A nice finish and a well designed analogue stickThe Nintendo 3DS is a high-end console. You can see this right away. Apart from its price, it has a really nice finish. There are just four small screws on the back. Overall, the console is the same size as the Nintendo DSi and the only criticism we have is that the glossy plastic attracts dust and finger marks, although no doubt our blue model less so than the black alternative.
We like the introduction of an analogue joystick, which is very precise and pleasant to use. We expect it will often be used instead of the directional pad - which is positioned just underneath - in many games. We are however less enthusiastic about the positioning of the two small shoulder buttons on the back of the console. They're difficult to use and tiring in the long run, unless you can find somewhere to rest the console.
Child's play, whether you're big or smallThere's a good deal of reliance on the touch screen when it comes to the interface. The various applications are represented in the form of icons, like on the iPhone, with the difference that you can choose how many you want to display on the same page - all very intuitive and you can go back to the main menu at any time, simply by pressing on the 'home' button. The application you're using is then paused. This is also what happens when you close the console, which is handy for when you want to return to a game a bit later.
You can also take 3D photos thanks to the two cameras on the 3DS' hood. Although you can view them fine on the console's 3D screen, photo quality is unfortunately not up to the mark. You wouldn't want to view them on a 3D TV for example. Surely it wouldn't have been difficult to do better here, when you think of the quality you can now get on pretty much any recent smartphone!
While its camera is not its strong point, the audio quality is a good deal better. The sound produced by the two speakers on either side of the 3D screen is pretty good, though of course there's not much bass, and the headphones out is irreproachable. We're looking forward to viewing 3D films on it.
A great 3D screen. No glasses!Nintendo is playing on the "Wow" effect in its current ad campaign and we were certainly won over. The 3D effect without glasses is both unusual and surprising! You really do have the impression of diving into a little 3D world at the bottom of your console, especially as the graphics have progressed a good deal since the DS. You're not far off what you get on a PSP or even a Wii!
And yes you do get hooked on the 3D effect once you've tried it! In itself this wouldn't be a problem, except that the 3D effect has a real impact on the machine's battery life! Our tests gave 3h15 under 'normal' usage conditions (3D, sound and brightness at 50%), with two of the 3D games that come with the console.
To give you an idea of the impact of 3D on battery life, we also ran the 3DS on the Mii Channel home screen with wi-fi activated. The console ran for just three hours with 3D, brightness and sound at a maximum. Without 3D, with brightness at minimum and the sound midway, you gain a good two hours! It's a shame that Nintendo didn't design the device so that the batteries could be changed.
Here's a summary of our battery life tests with the Nintendo 3DS:
Max brightness, max sound, wi-fi on, max 3D: 3h05.
Max brightness, max sound, wi-fi on, 3D off: 3h55.
Max brightness, max sound, wi-fi on, max 3D: 5h05.
Max brightness, max sound, wi-fi on, 3D off: 5h25.
More than just a gadget, the 3D experience can improve gameplayOur first tests showed that the impact of the 3D experience very much depends on the work done by developers. In almost every case, game immersion is much improved, there's no denying it. You also get a better subjective view of distances in platform and action/adventure games (Zelda, Kid Icarus Uprising).
Although of course this is just a beginning, you can already see the potential and we can't wait to discover what developers do with this 3D screen. In the meantime, you can only appreciate what are very convincing results. It remains to be seen if forthcoming titles will put the 3DS' capacities to intelligent use, or if we'll have to make do with 3D conversions of already existing titles. Given the price of games, you'll want to make sure you're getting value for money, so as soon as we've received these much awaited 3DS titles, we'll be letting you know what we think!
- Superb 3D effect!
- Superb finish
- High quality graphics, not far off what you get with the Wii
- Convincing analogue joystick
- Simple to use
- Limited battery life
- 3D effect can be a strain for some users
- High cost for a handheld console
- Poor camera
The 3DS will impress with its really excellent 3D screen! No glasses required! Nintendo has once again managed to revolutionise the gaming experience, though they haven't managed to do so without pushing the price of the console a little too high and cutting battery life a little too much.