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Nintendo 3DS Review

31/02/2011 Family Teen Gamer Review
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Nintendo 3DS




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3DS crashes, floppy hinges and short battery life may put a dampener on its recent launch, but for me the quality of design and serious range of games is more than enough to get me through these temporary qualms.

I've had my 3DS for a little while now and I've worked my way through all the different built in games. It's not like other handhelds I've had (the PSP and DS for example) because it comes with games already on it. There is Mii Plaza with Adventure and Collecting games, Face Raiders that gets you shooting balloons that it superimposes on top of a picture of your room and Activity Log that earns you points as you walk around.

The favourite for me and my friends has been the AR Games though. This uses a set of playing cards and the 3DS camera to make monsters and targets appear on any surface you put them on. Simply point the camera towards it and they appear. You then have to move around the cards to get the right angle to shoot them. Although it's quite quick we have been taking turns trying to complete each level in the shortest time.

For me the 3DS is much more than a 3D screen. The accelerometers and gyroscope mean you can control games like the Wii, just by moving it around. The cameras let you use it a bit like a Kinect sensor in reverse, you're holding the camera and it can tell where it is in the room. The Circle pad may seem like a minor addition but this actually works really well - like an improved Analogue nub from the PSP - and lets you hit all the subtle angles you need to.

It really does feel like Nintendo have turned a corner.

Some of my friends had been trying to say that Nintendo consoles were just for kids and casual gamers before they actually saw the 3DS themselves. Iíve been slightly smug noticing that most of them now agree that the better graphics and fresh controls make this as much a hard core device as a family friendly one. With games like Ghost Recon, Resident Evil and Metal Gear all out very soon, it really does feel like Nintendo have turned a corner.

As with any new device though, there is always a compromise between features, price and battery life. On the 3DS it's mainly the battery that has taken the hit I think. I usually get a good four hours or so between charges unless I have the brightness and 3D slider up full. My Dsi lasted a lot longer, and in fact my old DS Lite easily outlives both of them.

I've had the console crash on me a few times.

Another down side is that I've had the console crash on me a few times. Playing Ghost Recon Shadow Wars in particular seems to really stretch the 3DS. One time I ended up with a black screen of death and had to restart the level from scratch. There is a firmware upgrade I can apply that will sort the problem, until then I've just been saving more frequently.

A friend of mine had a worse problem though, as the hinge on his 3DS slowly became quite loose over the course of his first week. It didn't stop him playing but was enough for him to go and exchange it from where he brought it. They swapped it over without any question, otherwise he would have had to send it back to Nintendo. Reading up on the problem, it sounds like he was just really unlucky as there is only a very small number that suffer from this (Ed: Anything under a 4% failure rate is considered acceptable for electronic devices).

The hinge on his 3DS slowly became quite loose over the course of his first week.

All told, it wasn't until I had tried out a range of games on the 3DS that I really started to appreciate the sort of experience the little handheld could deliver. It gets very close to PSP visuals, although of course here they are in 3D, and applies them to the classic Nintendo games. Pilotwings and Nintendogs and Cats are both very well executed and a lot of fun -- even if my mates take the piss of my collection of felines.

Street Fighter has been the biggest retail game for us so far. There are just so many ways to play it together on the 3DS. Single player contests, versus modes over Wi-Fi, spectating other people's games, sharing the game from a friend's cartridge not to mention the various StreetPass battles you discover after getting home from town.

Some of my friends are still holding out for the PSP2/NGP but I think they will buckle before too long and buy a 3DS, especially when the hardcore games start rolling out over the next few months. Time to polish up my rental membership again I think.

Written by Rowan Brown

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Rowan Brown writes the Teen Gamer column.

"I write about my favourite games from a younger person's perspective. It's often surprising how different this ends up to other more grown up reviews."

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