With the Nintendo 3DS ($249.99 from Amazon) only a couple of weeks away from its European and American release dates, here are some more hands-on details about the games and software you get packed in with the new device. Much more than other handhelds I’ve seen, the number and quality of pre-installed games is very impressive.
Mii Plaza is a nice hub for all the Miis you’ve met, but it also gives you a reason to take your 3DS with you when you go out. Clever thinking from Nintendo once again.
The novelty of going into town with the Mii Plaza in StreetPass mode had the kids constantly checking the top of the 3DS to see if the indicator light had turned on. Sure enough, even though we were testing the 3DS a few weeks before launch, the little blue bulb started glowing. I’m guessing this was from test retail units in shops.
When we got back in the car I opened the 3DS to be greeted with a notification that I had met two new Mii friends. These Miis trotted into my Plaza each carrying with them an icon for their favorite game. The kids were rather excited to say the least. (Click for more 3DS Mii Plaza details.)
Mii Maker almost doubles the creative options for each Mii. Made from a picture, imported from a QR code or sniffed out via StreetPass, Miis are as much fun as they ever were. Fingers crossed for a similar update on the Wii’s Mii channel.
Mii Maker on the 3DS looks very similar to the Wii version at first glance. But dig a little deeper and there are quite a lot of differences.
Head shapes have gone from four to eight, facial features have gone from 12 to 24, hairstyles have gone from six pages to eleven, there is an extra page of eyes and noses and mouths, two more mustaches and beards. Eyebrows are strangely untouched though, and there is still an absence of really blonde hair coloring — you can’t have everything, I guess. (Click for more 3DS Mii Maker details.)
AR Games: An interesting cross-over here is the augmented reality fishing game that looks very much like fishing in Animal Crossing. The AR Game has you fishing for Animal Crossing fish using just using the cameras and AR Card. When you catch a fish simply tug the 3DS and you reel it in.
This uses both the Animal Crossing look and feel — with shadowy fish making their way across the screen — as well as a similar approach to determine which fish are available when you play. AR Games uses the time of day to determine which fish are likely to be out swimming, but then combines this with the color in front of the camera to make some fish only available with particular hues.
There is a fish catalog that can be bought from the AR Games shop that provides a list of the fish you have already caught. Again like Animal Crossing, this lists the times of day and colors that particular fish are attracted to. You have to play the game at those times, and on a surface of those colors for them to appear. It made me wonder if it would be part of Animal Crossing 3DS. (Click for more 3DS AR Game details.)