Nintendo 3DS

As I had briefly mentioned before, my wife had gotten me a Nintendo 3DS for Christmas. I've been playing with it a TON since getting it. I've had a few people ask: What about the Vita? Well, I still do plan to get one next year, but it probably won't be a release purchase. A few things have slightly disheartened me on the Vita. One is the price of the memory cards. Another is that you can only have 1 PSN account on it. Which is ridiculous. I'm hoping that when I do get around to it, there will be some combination of: firmware update to address the single user issue, cheaper knock-off memory cards, a better selection of games (and yes, the release lineup already looks good) and maybe some sort of discounted bundle.

In the meantime? I've been doing several things with the 3Ds. Obviously one is playing games. I landed a trio from my wife - Zelda, Mario Kart 7 and Mario 3D land. I can already say I've enjoyed all 3 and they appear to be excellent titles I'll drop some significant time into, though Mario Kart has been my favorite thus far. This however, is going to be a set of impressions on the hardware and software for it so far.

First, the system itself is very nice aesthetically. My wife got me the aqua blue, and then a black comfort grip casing for it. I have to admit that without the casing, my hands were cramping up just a bit, so that has proven to be a huge help. I suspect the Nerf Armor would have much the same effect. The buttons are a tad bit closer together than I like. I don't have small hands, and the real estate can be a bit cramped. I also fear for the hinges long term. I know on the prior DS systems, they can crack and get loose, though I am being very careful with mine, obviously.

I have heard some people complain that the bottom screen can scratch the top one when you close it, but the grip I have on it seems to prevent them from quite touching, so I don't think I'll have that issue. The buttons are all quite responsive and I actually don't mind the slider stick in the least. I'm a bit surprised at how loud the sound output is with the small speakers, but it sounds pretty good. I will likely grab a set of headphones though for when I'm in bed with it.

The volume slider on the left is also quite nice. My son's volume controls on his DSi (or maybe it was the Lite when he had it, I'm not 100% sure) broke before and became completely unresponsive but I don't see that being an issue with this design. The 3DS slider is handy because I have noticed just in our household that everyone's got a different comfort zone with it. I use it turned up all of the way or just shy of, where as my wife and son have it less than halfway and still get a good effect from it - but any higher and they both get headaches from it. The screens themselves are quite bright and the 3D effect is absolutely awesome. I can't get enough of it and yup - now I find myself going: I wonder how a 3D tv in the bedroom would look...

I like the telescoping stylus - it's nice and long and fits my hand well enough, though I might consider a bigger, more iPad like one eventually. It wouldn't fit into the handy carry slot but it may fit my grip just a bit better.

The software itself is very much like the Wii with its windowed compartments, which suits me just fine. It's not my favorite layout but it works well enough. The eshop seems intuitive enough, though there's not a ton on there. That said, I did put Swapnotes on and it's a cute app, if not something I'll dump a ton of time into. I also grabbed Netflix, which fired up fine. I played around with the 3D camera, taking a few pictures of my daughter with her new Pikachu backpack she got for Christmas, and while the quality of the camera is not the best, the effect actually looked pretty good when applying the 3D to it. If you pull the slider down to 2D though? The images look super grainy.

The info it collects on what you play and how many steps you take is an interesting novelty, but not something I'm likely going to make much use of. I did grab both Xevious and Mario vs Donkey Kong with my newly acquired Club Nintendo account and coins. I think I like having game download options better than the other things I saw on their lists. Though MvDK is not in 3D, the game itself actually sucked up several hours of my time.

All in all, I'm very excited for my new 3DS. I'm looking forward to more downloadable content (I put an 8gb SD card into it and gave my daughter my 2GB one for her used DSi we got her for Christmas), and still need to grab a carry case of some sort, but overall I have to say I've been thrilled with the system, the games and software thus far.

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