Since its announcement, fans everywhere have been eagerly waiting to get their hands on a Nintendo 3DS to see what all the fuss is about. Finally, the console has hit Western shelves and – if the launch night queues are anything to go by – it is selling like wildfire everywhere.
At first glance the 3DS looks gorgeous. At launch, Nintendo are offering two colours – Cosmic Black and Aqua Blue – and both colours are great. The system has three levels to it, with a colour gradient from dark to light. There will inevitably be more colours released in the future, but as of yet you’re limited to the two – a shame for those looking for a wider array of options. The unit is also quite bulky and unlikely to fit in most people’s pockets, unless you have the baggiest trouser storage around, but most players these days are used to the word “portable” being used lightly.
The build quality feels sturdy, and the buttons have a much firmer, definite press to them which adds a level of connection to the console, something lacking from the DS Lite. The ‘Circle Pad’ is one of the best additions to the 3DS, adding a new level of playability to the console, without sacrificing the still-existent D-Pad. Below the bottom screen, you will find the Start, Select and Home buttons, while the volume and wireless connectivity sliders now sit on the left and right edges of the unit. The Power button is now on the face of the console, relocating from its original position on the side of previous DS units; the button layout feels perfect for hands of all sizes.
Alongside the sleek design and ease of play, the 3DS boasts some impressive new features that come alive once the system is turned on. With two 3-D cameras on the outside of the device, the 3DS is capable of taking 3-D pictures as well as integrating your images with the Augmented Reality games featured on the system. There is also an inner camera that takes 2-D pictures and records 2-D video. Sadly, all three of the cameras have a very low resolution, averaging at about 0.3 megapixels, so those looking to do more with the 3DS than play Augmented Reality games may be disappointed. That said, the cameras do serve their purpose, and we never found ourselves wishing for more detailed images. The system also has a three-axis gyroscope and accelerometer.
As for the screens, both top and bottom are vivid, and the 3-D has to be seen to be believed. The bottom screen serves as a 2-D non-resistive touch pad, while the top screen is the hugely awaited 3-D autostereoscopic display. The 3-D is fantastic through and through, and while playing with the console you can’t help but get engrossed in the simplest of details being brought to life by the display. However, minor frustrations can occur due to the nature of the screen; there is a ‘sweet spot’ where players can get the most accurate 3-D image, and it is sometimes awkward to stay in this position after lengthy periods. There have also been some complaints of headaches after extended play with the 3-D enabled, but the 2-D/3-D slider enables you to simply turn down the level of “3-D-ness” at a simple touch.
Battery life is always a concern with handhelds, but so far we have had no major issues with the 3DS, averaging at around four hours for constant play. This period can alter depending on your wireless connectivity and brightness, but for the most part the battery life seems sufficient. The console also comes bundled with a neat little cradle which charges the console, as well as providing faster downloads via infrared.
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