issue with my left eye - so really, what can you do?

With my 3DS, I purchased Super Street Fighter 4 (which as i said in my E3 keynote post was a must-have), as well as Ghost Recon Shadow Wars. Both are fine titles, but SF4 stands head and shoulders above GRSW because it seems to leverage every cool feature the 3DS has to offer.

So let's talk a bit about the 3DS features!

- Graphics: It's like you've got a portable Wii in your pocket. Seriously - using Street Fighter as an example, these are by far the best graphics I've seen on a portable system. The fact that Capcom pulled off a damn near flawless port of SF4 really blows me away.

- Network Connectivity: Now *THIS* is what WiiConnect24 should have been! With the 3DS you have a single system-level friend code. You're also given a proper friends list and are now alerted any time a friend comes online. This ties into the next item...

- StreetPass: This is a really cool functionality that basically allows your 3DS to communicate and trade data with other 3DS without any sort of user interaction required (the idea being that your 3DS is asleep in your pocket as you go about your day to day life). The 3DS Mii Plaza uses StreetPass, so when you DO bump into another 3ds owner out in the world, you exchange Miis (and other goodies). I was lucky enough to have a random StreetPass encounter while visiting Washington DC and I thought it was the coolest thing ever. Street Fighter 4 supports StreetPass in a really cool way - you set up a team of 5 fighters that actually do battle with other SF4 players as you pass them.

- AR Games/Face Raiders: The 3DS comes with 2 Augmented Reality (AR) games - AR Games and Face Raiders. With AR Games, you're given a deck of 6 cards with the 3DS. The main card (it looks like the Super Mario '?' block) is the root of the game - you start AR Games and aim the camera at the card... and suddenly your surroundings are part of the MANY mini games within. Face Raiders uses the built in camera to take pictures of your face, or other faces around you - then incorporates them into a fun AR shooting title, where again your surroundings become the game. This functionality really needs to be experienced first hand...

- Pedometer/Play Coins: The 3DS also has a built in pedometer which keeps track of how many steps you take in a day - but with a twist! For every 100 steps you take you are rewarded with 1 Play Coin. These play coins can then be exchange for in-game items (With Street Fighter it allows you to buy more StreetPass figures, and with AR Games it unlocks more mini games). This feature is seriously going under the radar right now, and i think it's one of the more brilliant parts of the 3DS. It's like a super refined/distilled idea from WiiFit, and the in-game rewards ensure i keep my 3DS in my pocket at all times keeping track of my steps (not to mention for the StreetPass connections).

I gotta be honest here, I'm almost overwhelmed by how awesome the 3DS is so far. This system has a very bright future ahead of it, and I am dying to see what the 2nd and 3rd waves of software hold in store for us. I'm also really looking forward to novel uses of the AR gaming. I plan on writing more about the 3DS as i discover more, so stay tuned.

This is a game-changer - Sony, you had best bring your AAA game with the NGP....

'till next time...

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