Nintendo 3DS Hands On: Games & Hardware

Nintendo’s 3DS is somewhat of an unknown quantity; an enigma; a step into the unknown. We are forever being told that pictures of the games don’t do them justice, and that trailers lack the visual punch of the 3D effect – so what is a gamer to do?

How can you decide whether to take the plunge on something you’re not quite sure will work? Well, luckily for you TSA has busted all sorts of humps to bring you an extensive hands-on with many of the console’s upcoming games.

The 3DS

Firstly we should discuss the actual hardware. Feeling no bigger or heavier than a Nintendo DSi, it’s certainly not an unattractive console. Despite obviously being handled frequently by excited gamers, each test unit felt solid and well made – ‘premium’ may be the right word to describe it. It’s a shame Nintendo has done away with the matte finish of the DSi though, as I think that would look the business.

The top screen (that displays the 3D) is 10% larger than the equivalent screen on the DSi, with a vastly superior resolution. There are three cameras, which can be used to take 3D pictures, and an SD card slot (a 2GB card comes packed in). The stylus also differs from what has come before it, and now can be extended and retracted. The best addition though is the analogue stick (known as the ‘Circle Pad’). It feels great, and your thumb almost moulds itself into the groove. Vastly superior to the current PSP ‘nub, and I’m sure it’s something Sony have looked at very carefully.

Now to the negative points – the angle at which you have to view games at can get frustrating. It takes quite a bit of adjustment before the 3D effect looks right, and then any sudden movements can shatter all your hard work. I’ve no doubt that this is going to be one of the biggest issues; a portable gaming console that needs to be held in a static position lest the 3D image distorts.

Then there is also the problem of eye strain. This is a harder one for me to judge, as at the time of me playing the games I hadn’t slept for about 35 hours so was already fatigued. Yes, I got a headache, but all that proves at the moment is that you shouldn’t play it for several hours non-stop when you haven’t slept! What I will say though is that it did take a few minutes per game for my eyes to adjust to the 3D effect; it’s not a pleasant experience and is akin to crossing your eyes. Of course, everyone is different and will no doubt react (or not) in different ways.

So, now on to the games.

PES 2011 3D

I recoiled in shock when I started my first game of PES. The strong 3D effect coupled with fast paced movement was a bit too much to take in. A slight reduction of the 3D worked wonders, and it looks truly fantastic. The depth that the 3D has added is amazing and means you can see all the way down the field, time that tackle to perfection, and know how hard to shoot. Graphically it’s a huge leap up from the DS, and gameplay wise it feels slick (although I’m not the world’s biggest football game fan). I think PES fans will be very happy.

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

It’s quite clear that Zelda’s roots are based back in the N64 days, as graphically this was one of the least impressive titles on display. That’s not to say it’s a bad looking game though, and it is certainly the best of the many incarnations it has had over the years. The 3D used here is much more subtle than some of the other games, with the focus on adding a layer of depth rather than throwing things out of the screen at you. It works very well, although I can’t imagine playing extended sessions with the 3D on, purely because of eye strain.

The bottom 3DS screen is home to your inventory, which makes for a much smoother experience when the need arises to use items or swap things around. Essentially this is one of the best games ever made, in 3D, with a better user interface. Win.

Rabbids Travel in Time

This is a bit of an odd one, and sparked off a discussion between myself and another games journo. The section of Travel in Time that I played was a side scrolling platformer, and the 3D just didn’t look right – it seemed forced. The actual gameplay itself was good, albeit very family orientated, so fans of the little white nutjobs should be in their element.

Page 1 of 2Next


  1. Oh wow. So, much like those 3D Stereogram illusion posters, there’s only so much you can take before you have to focus on the real world once more. :-)

    On a more serious note, did you notice minor movements were enough to unsettle the 3D effect? For example, someone travelling home on the daily commute with the usual jostling around whilst seated and trying to prod at the screen during a game of ‘Dead or Alive 6: 3D Tiddies’.

    • I would imagine a bumpy bus ride would require the 3D to be turned off.

      • It’s been mentioned in most gaming outlets hands on that even a slight movement destroys the 3d experience. It seems the parallax screen tech is not ready for a mass market product quite yet and serious testing need to be done to try and see if the eye strain is a healt issue.

