Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Nintendo 3DS Review

For more than thirty years now, Nintendo has been the primary ruler in the home and handheld console market, selling hundreds of millions of products that have helped Americans and the rest of the world truly enjoy the art of gaming.

Perhaps one of Nintendo’s most significant advantages in the gaming industry however, has been their Apple-like approach to innovation in both hardware and software, with the company constantly coming up with new ways to play games and more affordable technologies that allow for gaming entertainment to touch just about everyone.

The Nintendo 3DS was released in a market where mobile devices had reigned in handheld gaming, and had minimized the previous need for handheld consoles from specific gaming companies, instead favoring those made by phone manufacturers.

Because of this disinterest and total lack of desire for mobile gaming, the original two hundred and fifty dollar asking price of the 3DS was considered to be too expensive for what the package included, and consumers pretty much ignored it all together. However, the price drop that made the product one hundred and seventy dollars has attracted consumers, as well as a great selection of titles that were previously unavailable at product launch.

Still, the question remains, is this a product worth the price? How much will the user get out of it? Why is it better than Apple’s iPhone/iPod touch or the plethora of gaming-capable Android phones also available on the market? Read on to find out more.

The Nintendo 3DS is perhaps one of the most stunning (if not the most) Nintendo consoles to date. From top to bottom, the device is covered in some of the most beautiful design aspects to date. Although the entire product is constructed of high-grade plastic, you probably couldn’t even tell due to the metallic look and feel of the product. This device feels extremely well built, and there doesn’t seem to be any give when holding the system, pressing on it in a certain area, or simple use cases. However, many users will find that the hinge is annoying upon initial use, as it is very loosely held to the product. When in use, and only if the device has the screen locked in one of the two playing positions will this annoyance disappear. And in the end, most users will not only get used to it, but not notice it at all.

Nintendo’s new handheld has been blessed with an exceptional amount of ports and other hardware capabilites that certainly make it stand out from the current mobile competition. Such inclusions as an SD card slot (for expandable storage up to 128 GB), 3.5 millimeter headphone jack, 3D audio, two beautiful displays- one with the legendary 3D capability that doth not require glasses and measures in at 3.53 inches and another screen below it with touch capabilities measuring in at 3.02 inches. Above the top 3D display is a camera for 2D images and on the back of the display are two cameras for 3D recording and picture taking. Also inside of the device is WiFi, a motion censor and a gyroscope.

The 3DS comes bundled with a cradle for charging that not only makes charging easier, but allows you to play while charging in style. Also, I’ve found that the cradle is effective for watching Netflix movies and TV shows in situations where my smartphone cannot handle Netflix. However, I would not recommend this device solely for Netflix content consumption.
Perhaps the most important aspect of this device, as cool as the hardware may be, is the software. Unlike previous Nintendo 3DS models (not counting the DSiXL, since so few people actually bought one), the 3DS comes with a load of built in software that will keep just about any gamer entertained.

Although there is a lot of built in productivity software that Nintendo hopes you will use all the time, the reality is simple; I bought a 3DS to play games and only games. Not for anything else. And that’s where one of the coolest pieces of software comes in- the Nintendo eShop. The app store-like market features tons of Game Boy re-releases, 3D titles and DSi Ware titles that are not only inexpensive, but a lot of fun to play.

This feature in itself is a major selling point for the 3DS, and with the possibility of Nintendo putting games on the shop and having them stored on an SD card, this could eventually eliminate the need to buy games away from your 3DS- which is obviously the future of content consumption.

Although you probably won’t use it that often (as I really don’t), the 3DS comes pre-loaded with a web browser that not only gets the job done, but is fast enough to consider using as a main mobile browser- not that you’d really want to. But, if your phone battery dies, you’re too lazy to unplug it or simply can’t, this could be a pretty convenient feature to some.

Another highlight of the 3DS is the inclusion of Nintendo’s ubiquitous Mii personalized avatars. The software is EXACTLY THE SAME as it’s Wii counterpart, and even allows you to share Mii’s across devices, which is pretty cool. For those of you unaware, the Mii software allows the user to create his or her own character that resembles either themselves or anybody else they desire.

The software I tested with this product were Mario Kart 7, Super Mario 3D Land, StarFox 64 3D and Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time. All four titles were incredible, and really complete this system and show of it’s incredible capabilities. I recommend either a few of these titles or all of them together to make for the best gaming experience possible. Although these are the most popular titles available right now for the console, there are a lot more exciting ones on the way, which is pretty exciting to say the least.

At the end of the day, for only $169 dollars, the Nintendo 3DS truly is a steal. Not only is it the gaming technology of the future, but it’s massively entertaining and is likely to last many years on the market before it’s successor. However, to get the most out of the product, a pretty heavy monetary investment is required- and that, unfortunately, is in the content. Games aren’t cheap by a long-shot. even mediocre titles sell for the base price of $39.99- which is rather obnoxious for a handheld console. Then again, you pay the price to play something nice, do you not?

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