So… where to begin?
I had high hopes for the Nintendo 3DS. To coin an Americanism, Nintendo have hit the ball out of the park for their past few hardware releases, so with all the hype surrounding the 3DS I was fully expecting my demo at Westfield shopping centre in London to be amazing.
The first thing I tried was the AR demo involving shooting 3D boxes generated from a card placed on a flat surface. This initial demo confirmed the fear I had well before heading towards the booth; that my eyes just wouldn’t be able to “get” the 3D. That’s my fault Nintendo not yours, but with apparently 12% of the population in the same boat as me it’s not an inconsequential number of individuals. Anyway, the AR demo was nice enough (I was still able to play it despite my eyes not appreciating the 3D effect) but was pretty uneventful.
Next came the biggie; *deep breath* Super Street Fighter IV: 3D Edition. I’m a massive Street Fighter fan and I sooooo wanted this to convince me of the 3DS’s worth. Again, while noticing there was a shift in the image, my eyes didn’t get the 3D in the game. No problem, as it looks nice enough without. However, the controls gave me cause for concern. The d-pad felt far too inset; too withdrawn into the main 3DS’s body to provide adequate tactile feedback. It might’ve been because I was playing a demo unit and therefore the d-pad had been gradually sunk due to wear and tear, but it didn’t fill me with confidence. Why couldn’t Nintendo have stuck a Gameboy Micro d-pad in there? To date I think the d-pad in Nintendo’s overlooked handheld has been one of the best d-pads I’ve ever used; couldn’t Nintendo have increased the size of this sucker and used it in the 3DS?
To quickly sum up my other grievances with the demo experience…
- The sound from the consoles seemed far too quiet. They might’ve been turned down, or, as one of the demo girls suggested “these are demo units so the full retail version might be louder?”.
- The 3DS hardware itself still looks/feels like a prototype, especially the start/select/home button strip under the bottom screen. Those buttons don’t provide any sort of tactile feedback and don’t look especially swish either.
- The analogue slider nub felt ok but playing Street Fighter with it didn’t feel right, but neither did the d-pad as a result of how inset that input mechanism seemed to be. I mainly play Street Fighter with the 360 pad’s analogue stick (n00b, I know) so I’m well-versed in getting the moves to execute but it didn’t feel like second nature on the 3DS.
In summary, I’m sure the software will come in order to convince me to buy one but that certainly won’t be on launch date. In my mind the Nintendo 3DS looks/feels like a “slightly better DS” and as a result I don’t think the £220+ outlay on a console and game is justified. I might re-evaluate this if a killer title arives (Advance Wars 3DS please), but otherwise I’ll be happy to wait until the unit approaches the £100 mark as my vanilla Nintendo DS Lite does the job very well, thank you very much.