  2. From the sound of the article the 3ds comes off as just as gimmicky as ps move and kinect, something I’d love at first but shortly after don’t feel the need to play and for something over £200 nintendo can f*ck right off.
    Ps. I’m quite burnt that it cost so much :(

    • Sounds about right to me.

    • Im not sure I agree. I can see the potential for some interesting games, not to mention being able to watch 3D movies on the go.

      • And by “on the go” you mean sitting still so the 3D effect isn’t ruined, I suppose?

      • Sat on a train, in an airport waiting lounge, in a hotel room – all the sorts of places you won’t have your hd gaming, blu-ray playing, media centre behemoth with you.

        It’s not like anyone plays a handheld whilst they’re walking down a street is it?

      • Public transport rides aren’t always that smooth. ;)

    • I’d have thought the possibilities for 3D in games like Layton is fantastic, normal games I’m not sure I see the point, but with the 3D content providers like Sky & Eurosport signed up along with an SD Card slot you can watch 3D content on the go

      • … pressed submit before I’d finished.

        I’d definitely say it has a point, especially as it looks like it actually makes a difference to games when it’s implemented well like in PES etc

  3. So its a bit hit and miss then? I guess that’s what we all expected.
    The idea of having to hold it at a certain angle, for a console that is primarily going to be used on buses and trains, is flat out ridiculous.

  4. I’d have to have a go on this myself before committing to buying one. Especially with the pricing past the £200 mark. From what it sounds like though you enjoyed you time with the 3DS and it’s certainly made an impression.

    Just wanted to say Dan, I’m enjoying the stuff you’ve been writing on TSA, the Project Legacy article in particular was a highlight. The only thing I think that could make me like you more would be if you got yourself a goddamn Gravatar. Otherwise though, keep up the good work.

    • Well thanks, but Jim wrote the Project Legacy piece! And I’m far too posh for a Gravatar :oD

      • Oh right disregard it then. It’s Jim I like. And he has a Gravatar already so I don’t think he could possibly get any better as a human-being.

      • These comments have made me realise that I don’t actually have an avatar.

        On the topic of entirely irrelevant comments, is there any way to make the spell-checker check for proper English, e.g. realiSe, rather than this phony “American”?

      • If you’re using Firefox, search for an add-on called British English Dictionary.

  5. A really interesting article. If I’m being honest, with this being Nintendo and the new DS, I was expecting after everyone’s debate (/moaning) that it would turn out to be just short of fantastic anyway. From the sounds of it though, something has derailed the simple fun factor that the old DS used to provide.

  6. The more reviews I read about the 3DS, the more I feel comfortable knowing I will never own one. At least, not this first generation of the 3DS. It just sounds too awkward to use, especially considering this is intended to be a portable device. The slightest bump or dip in the wrong direction forces your eyes to flip between the 3D effect and 2D… which I’m sure is what is causing all the headaches. No thanks Nintendo, I play my games to alleviate stress and reduce headaches… not to create them. :)

  7. I’ve said this in an earlier post but it’s a valid point. There is one big thing that holds the 3DS back for me at the moment. That’s the headache issue, I know you said you hadn’t slept for some time but my eyes are very sensitive and I really don’t want to pay £250 for something only to find out 2 days later that I can’t use it due to headaches. Which is a shame as I really like the thought of DOA, Resi and MGS in 3D.

  8. Nice article and good round-up.
    After this abundance of 3DS concerned articles I’ve moved from want to apprehension. I’m still extremely interested but I can’t help feeling that Nintendo will be releasing a revised version to iron out issues in the not too distant future, that may also depend upon what the world sees from Sony come the 27th.

    At this moment in time, the cons are outweighing the pros for me and sadly, I will not be making a purchase come release day but will be keeping my DSi and watching the progress of the 3DS very closely instead.

  9. @bunimomike I thought of the “Magic Eye” pictures when reading the article too lmao

    Really enjoyable article Dan; however I am not convinced enough to get this at launch, the high price (I know there is an article on TSA suggesting it is a good price, but I disagree) for both the console and games really puts me off. Combined with a battery that wont get me to and from university and now that I read it won’t be very good on the bus, I don’t think this is a great product from good old Nintendo.

  10. Pre-Ordered :D
    This better be worth it >.<

Comments are now closed for this post.