3DS Impressions

Originally posted on February 6, 2011 by Oregano

Whilst the 3DS already seems impressive from screens and trailers from across the web this only tells you so much about the hardware and the games. It really has to be in your hands before you can fully grasp its nature, and luckily I had some hands on time earlier.

3DS Hardware

The 3DS is much smaller than it seems from the PR shots and despite having the sandwich design is really sleek and smooth. In a quick on the fly comparison is seemed a tiny bit smaller than my DSi but noticeable lighter. Despite the glossy surface the device remained finger print free, which is a nice surprise. The screens themselves are very clear and the way Nintendo  accentuates them really makes them stand out when playing.

More important than the look of the device is the way it feels and this aspect has been nailed. The device is very comfortable to hold and use, in particular the design of the circle pad means it becomes second nature. Your thumb neatly glides into place, after a while you can’t even feel the stick. The telescopic stylus is also a nice comfortable improvement and may help avoid hand cramps on some touch screen heavy games. The touch screen seemed much better at detecting presses with thumbs though which means it should be better for games that mix traditional controls and touch(and there’s quite a few).

Now onto the software I had the chance to try out:

Pilotwings Resort

This was the first game I played and it was a bit surprising. Pilotwing’s Wuhu Island is a tiny bit smoother than its Wii Sports counterpart but the 3D literally adds a new dimension to it, however the 3D did seem a bit too strong at max settings so I toned it down to just under half way. This gave it depth whilst remaining comfortable and combined with the simple analog controls it made it relaxing and fun. I tried out the Plane and Glider in free flight mode and both seemed really easy to control, this is definitely a game suited for everyone.

Resident Evil: Mercenaries 3D

I then went on to try out a round of Mercenaries, which had a choice of four characters(Chris, Claire, Hunk and Krauser) and two stages(one from Resi 4 and one from Resi 5), I went with Krauser on the Resi 5 stage. The game looks stunning and works well with the 3D which helps a lot when you’re aiming. The controls work simple enough, they’re pretty much Resi 4′s but have two important additions; touch screen, which streamlines the gameplay a lot, and the ability to go into a strafe mode by holding L. This is an important feature as it allows you to move and shoot(finally!) and can be extremely useful when cornered.

Dead or Alive: Dimensions

I then decided to try out one of the two fighting games there(and unfortunately missed the other one) and I was very impressed. DOA is probably the best looking game on the 3DS, with really smooth and detailed visuals. The 3D is quite impressive when you’re fighting but comes with the downside of a 30FPS game, whilst it ran smoother in 2D the gameplay didn’t slowdown. As a first time DOA player the game was really easy to pick up, especially with the touch screen shortcuts.

Kid Icarus: Uprising

After DOA I decided to try out the 3DS’ flagship title, Kid Icarus. The fact that KI was the first title in development really shows, it’s an incredibly polished experience. I think this is the title that works best with 3D with just the right amount of pop out effects and a crazy sense of depth. The game’s visuals are similarly polished with a simple, but detailed, coherent style. One of the key worries about the game was the lack of left handed compatibility but the game didn’t seem to require pixel perfect aiming so it should be manageable. The ground controls took some getting used to but they really felt good after a minute or so.

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

Ocarina, AKA the highest rated game of all time, was next but I only had a short with it. The visual overhaul is kind of uneven with character models looking a lot better than the original but the environments suffering from N64 level geometry despite the detailed textures. The gameplay was relatively unchanged from the original and works as well as it always did but with the addition of touch screen streamlining and the ability to use the gyro in first person mode which worked well.

LEGO Star Wars III

There was a small window available so I decided to try out LEGO Star Wars III, especially after the rather impressive debut trailer. The game didn’t disappoint, the game looks really good with amazing clarity and great lighting. The touch screen also works really well with the game, and you can use your thumb for it too. It’s the classic LEGO game formula so it’s fun but nothing revolutionary. There were some reports of framerates dips but I didn’t experience any.

Nintendogs + Cats

I decided to try out Nintendo’s monster casual hit next. The boost in visuals really helps the game as the dogs and cats are much more expressive and animated. The 3D is quite subtle until the animals prop themselves up on the screen when it gives you a bit of a sucker punch. The use of the silhouette on the touch screen worked surprisingly well, it felt completely natural.

Rabbids: Travel in Time

The game is a competent but unremarkable 2D platformer, and that pretty much sums it up. The game looks okay, but not spectacular and doesn’t really use the 3D. The saddest thing I took from the game was that it was pretty sedate which clashes with the awesome craziness of the Rabbids. It certainly wasn’t a bad experience though and you could do a lot worse.

AR Dragon Game

This was the final game I got to try out but sadly I ran out of time just as the dragon had been unleashed. The game is unreal and is a prime example of how 3D can enhance a game, it really looks like your environment is changing. The effect is at it’s best when there’s a hole in the table where the AR card is. The gameplay is incredibly simple, but fun, and the game seems like the go-to game when you show off the device to friends.

Overall, I came away extremely expressed with the 3DS and the games I got to try out. It’s a pity I didn’t get a chance to try out Street Fighter, Asphalt, Ridge Racer and Super Monkey Ball. Regardless, it’s going to be a long wait till the 25th March.

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