The only 3D experience without glasses. True 3D, in the palm of your hand. Definitely one of the biggest innovations in gaming, since the Wii. But how is the console overall?
The first time you turn the 3DS on, you will probably feel a bit disorientated, as you try to focus on the three dimensions. Once you see it, it's hard to lose it. It looks phenomenal. 3D, without glasses! It really does need to be seen to be believed. I was a sceptic until I saw it in action, and believe me, it works. Characters leap out at you, the land stretches back far, everything just works.
You don't even need to buy any games to have fun with the system, as it comes preloaded with a lot of cool stuff. The 3D camera is great, as it allows you to capture images using the two cameras, in 3D. The quality, unfortunately, isn't great, but the 3D definitely works, and it's pretty awesome to see pictures of your friends, pets or home in 3D. Another great feature is the Graffiti. This allows you to manipulate the photos that you have taken. And you can do more than just scribble on some amusing facial hair. You can manipulate the depth of the images. By using a special pen, you can raise or lower parts of the image, giving an amazing 3D effect. You can make someone's eyes burst out of the screen, or make their mouth a deep cavern. It's really fun and the 3D is intense. Much fun can be had with the 3D camera and it's effects, such as the face merge, the sparkle effect, the sepia tones, and many more. It's just a shame that the quality is quite low. Better quality cameras can be found in cheap mobile phones.
The Augmented Reality game is awesome too. In the box with the console, you will find a selection of cards, with some famous Nintendo characters, and one with the instantly recognisable '?' box. Start up Augmented Reality and it tells you to use the 3D camera to look at the '?' box. Do so, and the box will open up, revealing a target. Shoot the target and more targets will appear. Eventually, the box sinks a huge hole into your table or chair, or whatever, and you must move your DS above the hole to see another target. You can walk around the cards from all angles and the box will stay in it's correct place in the 3D environment. It's quite spectacular, and whilst it's nothing new, it's one of the finest examples of Augmented Reality. Later, you get the chance to use the character cards, and have some real fun. You can use one, or you can use them all, there aren't many limitations. The characters are in your hand, or your room, in 3D, and you can get some great pictures.
Another game which also uses Augmented Reality, though in a different way, is Face Raiders. Take a picture of your face, and it is placed onto a flying sphere, in 3D. Then, you must find them, by looking around you in real life, and shoot them. It's really quite fun, spinning around to get the sneaky blighters, and watching them destroy your surroundings. If you aren't quick enough, they smash holes in the walls, revealing that you are actually in space. It's a fun game, and getting lots of face pictures increases the variety in the enemies.
A great social game is also included, called the StreetPass Mii Plaza. Leave your console on standby as you travel, and it will interact with other 3DS consoles. You will gain the Mii of the other console, and they will gain yours. Not only this, but they allow you to play one of the two games included in the Mii Plaza, Puzzle Swap and StreetPass Quest. Each person will grant one turn on each of the games. The puzzle swap is simply gathering puzzle pieces to reveal a 3D image, but the Quest is slightly deeper and more interesting. The visiting Mii's get one turn to defeat Ghosts and make their way through rooms of a castle, rewarding you with prizes for your Mii. For example, one of the prizes is a Mario hat, which looks awesome on your little avatar.
The 3DS is great in many aspects, but there is one area in which it falls short, and it seems to be becoming a Nintendo trademark. The graphics, are once again not brilliant. Considering the amount of time and technological advances since the release of the original DS, you would expect some great graphics. Don't get me wrong, they have improved, but not as much as they could have. Not by a long shot. It is a shame, and even though it doesn't affect the quality of the console and the gameplay of the titles, it will definitely put some people off, especially considering the graphical quality of Sony's NGP. The quality of first party Nintendo games however, is still here, and it's this which makes the console shine. Nintendo want to make a good quality, fun console, and focus instead on giving gamers a great time, not on the best graphics and effects. This will always divide gamers, but it is how it is. Another problem is you have to be dead straight, in line with the screen to get the 3D effect. Not usually a problem, but when on trains and buses (usually ideal handheld console time), the slightest bump can knock you off centre and instead you see two blurry images, very far from the gorgeous 3D.
If you love Nintendo, try it out, and you'll probably fall for the 3DS. Great games, innovative 3D visuals and a very stylish looking console. It will be great, as long as developers use the 3D to the max. People say that the 3D is a gimmick. I see it differently. 3D has taken the world by storm in the past 18 months, and it is showing no signs of slowing down. It's not a gimmick, it's the beginning of something special. Now if only the stylus wasn't in such an awkward position...
by Louis Gardner