Impressions: 3DS

Over the holidays, I got to stay with my family. Among other things, one thing I got to do was play on my brother’s newly acquired 3DS XL. While I was intending to get around to getting one myself eventually (when I felt like there were enough promising games on the system to justify the purchase), it was nice to get a chance to preview the system. Here’s a few of my impressions:

3D isn’t just a gimmick

Yeah, there were a few gimmicky uses to it, but a bunch of legitimate ones too. In addition to rendering 3D environments (which is cool, but still falls under “gimmicky” for me), I also noticed speech boxes, character sprites and backgrounds all being “placed” in different layers (Fire Emblem: Awakening). This was nice because it communicated that the characters weren’t just lumps of pixels glued onto the text boxes. In general, the 3D wasn’t just being used for the wow factor, but thoughtfully in places where it really did communicate something that 2D would have more trouble with.

Circle Pad

I like the circle pad. Although I had first thought it was a gimmick to make the system seem like it was adding new interface features and its sensitivity took some getting used to (think “new mouse”), I actually grew to like the continuous range of inputs that it allowed. Using the discrete four directional d-pad feels clunky now (in the same way you can’t get all the diagonals you’d want from WASD compared to a control stick).

3D + stylus = difficult

For some one who is used to being allowed to wave their hand held console where-ever they wanted as long as there was some random line of sight to the screen, holding the 3DS in one place was pretty hard, especially in games where using the stylus meant I only had one hand to do it.

My eyes are getting old

Back when the GBA was released, I conditioned myself to not get carsick while playing and riding (I think it has to do with being uncomfortable with not knowing how the car is going to jostle, kinda like how a newbie subway rider is thrown around a lot more than a veteran). Well, (correctly) hypothesizing that the 3D features would be a similar learned skill, I didn’t let it bother me that it was taking some getting used to. However, I did notice that I wasn’t adapting to the extra effort required to perceive the 3D as quickly as I had hoped. I like the 3D features a lot, but I was surprised that I tired out my eyes looking at the 3D so quickly. On a side note, it was nice having the bigger screen of the XL. When I returned to playing my DSi, it felt small in comparison.

Overall

I’d say the 3DS is a pretty solid console. The only thing holding me back from buying it at the moment is it’s catalog, and only slightly with that.

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