Sunday, October 30, 2011

3DS Impressions: 3 weeks later

My 3DS arrived a little over 3 weeks ago and besides wanting to give myself some time to get past the new gadget phase, I haven't had any time to post some impressions.  I'd like to say that I've been playing it furiously each day, but the truth is that I've been too busy and tired.  As a bit of background we've moved 900 miles to a new state where my job is and have also been dealing with a real estate nightmare.

Without further sidetracks, here we go:

Quick Take:

No system is perfect and you end up ruining it for yourself if you try to approach it in that manner.  For me the 3DS is a great system that has significant potential and I have no regrets.  I'm planning to purchase Super Mario 3D Land, Mario Kart 7, Luigi's Mansion 2 and maybe Cave Story 3D which should be some great gaming.

The 3D:

Frankly I was pessimistic on 3D in general and wasn't concerned if I used it or not.  My two hands-on demos at Best Buy and Gamestop didn't blow me away and the first left me slightly nauseated with a bad headache.  It took about three days, but my eyes finally adjusted to 3D and I have to admit that it looks really good.  The sweet spot is probably small, though the biggest thing is that you stay relatively still.

I also have to admit that the 3D videos, primarily the upcoming game trailers, really did blow me away.  I had seen all the game trailers on a computer and was basically convinced on several titles.  Seeing them in 3D was completely different and really sealed the deal.


While I really like the 3D videos, I do feel that the various video options are too disconnected/disjointed and need some work.  Between streaming video in the eShop, downloadable trailers and videos then the dedicated video channel it's just too spread out.  Essentially I think keeping the streaming "preview" videos in the eShop is fine as you want to check out a sample before purchasing. Though I think it would be helpful if all of those downloaded videos could be consolidated in the video channel and not take up channel slots.  On the other hand it is nice to go directly to the video you want on the main screen...

Video Channel:
Well, it's certainly interesting to see different kinds of content and have them available offline, but I don't like a few items.

1)  Videos are removed automatically.   What if I want to save it to watch again in a few weeks?   Am I missing an option to save?
2)  Some videos are sort of cool, but many aren't and you can't control what kind of content is downloaded.
3)  Some are advertisements for videos in eShop that cost money.  I really don't understand the Dreamworks videos for purchase.  Sure they seem neat, but there's no indication of how long they are before I put down my $2.99.  Is it an hour long video or just a 5 or 10 minute expansion of the preview?


I wish I had something to say, but so far my attempts haven't yielded any results.  I took it with me to a busy park, grocery stores filled with British tourists and on the big road trip with the hope I would pass another 3DS user in an adjacent car.  At this point I'm not concerned, though I hear SM 3D Land supports streetpass which would be cool to be a part of.


I've heard mixed things about the eShop and may have went in with a little negativity.  All things considered I think it works rather well and is a notable improvement from the Wii Shop channel.  It seems faster and isn't quite as clunky as the Wii.  So what's left to complain about?

1) Odd categories filling up the screen.  I know, they're just game groupings for advertising.
2) Feels like it takes too much effort to filter/search.  There is the quick and advanced filter/search, so this could just be me.  Will try it out more.
3) No background downloads.
4) Game Selection:  Yes, it's filled with lots of DSiWare, but where's all that VC?   Where's the TG16 games and why are they mainly releasing GameBoy games?  What about NES and SNES games?  I also like the idea of 3D remakes, but I think they need to be careful on what they select.  ExciteBike and Xevious are one thing, but Urban Champion?

Unrelated, is it just me who thinks "Catcrap" each time I see "Catrap"?

AR Games:

Some say that the AR games should have been the main killer app feature and not 3D.  I'm not sure I would go that far, but the AR games are pretty cool and entertaining.  I've gone through some of them and really the only thing I don't like is when you need to move the 3DS to see around some object and I don't want to get out of my chair.  :)

Battery Life:

Oh, battery life.....  Yes, the battery gets sucked dry with 3-4 hours of gaming with 3D on, brightness on max, no power savings, wifi and no ear buds for sound.  I'm not going to rant about it and I've read some articles talking about how 3D requires more brightness/power to work properly.  If that is true, then there's no point in getting bent out of shape.  Though you can clearly see there are numerous solutions to save battery and wifi is a huge one.

I'm not concerned about battery as I generally play in the house and I'll come up with a car charging solution if necessary.


I'm looking forward to the online multiplayer in titles like Mario Kart 7, though in general online interaction is still basically lacking.  There's hardly room for your status message and you can't really do anything after adding a friend.  Now it's not that I want to have an IM chat, but I'd love to be able to see all the stats of friends, see what they're up to and really have that kind of "community" feel.

