Tuesday, 17 February 2015

New Nintendo 3DS - First impressions

So on Friday I got my brand new "New " Nintendo 3DS, my first Nintendo console since trading in my original 3DS three years ago. As  have mentioned before, the main draw to going back to the 3DS is I those three years the library of games that I would love to play has hugely increased. Its hard to believe that I moved away from the 3DS because of its lack of decent titles. Now there is an abundance of games and a hard choice of where to start. So let's take a closer look at my first weekend with the New Nintendo 3DS.

With two models on offer,  the smaller standard N3DS or the larger N3DS XL, the choice for me was easy. I went for the standard N3DS (in black, of course) as I am going to be using it on the move alot the smaller form factor is better for me. Plus, those SNES coloured buttons are gorgeous. Having not had a chance to go hands on with either system before launch, opening the box was my first time to see and touch the new design.

The original 3DS tried to destroy my hands, reducing them to cramp ridden claws over the duration of several long sessions of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D. I was concerned that I was going to suffer again with this new design. I am pleased to say that the increase in size of the new standard unit is far more comfortable and I haven't had any issues with playing for extended periods of time. The New 3DS has extra shoulder buttons (zR and zL) placed next to the existing L & R  buttons. They are comfortable to use and I don't feel like I am having to contort my fingers in order to use either set of shoulder buttons.

One of the biggest additions to the New 3DS, control wise, is the addition of what Nintendo refer to the as "C stick" in reference to previous Nintendo controllers. The C stick is not a stick in the traditional sense. It is in fact more like the little red nub you see on a IBM ThinkPad. It doesn't move, but detects the direction, in which pressure is being applied. It is a bit weird to use this control particularly when there is room on the handheld for a second circle pad, but Nintendo like to do things their way. I have only tried this on two games so far, Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate demo and Metal Gear Solid 3D demo. I have to admit, it works better in practice than I thought it would. Its not going to be great for First Person Shooters, but how many of them are you going to play on a 3DS? I wanted to try Metal Gear Solid 3D with the New 3DS, as I remember the demo for it being the deciding point for my switching to Vita. Now with the new controls encorporated into the unit, rather than with the unsightly Circle Pad Pro, I could see myself playing Metal Gear Solid 3D properly on 3DS.

So far very impressed and I haven't even got into the best part... the 3D works now. Like many 3DS owners before me, the 3D was a cool gimmick that only worked in the right conditions and if you were looking at the 3D screen dead on without moving your head or eyes. Doing so would instantly break the illusion and cause your eyes to freak out a little bit. If you dared to use the 3D for a long session you could expect to have a headache afterwards. So you turned it off and kept it off.

Not anymore! The New 3DS has improved 3D which is enhanced by a infrared face tracking sensor that adjusts the 3D effect in relation to your head and eye movement. Sounds like another gimmick right? Except this works and transforms the system. I have not turned the 3d off at all, this weekend. I have used for long periods with no effects. I have been able to use the 3D whilst travelling or moving around and the effect rarely breaks. There are some glitches if you turn your head away room the screen completely, when you turn back the screen quickly adjust as the sensor picks up your face again, if only for a brief second. It changes the console and brings the 3D back to the 3DS.

A lot has changed on the software front for someone coming back to the 3DS after a long time. The systems front end now supports custom home themes which can be purchased via the eShop. There is screenshot sharing support, which allows you to upload screengrabs from supported titles to social media sites. The 3DS now also has Miiverse, Nintendo's own take on a community driven social media. The added processing power of the New 3DS helps to boost the online capabilities. Downloading from the eShop is now much faster and a far less painful experience.

With all of the new additions and improvements, this old 3DS owner is very happy to come back to the Nintendo family. Its going to be great catching up with three years worth of amazing Nintendo titles. Starting with the three games I wanted to play, The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds, Luigi's Mansion and Animal Crossing: New Leaf. Thankfully now the eShop has a wealth of demos to try out as well. So my software library is well stocked for foreseeable future.

Now finally onto the most important part for me, the Nintendo Factor! The one thing that Nintendo does right is putting a smile on your face from the moment the you start a new game until the moment the credits roll. It is a cliche, I am sure but these gaming moments are not matched on any other system. The other side to the Nintendo Factor is family gaming. Since bringing home the New 3DS on Friday, the Two Little Gamers have moved into our new Animal Crossing village and we have been taking it in turns and helping each other to out in our quest to pay off Tom Nook. Even my wife has been seen returning to Animal Crossing for the first time in 8 years. Its this way that creates gaming moments that can be shared with the whole family, which make Nintendo so special. I cannot wait to share games like Tomodachi Life and upcoming Story of Seasons with my family.

I feel like that at the time I made the right move to get rid of the 3DS in favour of the Vita. Now, though I can honestly say... It's good to be back with the big N.

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