Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Nintendo 3DS: One Week Later

It's... LOOKING at me.
Well, North America has officially had the 3DS, Nintendo's next generation of handheld gaming, for one week. Most outlets have provided a review, or hands-on impressions (like those by my buddies Coffee With Games and My Little Gamer), or Day One Impressions (like my friend The Dread Pirate Guy, if you follow the link), or some other variation thereof. Because I like to be JUST a little different when I can, I opted instead to get my 3DS and spend a week with it before I wrote anything for you, the readers. This allows me to get to know the new system on a less superficial level, and hopefully, pass any wisdom/judgements I had to you. Like any house guest, if the 3DS had any dirty laundry to air, I wouldn't see it until a few days into the visit. 

We'll begin with a few quick photographs, courtesy of the beautiful Mrs. Bit, chronicling the blessed day the 3DS arrived:
Next to the box we see the charging dock, AC adapter, system
documentation, and just A LITTLE bit of a baby seat in the upper
right-hand corner (NOT INCLUDED).

Close-up of the documentation... Why? Because it's 3/4 of the total weight
of the box! There are pages, and handouts, and quick-start guides galore!
It's like Nintendo packed in a copy of Toadstoy's "War and Peach".
As a gamer, there is nothing quite like holding a new console or handheld gaming system in your hands. It is euphoric as you contemplate the hours of potential entertainment ahead of you (unless the only system you've purchased is a Nokia N-Gage... Then I don't know what to tell you). After the initial novelty was gone, though, then you get to know the system for both its strengths and its faults. The thoughts that follow are both un-jaded, and un-dazzled, and they are my honest thoughts on the Nintendo 3DS.

Bits I like:

-3D works for me. I have had no trouble finding the sweet spot.

-No headaches, blurred vision, eye-strain, seizures, nightmares invading reality, pestilences/poxes, aggressive hauntings, cases of "spontaneous-combustus-ocularis", or whatever other maladies some people are claiming to have gotten from the 3DS.

-Clean, friendly interface. It's kind of a "Wii Homescreen 2.0", as you can see below:

-AR Games (and accompanying unlockables... work that pedometer to save up your coins!)

-OK Go's dog video is a fun way to show people glasses-free 3D

-Those little Nintendo touches - I was getting ready to play "Ghost Recon: Shadow Wars" as I sat near a door in a public place, and was on the home screen with the "Ghost Recon" channel highlighted. This screen features 3 futuristic soldiers with a variety of weapons standing back to back in a circle as your view slowly rotates around them. As I was preparing to launch the software, the door was opened by a passerby, and a gust of wind blew across my 3DS. To my surprise, this caused the three characters and the "Ghost Recon" logo to spin furiously! Upon discovering this, I spent the next few minutes blowing on the screen of my 3DS just to see how fast I could get the three guys to spin, and hoping, just a little that the centrifugal force would cause one of them to fly off the screen. Upon further investigation, every logo on the home screen allows you to blow on the microphone to spin it progressively faster the harder you blow on the microphone! I undoubtedly looked like a complete fool whose handheld system must be bursting into flames as I blew furiously on the screen, but I also undoubtedly enjoyed doing it. (See video embedded below for reference!)


-Playable "Game and Watch" visualizer in the music player is a charming bit of light fun when you want to play something as you listen to music.

-StreetPass - It's fun the first time you find out that you just had a connection with a fellow gamer who was, like you, incognito. You are part of a larger community, and StreetPass lets you feel that.

-The Circle Pad - Precise, grippy, and just enough resistance. I can't wait for a game that truly puts this little beauty through its paces (Mercenaries 3D, anyone?)!

Bits I Don't Like:

-Also, the Circle Pad - There's a slight rubbing noise that sounds like plastic on plastic (a grating noise, rather than the expected sliding noise, if that makes sense) when I push it, and that unsettles me...

-Stylus location - WHAT WERE THEY THINKING?! I actively avoid doing things that need the stylus for precision just so I don't have to fight it out of the hole on the back, as you can see here:

The stylus is really tightly fit, and when the screen is open,
very difficult to extract.
-Amount of characters available for status messages - My last two status updates: "3D pics are cool", and, "Hurry, Netflix!" The first used every available character (16, in case you are curious), and the second one used every character but 1. This same limitation applies to both friend list status updates, and your personal Mii's StreetPass message. That's not even enough characters to input some individual words in the english language! Ex. "Industrialization" = 17 Characters! That's not enough characters to write, "Nintendogs + Cats". Really, Nintendo? A company known for its big imagination CAN'T POSSIBLY CONCEIVE of someone have something to say that is longer that 16 characters?

-Launch Lineup of Retail Release Games - It's not that there's anything inherently wrong with the games in the launch lineup (especially if you like Street Fighter), but there just wasn't anything that set my world on fire. I've been enjoying "Ghost Recon: Shadow Wars", and feel that it's a solid game, but it's not mind-blowing.

