Wednesday, January 25, 2012

A few more thoughts on the 3DS

Now that I've had my 3DS for about a month, I thought I should share a few more impressions and opinions of Nintendo's latest dual-screened handheld. So, here they are (in no particular order):

1. The eShop is a bit of a mess--I like a lot of things about it--a trailer is available for seemingly every game, you can buy games using stored credit cards, you can save games to a wish list, etc.--but I also hate a few things about it. For instance, it feels kind of constricted and suffocating to me--especially when compared to the Wii's online shop. (Which, admittedly, had its own share of issues.) Closely associated with the eShop's claustrophobic design: I have a feeling a lot of games--especially old DSiWare ones--are going to get ignored due to the fact that people simply don't know they exist.

2. I'm glad Nintendo's finally offering game demos to European and North American 3DS owners--Without question, this should have been a part of the 3DS' eShop from day one, especially since demos have been on the Wii's online shop for some time now. Anyway, what really matters is that they're finally available. Sure, there's only one on the North American eShop at the moment, and it can only be played 30 times before it self-destructs (or something like that), but I'll take what I can get. Here's hoping Nintendo opens the floodgates (even a crack) and puts up more such demos--especially of niche releases like Sega's Rhythm Thief--sooner rather than later.

3. Swapnote is a killer app--I'm sure this adorable, animated, doodle-centric message app doesn't appeal to everyone, but it certainly appeals to me--and I have to imagine it'll appeal to many other current and future 3DS owners, too. I don't see it prompting people to pick up a 3DS just so they can gain access to it, of course, but it's definitely a nice, enjoyable freebie for those who purchase one for, say, Mario Kart 7 or Super Mario 3D Land.

4. The built-in pedometer is surprisingly cool--And addictive, especially as its use relates to the similarly built-in Find Mii. I know you can game the system (pun intended) if you so choose, but I've actually found myself going on walks--ah, the benefits of working from home!--just so I can earn enough coins to hire a few of this included software's "wandering heroes." (Mine are cats, by the way.)

5. I hate that Nintendo decided to region-lock the system--I can't believe I forgot to harp on this in my first "thoughts on the 3DS" post. I know it should have been expected given Nintendo's decision to region-lock the DSi and DSi XL, but I couldn't help but hold out hope that the company would reverse that terrible (for those of us who enjoy playing niche games that will never be released in our particular region) decision. As it is, I honestly can't wait for someone to "hack" the 3DS just so I can import and play games like Beyond the Labyrinth and Theatrhythm Final Fantasy should they fail to make it to our shores.

See also: 'A few thoughts on the 3DS'


Viewtiful_Justin said...

I've had gripes about every online shop Nintendo has ever tried to run. They're FAR too disorganized. I don't see why I can't just have a list of every game available for each A-Z DSiWare, or A-Z 3DS releases...

It just doesn't make any sense. And the fact that the categories they file things under change EVERY WEEK makes me CRAZY! Sure, the staff picks should change...and the currently playing...but...EVERYTHING?! I just feel like they're playing their shop like we're a bunch of idiotic zombies who want to be fed exactly what they want us to buy. Fuck that! I had to actually go to back issues of Nintendo Power to see what had been released in the DSi shop since its inception so I could manually search for it in the eShop channel. I shouldn't have to do that!!

It's broken. And whoever designed it needs to be chained to a desk and forced to learn how to organize a good shopping channel.

Bryan Ochalla said...

Hey there, Justin! Ah, I'm glad I'm not alone on this one. Yes, disorganized is a good word for the current eShop. I'm like you, by the way: I've actually had to search the Web to remember the names of some old DSiWare games that piqued my interest in the past (like Captain Sub), and even after I knew the names of those games I had to search for them in the eShop in order to find them there. I really can't imagine most folks going through all of those steps to download a game -- which makes me think most folks probably only buy the games that are currently being promoted by Nintendo. Probably not a good thing in the long run.

Gerard said...

i hope it'll be no time before some 3rd party releases a region-unlocker for the system i.e freeloader et al.

Still a bit of a disappointingly convoluted process for those of us who've spent the better part of two decades reveling in the ease and joys of region-free handheld gaming.

Oh well, there's still the PSP, and i think, the PSVita.

Bryan Ochalla said...

I agree, Jyr. Nintendo allowed us to import games for our GameBoys, GBAs and DSes (until the DSi, of course)--why stop that now? It doesn't make sense, although I'm sure they have a completely nonsensical answer for it.

As for the PSP and PSVita: Although the PSP definitely is region-free, I've recently heard that there are some questions about the Vita's, er, "region-free-ness." I guess we'll find out more after the system's finally released outside of Japan.

Are you planning to get a Vita, by the way? I like the system well enough myself, but I definitely won't be getting one for a few years. I'm still trying to flesh out my PSP game collection, for cryin' out loud!

Gerard said...

Indeed, i vaguely recall hearing rumblings early on of how Sony were going to pull a Microsoft and leave the onus of region-locking to the developers/publishers, but assumed it fell to the powers of logic at some stage.

It'd be slightly disastrous for Sony if they were region-lock the Vita, no? In the U.S, at least. I mean, one of the few things stopping the PS3 from getting completely steamrolled by the 360 in the States is its region-free capacity. Actually, why d'you think the 360 shot ahead of the PS3 in the States? Sorry to ramble off topic, by the by.

