Yours truly was lucky enough to have my 3DS arrive from Nintendo today, and since then, I’ve been properly running through its paces; fishing through all of its impressive, hidden features as well as dabbling in a little 3D gaming action with both Nintendogs + Cats and Super Street Fighter IV 3D.
We’ve talked about minor hands-on sessions with the device since we saw it at last year’s E3, and have remained persistent about one thing: the 3D here is the real deal, and having been able to handle it for longer than just a five-minute demo this morning, that statement remains true. Nintendo’s entire marketing campaign is built around the idea of “seeing is believing”, and when I handed it over to my brother to look at for the first time, he was immediately sold. The 3D works, and it’s excellent.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves here, 3D isn’t the only thing the 3DS is about, it’s a very robust gaming system, with a lot of functionality built into that is going to entice all kinds of people to start carrying a handheld gaming device around that isn’t
And this begins with the idea of StreetPass; a function that allows 3DSs to talk to each out in the real-world. So, if you’re on a train commuting to work or school, for example, and someone else is on the train with you, whether your system is in sleep mode, or you’re just using it in general, there’s a likely chance they’ll talk to each other and transfer data. You’ll get a notification this has happened and then, depending on the data swapped, be able to utilise it in a number of different games.
Nintendo are hoping most developers will jump on board with this function, which Capcom already did with Super Street Fighter IV 3D, unfortunately I haven’t had a chance to do this yet as we’re only among a handful of people with the devices in Australia just yet, but it’ll be interesting to see user-reaction to it. Built into the system is the Mii Plaza StreetPass experience, that allows you to nominate a created or Mii as your StreetPass host, it will then attempt to gather certain types of data relative to the Mii Plaza, which will then let you engage in games that equally require multiple StreePass data transfers - think of it as a bit like collecting badges in Foursquare for being social, or in the same place as other Foursquare users, except here, it’s all interactive.
Keeping your device in Sleep Mode is something they’re encouraging to build up the StreetPass function, as well as SpotPass, which just means if you’re anywhere near a wireless access point, your 3DS might download something.
Setting up wireless was a breeze, and a quick system update saw me with a new 3D video showing off the device’s 3D functionality, just dumped into my main menu screen. It was pretty cool and hopefully means there’ll be a lot of random software upgrades, messages and surprises like that in the future.
Camera Mode lets you use the device’s inner camera for a single photo, or the two outer cameras to make 3D images, which you can then play with. One cool feature that incorporates the cameras is a mini game added in at purchase called Face Raiders. The basic idea here is take a photo of your face (or anything else for that matter), and it becomes an animated, 3D enemy you then shoot down in Augmented Reality. What was cool here was that the augmented reality went so far as to recognise parts of the environment around me and break them with similarly textures chunks flying at the screen; leaving a gaping whole in the room around me with nothing but space in the distance beyond (like, outer space). It’s a surprisingly fun addition that will probably wear a bit thin in the end, but is still a cool tool for showing off what the 3DS is capable of.
The actual retail box comes packaged with AR Cards, which then unlock more mini-games for you to play, such as shooting boxes which then reveal targets, which then reveal a statue of a dragon which then becomes a dragon you have to fight; all the while you’re moving the 3DS around with its gyros for the full augmented reality experience. It’s very, very impressive.
You’ll also get an added SD Card as part of your bundle, which just sweetens the deal, and obviously this means there’s not really a limit to the amount of portable storage you can have, though the 3DS itself has limited internal storage capacity (likely why they opted in a 2GB SD card for retail release).
Adding to the lifestyle and seminal reward component of a lot of what’s on offer, there’s an Activity Log page which not only tracks your steps with the device while it’s on or in Sleep Mode, but allows you to make personal notes relative to games you’ve played in a notepad-style set-up. You can use the stylus to hand-write or just bring up the key-pad. Moreover, you can track the actual play-time of specific games, and these are shown in graph form for your own comparison (or the comparison of parents weary of how much their kids play). With only two games and being glued to work, these features are two I haven’t really dabbled in yet, but they look interesting, nonetheless.
Nintendo 3DS sound is another cool little channel you can play with, that lets you record sounds and then manipulate them in various ways. You can then save these and, we’re assuming, later on upload them somewhere, or maybe even into specific software built around the functionality. It’s fairly light on features, but an interesting addition overall.
Another minor feature I haven’t been able to really check out is a Coin system that works with games, similarly to Achievements, in that you’ll unlock coins that are then added to an overall coin score on the Home Page on the 3DS. The manual tells me that participating games will then let you spend these, which could open up a whole new type of reason for the Achievements system to work beyond bragging rights.
Finally, there’s no net out-of-the-box. At least at this stage there isn’t. Clicking the Internet icon brought up a message saying it would be made available in a system update in the not-too-distant future, so we’ll visit this again when it happens, because it will be interesting to play with the Shop Channel and grab older games to see how they fare here, or to see what types of software are eventually made available to use with everything the 3DS has to offer in functionality.
And that brings me to my final point: this isn’t just an update to the DS or the DSi, which was still fundamentally a gaming console, there’s a hint here of a lot more to come in terms of social interaction and beyond. This could be a slight Trojan horse for Nintendo to tackle the bustling smart-phone market, and particularly Apple, only with more core, dedicated games. And finally, that’s my biggest problem with the device right now - not enough games. There’s so much to play with here, I just want to explore it all; otherwise it’s a really decent devise that is packed with potential. The 3D is spectacular, the three cameras are a great inclusion, it’s comfortable, reasonably light and the AR and gyro stuff is excellent out-of-the-box. Provided developers use everything Nintendo have packed in here, I can see this machine breaking all of Nintendo’s previously held handheld sales records.
We’ll get stuck into reviewing media pretty soon for the game, as well as updating you with updates
that roll out of Nintendo internal to beef it all up.
Posted 05:33pm 24/3/11
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