It’s amazing to think that it has been a whole year since the Nintendo 3DS launched in Europe. March 25th 2011 was a date I had been counting down to ever since the system was given a release date. After owning the original Nintendo DS for several years, it was time for a change and I was very much looking forward to playing Nintendo’s new handheld. The next exciting generation of portable gaming was here!
Since the system launched in Europe last year, almost four million 3DS consoles have been sold, with close to fourteen million sold globally. It is the fastest selling console ever in Japan and is dominating the gaming industry. However, it hasn’t been all good news, weak launch titles and an overpriced system lead to a slump in sales in its first few months and it took a sizeable price cut and compensation to customers who bought it for numbers to grow. As the year went on, the 3DS started to receive more hardcore titles with 3D remakes of Starfox 64 and The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, followed up with two new Mario titles: Super Mario 3D Land and Mario Kart 7. Nintendo have released several system updates which have added or updated features such as 3D video recording and changes to the Nintendo eShop.
I have personally enjoyed my experience with the 3DS so far, and while I agree that there should have been a stronger software launch, there have been enough notable moments since its release to keep me interested.
Entering an alternative dimension!
Because I couldn’t decide on a suitable launch title when I bought it, the augmented reality games built into the 3DS were my first gaming experience for the handheld. Pointing the camera at an AR card and have a mighty dragon leap out and claw at you while shooting targets was awesome! I was impressed by the fact that you could move around the card in various directions and shoot targets from the side or above it. It’s cool to think that all this can be achieved with just a single piece of card and some built-in software. I loved the built-in Face Raiders game, taking pictures of family and friends and using them in game as live targets had hilarious outcomes! It was a nice touch and demonstrated from the start that the 3DS was a fun and impressive system.
Sharing data on the go!
Gaming has always been a pleasure that mostly existed within my four walls. I would rarely take my Gameboy or DS out of the house. But the 3DS changed all that with its StreetPass feature, offering games such as StreetPass Quest, an RPG where you use StreetPass to collect Mii’s from other 3DS users to use as heroes to fight evil monsters and Puzzle Swap where I could collect pieces of a 3D puzzle based upon key Nintendo franchises. There was now an incentive for me to take the system out with me, even if I wasn’t planning to use it for gaming on the go. The thought of sharing game data such as high scores and additional game content like trophies and by simply passing people in the street or on a train fascinated me. I found myself checking my 3DS often in populated areas to see if I had received a StreetPass hit.
Last year I was lucky enough to attend a StreetPass event organised by Nintendo Scene at the Zelda Symphony concert in Hammersmith, London. This was the first true test to see exactly what could be achieved with StreetPass and I was amazed at how popular StreetPass was with 3DS owners. I picked up around 150 StreetPass hits, which shared Mii’s, game data and allowed me to complete my StreetPass Quest and Puzzle Swap games. I can only hope that Nintendo continue to build on this feature in the future and give 3DS owners more reasons to use StreetPass.
Where did I put my credit card…?
The Nintendo eShop has been a great addition to the 3DS and has built on the success of the Wii Shop Channel and Nintendo DSi Shop. The eShop offers a growing range of retro and original titles that have enhanced my 3DS experience at times when there hasn’t been many titles at retail to interest me. It was great to experience The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening DX, a title that I didn’t play on the Gameboy Colour originally. Pullblox is another title I adore, a cute little puzzle game where you can create your own puzzles and share them with friends via QR code which can be scanned and downloaded to other systems. I have also enjoyed the 3D Classics series by Nintendo. Kid Icarus and Excitebike which offers a classic gaming experience with a 3D touch. A notable mention should also go to Pokédex 3D, a free application where you can find information on creatures from the Pokémon Black and White games.
I feel that the eShop has come a long way since it was made available, and although I am disappointed it wasn’t offered at the launch of the 3DS, it has done a lot to make up for it and is looking in pretty good shape for the future.
When sales of the 3DS slumped, Nintendo announced that the system would receive a substantial price drop. Although I was happy to pay the higher price tag at launch, I felt incredibly disappointed that I had overpaid for the system. But that disappointment soon faded when Nintendo announced that customers who bought the 3DS before the price drop, would receive 20 free games, ten from the NES and ten from the Gameboy Advance! We were given the fancy term of “Nintendo Ambassador” and were treated to some classic and highly respected titles. I thoroughly enjoyed most of the games and it gave me a chance to play things I had missed out on. It proved to me that Nintendo does care about their customers, and I am pleased that they took the step to offer compensation to those who bought the system early.
STOP SENDING ME PHALLUS DRAWINGS!
One thing that the 3DS lacked on release was the ability to communicate with friends. The Wii had a built-in message system from release where you were able to communicate with your friends and allowed you to attach pictures and sounds to your messages, so I was quite disappointed to find that a similar service was absent from the 3DS. When Nintendo Letter Box was announced as a free download, I was finally satisfied. Once released, I found myself sending notes to friends often, attaching 3D images and sounds to my messages. I became addicted, perhaps even obsessed with this simple yet effective and new method of communication. I still enjoy sending the odd note to people and sharing all of the new stationery that I receive, I feel that Letterbox has given people a good reason to use their 3DS more often, even if it means that I have to endure more penis drawings from friends…
All in all, the future is looking good for the 3DS. Kid Icarus: Uprising has recently joined the list of “core” first party titles for the 3DS with Luigi’s Mansion 2, Paper Mario 3D and Animal Crossing 3D set to join them later this year. E3 will surely announce even more titles for us to look forward to in the next year or so. Additionally, I also hope to see more third party support for the system in retail and on the eShop. Nintendo have already made further steps to assure this, with the arrival of Game Gear games on the eShop. It is almost inevitable that we will eventually see a new 3DS model, most likely incorporating features from the Circle Pad Pro peripheral, such as a second circle pad and shoulder buttons. It will also give Nintendo a chance to redeem themselves and prove that the 3DS is a popular choice for gamers.
Happy first birthday Nintendo 3DS!
Darren Kerwin+ Darren is a 26-year old gamer from the United Kingdom, who has a strong interest in video games, writing, socialising and Parsnips. He runs a Metroid fan website called Shinesparkers, which he describes as being his main gaming obsession. He's also written and contributed to several websites and publications. You'll often find him on Twitter talking about random stuff - just smile, nod your head politely, then move on..