Developer Nintendo Publisher Nintendo Genre Hardware Platform 3DS Release 25th March 2011
I've been putting off writing this for a while now, hoping that one day my purchase of Nintendo's latest-and-greatest hardware would come around one day to hug me and touch me in rather inappropriate places while whispering sweet nothings in my ear like the Nintendo DS did in 2004 and 2005. Sadly, Nintendo has dropped the ball so hard on the 3DS that frankly, it's reached the point where the 3DS has become a massive joke
. And it pains me to say that. I've been an avid fan of Nintendo hardware since my first Nintendo console, the SNES back in 1993. I've had every major handheld release from the original Brick Gameboy to the Gameboy Micro, my household has 3 Nintendo DS consoles and I've had every major Nintendo home console to boot as well. I'm by no means someone who attacks Nintendo without good reason. And I have some reasons to hate the Nintendo 3DS, believe me.
The 3D Depth Slider.
While the Nintendo 3DS hardware is pretty solid, despite the odd screen size mis-match of the top and bottom screens, the top being a 6:9 ratio screen, where as the bottom is still the same-old 4:3 ratio screen as found on the Nintendo DSi. The 3DS' main 'feature' is the frankly black-magic-esque
glasses-less 3D technology used by the top screen. There's been many complaints about this screen, some people getting migraines or feel dizzy after staring at the screen for a prolonged period, although in my experience people aren't following instructions properly and adjusting the 3D intensity using the 3D slider found on the top-half of the device. There are some people, however, who's eyes explode even with the faintest of 3D effect turned on, before you all start writing me angry emails about how wrong I am. People do seem to put a bit
too much emphasis on how important the 3D effect really is, however. The 3D is much like the touch screen on the original DS, for a large portion of games, you didn't even have to use the touch screen, here the 3D effect is even less
important to system as you should never be required to play games with the 3D turned on, even if the game has 3D features.
Some may not like the 3DS' three-tone design. Frankly, there's nothing wrong with it.
The Nintendo 3DS, much like the Nintendo DSi and Nintendo DSi XL before it has ditched the Gameboy Advance cartridge slot at the front of the system. This omission doesn't make the system significantly slimmer, however. Even compared to my original fat Nintendo DS system, the 3DS' bottom-half is about as tall as it's older bother's bottom-half. It feels pretty nice in the hand, though. Nicely weighted. Button placement was a major concern for me when I originally saw how the 3DS would look and while I was quite wrong about the placement of the "Start" and "Select" buttons underneath the bottom screen, it seems that the real problem for the system are the awful shoulder buttons. They're not at all comfortable and extremely narrow while the depression required to press the button is extremely shallow. It's a far cry from the far superior shoulder buttons which were bestowed to the original DS or the Gameboy Advance.
The 3DS home screen. It's pretty, but feels a bit dated.
Another significant and warmly welcomed addition to the 3DS' control itinerary is the "Thumb pad", an analogue-stick replacement much like the PSP's "Thumb nub". Old favourites like the D-Pad are still there, the d-pad itself isn't bad, it's a bit on the small side and likes to wobble around in it's casing but it's not the awful spongy-d-pad which the DS Lite was burdened with. The four face buttons (A, B, X and Y) all share the same layout as the original DS and are again, firm and not of the spongy variety. The DS' touch screen is still, unfortunately, a resistive touch screen and not the stylus-less capacitive touch screens found in modern smartphones. Nintendo have stated this is because of backwards compatibility
with original DS titles. Perhaps someone should have told Nintendo that there's capacitive screens out there capable of taking stylus input. Regardless, how the system looks and feels is not part of my complaint about the system. There are a few niggles I have with the 3DS' on-board cameras though. While the ability to take 3D photos is a nice feature of the system, unfortunately they're just plain awful cameras. Any picture taken is grainy and horrible-looking and it does not possess the ability to capture 3D videos. This perhaps makes sense, since I surely did not buy the Nintendo 3DS for it's photography prowess, nor care the system has this functionality, mind you.
