Should You Buy the Nintendo 3DS?

Nintendo 3DS
Nintendo 3DS. Image © Nintendo

The Nintendo 3DS was born in an interesting climate. Unlike its long-lived predecessor, the Nintendo DS, the 3DS must share the handheld market with multiple competitors, especially Apple's iOS series of devices (the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad).

But Nintendo knows handheld game systems. Years of engineering expertise surface easily in the Nintendo 3DS's solid design, cool features, and myriad options.

The 3DS's much-touted 3D screen is only half the story; the 3DS is endearing because it's brimming with Nintendo's patented charm, lending the system its own light amongst portable offerings from Apple and Sony.

NINTENDO 3DS PROS:

It Displays 3D Without Additional Headgear - This is the Nintendo 3DS's most prominent feature (hence its moniker!). The depth of the 3D field is impressive, and it really shines with games like Nintendogs + Cats, wherein your animals can practically pop out of the screen to greet you with kisses.

The 3D Depth is Adjustable - If the 3D effect is too intense for you, you can adjust its depth to a comfortable point using a slider on the side of the top screen. You can also turn it off entirely, which Nintendo recommends for gamers aged 6 and under.

It's Backwards Compatible with Nintendo DS Games - Don't abandon your Nintendo DS library. Nintendo DS games slip into the top slot of the 3DS, just like 3DS games.



There's Lots of Pre-Loaded Software - Take a look at what comes pre-loaded on the Nintendo 3DS. You can make and play music, take 3D pictures, edit them, etc. You can even play Augmented Reality (AR) mini-games using the six packed-in AR cards.

A New Home for Nintendo's Properties - If you like Mario games, you're only going to find them on Nintendo's handhelds and consoles.

Same goes for Pokemon, Metroid, Kirby, The Legend of Zelda, Donkey Kong--the list goes on and on.

It's Built Well - The Nintendo 3DS has a satisfying weight; it feels good in your hand. It's also a good size (not much bigger or thicker than a Nintendo DS Lite) and its clamshell design protects its screens against scratches, dust, and scuffs.

NINTENDO 3DS CONS:

It Doesn't Have the Graphics Processing Power of its Competitors - Games for the Nintendo 3DS certainly look sharper and more detailed than games for the DS; compare, for example, Nintendogs with Nintendogs + Cats. But iOS devices like the iPad 2 can admittedly produce slicker, faster graphics than the 3DS.

Some Folks Might Have Trouble With the 3D - Viewing 3D images can produce dizziness and nausea in some individuals. Remember to read the health-related literature enclosed with the 3DS, and turn down or turn off the 3D effects if necessary.

Narrow Viewing Angle (when the 3D is on) - The 3D effect can only be viewed straight-on; if you shift your perspective or tilt your head, you have to re-adjust the Nintendo 3DS to see the effect properly again.

Shorter Battery Life - The Nintendo DS and DSi squeezed a lot out of its battery, but the battery life for the 3DS is considerably shorter: 3 to 5 hours, with everything turned on.

You can lengthen the 3DS's battery life by turning off the 3D effect, dimming the screen a bit, and/or turning off Wi-Fi.

CONCLUSION:

The handheld market is expanding at a breakneck pace; it's unlikely Nintendo will ever again rule over the landscape, unchallenged. But competition is also beneficial, as it has driven Nintendo to innovate with the 3DS and engineer a game system that combines elements of social gaming with traditional gaming. Even as the market becomes more crowded, there's little doubt that the Nintendo 3DS will garner anything but a large and devoted fanbase.

Disclosure: Review samples were provided by the manufacturer. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.