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Nintendo 3DS Review: One Geek’s Thoughts [Game On]

First I believe some introductions are in order.  My name is Joshua and I’m thrilled to be here.  Ernessa was an early supporter of my own blog,, so it feels great to be able to write something here on Fierce and Nerdy.

Now for my latest geeky endeavor: my purchase of the Nintendo 3DS. I’ll be the first to admit that I have a horrible (or wonderful) habit of buying nearly every gaming system that comes out at launch and it’s been that way for as long as I’ve been a gainfully employed adult.  I’m not going to speak about the launch lineup of games, but rather how I feel about the system itself. That being said, the 3DS has some pretty interesting inclusions and some lamentable exclusions:

For starters, the form factor of the 3DS is quite comfortable.  The shoulder buttons may feel a bit cramped at times, but I haven’t had any serious issues.  Also included is a charging cradle which is a nice upgrade from just a standard AC cable.  However, the battery life on the 3DS is much shorter than past Nintendo portables and it’s clear that Nintendo means to nudge 3DS owners to charge more frequently with the cradle.   Regardless, the unit feels sleek and sturdy — less like a toy and more like a solid digital companion.

So it feels great, yes, but what about the graphics?  Well, if the original DS was like having a portable Nintendo 64, the 3DS is more like carrying a Wii in your pocket.  It’s a big upgrade to be sure, but don’t expect PS3 levels of beauty either.  As far as the 3D effect goes, it’s pretty neat!  Initially I thought it would be gimmicky, but Nintendo really has pulled off quite a technical achievement. The 3DS does indeed produce eye-popping visuals that add real depth to the experience. Augmented Reality games that use the 3D camera on the back of the unit just scratch the surface of possibility here. Extended play has occasionally given me headaches but to be fair every game I’ve played does prompt you to take regular breaks and the 3D is adjustable for comfort.

I do have a few gripes though. In particular some curious design choices in the system software disappointed.  For instance, at any point in a game you can hit the ‘Home’ button at the bottom of the screen to suspend the software and return to the main menu.  This would be useful, except that launching another application requries that you CLOSE the one you just suspended…  Why this was included at all is beyond me.  Another problem involves the WiFi switch on the side of the system.  It’s a great idea for conserving battery life, but I found I could accidentally disable the WiFi when shoving it in my pocket, preventing me from taking advantage of sleep mode WiFi features unknowingly.

The worst offendor though: Nintendo still hasn’t wrapped its head around how to manage your identity.  Miis (Nintendo’s version of an avatar) are still created seperately from your online identity and horribly unintuitive, 12-digit, numeric ‘friend codes’ rear their ugly head once more as the only way to connect with a friend online. Unfortunately this puts Nintendo’s online ecosystem about a decade behind their competition (Sony’s PSN network and Microsoft’s Xbox Live both are way more solid ways to connect with friends). The silver lining?  Nintendo could easily address this issue with a software update in the future and I sure hope they do.

I could critique this system to death but let’s move on to the question we all ask before a purchase like this?

“Is it fun?”

The answer?  Absolutely!  Nintendo has done it again, producing a well-crafted piece of hardware that developers will flock to with new ideas. The future is looking bright for Nintendo’s new baby.

Click HERE to purchase a Nintendo 3DS of your own at Amazon.