What am I even looking at here?
My major complaints with the system stem from when Nintendo launched the Nintendo 3DS. While they shouted about how amazing the system would be at E3 2010 -- despite the last minute announcement that the Nintendo 3DS would not carry it's digital distribution system, the "Nintendo eShop" for launch -- everything seemed in order. It was not. The 3DS system rushed out in order to bolster Nintendo's lacklustre 2010 yearly earnings report (Nintendo's financial year ends on March 31st), which were down a whopping 80% over 2009. The 3DS was launched out with an extremely basic
set of features, lacking the aforementioned eShop and the Internet Browser, despite there being an prominent icon on the home menu for the feature, which when tapped would inform you you'd need to wait for a software update to use the feature. The console did come with some Augmented Reality (AR) games such as Face Raiders, where you took pictures of yourself and those around you and shoot at them using the 3DS' 3D cameras or use the in-packed AR Cards to play a whole host of games, again, using the 3D cameras. And while they were a fun time-waster to start off, they soon became extremely stale and strikes me as technology demos bundled in with the console to make up for missing features. Neither are quite the "killer game" as Wii Sports was in 2006 when it was packed-in with every Nintendo Wii console.
AR Card game type.
The launch titles, most notable of which was Street Fighter IV: 3D Edition
, were pretty lacklustre, but nothing far from what the original DS offered us. Sadly, while the original Nintendo DS had a whole range of amazing software ready for consumption by the end of 2004 and by the first 3 months of 2005... Well, the 3DS just hasn't
had that support. Third parties aren't releasing big-hitting games for the system, so far we've had nothing but what appears to be an early influx
of shovelware. Nintendo may have tried to stem the tide of awful games by releasing a 3D remaster of the classic Nintendo 64 RPG game; The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
but how long that will keep the 3DS buoyant is anyone's guess. I didn't buy a 3DS to play games I've already played on older systems (looking at you Starfox 64 3D), I was hoping for more of the crazy originality which the DS inspired, games such as Elite Beat Agents, Hotel Dusk and for what it's worth, even out-there games like Project Rub. Six months have passed and I still do not even own a single 3DS game. Although I am almost tempted to end this by buying up yet another Puzzle Bobble game... That's what it's come to.
All Mii's that weren't created using the automated Mii Maker.
Retail software aside, one of my plans for the 3DS was to use the system to play the DSiWare titles which I had missed out on by (quite rightfully) skipping the Nintendo DSi. Sadly, when the Nintendo 3DS eShop did
eventually launch, half a month later than expected after the previous delay
, there were a whole heap
of issues, none of which have been resolved. As a gamer, I resent micro-transactions. I hate buying "points" to purchase things as often they force you to buy denominations of points which often leave left-over points sitting in your account, good business for the likes of Microsoft and Nintendo, but I've had far more than enough of left-over 100 and 200 points in my balance from buying a game which will never get used. It's a sham and I out-right refuse to blindly allow companies to do this anymore. So I've just stopped buying downloadable software for consoles. Mobile phone "appstores" and Steam seem to do just find by charging my credit card the amount required to simply purchase a game, why can't I do this for my games consoles? So imagine my surprise when I heard that Nintendo were dropping it's "Nintendo Points" system in favour of using real world currencies
. The clouds opened and down came a blissful, angelic harmony, carried on golden streaks of light. Surely Nintendo had learned the errors of their ways?
No, Nintendo. This, THIS? Right here? Bad. Very, very bad. Fix it.
