It probably comes as no surprise that I properly love gadgets. I’m always after a new toy to play with, to the point where I now physically don’t have a bag big enough to bring all of my electrical tat with me all at once. This year, I was convinced I wanted a PS4. However, following a last-minute change of heart, I started looking elsewhere. It’s been around ten years since I last held a Nintendo console, passing my beloved old Gameboy Colour to my younger cousin so that he could experience the sheer joy of Pokémon. And to tell the truth, I missed it. So, when Matt Lees of Videogamer.com recommended the 3DS XL as a better alternative to the PS4/Xbone, my mind was made up.
It was also my birthday, which helped.
So, let’s take a quick look at the thing, shall we? I won’t talk too much about individual games, mostly because I haven’t really had the chance to play many of them yet, but the hardware itself is interesting enough to warrant an article all of its own.
Clearly, the big selling point of the thing is the pseudo-magical addition of glasses-free 3D. I was skeptical from the start. I was pretty sure I’d play with it for ten minutes, get a headache, then switch back to 2D mode and never look back. Instead, I’ve found that it’s actually surprisingly good. The depth of the effect can be altered with the slider next to the screen – I find that around halfway is comfortable for most things, as the full effect tends to strain the eyes a little too much. It’s also not too great if you’re tired, or suffering a crippling hangover,
The only game I’ve properly played in 3D is The Legend Of Zelda: A Link To The Past, which I’m really enjoying. The game has clearly been designed around the 3D effect, rather than it simply being slapped on afterwards. There’s a wonderful verticality to the level design, with areas based around sky-scraping towers and gaping chasms that really do feel deep. On the odd occasion when I’ve switched back to 2D mode, I’ve missed the depth almost immediately.
Apparently this isn’t universal, however. I’m told that Nintendo games tend to use the 3D quite effectively – which you’d expect, being that it’s their tech – but that third party titles can be a bit more hit-and-miss. Still, this is all hearsay at this point, as I’ve not yet got around to playing a non-Nintendo game.
Other notable features include Streetpass, which allows you to connect with other 3DS/3DS XL users you happen to pass nearby. You can then use their avatars in various mini-games. It’s strangely addictive, to the point where I’ve found myself taking the device out with me even when I have no intention of playing with it, just in case I grab a Streetpass or two. The device also includes a pair of cameras, allowing you to take low-resolution, badly focused 3D photographs. I’m not really sure exactly why you’d bother, but it’s fun to play with for ten minutes or so.
As far as using it to play actual games goes, I love it. Nothing quite beats the feeling of having a proper game in your pocket, available at a moment’s notice. Waking up from standby is virtually instant, meaning it’s totally possible to flip it open for two minutes and bash out a Mario level whilst waiting for a bus. As a controller, it’s fairly comfortable. Extended play sessions do leave me with a little bit of pain in the thumbs, but it’s not really designed for that. I’m told that this can be improved with the addition of the Circle Pad Pro, which adds another circle pad on the right hand side, and makes the console a little wider. I might look at picking one of those up at some point.
In general, I’m really enjoying the thing. It’s nice to get involved in a whole side of gaming that I’ve been ignoring for years, and the fact that it’s not a brand new console means that there are plenty of great games already available. I’m currently working my way through the new Zelda, as well as Super Mario 3D Land, which came free with a Club Nintendo promotion. Once I’m done with those, I’m hoping to get hold of the new Pokémon, as well as Fire Emblem and Ocarina Of Time, both of which I’ve heard great things about (No, I’ve never played Ocarina. Yes, I know that’s wrong of me. I’m sorry).
I may write up my thoughts about a few specific games at some point, once I’ve had the chance to play some. For now, though, it’s just nice to have a little bit of Nintendo back in my life.