Review by KeyBlade999

"The next dimension in gaming!"

The Nintendo 3DS is the most recent addition to Nintendo's handheld repertoire. It is also the most expensive. The Nintendo 3DS is one of the more recent additions to 3D technology, as well, which is still somewhat experimental. Is it worth it, or should we stick with 2D...?

Nintendo has been around for more than 25 years, developing consoles and games alike. It was actually in the 1980s or 1990s when Nintendo started to experiment with 3D technology. They released the Virtual Boy, which ended up being a complete and utter failure.

Aside from that and their home consoles, Nintendo has been developing handheld consoles since the mid-1990s. They originally released the GameBoy during that time, with the GameBoy Color, its successor, coming a few years later. In my opinion, neither were particularly exceptional -- some GBC games were even playable on the GameBoy.

But let's not get into that. Nintendo continued their handheld streak by releasing the GameBoy Advance, GameBoy Advance SP, and GameBoy Micro -- different versions of the GameBoy Advance -- by 2005. By 2005, Nintendo went on to make double-screened consoles. The Nintendo DS was the first to be released, with its redesign, the Nintendo DS Lite, coming a few years later. A bit later, the Nintendo DSi and its redesign, the Nintendo DSi XL, came by 2009.

In 2011, Nintendo went on to make another DS that was in a league of its own ... the Nintendo 3DS.

The Look of the Console:
The Nintendo 3DS looks quite similar to its previous incarnations. It has a clamshell design (like previous DS's and the GBA SP) with two screens. The screen on the top half of the system is the wider, autosteroscopic (no-glasses 3D) screen. It has two speakers beside it, with the 3D adjustment slider on the right.

The lower half is also designed similarly to the previous DS's. It has the touch-sensitive screen. To its left, you'll find a Circle Pad (analog control), with the D-Pad somewhat-awkwardly below it. Below the screen are your Start, Select, and Home buttons (the Home button brings up the Nintendo 3DS menu, from which you select another thing to play or whatever). To the right of it, you'll find the A/B/X/Y buttons and the Power Button. The L and R buttons remain as the shoulder buttons, and the stylus is beside the card holder in the back, between L and R. The headphone jack is on the bottom.

As for the cameras, the 2D one is above the top screen, while the two 3D-capable ones are on the outside of the system. The Microphone (or Mic) is to the left of the Power Button. The switch to the Wi-Fi on/off is on the right side of the system, while the volume slider is on the left.

Finally, the coloration of the system is also a detail. Firstly, the Nintendo 3DS comes as a set of two colors -- for example, black and gray. The colors do kind of match and all. Sometimes, depending on the coloration, you'll also notice the glossy coating all over the system. In other words, this thing is a fingerprint magnet. Just so you know.

Physically, the Nintendo 3DS seems rather like the Nintendo DS Lite. It is 134 millimeters wide, 74 millimeters long, and 21 millimeters tall. (That is 5.3 inches wide, 2.9 inches long, and 0.83 inches tall, to those using the U.S. customary system.) It is lightweight, only weighing 230 grams (8.1 ounces). The stylus can extend to 100 millimeters (3.9 inches).

What's Under the Hood?
Within the console, there are some things you simply cannot see. For example, the Nintendo 3DS has a gyroscope inside. It basically is a motion detector. In certain games, such as Star Fox 64 3D, you can move the 3DS up, down, left, or right to execute controls otherwise done with the D-Pad or Circle Pad. The accelerometer within the console is what interprets the signals sent by the gyroscope, which is then sent to the game itself and used accordingly.

The console also allows Wi-Fi connections with both the Internet and other Nintendo DS's and 3DS's. To get into some tech-talk, integrated 802.11 b/g wireless fidelity is used. There is also an infrared port on the system, much like you'll find in Pokemon game cartridges since the release of HeartGold/SoulSilver.

The console has 128 MB of FCRAM memory, with 2 GB of storage. Brand-new consoles will also come free with a 2 GB SD Card, which allows expanded storage. The battery itself has 1,300 mAh, is rechargeable, and has a life of 3 ~ 10 hours. It lasts for about 500 charges.

The Feel of the Console:
The Nintendo 3DS feels rather sturdy, I must admit. The controls will be mostly familiar to players of previous Nintendo handhelds, but some, such as the motion controls and the Circle Pad, will be relatively new. The Circle Pad is much like the analog pads/sticks of Sony consoles, except I found the indentation in the middle more comforting and controllable. (It also isn't covered with rubber or something, so the covering won't decay with continued use.)

The glossy coating on the system, although being a fingerprint magnet, has a benefit -- it increases the friction between the console and whatever it touches. It makes you more secure, basically, knowing that it isn't as likely to slip out of your hand. The rubber nubs on the bottom of the console also aid in this whilst laying it on an inclined surface.

