Yesterday, Nintendo announced that their latest handheld console, the 3DS, will be available on March 27th for $249.99. We’ve got the quick and dirty rundown of what you need to know about the system and also our take on whether you need to buy one.
- It takes 3D photos and videos with a front facing camera and two outward facing ones. You can only view your media on the 3DS, though, for obvious reasons.
- It comes with a collapsible stylus and a 2GB SD card.
- There’s now an analog pad on the left side of the device.
- It has a pedometer built in that games can use to give you coins and rewards based on how much you move with it.
- It supports multitasking with the new “home” button. e.g. You can pause your game to go out and take a picture, then come back.
- There’s an accelerometer and gyroscope built in for motion gaming.
- It’s got a slider for adjusting the 3D effect. You can turn it completely off if you want.
- It’s fully backwards compatible – You can play all of your old DS games on it.
- Most of the games you’ve bought from Nintendo’s DSi store will transfer over to your 3DS account as well.
- There will be an online store that sells some old school Gameboy/Gameboy Color games, sort of like the Wii Virtual Console.
- Only one friend code per system will be needed – You won’t have to input a separate code for each game anymore.
- It will have support for augmented reality – Games can utilize the cameras to let you interact with the real world.
- It will come with a Mii Maker that uses your picture to help you create a better Mii avatar.
- Spot Pass – Wifi features that will allow new content from Nintendo and other content partners to push data to your 3DS even while it is asleep.
- Street Pass – Similar to Spot Pass, except instead of content providers, it will allow individual 3DS owners to exchange Miis and other game data by being in proximity to one another.
- It will have some sort of region protection – You probably should hold off importing a Japanese system for now.
- 3-5 (!) hours battery life in 3D, 5-8 hours for playing older DS titles in 2D.
- A complete list of games in development can be found here.
What makes this a big deal? Well, for starters, its going to be the first mainstream device with a 3D display that doesn’t require any glasses. If 3D ends up being the “next big thing” in consumer electronics, Nintendo will have the only device in town that doesn’t require glasses for awhile. I had a chance to play with the system at E3 a few months ago and can safely attest that it “works.” The 3D looks very nice and didn’t give me any headaches. However, you do have to view the screen nearly dead on to get the full 3D effect. People looking over your shoulder probably won’t have as good a viewing experience.
That being said, I haven’t seen any use of 3D technology yet that demonstrates a gaming experience that would have not been possible before. Even though some people may consider touch or motion control gaming as “gimmicky,” it’s still led to the creation of games that could not have been made before. So far, it just looks like 3D games are just prettier.
Why is this a concern for us? Well, we’re still not sold on 3D being for everyone. Some people just find it annoying or headache-inducing. Nintendo made the right move in allowing the level of 3D to be adjusted or even turned off, but once you turn off the 3D, you turn off the biggest innovation of the new device. At that point you start to wonder, “Why bother with the new device? I can just stick with my old DS”
Fortunately, the 3DS has some other things going for it like a new analog stick, full motion and touch controls, and the pedometer. Using some or all of these features in concert, developers could potentially make some very unique titles for the 3DS. If nothing else, Nintendo has proven time and time again that its own games are worth the price of admission to any new console they put out.
There’s some non-gaming features of the 3DS that might be of note as well. Being able to take 3D pictures and video sounds kinda cool, but obviously you’ll need a 3D display to view them in 3D, which means you’ll have to have your 3DS around to share them with people. It’s disappointing for those of us who want to recreate the movie Jackass 3D and share that content on all of our social networks.
Nintendo’s also planning on getting into the 3D movies and video content distribution game as well. We’re a bit skeptical on the practicality of that option given the meager 2GB storage available and also how compelling the act of watching a feature length film on your handheld gaming console is going to be, especially with 3-5 hours of battery life in 3D.
Nevertheless, we’re not worried about the $249.99 asking price for the device. It’s a bit higher than Nintendo’s previous handheld system launches, but it’s on par with Sony’s PSP launches the past couple of go-arounds. The real concern is with the games available at launch. This list doesn’t exactly have games make us go “WOW! I MUST HAVE THIS NOW.” Nintendo’s confirmed launch titles feel a bit “meh” to us honestly. I mean, I love playing with virtual pets as much as the next guy, but for $300, I’d probably be better off getting a real pet if that was my main desire.
So let’s be real here and say that the only people who really need a Nintendo 3DS on launch day are either:
a) Gadget addicts who need the latest and greatest at all times.
b) People who are buying into the system’s potential with future titles. If you’ve got the money now and know you’re going to get one eventually, you might as well play on launch day.
c) Scalpers who want to make a quick buck knowing that almost every Nintendo console release lately has led to shortages and high demand.
If you don’t fall into one of these categories, we’d probably recommend waiting until you start seeing some truly great software before buying one yourself. Unless, of course, you have lots of disposable funds. In which case you should totally buy one. And one for us too.
Seriously though, of you do want one, we recommend pre-ordering one soon, as Nintendo’s devices do have somewhat of an Apple effect, where people engage in feeding frenzies during hardware launches. The 3DS will be available in two colors, “Cosmo Black” and “Aqua Blue”. Amazon has their pre-orders for both colors up here.
Here’s a video overview from Nintendo: