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Life Culture Geek’s 3DS Unboxing/Impressions

Let it be clear that this is simply an unboxing and a quick overview of my first impressions of the 3DS. This is NOT a system review. Quite frankly, when I see reviews for a gaming system it makes me feel a little dirty inside. I’ve seen a few members of the gaming press give out scores to handhelds and consoles and I feel like it’s undervaluing what the system is capable of. The system will make a name for itself once the games are released and the library is expanded. So here’s my impressions of the new 3DS.

Love at first sight?
As far as form-factor goes, the 3DS is just as glossy as every other piece of handheld tech out there. The “interior” also comes complete with the shiny finish that’s sure to gather some smears and fingerprints. The clamshell design isn’t a far departure from previous iterations of the DS, but if it isn’t broken don’t fix it. Hardcore and casual gamers have fallen in love with the dual-screen experience that only the DS provides. However, since the dual-screen gameplay is rooted deep within the 3DS’s DNA, it doesn’t really allow the system to be any smaller. That’s just the reality of it. The 3DS is still a small system, but gamers looking for something more compact than the DSLite or DSi may find themselves a little disappointed. But this shouldn’t stop any potential buyers to shy away from the 3DS altogether, it’s still compact enough that it will fit in most pockets. It’s not like Sega’s Game Gear or anything, but people who are use to DSLite or DSi’s occupying the pockets for some time may find their pants a little tighter (lolz). But there’s no denying it’s a sexy piece of hardware.

How bout that glowy thingy that lets me see games?
The top screen is 90mm in diameter and wider than the bottom screen’s 77 mm display. It’s a little strange to open up a DS to see two differently sized screens, but it’s all for the better. The top screen… wait for it… displays games in 3D!!! (insert dance music + fist pump) In all seriousness, the wide display is a great showcase for the system’s stereoscopic selling point. People wondering about the quality of the 3D should cast aside their worries. It’s legitimately good 3D that displays depth in an impressive manner. Not everything punches out at you, games will also allow you to see “into” them. I REALLY hate to say it but, “it has to be seen to be believed”. I wear corrective lenses and I have no issues enjoying the 3D with or without my glasses on. While some games even warned against playing it for long periods of time, I sank a couple straight hours into Super Street Fighter 4 3D without any strain on my eyes or a resulting headache. The bottom screen is basically the two-dimensional touch screen you’ve come to expect on other DS systems.

The 3D won't kick your ass... Ken will.

What about the clackity clacks?
The 3DS has the typical assortment of “Nintendo buttons” that consist of L, R, Y, X, B, and A. Of course there’s the d-pad along with “Select” and “Start”. What’s new is the “Home” button that has been popularized on home consoles. It lets players suspend their game and open up a different program if they choose to. It’ll simply close out the existing game/program and launch the other one with relatively no trouble or lockup. This function itself makes the 3DS feel more like a modern handheld and sure beats restarting the entire unit just to reach the home menu. The analog “stick”/nub/disc sits above the d-pad and feels surprisingly good. There’s a little concave groove you can nestle your thumb into comfortably. It kind of feels like you’re rubbing your thumb on a smooth tablet of Pepto Bismol (weird analogy I know). The button real estate has changed a bit from the DS models of yesteryear. “Start” and “Select” now join the “Home” button right under the bottom touch screen. The power button is no longer a slider, but it’s own independent button that will allows you to put the system in sleep mode or power it off entirely. All the buttons along with the analog nub feel great and give satisfying feedback. They all feel “clicky” instead of “mushy”.

What’s under the hood?

Who thought zombies would look this good on a portable system?

A custom PICA200 processor is the source of the 3DS’s graphical horsepower. The hardware upgrade from the normal line of DS units is far from incremental. Just from playing SSF4, it’s very apparent that there’s more fight in this dog. With promising titles like Kid Icarus, Resident Evil: Revelations and Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater 3D in the pipes, it’s hard not to be impressed. It’s a shame that those games aren’t readily available at launch, but they offer an exciting forecast of the games to come. In terms of audio, the 3DS has two speakers; one on each side of the top screen. Pretty standard, but people may notice it’s a tad quieter than previous DS models. No big deal, I’m splitting hairs purely for the sake of observation. There’s also a camera facing inward that takes pictures as well as two facing outward that takes 3D pictures. The cameras aren’t the greatest quality. They’re simply functional enough to let you mess around and add in your own 3D effects. Wifi functionality will let you go toe-to-toe online with people in your region and across the world. My online experiences thus far have been serviceable and my time online with SSF4 3D was comparable to that of the console versions.

Looking forward…

The 3DS’s power of appeal is undeniable. The thought of 3D gaming on a portable system sounds like a mad man’s design, but Nintendo has nudged (pushed?) the gaming industry forward into the age of 3D gaming. The mass market appeal of glasses-free 3D will keep gamers and non-gamers talking. Coupled with a chipset that is powerful enough to run some of the most stunning visuals ever seen on a handheld yet, the 3DS certainly has potential for innovation. While the launch lineup is lacking, there is still room to grow for Nintendo’s new handheld. The new e-shop coming in roughly a month promises to bring classic Gameboy and Gameboy Color games. However, Nintendo’s track record for steadily releasing classic content has been largely shaky. Hopefully they can make amends and really turn it around with the 3DS. Hopefully…

Ocarina of Time may not be new, but it'll show a new generation of gamers the magic it showed me

Hopefully with some innovation and a little faith in the hardware, developers can come up with some creative new experiences to appease the nomadic gamer.

Check out Life Culture Geek’s unboxing of the 3DS below!
NOTE: In the video I did say that the 3DS doesn’t have a mic. I’m very mistaken as it DOES have a microphone. I apologize for the misinformation. I ended up trading in Ninja Gaiden for nothing 😦

  1. March 30, 2011 at 2:45 pm

    “Nobody wants to play Guitar Hero, not even Activision” hahahaha

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