Nintendo 3DS Review
Nintendo 3DS Box Art
System: 3DS
Dev: Nintendo
Pub: Nintendo
Release: March 27, 2011
Players: 1
Screen Resolution: N/A
Nintendo Enters the Third Dimension
by Amanda L. Kondolojy

Ever since it was unveiled last year, there's been a lot of talk about the 3DS. Would it really deliver on its promise of bringing 3D gaming to the masses? In short, yes. The 3DS is certainly a technological marvel, if only for its unique pixel-overlay technology that brings 3D content to life effortlessly. However, the more time I spend with the 3DS, the more I realized that the handheld is more than just the 3D effect.

Nintendo 3DS Screenshot

-The Hardware-

The first thing you'll notice about the 3DS is how much it resembles the DS Lite. The console is heftier than the DSi and sports the same glossy finish. Though this is good news for those who liked the DS Lite, it's bad news for those who abhor fingerprints. Within seconds of first opening my 3DS, I was dismayed to see fingerprints and smears all over its shiny case.

Aside from the fingerprints, however, the 3DS is a looker. The system's two cameras are small and positioned nicely at the top of the unit. It would be easy to mistake it for a DS Lite, but it's when you open the system up that all the changes become obvious.

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When you first open the unit up, you'll feel the difference in proportions from previous models. The 3DS has a hefty bottom half, and you'll feel the added weight when you play. Of course, we aren't talking about weight like you used to have with the original Game Boy, but if you got used to the DS Lite or DSi in your hands, the 3DS can feel a little awkward at first.

Once you get used to it, though, the 3DS feels comfortable. The left side d-pad has been replaced with an analog nub that is perfectly placed and easy to manipulate without obstruction. If the d-pad is still your thing, however, it is still easily accessible right under the analog nub. I tried both control methods extensively on Super Street Fighter IV: 3D Edition, and they both worked well; neither was more comfortable than the other.

Once you get used to it, though, the 3DS feels comfortable. The left side d-pad has been replaced with an analog nub that is perfectly placed and easy to manipulate without obstruction. If the d-pad is still your thing, however, it is still easily accessible right under the analog nub. I tried both control methods extensively on Super Street Fighter IV: 3D Edition, and they both worked well; neither was more comfortable than the other.

Nintendo 3DS Screenshot

The inclusion of the analog may be the most obvious change to the console's design, but there have also been some other tweaks here and there, including a volume slider, relocation of the start and select buttons, and a shorter, stouter stylus (which has also been moved to the back of the DS unit, next to the card reader). These changes are fairly simple, and don't take any real breaking in.

Nintendo 3DS Screenshot

But let's move on to the biggest change to the system design: the widescreen display. Though the bottom screen still sports the familiar 4:3 aspect ratio, the top screen has (finally) been upgraded to a 16:9 aspect ratio, and even without the 3D effect, the screen truly benefits from the extra real estate and lines of resolution. Playing Street Fighter IV on the screen, even when the 3D effect is off, feels like a cinematic experience, and Street Fighter in particular doesn't feel "smushed" on the top screen.

It is when the 3D effect is on that the novelty of the system really kicks in. The 3D effect can be tuned to your specific wants with a slider on the right side of the system, and I put the system through its paces (again using Street Fighter IV) with all of the different settings. When the 3D is turned all the way up, the effect is brilliant. Depth is accurately portrayed, and objects in 3D space are rendered beautifully. The only problem with the full 3D effect is that the DS must be perfectly placed in front of your face to avoid flickering or ghosting. The image can actually be disorienting if you move your 3DS around a lot when you play (I wasn't even aware that I did this) and can trigger some serious headaches if you leave the full 3D on.

Screenshots / Images
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