Saturday, January 3, 2015

Hands On: New Nintendo 3DS (Japan Import)

Having spent about 20 hours total with the New Nintendo 3DS now, I'm excited to post my impressions of the new device. With this blog I'll focus on what I myself found important while using the New Nintendo 3DS, rather than doing yet another comprehensive overview of features you already know about.

The Improved 3D

Being touted as one of the highest selling points, the first thing that must be covered is the improved 3D effect for the New Nintendo 3DS. This doesn't mean that the 3D effect is itself "better" than how it was on the original 3DS model, but that there's now a more wide range from which the 3D effect can be viewed before disorienting the screen. The question I found most pressing was, would it really matter?

Yes! You are now no longer restricted to that extremely limited viewing angle as with the original 3DS, but there is still some fragility in using the 3D effect. What I've noticed is that the system still has to be held upward and relatively close toward your face alike with the original 3DS, except now once you've found the sweet-spot it takes a significant change of movement for you to lose it. So while you still can't use the 3D if you're a gamer who likes to keep an arm's length between self and screen, if you want to see the 3D effect the option to do so does not require so extensive a commitment now.

Personally, I never used the 3D on the original 3DS not solely because I'm a fidgety guy who couldn't hold his 3DS still, but because I just never found it to enhance the gaming experience. And so, like I begun this portion, the improved 3D is not better 3D; if you tried out the 3D before and didn't care for it, the New Nintendo 3DS is not going to provide any additional argument against you. I was able to use the 3D confidently within my 20 hours with the New Nintendo 3DS, but it hasn't altered my perception on its value. But for those who did like the 3D and just couldn't manage holding the sweet spot, then the New Nintendo 3DS will most likely be a real treat for you.

Notably New

There's quite a bit to cover here, but I'm going to focus solely on what I found to have an effect on me. While there's some differences with how cartridges are loaded on the bottom and the face-buttons have a color-swap, what I've listed below is what I found important as a gamer.
  •  C-Stick - Throw your frankenstick in the trash; the New Nintendo 3DS is dual-analog! About the size of a pinky-nail, the C-Stick is located right above the face buttons and slightly to the left, where the end of your thumb naturally ends when over the predominantly used Y and B buttons. Surprisingly the C-Stick doesn't move, but rather reacts to the effected direction you press it. While I haven't any game to test the C-Stick on, the main-menu of the 3DS can be navigated with it: while it took a minute to become comfortable with the C-Stick, it quickly grew to feel fine. In terms of what it will be mostly used for though, which is controlling cameras within games, the C-Stick will be an excellent, comfortable, and very easy to use addition.
  •  Z Buttons - In addition to the new C-Stick, the New Nintendo 3DS is equipped with two additional shoulder buttons. Just separate from the standard shoulder-buttons L and R, the ZL and ZR buttons are about half the size of the L and R buttons. Just like L and R they have a great springiness to them, and are very natural to access. The tip of your fingers rest over the new Z buttons while the bend of your fingers rest on the original shoulder buttons. Being able to access both buttons is easy and feels great.
  • 3D Slider Lock - For those who repeatedly turn on the 3D by accident from just lightly tapping the slider, never again! To turn off the 3D now the slider must be lowered all the way down into a locked place. Surprisingly it takes a solid deal of sliding-effort to remove the lock, and so only the most aggravated of slip-ups could accidentally turn the 3D on.
  • New Stylus Position - The one aspect of the New Nintendo 3DS I sincerely don't like. The telescopic slider has been replaced with a vaguely flexible stylus that is now held on the bottom of the system. While the stylus works as it should, it doesn't feel as good as the telescopic slider. And the new slider-position on the bottom of the 3DS is not only significantly less accessible than previous 3DS iterations, but it's also oddly blind and aggravating to replace the stylus in.
  • Bigger Screen - Pretty obvious! But yes, the New Nintendo 3DS model (but not the New Nintendo 3DS XL model) has a screen that is 1.2x larger than the original model. I was actually rather nervous about this, as I very much enjoyed the tight, limited structuring of the original 3DS. But I will say that, having given the bigger screen a chance, I will certainly not be going back to the original 3DS. It's bigger, and it really is better.

Last Thoughts

As of right now, the New Nintendo 3DS is a vanity item. While the system is much more powerful than the original 3DS, the single confirmed exclusive, a port of Wii's Xenoblade Chronicles, won't be out until sometime this year. The New Nintendo 3DS does not upscale current 3DS games, and there are no other exclusive features to the system beyond its hardware and cosmetic. There's no individual Eshop, no exclusive games currently, and, honestly, not much of a reason to buy one unless you're absolutely dying for a more tolerable 3D experience.

But it is cool, and I don't mean that in a "I just bought a new electronic and really want to love it" kind-of-way. The system just feels good. There's a great weight to the New Nintendo 3DS, the bigger screens are a surprising delight, and, quite simply, I'm thrilled about the future of the New Nintendo 3DS. It's a sleek, hip, and powerful device, and while it has hit the market a bit too ahead of everything else expected of a new gaming system, that hasn't stopped it from generating an intensive admiration from the gaming community.

For myself, I am certainly not regretting owning a New Nintendo 3DS. Really I can't wait to show it off some. But more so, and most so, is that I'm excited that I'm already here, ahead of the game just like the New Nintendo 3DS itself is, and ready for its own unique, exclusive future to come.

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