Nintendo 3DS Hardware - First Impressions

posted 19 Mar 2011, 09:00 by Knuckles Sonic8   [ updated 20 Mar 2011, 08:52 ]
This past Thursday, I had the wonderful opportunity of trying out the 3DS for the first time at a Demo Station here in Canada! You can just imagine how excited I was to get the chance to try it out prior to the official release date. There were 5 separate platforms set up, each housing two 3DS systems with different games to try. I was happy I didn't have to wait in a long line just to play so clearly there was a lot of wisdom on Nintendo's part for having this many units.

Picking up the 3DS for the first time made me smile inside. I had to take a brief moment to take it all in. Deep in the back of my mind, I pondered to myself: "Am I really holding the same device I've been excited about over the last couple months?" Holding it in my hands, the device felt really really good. It's well-sized, and right away I felt at ease with the comfortable feel Nintendo was striving for. I was pleased that it didn't feel like a drastic change from my White DSi in terms of size or weight. 

The back of the device sports a very glossy appearance on both the Aqua Blue or Cosmo Black models. Speaking of which, seeing Aqua Blue in person was even nicer than I expected. I felt drawn to it right away and I actually found myself developing more of an appreciation for it than before. I wouldn't say this was the best time to make judgments as to the quality of the hardware's appearance. There were two units in particular that had lots of smudges on the top screen, probably because so many had used it since the station was first set up.

When it comes to the components of the device, the Circle Pad is easily one of the most commendable features. It feels very fluid to use and the placement itself doesn't feel unnatural even if you're used to using the D-Pad on a regular basis. The 3D slider is totally intuitive, which is an observation that other onlookers made as well. Much has been said about having to find the "sweet spot" in each individual game and I can definitely confirm that that's true. It takes a bit of experimentation to find the right level of 3D that's suitable to your eyes, but when you do find it, you'll likely experience varying degrees of elation and contentment. 

I also managed to get a glimpse of the 3DS Menu thanks to the nifty hold feature of the Home button. Everything looked nicely-presented, especially as the icons for the different applications appeared on the top screen. I didn't spend a lot of time looking at the Camera or Sound applications, but I did take a quick look at the Activity Log. The way the system tracked your steps and your play time did look promising and I imagine Nintendo has other plans in the future for how this data can be used to measure usage of the handheld.

Over the course of the time I was there, I tried out four different games in addition to the built-in software apps, AR Games and Face Raiders. Sadly, I didn't get to test out Pilotwings Resort or Super Street Fighter IV 3D Edition -- the latter because everyone flocked to it and I didn't want to waste time waiting to play it. I spent over half an hour with the device and honestly I felt time was flying by -- which, of course, is a good thing. What felt like 10 or 15 minutes was actually more than 30 minutes in length. The thing is though, not once did I experience a feeling of amazement over what I saw. Up until now, I've defended the device to counter statements of those who appeared to be missing the big picture. But after having tried it, I'm starting to question whether or not this is truly a worthwhile purchase right now.

I realize that the games they had on display weren't exactly the best games to show off, but to be honest, I came away from it feeling underwhelmed with the actual execution of the 3D aspect. I have a feeling, though, that my thoughts will be of a more positive nature once I actually get to sit down with it in my own surroundings. Even if the 3D aspect didn't impress me as much as I thought it would, I can definitely say that they did a great job with the way everything was laid out. I look forward to the time when I can test out the device in a more relaxed capacity. For now though, stay tuned for more impressions on some of the games I got to try out prior to launch.