An in-depth review of the Nintendo 3DS

Nov 8, 2011 (Updated Nov 9, 2011)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:-Excellent 3D effects, improved e-shop,  lots of memory space

Cons:Fingerprint magnet, battery life, only 1 slider pad

The Bottom Line: Amazing 3D effects, a boat load of included software.  An amazing system all around.

Nintendo's newest handheld system, the Nintendo 3DS, is exactly as it's name implies.  It's a nintendo DS with a 3D screen.  That's the bare bones of it.  However, along with a stunning 3D top screen, the new system brings with it upgraded graphics, memory, and online capabilities.  But this is only scratching the surface. 

First and foremost, the question everyone asks when wondering about the 3DS, are the 3D effects good?  You bet they are.  The top screen of the 3DS is the only screen with 3D, which is fine because most gameplay is shown on the top screen only.  Depending on the game or application or whatever may be on the screen, there is a wide range of depth and detail incorporated into this screen.  And without the need for special 3D glasses, it's a really sweet deal.  The 3D can be turned on or off or in between with the addition of a 3D slider that can manipulate how much 3D is shown.  This is a nice feature as viewing 3D for a long while can cause eye strains, and sometimes 3D is simply not needed.  

But 3D isn't the only reason to buy a 3DS, there are many other factors other than retail games that come with the system.  Things such as the 3D camera/picture editor, sound editor, the online 3DS shop, full internet browser, pre-loaded games and software, the new slider pad, and it comes with a nice little 2G SD card for memory.  Even the stylus is cool!  The stylus is now retractable to almost double it's shortened size and is now much more secure inside the 3DS.  No more stylus' sliding out and getting lost, this thing is clipped in there very well.  

The body of the 3DS is somewhat rigid, and a tad heavier than the DSi.  The design is similar to the original DS in terms of angles and shape, while the frame and paint are completely new.  The top screen has a shiny metallic mirror effect which looks very nice.   Although the downside is that the top of the system is a fingerprint magnet.  Don't try not to smudge it, you will.  It can be easily cleaned however and your prints will not damage the system.  The inside is also similar though less metallic.  The back of the system is more or less like the front, minus the 3D camera.  This is also where the stylus is located, and where you pop in a game cartridge.  There is a charge port on the top, along with two shoulder buttons.  

Sound is controlled by a slider along the left side of the 3DS, accompanied by the SD card slot.  On the right, a wireless on/off switch (to connect the internet).  The headphone jack is now on the bottom of the system, along with LED charge and power lights.  Speakers are located on the top inside screen next to the game window, with a microphone above the game window.  

New to the 3DS, a dashboard of sorts, that contains the start, select, and the new home buttons.  The home button is used to return to the main 3DS screen at any point during play (much like the Wii's home button).  Also new to the 3DS, a slider pad which serves as the primary means of navigation other than the stylus.  The lowered joypad allows for very smooth movement although a second slidepad would have been nice for games that utilize a camera system, Nintendo will begin to sell the second slide-pad as a hardware add-on soon.  The plus shaped D pad is also included.  Also, the standard A, B, X, and Y buttons are still included.  The power button is located on the right hand side underneath the face buttons.  However the 3DS likes to be fickle about it's start up times, one may press the power button and immediately the system turns on..but other times one may have to press the power 3 or 4 times before the system decides to turn on.  A minor problem but still a problem.  

Also included inside the 3DS are motion and gyro sensors.  These, much like the wii remote, move when you do.  Moving left or right with the 3DS or side to side in real life causes things to happen on the 3DS during gameplay depending on the software.  The system comes bundled with some software to keep you busy if you don't have any games yet.  Things like the sound editor, camera, and mii creator will keep you busy along with pre-loaded games like face raiders and AR games (the 3DS comes with special AR cards to be viewed through the 3DS outer camera).  

Phew, that can be a lot to take in.  And with all of this fanciness, comes the added downside of battery life.  The 3DS (depending on what you play) can be drained in as little as 3 hours, the bright side is that it can be played while charging on the included charging cradle, and the charge time is approximately 3 hours.  

The 3DS can also play DS games, not in 3D of course.  It can use the entire previous DS library, 3DS games can NOT be played on a DS or DSi however due to an extra notch in the cartridge prohibiting play on systems other than the 3DS.  The system comes pre-loaded with 2 free games.  Both of which utilize the 3D effects efficiently.  

The first game is Face Raiders.  It's a space style shooter where you literally shoot yours or your friends faces.  A picture is taken of a friend with the 3D camera and placed right into the game.  What follows is an arcade style pop-up shooter that will keep you busy.  The 3D effects are stunning, and there are actually 6 stages to play, each having more challenges and special surprises.  Face Raiders keeps all the pictures you've taken to be used over, or just collection.  As well as photos this game also keeps high scores and records.

The second pre-loaded game is called AR games.  The 3DS comes with special AR cards that are used to play this game.  Place a card on a flat surface and view it with the 3DS camera and the game begins!  This is also a shooter style archery game with a few surprises thrown in.  There are 6 cards total, each with a different character on them.  Only one card however plays the archery game, the other cards are nintendo classic characters that are moveable on whatever surface you happen to place the card on.  Again, the 3D effects are brilliant.  

Currently, there is a tight selection of retail games available for the 3DS, but as the holiday season is approaching new games like Super Mario 3D land are fast coming.  But until more games come out, there are always many e-shop games and classic games to purchase from within the 3DS store.    

The online support has been improved a lot with the addition of a full internet browser (for no fee as long as you have wireless internet) and an e-shop.  The e-shop is used to download software, games, applications, and so much more.  Currency can be via credit cards or pre-payed 3DS cards available at retailers.  The e-shop does have some freebies to pick up in 3D of course.  The internet is kind of slow, but then again Nintendo isn't known for amazing online capabilities.  It's a lot better than previous shops or browsers, but a tad slow.  

The 3D features should not be taken lightly as they do cause eye sores if stared at too long (around an hour or 2 depending on the person).  The 3D can be turned off or toned down with the 3D slider located to the right of the top screen.  The downside to the glasses-free 3D is that you can only view the effects within a certain viewpoint.  Only if you look directly at the screen can you see the full 3D effects.  The sweet spot is limited, but worth it.  

The top screen of the 3DS is a 3.53 inch widescreen LCD screen with a 800x240 pixel resolution (400 pixels for each eye).  The lower screen is a 3.02 inch display with a 320x240 pixel resolution.  Sound is all stereo, with some surround sound support.  

This is not simply a DS with 3D features, everything has been made new or improved in some way or another.  And with the new price cut to 169.99, there is every reason to buy one.  Many new games will be coming out shortly and into the new year, with some very good choices out right now for the holiday season.  The 3DS comes in 3 colors, flame red, aqua blue, and cosmo black.  

Many of the 3DS's other features can be explained in the included instruction book, along with quick guides.  Available in English, Spanish, and French.  The packaging is simple and easy to open without tears or rips.  

The Nintendo 3DS is worth a buy, for any age.  It would make the perfect gift for anyone.  There is not a lot to complain about with this system and it's truly amazing.  The 3D effects cannot really be described, they can only be experienced.  You can even go to a local retailer to demo the 3DS for free to see the amazing effects of the glasses-free 3D screen.  The 3DS sells for 169.99 and games usually sell for around 39.99.  It is well worth the price, I highly recommend it.

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