Your guide to the Nintendo 3DS

Nintendo’s newest dual-screen handheld system has launched in Canada, and it’s a sure-fire hit! Packed with impressive new technologies and cool new features, they’re flying off the shelves of stores across the country. 3D is where the fun starts, but the 3DS takes it to the next level with amazing options that you might not be aware of. This guide will walk you through all of the cool features in the 3DS, so you’ll be ready when you bring yours home!

3D anywhere.

3D is the title feature of the 3DS and it’s pretty cool; the new system comes with two screens (par for the course for Nintendo’s DS line), but there’s a pretty significant difference this time around. The top screen is larger, it’s higher resolution, and it’s capable of displaying images in 3D without the need for glasses.

 

The 3DS uses a process called autostereoscopy; there are actually two parts of the screen (each 400×240 in resolution) that create 3D through a parallax barrier. You can adjust the depth of the 3D interaction (or turn it off entirely) by adjusting a small switch on the right hand side of the unit.

How is it in the real world?

It works! It’s amazing to see 3D come to life on a portable in such an effective way. I kept the dial about 2/3 of the way up, providing a 3D image that had depth, but didn’t cause problems when I needed to refocus my eyes. If you’ve owned a DS system before it may take some getting used to; you’ll need to keep the system between 10” and 14” from your eyes, and you’ll need to keep it more still than previous models in order to see the 3D effect. The first few times I played Pilot Wings Resort I found that I was twisting the system as I played, skewing the 3D image as the system moved with my hands.

 

Connectivity that matters!

Nintendo’s systems have traditionally been conservative when it comes to online connectivity; the Nintendo Wii and DS use Nintendo’s WFC (Wi-Fi Connect) service that features unique friend codes that require you to mutually add someone in order to make a connection for most games. That system is still in place, but it’s much easier to access with the 3DS. The Mii creator on the system uses the built-in camera to create a Mii just for you, or you can go old school and put together a neat character for yourself. When you log into the 3DS Messaging system, you’ll choose a Mii to represent you, and you’ll be issued a friend code. You can then share these with friends and family online to connect up for online gaming or even to share status updates.

The 3DS definitely takes connectivity to the next level, letting you personalize how others see you with the aforementioned status updates. You can also set your favourite title, letting your Friends know what you’re playing at any time.

How does it work in the real world?

Nintendo’s new connectivity features work incredibly well. Whether you’re hooking up to a home network or connecting to public Wi-Fi with Nintendo’s SpotPass, getting online is super easy. The 3DS supports Wireless B/G Wi-Fi, and can handle easy setup with Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WFS) or AOSS from Buffalo. Manual setups are both easier and faster as well.

If you’re on the road, look for Nintendo SpotPass stations; they’ll get your 3DS online without any extra steps required, making them the easiest way to play on the road. For the record, I did pair my 3DS with my iPhone using the Personal Hotspot feature on my iPhone… and it worked like a charm! Be wary if you do this though, it will use your iPhone’s data package for as long as you’re connected.

 

StreetPass is worth getting excited about.

Leave it to Nintendo to give you a reason to take your gaming system EVERYWHERE. The 3DS introduces a system called StreetPass; it’s wireless communication that’s always on, letting your system communicate with other 3DS units even when it’s off.

This is so cool! You can connect with other 3DS units, and exchange content in games that you’ve both played–even without you turning on the system or having to do anything with it! Naturally you can opt out on a title-by-title basis (and, like everything on the 3DS, you can turn it off completely with Parental Controls), but in titles like Super Street Fighter IV: 3D Edition your system will actually fight with others while in your pocket, earning you trophies!

How does it work in the real world?

I’ll have to get back to you on this. Even though I’ve had the 3DS for a few weeks… no one else did! It’s hard to transfer data when there’s no one to transfer it to!

Game Coins – Get walking, man.

Nintendo has extended the capabilities of the 3DS even while it’s off… carry it with you and it’s a pedometer! But the 3DS goes one step further, rewarding you for walking with Game Coins. This in-game currency can be used to buy cool stuff inside your favourite games. I haven’t had a chance to try this out yet, but I’ve racked up a few dozen coins, waiting to be spent. Game Coins are another great reason to take your 3DS with you everywhere you go.

You’re in control.

Nintendo has taken the DS format and upgrade it with some great new controls. Built in you’ll find the “Circle Pad” – a much needed analog controller. You’ll also find an accelerometer and a gyroscope… this new-to-the-DS-line technology powers some great experiences in new games, including the Periscope mode in Steel Divers and the ultra-cool included game called Face Raiders. Both games use the built-in cameras, as well as the gyroscopes and accelerometers to immerse you into an augmented reality game that uses your surroundings as gameplay elements. Swivel on the spot and shoot incoming enemies simply by pointing and shooting. It’s really, really cool.

Augmented Reality plays a big part in the new system. It comes with a set of six Augmented Reality cards that let you create virtual game worlds right on your table-top. Place the AR card down and the twin cameras on the back of the 3DS will see it, and interpret it to create an AR game. You can even take characters from your games and place them into the real world. My Nintendog loves climbing all over my kitchen table, something that’s absolutely incredible to see.

 

Yes, you should get a 3DS!

There are other cool features as well, including 3DS Sound and 3DS Video, making the 3DS the first major portable 3D video game system that does 3D media too. I downloaded a 3D music video from OK Go! and I was really impressed with the quality.

There are some upcoming features that aren’t in the 3DS yet, like the Internet browser and the 3DS e-shop. I’m excited for the e-shop as it uses real money (no more Nintendo points!) and will feature older handheld games for download. Who’s got two thumbs and is super-stoked to play Mario Land again? This guy.

It’s worth noting that no, the battery doesn’t last that long. I got five hours out of it today, with the 3D on, and the brightness on 3. That, for me, was an insanely long gaming session. I dropped it down into the included cradle and it was charged about 3 hours later. For some people the battery life will be a major issue; I’d recommend carrying the charging cable with you if that’s the case. If not, charge it when you get home and play the system for an hour or two a day… don’t forget, there’s a world of fresh air out there that’s actually 3D as well :)

The 3DS is an amazing new entry into the DS line. Hopefully you’ve found this to be an informative look at what the system has to offer. I’ve only tried Pilot Wings Resort, Nintendogs + Cats, and Steel Divers so far, but I’ve enjoyed all three titles. If I had to recommend those starting with my favourite I’d go with Nintendogs first, Steel Divers second, and Pilot Wings third. I’m hearing great things about Street Fighter, and some of the racing games, so I’ll weigh in with some opinions as soon as I can pick some copies up.

 

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