The Average Gamer

Hands-On Impressions: Nintendo 3DS

We got to try out the upcoming Nintendo 3DS handheld console over the weekend at their consumer previews. It was a strange event in Brick Lane, with a very impressive Street Fighter cosplay fight, some rather grabby Redfields from STARS protecting us from a zombie invasion and the opportunity to shoot yourself in face.

Does it work?

Debbie: So, that 3DS, eh? 3D effects without wearing silly glasses? Yup, we can confirm that it does indeed work… provided you don’t move the thing more than an inch in any direction or tilt the screen at all. Now I don’t know about you but when I use a handheld console, I’m usually on the train. At the very least, I’m slouched on a sofa reaching out for a drink or munching on some biltong. Quite apart from the fact that I can physically feel the eye strain from the second I switch the thing on, the glasses-free feature just isn’t as flexible as it needs to be. Offering the analogue slider to adjust for different focal lengths is a very nice touch but in practice, it just meant I was twiddling with it every few minutes as I shifted position.

No, I don’t like the 3DS experience at all.

Nick saves his friends from invisible flying helmet heads

Nick: I was quite excited to be finally getting my hands on a Nintendo 3DS, having heard so many good things about it. After being distracted by the Street Fighter and Resident Evil cosplayers (I totally got grabbed by a zombie!) I finally got hold of a 3DS. It felt a lot sturdier than I expected with a much better build quality than my DS. The 3D to 2D slider is very clever, and I’m not ashamed to admit that I probably spent more time playing with the slider than I did playing the actual games themselves.

I was surprised how well the 3D effect works. You pick up the 3DS, look into the top screen and it’s all in beautiful 3D. However, if you move your head out line with the 3DS, or tilt the 3DS itself then you immediately lose the 3D effect and it goes all blurry. On this evidence, I have reservations over how well the 3D effect is going to work whilst you’re travelling.

For another viewpoint, check out Simon Barker’s experience at the Manchester Nintendo 3DS preview.

After a bit of a talk about Spot Pass and Street Pass and whatnot (I wasn’t really paying attention), we fiiiiiinally got to spend a few (i.e. 5-ish) minutes on each of these game demos:

Lego Star Wars 3D

Debbie: It’s Lego Star Wars, yo. ‘Nuff said.

Oh, okay. It’s Lego Star Wars on a smaller screen with a bit of 3D effect thrown in for good measure. It’s still basically a side-scroller. Just as fun as the home console versions with the same gameplay and controls.

Kid Icarus

Debbie: This game was designed for 3-armed mutants. You’re expected to fly using the analogue nub, aim using the stylus and touch-screen and shoot using the X button all at the same time. Ridiculous. You can sort of get away with plopping the aiming reticle in a strategic place on the screen and running around to aim but since I was on easy mode it was probably very forgiving. Seemed all right as far as third-person kill-everything-that-moves games go. Nice landscapes.

Nick: After the initial “oooh, isn’t it pretty” thoughts have worn off, you realise that you don’t have enough arms to play the game. I ended up alternating between moving and aiming using my left hand plus stylus and my right hand hovering over the buttons. It was a case of vaguely aiming in the right direction with the stylus and then moving to hit the enemies using the analogue nub. It felt very awkward.

Resident Evil: Mercenaries

Chris isn't looking so good. I think the zombies won this round

Nick: I wasn’t very impressed with this game at all. I found the controls sluggish and unresponsive, just like in all Resident Evil games. The 3D effect adds very little to the game. In fact a could barely notice the difference between the 2D and 3D versions as I played with the 3D slider. The gameplay itself is a one trick pony. Kill as many people as possible within the time limit. Dull, dull, dull.

Face Raiders

Nick: I really liked playing Face Raiders once I’d got over the shock of seeing my face shooting back at me. It was quite fun blasting lots of my hovering faces into pieces. You also got to shoot other peoples faces who had previously been photographed by my 3DS. The “real-life” destructible background to the game was a clever feature and meant that you had to be careful where you were shooting. However, I can’t see myself playing this game on more than one or two occasions. There is no real depth to the gameplay. Fun, but without more variation to the gameplay, it will be short-lived enjoyment.

Debbie: This game is stupid. Or maybe I’m stupid and couldn’t figure out what to do with the level 3 face-rotating boss and its stupid face-spinning cronies.

The game is touted as an augmented reality shooter. Take a photo of a friend’s face (or your own) and it gets transformed into flying enemy heads. The 3DS uses the console’s camera to treat your actual surrounding as the game’s background. You have to turn around to follow the flying heads and physically tilt the machine up and down to aim and shoot. There’s a bit of gimmicky scenery destruction which is nice in the technical sense and gets old quickly when it comes to entertainment value. Kids will probably love the game.

Ryu. His punches have the strength of kicks.

Street Fighter IV 3D Edition

Nick: This was perhaps the most impressive of all the games on show. Street Fighter IV looks absolutely gorgeous in 3D. Ok, I picked Cammy as my character, so I got some very impressive 3D buttocks ;-) They have made the game more accessible too, as you can now execute special moves simply by tipping the bottom screen. I did have a slight Kid Icarus control problem at one point. I was trying to move my charter using the analogue nub, activate a special move on the bottom of the screen and then try to kick the opponent using the X button. It meant that my hands were moving all over the 3DS. I’d be really concerned that I’d drop the damn thing if I was playing standing up on any form of moving vehicle!

Legend Of Zelda – Ocarina of Time

Nick: Unfortunately, I only got to play Zelda for about 3 minutes before we were ushered off into another room at the event. But, I can say that Zelda on the 3DS looks fantastic and is really easy to control, unlike Kid Icarus. However, I really didn’t like the “move the 3DS console to aim” feature which you can use to aim the catapult. I just kept losing the 3D effect as I moved the console around in the air, making it even harder to aim. A silly and unnecessary feature.

Overall I was really impressed with the 3D technology and with Street Fighter IV and Zelda. Old games with new, fancy visuals!

Want to try the 3DS for yourself? Nintendo will be holding preview events in Bristol and Glasgow on the 12th and 13th Februrary 2011.

They will also have 20 3DS machines available to try at the Midlands MCM Expo in Telford, 19th February 2011 with Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D, Super Street Fighter IV 3D and The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D as well as other unconfirmed titles. Best get your tickets quickly.