  • As widely reported the stylus is in a dumb position.  Perhaps they didn't have a choice, but it's not natural to pull it from back there.
  • I like the clean homescreen and how it's an improvement from the Wii.
  • Game selection is getting better and I'm hoping that will encourage more 3rd parties to jump into the mix.
  • VVVVVV is coming to the eShop before the end of the year.  This is so cool and a no brainer.
  • I'd like a little more solid feel and resistance to the 3D and volume sliders.
  • (edit) I like the charging cradle.  It's a nice feature to just drop the unit into without thinking about wires.


I've mainly been playing Ocarina of Time 3D and it's been great fun.  I do have some gripes about the camera angle/control, but that's a minor issue which I'll save for another post.

As I said in the beginning I have no regrets and it's overall a very fun system.  Here's to hoping Nintendo doesn't get too distracted with the Wii U and really keeps the ball rolling!


  1. "I do have some gripes about the camera angle/control, but that's a minor issue which I'll save for another post."

    Just wondering if you think the circle pad attachment would help address the camera angle/control issues?

    On the video side, I have read what you mentioned about how they just pop up, then go away with no way to seemingly save them...which is just really, really odd! Why? It's like the WiiWare demos idea, let people download the demo for a limited time, but ignore any potential NEW customers that might have been interested in the game(or videos in this situation)?

    "Sure they seem neat, but there's no indication of how long they are before I put down my $2.99. Is it an hour long video or just a 5 or 10 minute expansion of the preview?"
    That really is odd, the videos don't have an "about" tab or anything, that will let you know exactly what you are buying?

    At least you're enjoying the system, and hopefully you find the games you get here soon to be very enjoyable as well!

  2. It's funny you should mention the circle pad attachment as I was reading an article on
    Destroid last night talking about it being a game design crutch.

    Now FPS's aside (where an extra stick may be critical), I do think an extra circle/analogue stick may help, but I agree with the article that there should be better camera controls without relying on the user to always control the camera. For OOT 3D, simply zooming the camera out and perhaps rotating the perspective 20-45 degrees to the side would be a huge improvement. Having an option to lock the camera in 3rd person perspective would also be helpful, though I don't know if that would end up being more detrimental to the 3D experience or not.

    Simply said, it's annoying when I'm moving in one direction to fight an enemy with the camera behind link and I know there's an enemy "behind" the camera. When I turn around the camera doesn't change so link is facing me and I have no perspective on how close the enemy is without pressing the L trigger to snap the camera around to the other direction. Before I knew how to beat the first boss this was particularly annoying when running away and turning in various directions to see where it was along with holding the L trigger to pan around the room.

    On the video, I had the same "WiiWare demo" kind of thought. I don't know if this is more advertising driven where Dreamworks (for example) has paid for their various Halloween previews to be there and keeping them there longer or allowing users to save would provide more advertising exposure than Nintendo wants and/or the 3rd party has paid for. Though I did see an extreme snowboarding video that looked really good in 3D which I'd like to check out again, but it's gone. Off the top of my head I don't remember if it was advertising something like Red Bull or not.

    I also went back to the eShop to check out the 3 dreamworks videos for purchase ($1.99btw) and still couldn't find how long the videos were. I went to the information tab and scrolled all around, but there was nothing. I also think that entertainment can't be neatly categorized in a simple "value per hour" kind of formula, but that's what I like to start with before purchasing. Is $1.99 for a 5 or 10 minute feature video worth it and how much replay value do I think I'll have? Sure, I like Shrek as much as the next guy, but it doesn't seem compelling enough to buy. Maybe when the kiddos get older I'll have a different perspective.

    Thanks for stopping by Coffee!

  3. I read the Destructoid piece, with much resistance...and I think the guy is just wrong.

    Yea sure, claim the touch screen can be used for camera controls, but it just isn't comfortable for long play periods, at least it wasn't with the DS Lite and my time with Dementium II.

    An extra analog stick would have simply made the game more enjoyable for me, just from the comfort position...which the author of that piece clearly seems to miss the point of.

    I'm a HUGE fan of the Wii Remote and Nunchuk FPS controls, but from my experience with Dementium II, and hearing the horror stories of the "claw" controls in Monster Hunter on the PSP, I only see the additional circle pad as a plus, not a "the developers don't want to try new things"(though there are examples of this as well though).

  4. I may have skimmed the article, so I'm not sure all of it rings true, though having the devs build in better automatic camera control sounds good to me. At the same time I would gladly take another circle pad when it's really needed for a better gaming experience. I just don't think it's always required. Devs now have to make that decision with the 3DS having one.. Do they really want to require users to buy the circle pad boat or can they design something just as good without it?

    I'd agree on the touchscreen too. I don't want to play a game for hours where I need to take my hands off the controls and touch a particular area of the screen. Using it for inventory, map or other items like that is fine.

