Here are my Nintendo 3DS impressions

A user on NeoGaf posted that the Best Buy in his area just put a new 3DS demo unit on display.  Out of curiosity, I went to my local best buy to see if there was a 3DS display there and lo and behold, there was!  Seeing as I have heard a lot of conflicting reports about the device from, “The 3D effect is amazing!” to “I got headaches and nausea from playing it.”, I decided to try it out before I entertained spending $250 on the handheld.  Here are some of my impressions.

First off, the 3DS’ Aqua Blue color is more green than it looks in all of the PR shots that have been floating around. It really reminds me of my first car….a 1991 Chevrolet Camaro, which leaves me wondering what color to get.  Even though the display unit showed Now Playing: Super SFIV, I could only play Pilotwings.  When I tried turning the 3DS off, it’d load back to the main screen of the Pilotwings demo.

3D…it’s soooo real!

The 3D itself is the real deal. The effect is more about you looking through a window than it is about things popping out at you. The first thing I noticed while playing is just how good the slide pad feels. The analog sensitivy on it is perfect and it felt completely natural. The slide pad on the 3DS puts the PSP’s analog nub to shame by comparison.

I had the 3D slider on full and it felt fine to me although I could see where it could mess with your eyes. I’ve heard 3DS impressions that state that the amount of 3D you’d need varies by game. After I was done I didn’t have any headaches or nausea or anything like that although I did have some minor adverse effects.  The best way I can describe how I felt after playing it for a few minutes is that I got that same feeling you get when you ride on an elevator…you know that kind of off balance feeling?  I had that sensation for a minute or two afterwards, no big deal.  I can see a scenario where my eyes and brain would get used to the effect to the point that I would probably no longer get that same sensation after extended time with the device.

It’s about playing games….right?

Pilotwings itself was not bad, but hardly a system seller. While it was fun to fly around…there wasn’t anything (other than the 3D effect) that really felt special about it.  With that said, I really liked the 3D effect it used and it did add a layer (albeit a small one) of immersion.  In the demo, you had the choice between doing simple missions such as fly through the green rings (Superman64 style!) in an airplane, land on the target using a jet pack, or fly around the lighthouse and take pictures of it using a hand glider.  You could even select a free roam option to fly around with no rules, although that got boring rather quickly.  The controls felt very responsive and as I stated previously, the slide pad felt great.

The graphics in Pilotwings are on par with the Gamecube which is fine by me. I didn’t expect NGP-like graphics and despite the 3D effect, the colors didn’t feel washed out.  I didn’t notice any drops in frame rate between 3D and non-3D although I have to admit that the game looked kind of plain in comparison with the 3D off.  Still, the graphics weren’t that bad and leaves me looking forward to what developers can do with the system when they come to grips with the 3D.

I’m still undecided whether or not I’ll grab this game as a launch title or not yet, that might be a game time decision.
Parting Thoughts

All in all I liked the 3DS. Although Pilotwings wasn’t a show stopper it did give me confidence that the 3DS can be a great system.  Will I buy one at launch?  I already had a pre-order in on Amazon just so I can have a spot reserved in case I decided to buy one and I think I will keep that pre-order.  Although the launch lineup only offers a few good games, there’s a few titles that I’m really interested to play in the near future (hello Zelda: Ocarina of Time).  Like every other Nintendo console from the last few years, what developers do with the tech will determine just how far portable 3D gaming will go.


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