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Sliced Gaming Feature: Nintendo 3DS: Two Weeks In

Writer: Nick Schaedel
Posted: 12th April 2011, 11:51am
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The buzz surrounding Nintendo’s new 3D handheld seemed to peak before release. I don’t know if it’s just because I don’t watch free to air television at all, but there seems to be a lack of public awareness on the subject. The papers certainly only gave cursory notice to the release (unlike the stories chronicling the long queues of eager fans awaiting the Wii midnight launch). Store clerks joked with me about the unimpressive game line up.

It’s almost a little reminiscent of the original DS’s debut – as if people were unsure whether it was going to be a success and were waiting to see how things turned out. That’s strange, since in the six years since debut the Nintendo DS has become almost ubiquitous. It’s easy to forget the unsteady footing that system launched on – with the killer Gameboy brand value (now a relic of history) and the ‘three pillar’ strategy, Nintendo didn’t want to risk all their eggs in such an experimental basket. Hell, it did touchscreen gaming nearly three years before the iPhone, and yet still had the GBA cartridge slot to maintain backwards compatibility. There are kids growing up today that will have never heard of the Gameboy name.

Now, it’s time for the console’s true successor: the 3DS. For all we know, they might be predating the mainstream explosion of 3D TVs and computing by three years. There’s a certain hesitancy in the air, which in a way is refreshing. Nintendo’s the underdog again; after years – years – of absolute domination with comparatively little effort on their part, it’s nice to see them stick their neck out again.

So, a few weeks in, how does it all stack up? As a longstanding stalwart of the DS Phat – not immune or unfamiliar to the wiles of its sexier siblings, mind you, but doggedly loyal to the end – the device is undoubtedly sleeker than its parent. And yet as I type that statement, I can’t help but think it isn’t an unquestionable dominance. It’s not as bewilderingly incomparably gorgeous as to consign the original system to the ranks of ugly consoles past. As chunky as the first DS was, there was simplicity to its design: just eight buttons, a D pad and a stylus. Sure, the curved body and five-piece hinge didn’t win awards, but when you look at the 3DS, it’s not that far removed.

‘Of course’, you’re thinking, ‘it basically does the same thing’. And yet there’s an unmistakable inelegance to the 3DS. The two-tone blue base; the loose 3D slider; the two unsubtle cameras stuck to the front; the upper lid that tapers outward and is larger than the base; the cheap glittery colour finish – it’s imperfect. It’s a first generation device again, when you’d think the four previous DS generations would have informed its production more. No one would call the 3DS sexy.

And that’s not mentioning the myriad of holes and grooves littering the thing: the central headphone jack, two separate ...

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