Plaid (plaidomatic) wrote,

Nintendo 3DS

Look, I'm a gadget whore. Totally addicted. Even more so for video games. I own so many consoles, I've run out of room for them all.

But the 3DS wasn't a big deal to me. I ran out and got a DSi, and was pretty disappointed. DSiware was a big flop. It wasn't sufficiently updated in terms of hardware or features to make it worthwhile. And where were the games to take advantage of the new features? There's been precious few non-DSiware games that took advantage of the DSi features. Upgrading from the DS to the DSi was costly and pointless. So the 3D features and the improved resolution seemed like a good thing, but they were going to have a pretty tough sell to get me to upgrade.

Add on to that the fact that I never had much luck with 3D chicanery. 3D movies were either fairly non-impressive, or just gave me a screaming migraine. But a few weeks ago I got glasses. So when I saw the demo 3DS at Target a few days ago while I was shopping with the kids, I thought I'd give it a try. And it was magical. The 3D was distinct and crisp, with good color and no bleedover between the eyes. So I had to have it.

I traded in my DSi for a new black 3DS and a swipe of my magic plastic card.

A few days in, and I'm still impressed by the 3D. I picked up Pilotwings Resort, based on the fact that it's the only retail 3DS software that I gave a damn about. Out of a pitifully paltry lineup of only 9 games.

We can talk about the totally fucked battery life. That's fun. 3-5 hours of batter life. So far, I've found that 4 hours is about right for Pilotwings. Less for the built-in augmented reality games. The charging cradle and the longer-than-usual-for-nintendo power cable makes charging easier to deal with. Road trips or, god forbid, plane flights will leave you pretty pissed though. There's plenty of press about the battery issue here, so I won't belabor it.

The built-in games are surprisingly good and well thought out, even though they're extremely light on actual content. The 3D photography feature is nice, although the poor resolution is a bit of a pisser.

Pilotwings is pretty good. I've got several hours into it, and there's really not that much there, but the challenges keep you coming back for perfection (unless you're not into that, in which case you'll get about 3 hours out of this game before you get angry about the amount you paid for such a small amount of actual content).

But I really want to fume for a bit. Nintendo released the 3DS into north america with essentially nothing. The web browser? "Enabled later though a system update." The 3DS store "will be available through a system update." Even the DSi store will "become available" later. Why? The store functioned perfectly on the DSi, (even if it was chock-full of crap games, and poorly designed, and a showcase in how not to do an online sotre) how the hell hard could it be to port it forward to the 3DS?

You'd think that perhaps they felt they could delay the online stores because they had such a strong retail offering of release titles. Nintendo announced 16 release titles. In all my local stores, I could only find the same nine titles. What happened to the other 7? Nintendo, traditionally strong (even strong-armed) in first-party games only release three first party games: PIlotwings, Steel Diver (not found in stores here) and Nintendogs+Cats. Where's Mario? Where's ANY of their blockbuster properties?

Finally, Nintendo seems to have ignored the explosive growth in social gaming. They've made tiny concessions over their previous "friend code" model. Instead of one obnoxious, impossible, entropy-rich friend code per friend per game, at least it's only one obnoxious, impossible, entropy rich code per friend. The codes are now per-system. What happens if your friend borrows someone else's 3DS or replaces their 3DS with another? In the first case, TOO BAD, in the second, Nintendo support may be able to help. Or maybe not. Currently, I can't find a solid answer on that.

What the hell is Nintendo thinking? They released a significant new product with a potentially huge new technology (glasses free 3D). The marketing program was lackluster. The concessions they made to social gaming are insufficient. Significant features were missing. Release titles were crap, first party support was essentially totally absent, and in an industry where attach-rate is king, they're making it awfully hard for us to give them our money.

Pros: Awesome glasses-free 3D. Huge potential.
Cons: Nintendo should be ashamed of themselves for this release lineup. I guess they're leaving plenty of potential for us to discover down the road.
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