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Sliced Gaming Feature: Nintendo 3DS: eShop Hands-On

Writer: Nick Schaedel
Posted: 7th June 2011, 7:34pm
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As if there wasn’t already enough going on today, Nintendo has released a long-awaited Nintendo 3DS system update. Promised on its unveiling at E3 2010 – exactly a year ago – the handheld released two months ago without a few key components of Nintendo’s portable strategy. Well, the eShop and browser are finally here. We had a few minutes spare between uploading screenshots to run the new apps through their paces.

The browser for the Wii and the previous incarnations of the Nintendo DS was developed by Opera, who you may know for their desktop and mobile browsing products. This time around, they’re using a browser based on NetFront, developed by the Japanese company Access. Yep, I’ve never heard of them either. How’s it work? Just okay. Still, you’d complain (and we did) if there weren’t one at all, so I suppose you can never please us.

It’s not that snappy, with pages taking a few seconds to load. Don’t expect tabs or flash support either. It is, though, fairly elegant, with both screens used to display the page and a single bar at the bottom with menu icons. And since it’s only showing in 2D, that bloody green 3D logo on the top screen is not lit. Why they can’t turn it off in the rest of the system is beyond me. Unfortunately, the browser lacks the finesse we’ve come to expect in the iPhone era. No double tap to zoom in – it’s magnifying glass buttons only. That means no holding on links to open in a new window. You’ve only got a single linear history of pages to flick back and forth between, none of which load any quicker having been accessed previously.

So, no YouTube, and limited Facebook. It doesn’t identify as a mobile browser, so you get the whole page, but given the limited screen real estate it takes a second to render the rest of the page when you scroll. The keyboard also takes a fraction too long to appear. There are no multiple tabs, and text is unreadable when zoomed out. You might use it to bring up a Wikipedia article, I guess, but I’d be able to do it faster on my phone than I would bringing up the 3DS. At least you can quickly flick to it from within a game, which is when it might be the most useful. You can also upload images, including 3D images, so presumably Nintendo will launch a 3D screenshot gallery populated by user pictures at some point in the future.

SpotPass has been activated, allowing dedicated Nintendo Wi-Fi hotspots (which, if anything like the Nintendo DS Connection, will most commonly be tied into EB Games stores here in Australia) to push content onto your system as you walk by. Look for trailers for upcoming products, demos and more to appear on your home screen ... (continued next page)

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