    I still prefer a mouse and keyboard for FPS's, but am slowly warming up to the WiiMote/nunchuck combo. :)

  5. Good impressions there,

    I do feel like the 3DS is a very rough gem. Nintendo's got as much wrong with this thing (especially when it comes to online/ friends/ connectivity) as they've got right.

    Which is a problem when the competitors are getting more right than wrong. Look at the upcoming Vita, for instance. Hundreds of movies, comic books, a massive and well-built online shop.

    Look at the Apple products - tens of thousands of games, with limitless functionality besides. Yes, a lot of those games suck, but the good ones still outnumber DSiWare and eShop by a significant margin.

    And the pricing! $6 Australian for a 20-year old game with 30 minutes of gameplay is lunacy. I love Game Boy Games, and have bought all the VC games to date, but my most played is just four hours (tennis). I have $0.99 iPad games that I've spent more time playing.

    Nintendo needs to get its act together. It's got a really, really nice piece of hardware there. It needs to make proper use of it now.

  6. Hey @Games, thanks and that's a good analogy with the rough gem. I agree, they have some nice features with the 3DS that aren't being fined tuned very well along with some areas that need cleanup. I guess they need to do things the nintendo way, but they really need to get their act together as far as online goes. I'm not even looking for any innovation, just look at PS3, XBOX and Steam then copy some of it and get rolling!

  7. Glad you're enjoying it and not having any buyer's remorse. I also know how it sucks to get a new toy or game and not get a chance to use it right away - that can be frustrating!

    I do feel like Nintendo mis-stepped in not having a right stick/pad right off of the bat. I have no problem with them adding it to future iterations, but like Motion Plus for the Wii, it's just one of those things that seems like it should have been there from the get-go.

    The comment about 'lack of community' is one that resonates with me too. I don't play a lot of multiplayer online, but I like to see who's been playing what, if someone hasn't been on in awhile, what 'level' they are so we can compare trophies or achievements - and that's one of the things that makes the Wii our least-played console system in this house as well.

    Still, some of those 3DS titles look awesome, and it's nice to hear the hardware's working well for you as well!

  8. @Chalgyr:
    The comment about 'lack of community' is one that resonates with me too.

    It's a shame as the Wii and 3DS both keep track of what's played and could make great use of that data to enhance the community. Not even going as far as trophies/achievements, but doing an overall and 'last x weeks' kind of thing is a great way to advertise. One of those hey my buddy BitNick has been playing RE: The Mercenaries 3D, let me go check out what that's all about.. kind of things.

    I definitely notice what people on Steam are playing and regularly check the games out. I may not like the game based on screenshots/videos, but it's effective at getting my eyeballs over the game once which wouldn't have happened before.

    Thanks for stopping by!

  9. Man! I just feel like I'm late to the party!

    Being the proud owner of a Nintendo 3DS, I still have to say that I agree you and Chalgyr about the sense of community... it's lacking. Steam, and services like it, just have that feeling of inclusion down to a science, and knowing that your friend is playing a game RIGHT NOW really helps with the "jump-in jump-out" type of multiplayer gameplay that makes a community feel like a community. I have 3DS friends from all over the world now (including my buddy IG, actually), and being able to message them when they are in the middle of a RE: Mercenaries game to see if they would like to get in on some multiplayer would be a godsend.

    That said: I really like GamesAndBiz, and I think his analogy is apt to a certain degree, but he's wrong when he says that Nintendo "got more wrong than right" with the 3DS. I picked my 3DS up on day one, and although I acknowledge its flaws (which I will not ennumerate since they have been suitably addressed in the article and comments), I feel like the 3DS is a solid platform that got a bad launch, and not a bad platform in and of itself. I've enjoyed my 3DS, and with refocused corporate efforts coming from Iwata and Miyamoto, I think that the 3DS will rise stoically in the face of threats from Sony and Apple.

    Sorry - I'll put my soapbox away for the evening!

    Good impressions, man! We've got to get together for some cross-world multiplayer! Also,thanks for the shout out in Chalgyr's reply :)


  10. BitNick, I'm pretty late replying here. :)

    Even with the firmware update included in Super Mario 3D Land there's really nothing new as far as community.  There's just a greyed out "join game" button which I think is in anticipation of Mario Kart 7.

    Seeing a friend sign-on would be pretty cool too.  I even saw you online the other day where it said you or someone was watching Netflix, but that's about it.

    Now we just need a good remote multiplayer game.  Not sure MK7 will be picked up on launch, but should be soon.

    Also since your comment was three weeks ago my overall impressions haven't changed.  Still loving things and have made some good progress on Zelda Four Swords, Donkey Kong and Super Mario 3D Land.  Thumbs up all the way around.