Sadly, no. They haven't. While Nintendo may have stopped obscuring the prices of their games by using "points", they haven't fixed the problem which was most aggravating for users. See, in order to purchase games, you must first add funds to your account. These come in denominations of £10, £20 and £30. You do not have the ability to simply add a defined amount to your account, you must buy a minimum fund of £10. Which is a problem considering the average Virtual Console title is around £3.60 a purchase and you have some awfully
priced DSiWare titles like "Shantae: Risky's Revenge" which sit pretty at a price of £10.80
, so not only do you need to add £20 to your account to purchase this game, you'll be stuck with £9.20 left in your account thereafter. What the bloody hell is wrong with this? Why isn't Nintendo doing something about this? Surely no-one
can be happy with this shopping experience, right? It's ridiculous. It's like buying yourself gift-vouchers to spend on what you
want, even though you know exactly
what you want. What if actual
retail stores started doing this? There'd be outrage. So why do we allow companies like Nintendo get away with it? Quite simply, I haven't bought anything from the Nintendo eShop. No. I wont do it. It's awful. Absolutely awful
Is this what we all wanted? Old games re-launched at full price for no good reason?
The only thing I've played so far on the Nintendo 3DS was the stuff they've given me for free, which come next month "free" games will increase ten-fold. Amazing
titles like "Pokédex 3D", "Nintendo 3D Video" and "Excitebike 3D Classics"... So yeah, pretty much played nothing of any value or interest
to me. Can't play DSiWare games because Nintendo's payment system laughs at you for the notion of wanting to actually buy something, no retail releases worth the extortionate £34.99 price tag, bringing Nintendo's handheld games in parity with their console games (read: rip
springs to mind) and to top it all off, now Nintendo has announced a price drop for their failing, game-less system, leaving "early adopters" like myself wondering why I ever bothered, despite the fact I'm being gifted 20 free titles for my troubles, most of which are NES and Gameboy Advance Virtual Console titles that I already own in cartridge form.
Oh, the activity log. Let's see what ga--Oh, they're all in-built system apps...
But hey, I know what you're probably thinking by this point and I'm not going to gloss over the fact. Why did
I buy the system in the first place if none of the games at launch were of any interest to me? Well, I knew that I would eventually get the system at some point, given how amazing the original DS was and shops were in a fierce price war
with one-another around launch. I was able to score the system for a pretty nice price a bit higher than the £150-mark (I actually paid about £180), a price which I had repeatedly said on Twitter, was the price the system needed
to be at to shift units. Good to see Nintendo listened, 6 months too late. Still, I originally bought an original DS at Japanese launch in 2004 and it has been the best handheld gaming system I've ever owned. I picked up a load of cool games for the system around launch and didn't stop until about late 2009 when all the AAA titles started to dry up in preparation for the Nintendo 3DS, I would presume. And hey, the promise of the 3DS Professor Layton
game (Mask of Miracle) was just too good to pass up. It was also too good to be true, as the only Layton game coming out this year in English-speaking territories is the fourth DS title; Professor Layton and the Spectre's Call
. Good luck importing 3DS games from Japan to skip that long wait until English localisations as well, the 3DS is region locked, perhaps just to add insult to injury. The only solace I can gleam from the Nintendo 3DS is the fact that there should be a new Mario Kart and a new, pretty amazing looking Super Mario game out by the end of the year. Which should hopefully inspire some
confidence in my over-priced, 3D-enabled, dust magnet of a game-console-slash-paper-weight
The 3DS has been the only games console to date that I have regretted buying. It saddens me that I would have to deter anyone
from buying a Nintendo 3DS, but that would be my recommendation. Just don't buy one. Nintendo clearly has no strategy towards the Nintendo 3DS and letting it run wild and free has done it no good. Whatever strategy Nintendo currently has in-place, which is basically "take old games, add 3D, resell for full price" is worrying. I did not buy a new system just to buy old games over again, especially not full price retail games
, regardless of how fancy the new, upgraded visual trappings are. If you're eyeing up a Nintendo 3DS, leave it a year. See where we are next August and if things have improved, the 3DS should
have an interesting back catalogue of games waiting for you. Let's just hope Sony has learned harsh lessons from the launch of the PSP in Europe and seen what's happened here to Nintendo and not rush into a premature release of the Playstation Vita.