I am completely confused about what is going on with the world. I think that the internet’s mere existence has turned me into an old man far quicker than I should have become an old man. I just don’t understand the machinations of the internet snark machine. I can’t comprehend the vicious, constant need for the denizens of this interactive global cesspool for new flesh to devour. I’ve read one million articles about the Nintendo 3DS in the last month, and people seem to hate it. I think they’re maybe missing the point. Maybe it might boil down to the fact that it is easy to hate something, and it is easy to hate something in a funny way, and being funny gets your shit read? I don’t know. I have had my cosmo black 3DS for a week. I friggin’ love it. YES I am writing for a website called Nintendorks.com. YES, the Nintendo DS is probably my favorite video game console of all time. YES, I kind of like thumbing my nose at what everyone else thinks. But I honestly think that Nintendo has created a really wonderful little device and I am tired of all of the nonsensical articles I’ve read, and bizarre videos I’ve seen complaining about it.
I was initially going to hold off on purchasing the $250 handheld, but then my tax return fell into my bank account and I realized how much I had lusted after the device at last year’s E3, and then I was on Amazon, and then I was clicking things, and then I had pre-ordered one. It felt good. It felt like jumping off of a diving board. I also ordered a copy of Pilotwings, and, once Amazon started throwing around free money, I grabbed Super Street Fighter IV as well.
[!/20110401-3ds_woman.jpg "They could not have looked more bored.")
When it came in the mail, and I opened the box and moved past the insanely huge, multi-language funtime warningbook (“Puedes abrir Face Radiers desde el menú HOME”), I was surprised to find just how excited I was about a new Nintendo handheld. I am that type of moron that has bought (and not subsequently traded up for) each new iteration of the DS (excluding the XL). (Note: They don’t just sit in a drawer, each one has/is being used constantly by me or my SO), and this evolution is the type of step that the GBA was from the Game Boy. I had forgotten about how whiz-bang neat-o the technology was from the first time I played around with one, chained to a confused Nintendo productwoman at the Nintendo press conference last year. When you power it up, and they “turn on the 3D” for the first time, it is smile-inducing. The 3D effect is something you should actually seek out and see for yourself. I am not one of those people who get headaches from the system (Note 2: I don’t understand how using your eyes in the same way as you use your eyes normally could give you a headache? Do these people just get headaches when they look at something on a table next to them? I am confused.), and as I bounced through the menu system I was just grinning from ear to ear with how fun Nintendo has implemented 3D in little ways. Things pop out and rotate and dance. Nothing is obtrusive. The 3D slider bar works exactly as you think it should, dialing down the distance between the left and right eye images, which means you can set it to a comfortable level for yourself.
I took 3D pictures, and I played with the Augmented Reality cards, and I marched around a little bit to see how the pedometer worked. Everything works with as much flair as you’ve seen in videos and read about in articles. They have built a lot of small games and widgets into the system that make it very easy for someone to show it off to other people, and immediately, you will want to do that. This is a piece of future technology, just like the Wii’s motion sensing remotes were. You don’t even need an actual game in the system to demonstrate that. I was super excited when, today, I received my first Spotpass notification, and someone’s little Mii just appeared in my plaza. Hello, good sir “Levi.” I hope you are enjoying RIDGE RACER 3D. What’s that, you say, “foogoo doodoo?” Well, a fine day to you, too.
[!/20110401-pilotwings-resort.jpg "Hang gliding without that terrible knowledge that this is how you die.")
As for the actual games, I think that for all of the complaints people have leveled at the launch titles, the situation is not that bad. *Pilotwings Resort* is a breezy little game with enough polish to actually cause me to do something in a video game I’ve never actually done: click and watch a replay of what I had done in a level. I honestly have never had a reason to watch what I had just done in a game before I did it in *Pilotwings*, and it was only because it is super neat to watch this game in 3D. The game is easy to kind of fumble your way through, but difficult to master (which I think is Nintendo’s current Mission Statement) and except for the fact that Wuhu Island is pretty familiar to me from hours on Wii Sports Resort, the game is an excellent title. Playing it demonstrates a kind of strange aspect to 3D gaming that was pointed out perfectly by Travis: the vehicle you are piloting sits right in the middle of the screen, and in 3D space, it is as if someone is pointing a finger at your face. If you focus on it, the background becomes out of focus, the two images from either eye not lining up. Focus instead on the background (which is where you’ll probably want to be looking), and your vehicle becomes two misaligned images. This can be lessened by carefully setting things up with the slide bar, but it’s just a new, interesting consequence of this new way of gaming.
Super Street Fighter IV is much, much better than I was expecting, as someone who is not a huge fan of fighting games. Remember, I am not very good at Street Fighter, and even though I tried to set out and become better, it did not take, and I gave up after hours of frustrating beatdowns. This iteration is a very true port of the full SSFIV experience, and unless you are really hot-to-trot about the backgrounds in the game (which are more static here), you should be quite happy with how they handled this conversion. It looks great, and has a full complement of fighters, with alternate costumes. The game is quick, the controls are very responsive, and for me, the Man Who Cannot Pull of a Goddamn Hadouken, they’ve even mapped certain combos to the touch screen. It is strange how much of the game’s strategy opens up when you know you can pull off an important move for your character. The 3D effect is far more subtle than in Pilotwings, and while it’s not necessary, it is nice to see these important and bulky characters with some 3D depth.
Beyond that, there is a lot of good buzz surrounding the X-Com-like Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Shadow Wars (there’s a lot of words that sound silly all together), and if you’ve never played the original Nintendogs / if you are one of those people who would die if you touch a dog, the updated Nintendogs+Cats exists. Hell, the 3DS is backwards compatible, and I guarantee you that you missed out on some interesting DS titles in the last few months (Okamiden, or Ghost Trick spring to mind, and I am still loving the hell out of Pokémon White). There are many reasons to play with a 3DS.
People keep whining (and whining, and goddamn whining) about the battery life on the system. All of this griping is pretty confusing to me. Depending on how you are using it, the 3DS gets between 3 and 5 hours of battery life from constant use. This means that if you are a super anti-social person who makes constant flights across the country, you are going to run out of battery life on the plane. I am sorry, one person in the world who has to play video games on your myriad of plane flights. If it’s such a big issue, apparently the unobtrusive Nyko battery pak actually adds twice the battery life. Also, you can buy replacement batteries online for not a huge amount, and the back screws off pretty easily. I understand that people don’t like worrying about having to recharge their devices. I understand that people are apparently super pissed that Nintendo would dare have the audacity to release a handheld console with only 3 to 5 hours of battery life. “WHY WOULD THEY DO THIS?” they shout, on the internet. I respond: “Shut up! Don’t buy it!” Done and done. Wait for that inevitable refresh that’ll come along in a couple of years. That is not a difficult thing to do. In the mean time, go and play other games. They also exist.
So, let’s say you want one, but you’re just not sold on what’s out for the 3DS right now. I think you would be fine holding off on purchasing for a few months until all of the eventual doodads and internet browsers and downloadable titles start appearing. I don’t think there will be supply shortages. I think it’s pretty fantastic now, but I am excited for what I’ll have to play by Christmas. This is a normal way to feel about a video game system, honestly. I wish people would stop treating this device as if it is an abomination. There are good games out for it now, and there will be good and better games out for it in the near future. This is how every launch has ever been in the history of video games. I am very happy with my 3DS purchase. I guess I don’t really need other people to validate my happiness, but I sure wish the internet would calm the heck down about the thing. It’s a solid piece of hardware that I’ve had a lot of fun with, with a huge amount of potential. That’s exactly what I want.