The charging cradle is a nice consideration that Nintendo made, but, in all honesty, it is worthless for a while. It is really just a hunk of plastic -- it makes the 3DS easier to slip out of your grip. However, the benefit it provides comes in when you ruin the charging outlet on the console itself. You'll understand if you buy it.

The main backdrop of the Nintendo 3DS is the positioning of the stylus holder. Let me tell you where it is. You know where the game card slot is on a regular DS/DSi? Now, go a few centimeters toward the L button and there it is. This is more awkward than the previous positioning, which was on the bottom-right side of the console.

As for the controls, it is rather dependent on the controls for the game you play. Generally, you'll always prefer using the Circle Pad -- I was even using it on DS games without being aware of it. Using the D-Pad is just awkward, because it'll position one hand a few centimeters below the other. It is annoying, sometimes. However, most of the D-Pad controls are also operable via the Circle Pad.

Gaming Capabilities:
The info here is a must to know, assuming you buy the console.

If you do buy the Nintendo 3DS, these are the types of games it can play:

- Most Nintendo DS games. Those requiring a GBA-slot extension (such as Guitar Hero) are excluded.
- All Nintendo DSi games, including DSi-enhanced games (i.e. Pokemon Black/White).
- All Nintendo 3DS games.
- All Nintendo DSi Ware titles, after you download the proper applications.
- All Nintendo 3DS Virtual Console titles, after download them.

The following, to clear things up, are not allowed. However, exceptions are obviously permitted if the games are available through DSi Ware or Nintendo 3DS Virtual Console download.

- All GameBoy games.
- All GameBoy Color games.
- All GameBoy Advance games.
- Anything else not mentioned in this or the above list.

The Nintendo 3DS provides you 24-bit color. This is very much more effective over previous the 18-bit color provided by previous DS's. 24-bit color can actually provide 16,777,216 different colors, while 18-bit has a mere 262,144. Therefore, 24-bit color has sixty-four times more color.

That color is used well, generally. The graphics on the games are very high-quality, as far as the colors themselves go. The shapes and such are more based on the developer of the game, so I won't go into that detail all too much.

Now, of course, why call it the "Nintendo 3DS" without having something 3D in it? Well, the 3D graphics are tough to rate. See, that category is more personal than anything. This is because some people aren't able to notice it, and some actually get painful headaches from it. Both are rare, but you should still be warned. Anyhow, in my opinion, the 3D graphics are good. You don't need glasses for them (which is good, because my head is too big for most glasses). However, the ability to notice them actually seems to depend on the background's "distance" and the sharpness of the object. For example, you'll notice a thick needle in 3D better than an ice cube. But, again, it is all opinion. One other thing to note is that the 3D graphics will probably get more annoying as the amount of movement in a game increases. Racing titles, for example, aren't my favorites for 3D. But, as I've said many times before, it is mere opinion.

The sound quality, in general, is nice. The 3DS is no computer by any means, but it produces a fair quality of sound. Of course, I haven't really had the chance to listen to any mind-blowing music, as far as games go.

Which kind of brings me to another subject. The Nintendo 3DS can play your SD Card's music files, so long as they're in the .mp3, .m4a, .mp4, or .3gp formats, within the "Nintendo 3DS Sound" application. This is where I spent of my time "analyzing" the sound quality. It is good -- much better than a radio or stereo -- but just not the best I've ever heard.

But, to restate my opinion, the sound quality is good and sounds come through clearly. There could be a few improvements, but it sure is better than previous Nintendo handhelds.

Now, most consoles have one horrid problem with them. With the Nintendo 3DS, it is the battery life.

Depending on the situation, a fully-charged 3DS can last three to ten hours (four days in Sleep Mode). To achieve the ten-hour mark, you must have a very low brightness setting on the console, power-saving mode active, and no 3D graphics. That's most of it, anyway. You won't exactly lose a bunch of graphical quality like this, except in bright sunlight, but let's put this in perspective.

The worst battery life of any of the previous four Nintendo DS's was the two to fifteen hours of the Nintendo DSi, with similar circumstances as mentioned above. 50% more power in a console released three years ago. That's just not exactly right -- the PSP had a similar situation, but a physical disk drive to blame it on. Seeing as the 3DS uses cartridges, it seems to be a complete mess-up on Nintendo's part.

Luckily, some third-parties are making, or have already made, longer-lasting batteries. Of course, they come separate from the console.

THE END. Overall opinion: 9.5/10.
So, as you can see, the Nintendo 3DS is a bag of mixed nuts. Most people would plan to buy it for the graphical quality and the game repertoire. However, the main backdrop to it all would honestly be the battery life. It is hard to enjoy a system that, to over-exaggerate, dies as soon as you turn it on. This system was not built for long-distance travel.

Now, if you can tolerate low battery life like me, then, by all means, buy it. There are quite a few games for the console you'd enjoy to play, even if they have to be your old DS games (if those are all you plan to own, stick with your old DS).

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 01/04/12

Game Release: Nintendo 3DS (US, 03/27/11)

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