I’ve been more than happy with my DS for many years now. The steady flow of original games and ability to play my favorite GBA cartridges is a formula that is as good today as it ever was.
But since hearing about the 3DS and I have to admit it’s hard to think about anything else. The new hardware sounds like a gimmicky I know, in fact jumping on the 3D bandwagon with the name is the weakest aspect of Nintendo’s next handheld.
Beyond the 3D headline, which I’m still looking forward to trying firsthand, there are a number of features I think will make a big difference to how we play DS games in our family. Firstly there is the ability to take 3D pictures instantly and play augmented reality games with the 3D camera. Our kids have really enjoyed Eye Pet on the PS3 and I’m sure having a portable equivalent will get them more than excited.
Then there is the hardware itself. This is not just another revision of the same chipset, it’s the next generation of handhelds for Nintendo. This takes it into the graphical territory of the PSP — with the added benefit of the aforementioned 3D.
But the feature our kids are most excited about (yes I couldn’t help myself talking them though all the 3DS features) is the ability to swap in game paraphernalia with their friends at school. The fact that this can happen without them even turning the 3DS on seemed to make the feature even more appealing to them. I can imagine them now, coming home from school and rushing to see what new items have appeared on the handheld.
But more than all this, I’m really excited about the games that are being announced. I mentioned a few of them in a previous GeekDad post, but they just keep coming:
Star Fox 64 3DS revisits the classic Nintendo 64 version of the game. For those who remember the original it is instantly recognizable. The game takes in the familiar landscape of the original from oceans and hills to the iconic ravines of Corneria City.
You control the Arwing ship via the 3DS’s Analogue nub calling on special moves via the D-pad. Bombs and lasers as well as acceleration and braking are mapped to the other face buttons. This leaves the Left/Right Triggers for banking and rolling.
Super Monkey Ball 3DS comes to the 3DS and the more you think about it the more sense it makes. Slide controls, gestures, and the 3D high resolution screen promise to return us to knife edge puzzling perfection.
Super Monkey Ball has always been Nintendo’s happy bed follow – since it first appeared on the Gamecube and set the world a-chatter. On the 3DS it all makes more sense when you remember the new console’s inclusion of gyroscope and accelerometer motion detectors. Then there is the option of the Slide pad controls for the sort of precision expert players have missed in previous Wii and DS versions.
Combine these motion controls with a high resolution 3D hand held device and it’s one of Monkey Balls most promising ideas since it came to the Wii. The question though, is whether the team can recapture the glee, delight and horror of that first Gamecube release.
Nintendogs + Cats 3DS does more than add felines in the 3DS’s socially aware, Mii enabled version of the popular DS brand. And of course, the lovely little creatures are now all in spectacle free 3D.
Nintendogs was a big part of convincing us that the DS’s features could actually make a difference to game play. In a single stroke it combined microphone, touch screen and dual screens to create a creature care experience more endearing than anything before.
Nintendogs + Cats has less work to do on the 3DS, but will no double make strong use of the new system’s 3D display, social interaction and enhanced visual features.
There are still quite a few unanswered questions around the 3DS hardware. Just how well will it standup to graphically intensive experiences for instance? How soon will we be able to play Gameboy Color (and hopefully even Gameboy Advance) games via the system’s Virtual Console? How all these new features will impact on battery life? And perhaps the most important question is what the system is going to cost in the US?
It also feels a bit odd looking forward to something still so far off, and particularly as it’s the other side of Christmas. But from what I’ve seen of it so far things look promising for the new handheld system, even if it does have a lot to live up to.