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Sunday, March 27, 2011

The 3DS reception

Yeah.... what a day! I've been ticking them off since the announcement of the Nintendo 3DS, what was it, 9 months ago? More? Wow.

So I woke up this morning really early, like 5:30am.... I *wanted* to sleep in more, but I just couldn't. Today was like Xmas, only with 3DS-- which would make Xmas (or anything) SOOOOOOO much better.......

Although, I have been wondering if perhaps my abundant use of handheld devices before sleeping is causing (or at least contributing to) my sleep disorders. I usually watch video or play some games on one of my various handhelds an hour before going to bed. Ever since hearing about that study that links the 2 has me thinking. I dunno.

Anyway, I waited for Future Shop to open at 10:00am to pick up my shiny aqua blue Nintendo 3DS. I had no idea what kind of reception would greet me.... I hoped there wouldn't be a mob, but this is the first console I've ever bought at launch.

So I get there, and... the store is practically devoid of customers. More disturbingly, it's almost bare of any 3DS info at all aside from a few cardboard displays that don't tell you any real info.

*Sigh*... I could go into a long story about the incredible lack of training Future Shop employees seem to (not) have. Suffice to say, after over 30 minutes, I was able to pick up my PRE-ORDERED, reserved-for-me-literally-with-my-name-on-it 3DS. And do you know how many people were in front of me that it took so long? 100? 200?

Try 6. Yeah, like six guys waiting before me, sorta being served simultaneously, and after being bounced through 3 FS employees they were finally able to ring up my 3DS & have me on my way. Lord, how lame *IS* this company????

So there was no mob. At least not here in my small town. This was definitely not the iPad 2. I can't imagine what the FS here would've done if there WAS a mob for the 3DS here.... if they can barely handle 6 people.....

I went to an EB Games and another Future Shop later in the afternoon & there seemed to be ample supplies of 3DS's sitting in the glass cases. So I wonder if perhaps this launch isn't going to be as good for big N as past ones. I think maybe their lack of mainstream promotion hurt them-- I only started seeing vague 3DS ads on TV starting about last week? But much more of a factor is also the cost of the system & lack of killer app software launch titles. I suspect they overestimated how much the general public is willing to pay for a gadget like this.

I bought Pilot Wings Resort, and I've decided to buy Steel Diver & Ridge Racer 3D, but I will wait until April 15 & use that coupon I snagged to help ease the financial pain a bit.

It's a really beautiful system, I love the blue colour, and the body is sorta sparkly like some PSPs (like the gray PSP-2000 that was packed with Ratchet & Clank: Size Matters) a mother-of-pearl pattern if you will.

It's surprisingly heavier than the DS Lite, but feels pretty good in the hands. Very glossy, the inside panels are very glossy & shiny and the bottom outside panel is shiny but not as slippery feeling-- not quite matte, but grippy.

Playing DS games on the 3DS - This has been a big concern of mine since hearing the reports about fuzziness because of upscaling. So far I've only played Plants vs Zombies on my 3DS, and I have to say... it looks almost exactly the same as on my DS Lite to me. I did scrutinize the details of the characters.... let me say that the DS version of Plants vs Zombies is sprite-based so the characters are a bit pixelated... let's be honest: while some games can look great for what they are, the DS has never had the the best graphics. The 3DS may smooth out some of the pixelization, if anything this makes the game look a bit better. But like I've said, I really like how upscaled GBA games look on my phone, so maybe I'm not the one to ask about this. But from what I can see initially, I'd be very happy to play DS games on my 3DS. I still have to try more games to give a final verdict though.

Anyway... I don't have any pics & I'm still playing around with the system so I'm not ready to get into the nitty-gritty of things yet.

The 3-D is nice, but it's not earth-shattering. How I predicted it would be is more or less how it is. To recap:
Here's how I think the 3-D will look like with the 3DS: imagine the screen being a box, about 1 inch deep. Now imagine the objects in the box-- let's say Mario in a Super Mario Bros. game-- look like paper cutouts, placed at different depths within that 1 inch box. Nothing comes OUT of the screen, just like actors don't leap out of the stage onto your lap while performing a play.

The 3-D effect does come out of the screen a little bit sometimes, but it's bad when the object borders the screen edge because the illusion cuts off, undermining the 3-D when it does this.

It's not that different from 3-D theatrical movies, aside from the lack of glasses (which is a small but significant point) One thing that about 3-D theatrical movies is that I find they're a bit dark; I wish they were more well-lit sometimes. And the 3DS screen feels this way also. I have the brightness up all the way, but when it comes to screen brightness, this is no DS Lite.

I will say this about the 3-D though-- in Pilot Wings Resort it *is* helpful, at least to me, because the added depth contributes to the gameplay. Is it absolutely necessary? I could play it without the 3-D. But to those who keep saying that 3-D isn't necessary.... you know what? Stereo audio isn't "necessary" either. Mono sound is as functional as stereo. It does the job, you hear the sounds. But stereo improves the listening experience, sometimes minimally sometimes vastly. I'd say the same about 3-D on the 3DS.

The big complaint is the battery. I've just put it in its cradle for it's second charging session today. I charged it early afternoon and by about 7:30 pm the red charge-me light was on. This is very PSP-like-- in a BAD way. But I discovered something about the wireless switch, it's a slider similar to the PSP, but it's NOT up=on/down=off. No, it's spring-loaded, so you flip it up, it goes back down. So the same flip either turns it on or off. I spent most of the day not realizing it was on. There are a multitude of various indicator lights on this thing, and so I'd probably have turned off the wireless earlier and I wonder how much that affects battery life. With the PSP & PSPgo, it's a significant drain, I'd say the wireless on those systems takes up 1/3 of the battery time if on constantly. I especially notice it with the PSPgo using bluetooth a lot. If you're not out in public hoping for a StreetPass encounter, or you have a specific need to be wirelessly connected (updating or whatever) then there's not much point in leaving it on.

So yeah, just my initial thoughts on day 1 of Nintendo 3DS ownership. It's a sweet system.


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