Nintendo 3DS review roundup

Nintendo 3DS hits store shelves this week. We take an early look at the reviews.

Nintendo 3DS launches this week.

The Nintendo 3DS – the first handheld gaming console to utilize glasses-free 3D technology – hits store shelves this week, and already Nintendo is forecasting a blockbuster launch. So what do the critics have to say? In short, reviews have praised the 3D tech on the new device, questioned the $250 sticker price, and lambasted Nintendo for skimping on the battery life. Let's go to the scorecards.

The hardware

"The 3DS is a sleek, stylish gadget, about the same size as the best-selling Nintendo DS Lite and DSi," writes Winda Benedetti of MSNBC. "It's got that smart Nintendo DS clamshell design with the top screen being the one that shows off the 3-D images and the bottom screen being the touch screen. The top screen is larger than the older-model Nintendo DS Lite or DSi screens at 3.53 inches and the bottom screen is 3.02 inches. The 3DS also has three cameras — two of which are designed to let you take your own 3-D pictures. And it has a Circle Pad, which is a much-appreciated analog stick for game control."

The 3D technology, part one

"Instead of popping out, the 3D image feels like it goes deeper into the screen," writes the team over at CNET. "The best way we've been able to convey the effect is by referring to those old Magic Eye images that required some eye-crossing to get 3D objects to appear. Not to worry, there's no eye-crossing going on here, though some titles we played definitely took a few seconds of getting used to, especially with the 3D slider maxed out. On rare occasions the effect was actually overwhelming, which had us jumping for the slider."

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The 3D technology, part two

"The 3DS does have significant drawbacks," writes David W. Ewalt of Forbes. "The 3-D effect works only in a limited viewing range, outside of which the image gets blurry. There are also concerns about eyestrain and the potential for vision damage in small children. While I didn't experience any negative side effects, Nintendo printed health warnings on the box and labeled it "3D mode for ages 7 and up." Notices also appear while you're playing, reminding you to take a break. Until someone works out a way to fix the technological limitations, I can't see 3-D gaming becoming the standard in the industry."

The 3D technology, part three

"When it comes to 3-D in other games, the most impressive title is Pilotwings Resort," writes Gieson Cacho of the Contra Costa Times. "It gives players the sensation of flying. At certain angles, they may even get vertigo. The 3-D doesn't really help with Super Street Fighter IV: 3D Edition but it's almost indispensable when throwing passes in Madden NFL Football. Players have a better idea of depth and where the open receivers are downfield.... As for the graphics, they're a leap above the predecessor and rival that of the Wii."

The battery

"We don't play our video games with a stop watch in our hand, but even in casual use the battery feels inadequate," note the folks over at Ars Technica. "Under normal usage conditions you're going to get the blinking battery light frequently, and the system takes over three hours to fully charge in our testing. Nintendo was nice enough to include a charging cradle, and a charging cable with an extra-long cable, but it's frustrating how often I felt like I was chained to an outlet... [a battery pack] is going to almost a mandatory purchase with the system if you're going to be playing [the 3DS] out of the house."

The bottom line, part one

"The controls are an improvement from the DS, both with addition of the analog stick, and the better buttons," says Ryan Fleming of Digital Trends. "The biggest issue with the 3DS though is the battery, which will drain away quickly if you are using the 3DS at its most power hungry settings. The 3DS is no doubt bound for success. It takes what worked with the DS and it improves upon it. Many people might be slightly disappointed on launch day, but given time to grow, the 3DS could once again solidify Nintendo’s first-place hold on gaming."

The bottom line, part two

"Eighteen months from now, Nintendo will release the inevitable 3DS Lite and take us for another $250. Until that day arrives, I’m pretty comfortable saying that the Nintendo 3DS is the best gaming platform the company has ever created: The user experience is quite polished in a variety of ways, and its forward-thinking core feature really does make gaming better," writes Chris Kohler of Wired. "Nintendo will sell a lot of them, and glasses-free 3-D will be a big deal in the next generation of gadgets, just like an avalanche of touch screens followed the first DS."

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