Nintendo 3DS review of reviews

By Naomi Mackay,

The Nintendo DS, along with the Wii, has managed to change the face of gaming. Even the least games-playing types have managed to have a go at Brain Training, or have squeezed in an exercise session in on the Wii Fit.

Certainly among primary-school children the DS is the gaming console of choice, whether they’re in the car or on a train – and it’s a piece of kit that is shared by kids and adults alike.

Nintendo-3DS

Now Nintendo has taken it to another level – the 3DS comes to UK shops on March25, will be priced around £200, and has one big USP – it offers the full 3D gaming experience without the need for 3D specs.

So what do the experts say about the new 3DS?

At Tech Radar, they commented on its build quality, saying: “In terms of how the new device is to hold, the 3DS doesn’t feel quite so expensive or solid as something like the Sony PSP. The d-pad, face and shoulder buttons are small with that distinctly ‘clicky’ feel. We’d also say that when fully open, the top panel encroaches on the space your fingers need around the shoulder buttons.”

Another negative is the battery life, according to Ryan Fleming at Digital Trends, who comments:

“Nintendo claims that the battery is good for around five hours of use, and that is being generous. If you are using it fairly intensely, with the brightness turned all the way up, the volume at full, and the 3D as high as it can go, plus you are connected via Wi-Fi, you will probably run out of juice in less than three hours.”

Yes, yes, but you want to know about that 3D don’t you? First, let Luke Westaway at CNET explain how it works: “The 3DS uses parallax barrier technology to create a 3D effect without requiring the user to wear glasses. The parallax barrier is a layer within the screen that’s covered in tiny slits, allowing two different images to be fired from one display in slightly different directions. Align your eyes correctly, and you’ll see a 3D image.”

Okay, now we’re getting to it. The Telegraph’s Tom Hoggins tried out the 3D effect and found it was not without problems:

“The 3D has its problems, however. Shift the console out of that 3D sweet spot, and it can be tricky to find it again, often creating a ghosting effect. It’s distracting when playing Pilotwings and the hoop you are flying towards suddenly splits in two. It’s also unquestionably a strain on the eyes after prolonged play, and will have many reaching for the 3D slider that can switch the effect off. Fortunately, the 2D visuals look good too.”

In fact, back in December the company’s Japanese website warned that children under the age of six should not use the 3D functionality as it could affect their eye development (that will be my argument if number one son asks for one for his birthday!)

And on MSNBC Winda Benedetti had the same problem: “…to see the 3D imagery correctly, you have to keep your head directly in front of your 3DS. There’s only a small window for wiggle room. Moving your body around and keeping your head aligned with the gadget at the same time isn’t horribly difficult. But it does require some extra attention and, if you move your eyes too far out of alignment, the visuals go wonky.”

Ben Kuchera at Ars Technica was more complimentary:

“The 3DS’ main gimmick is the glasses-free 3D screen, but Nintendo included a slider on the right-hand side of the device that allows you to adjust the 3D effect up and down or turn it off entirely. You don’t have to go to a menu, you don’t have to reboot the software, you can adjust the 3D whenever you’d like—even just to let someone watch over your shoulder—and it works beautifully.”

So the jury’s divided on the Nintendo 3DS –some think it is too pricey, and that the battery life lets it down big time – so it definitely seems like a case of try-before-you-buy to see whether you really get on with the 3D offering before splashing your cash.