-One time as I was playing Ghost Recon, the both screens faded to black in the middle of a character move, and never returned. THEY JUST NEVER CAME BACK ON, ALTHOUGH THE SYSTEM WAS STILL ON, AND THE BACKLIGHTS ON BOTH SCREENS WERE STILL FUNCTIONING. The 3DS required a hard restart, and then, like a psychotic girlfriend, it acted like it hadn't just lost or ruined something important of mine (in this case, my progress in the mission I was currently engaged in in GR:SW), and that nothing at all had happened between us. YEAH... Tell that to the prisoners of war I was rescuing, you selfish skank!

Well, there it is. This is, in my estimation, some of the good and the bad of the Nintendo 3DS hardware and built-in software.

Those who have handled or purchased the hardware: Do you agree? Disagree?
What things do you like and dislike about Nintendo's new handheld?
Let us know in the comments!



  1. that sucks about the screens going black like that. that would drive me mad.. and i had never noticed where the stylus was until you pointed it out.. that IS a crappy spot to put it.
    hopefully the circle pad will eventually work that rubbing noise out. when i demoed the one at best buy, i didn't notice it... but it was real loud in there, so maybe that's why.

    anyways, great read as always.. keep it up nick!

  2. @MLG

    Thanks, man! Funny enough, since this article went to print, I got a new error while playing Ghost Recon... At the end of a VERY long mission, as I was about to put the final touches on a very good strike against my enemies, both screens suddenly went black, and on the bottom screen I saw a message that said, "A System Error Has Occurred: Please turn off your Nintendo 3DS system by holding the power button. If the problem persists, call Nintendo support @ blahblahblah."

    Not cool, 3DS. Not cool at all.

    Of course, that is only two errors in all the time I have played it, but it's still annoying.


  3. dang man.. that is a total bummer.. you did the system update because you have the music video.. that was supposed to fix the black screen problem.

  4. Interesting the circle pad is a like, and don't like...I hope it holds up well over time, and isn't like the N64's analog stick.

    When I read, "Mercenaries 3D, anyone?", I immediately thought you were meaning a Mercenaries 3D game...based off the game series Mercenaries, not the Resident Evil game...I really enjoyed the first Mercenaries game, and a portable version would be pretty cool I think.

    I agree, the stylus positioning is strange...I know they supposedly test these designs out, but I wonder why they chose to put it there and not on the side like the DS Lite, though perhaps it's the only spot with the way the components are inside?
    Have you had much success with StreetPass?

    Also, I noticed you only mentioned Ghost Recon as for games you've been playing. Was that your game of choice with the system, and are you waiting on anything else specifically for the system?
    The BSOD reports are happening all over, and I really wonder what it is. I hope they can figure it out, and patch it up quickly.

    Anywho, do you feel it's worth $250 now, or perhaps once more features are released for it...like Netflix, and the eShop in May?

  5. @ MLG

    I know, right? I was hoping to avoid the issue by making sure that my firmware was up to date, but to no avail. I hope there's an update soon to fix it, but in the same breath, it hasn't happened since April 5th. Thanks for the sympathies, though!

    @ Coffee

    The N64's analog stick was the first thing that came to mind for me when I heard that noise coming from it. That said, It does feel more solid than the N64 offering, but time will tell.

    When you talk about the Mercenaries series, were talking about this one?

    The only conclusion I could come to about the stylus location was that the internal components didn't allow for side placement. Even so, it feels like a big oversight to me. The stylus itself, I neglected to say in the article, is quite comfortable, but extracting it is a circus act.

    Regarding StreetPass: I REALLY LIKE IT. Because I am a student at a University, as well as working at a busy building, I have been able to get a pretty good amount of StreetPass contacts. Call me easily entertained, but I just love the feeling of knowing that a fellow 3DS owner has my Mii visiting them, and is using him as they play the built-in Mii Plaza games.

    Ghost Recon is a lot of fun, but it is the only title I have right now. I wish I had more, but there is one advantage to not having any other retail games... I can get a review up sooner! Speaking of which: Ghost Recon... Review Tank... Coming soon.

    In spite of the little problems I have with it, I'm still happy I bought the 3DS. It is a cool system, with a lot of capability and promise, and it's already been a lot of fun. To put it simply, having it now is not a necessity, but once the eShop, Netflix, and the browser launch, I think (assuming they all work well) the 3DS will be MUST HAVE. Just my $0.02.


  6. Although BitNick is completely welcome to buy more than one game, I think he's just not interested yet--when Netflix, eShop, and more games like Mercenaries come out, I won't be able to stop him!
    Sorry to disappoint, but BitNick is VERY particular about what games (or other items) he chooses to spend his money on. Also, we are VERY poor college students. :)

  7. I think at this point now, I'm ready for the eShop to finally open.


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