When looking at Nintendo’s impact on the gaming market, one can tell that they have always had a knack for creating user friendly, portable devices that are loved by the community. From the Game Boy to the Nintendo DS and its successors, Nintendo has always strived to place the most quality machine in the hands of gamers. The Nintendo 3DS and 3DSXL (let us not forget the 2DS as well), are Nintendo’s latest generation of handheld gaming systems. This review will be covering the former, the Nintendo 3DS, since I do not have the hands on experience of either the 3DSXL or the 2DS. While the 3DSXL has seemingly overshadowed the Nintendo 3DS in terms of marketing, the Nintendo 3DS still remains relevant to the average handheld gamer. This review is based off of the original 3DS console, but most aspects of the 3DS can be applied to the 3DSXL. Differences between the two will be marked when necessary.
No matter what biases can be made about Nintendo and their systems, it is hard to disagree with the fact that the Nintendo 3DS is a sleek looking machine. It comes in a variety of colors, with each one giving the 3DS its own personality. It fits rather perfectly into one’s hands, with the buttons being simple to navigate. The 3DS has the classic ABXY buttons on the right side, along with L and R shoulder buttons and a D-pad and circle pad on the left side. The circle pad, which serves as an analog stick, moves very precise without much expense from the user. The only problem with the circle pad placement on the 3DS is that depending on the game being played, cramping can occur to a rather tiring degree. I have found this to be the case while playing games like The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds and Pokemon X. Of course this is just a minor speed bump in the the system itself; one that was presumably fixed with the 3DSXL, which is much larger and better suited for bigger hands. Another thing to mention is that cramping only occurs during extended gameplay sessions, and not so much in smaller amounts.
Lets move on to the boom factor of the Nintendo 3DS; the part of the system that sets it apart from any other gaming system: the stereoscopic 3D. Stereoscopic 3D, in a sense, is like being able to look inside of a box from the top and see the contents rather than just looking at the outside and seeing a picture of what is inside. In terms of what kind of 3D it is, It is like looking into a world, rather than the world popping out at you. This may differ from the popular idea of 3D, with fists and daggers popping out towards your face like in Spy Kids 3D. It is a different and possibly disappointing type of 3D to some who are expecting the “pop-out” kind, but it does provide a new and different experience to the gaming norm. The 3D, while certainly not needed, makes the system a little more enjoyable than it would be without 3D. One drawback of the glasses-less 3D is that you have to hold the 3DS at the right angle in order to view the 3D in its full effect, or correctly, for that matter. With that being said, the option to turn off the 3D is available at the sliding of the 3D slider located on the top screen.
The battery life of the 3DS is one of the console’s minor drawbacks. Depending on whether you have 3D turned on or you have the brightness all the way up, the system can last between 3-5 hours, roughly. While this is drawback for the original 3DS, the 3DSXL supposedly has a better battery life. For those who need a console with an extended battery life, the 3DSXL might be the way to go.
A very important yet underrated feature of the Nintendo 3DS is the backwards compatibility. This means you can play any Nintendo DS game on the Nintendo 3DS, without 3D of course. This feature, along with features like being able to go to the home screen and to your friends list without having to exit your game session, are extremely important in the overall fluidity of the system. The 3DS, especially after countless updates, has many features that may go unnoticed at first, but would be missed if they were not there. One I can think of off the top of my head is the ability to download games and updates while the device is closed.
When the 3DS first came out, it was missing a few features that later proved vital in its success. After the price drop and the implementation of these features, including the eshop, as well as miiverse and street pass, helped transform the 3DS into a fully functioning piece of art. Three years after its release, the eshop is filled with masterpieces like Shovel Knight, while being updated weekly with new Virtual Console games and completely new arcade titles. Miiverse is the Nintendo 3DS community that allows players to share their experiences, which creates a connection between the players. Streetpass, another feature of the 3DS, allows devices to exchange data when crossed with one another. This can lead to new miis appearing in your mii plaza, as well as new features in your game. For example, recently i opened up my 3DS and noticed I had a new street pass and a notification in LOZ: A Link Between Worlds. I started up the game and went to Link’s house where i found a Shadow Link standing under a tree waiting to battle me. This Shadow Link was created by the played that I street passed with, and winning against this Link would reward me rupees based off of the difficulty of the Shadow Link. I found this to be really exciting, honestly. Another game that uses streetpass well is Animal Crossing: New Leaf. While the street pass feature is more relevant in locations like New York where there are busy streets, street pass is still a very cool feature nonetheless.
Lastly, I would like to talk about the catalog of games that the Nintendo 3DS offers. Whether you enjoy Turn-based strategy games like the majorly successful and phenomenal Fire Emblem: Awakening, RPGs like Bravely Default, or Adventure games like Pokemon X/Y and Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate, the 3DS can provide any gamer with such an enjoyable experience. The games listed above are only a few great games out of a whole entire catalog of some of the most enjoyable games I have ever played. The 3DS has also been used to revive classic titles, such as The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D and Rayman 3D. Not only does the Nintendo 3DS bring something new to the table, it also can give the gamer a sense of nostalgia. The Nintendo 3DS look towards the future, while paying respects to the past.
The Nintendo 3DS should serve as a staple for future handheld consoles. It consists of one of the most solid game lineups, as well as having a very well put together and user-friendly interface. From the excitement of seeing a wrapped present box appear on your home screen as you finish downloading a game to the notification light blinking rapidly in indication of a spot pass or street pass, the 3DS constantly provides a sense of excitement. While there are some downsides of having a 3DS over the 3DSXL, those downsides mostly being the battery life and the smaller screen, the 3DS is an extremely solid system. Whether you choose to purchase a Nintendo 3DS, 3DSXL, or even a 2DS, you can’t go wrong in choosing Nintendo’s latest generation of handheld devices. Here’s to hoping the next generation will be as successful and memorable as this one.
Reviewed by Nick Putnam