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.
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.