I'm still slowly gravitating towards the PSP, let alone the Vita. I'm still in the middle of a GBA-glut, but that's coming to an end soon. Any hidden gem recommendations I might've missed?

Bryan Ochalla said...

Hello again! Yes, I've heard the same rumblings about the Vita and it possibly not being region-free, both in the past and more recently. I can't say I've really focused on those rumblings, though, so it may just be folks repeating old rumors or it could be new rumors/info. I guess we'll know soon enough.

Anyway, I agree with you that it would be terrible for Sony to region-lock the Vita considering it's likely to share the PSP's fate in terms of popularity outside of Japan.

I don't know if you were actually asking me why I thought the 360 shot ahead of the PS3 in the US or if you were just tossing it out there as part of your comment, but if it was the former: As far as I can tell, the release of the Kinect *really* enhanced the system's profile here in the US. Also, I think its cheaper price and a few, specific, high-profile releases helped the 360 "beat" the PS3 here.

It's nice to hear you're still playing your GBA, by the way. What a wonderful system. Too bad its life was cut short. As for hidden gems: I'm guessing you're asking about the GBA and not the PSP? If so, hmmm, let me think about that...

Well, two obvious choices are Rhythm Tengoku and Guru Logi Champ. Both can be a bit tough to find these days, though, and when you do find them they can be a bit pricey. That said, I recently saw Rhythm Tengoku over at Genki Video Games (online seller of import titles), so head over there if you're interested in that one.

Other that that, though, I'm not sure! My GBA game collection is my smallest of all my game collections, which the exception of the Dreamcast, I think. If I can think of any more recommendations, though, I'll be sure to let you know.

warp said...

I'm not buying a 3DS until 2 things happen:
1) a good localized JRPG that's not a port
2) they build in the Frankenstick (seems inevitable)

Also my favorite GBA hidden gem is Car Battler Joe. It's like half JRPG / half Twisted Metal. And don't miss the Summon Night games!

Linnea said...

Hi there!
Oh, I have been thinking writing a similar post about my first thoughts! Great reading. Here are my quick thoughts in english!

I really love my 3DS! However, there are some small issues I've been a little bummed about.

Why can't I password-protect the startup for my 3DS? Yes, there is a parental password, but it won't stop people for being able to play games on it if stolen.

Speaking about the start-upscren. Is it possible to reach the Friend list and other options at the top without bringing out the stylus? It bugs me a little.

It also is a little strange design-issue with the Home-button. Most of the time it is reallt useful, and I love having a dashboard-like view of my games. But why do I have to push the Home-button if it says right on the touch screen to push the home-button? Why can't I touch the option on the screen? It makes no sense. A small issue though.

I agree about the E-shop. It took me ages to go through all the DSi-games (I did, because I wanted to see what I've missed.)It would be nice to be able to search for several genres at the same time.

It's a shame that the 3DS is region locked. :(

Well, that was quite a lot.

Take care!

Bryan Ochalla said...

Warp: Well, the first of your issues with the 3DS is sure to be addressed sooner rather than later. I'm not sure what that game will be, though. Maybe Square's Bravely Default?

As for your second issue: I'm really not sure that's going to happen, to tell you the truth, although I certainly wouldn't mind if it did! I say that, BTW, because some folks have pointed out how unlikely it's going to be for Nintendo to put both of the Frankenstick's shoulder buttons onto a revised 3DS. If they can't do that, would they go the half-assed route and only include the second analog stick? I'm not so sure. Also,

Bryan Ochalla said...

Hey there, Linnea! Nice to see you around here again :)

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the 3DS. I love my 3DS, too, by the way. I wasn't at all sure that would be the case before I got it, but it really is a cool system. I especially love all of the built-in things :)

As for your thoughts on the 3DS: I've never thought about password-protecting the start-up. I'm guessing most people would find that a pain in the ass and that's why Nintendo didn't include the ability to do that, although I can see how some people would like it as an option.

I fully agree with your comment about the Home button, BTW. Every time the message pops up on the screen to "hit the Home button," etc., I want to hit the touch screen rather than the Home button itself. I have a feeling it has to do with the OS that's used by the 3DS, although I can't say that with any certainty.

warp said...

Hey Bryan, did your response to me get cut off?

Bryan Ochalla said...

Huh, it looks like it did! Unfortunately, I can't seem to remember what I would have said after that "also..." Sorry about that. What do you think about what I did say, though? Do you think Nintendo would try to cram four shoulder buttons onto a revised 3DS, or do you think they'd leave the shoulder buttons as is and just include a second analog pad?

warp said...

I thought you might be wanting to comment on my GBA suggestions.

You know before now, I'd never even heard about the extra shoulder buttons. Are they just supposed to take the place of the old shoulder buttons (because they will no longer be reachable)? If so then it seems like they wouldn't need extra buttons on a revised 3DS. If there are actual games that make use of all the shoulder buttons, then I think they would probably add them onto a revised system. Either way I don't think that would stop Nintendo from adding functionality to their system -- they just did it recently with Wii Motion Plus.

Bryan Ochalla said...

Hello again, warp! Ah, yes, maybe I did comment on your GBA suggestions. Sadly, I can't remember :( It's been a long day (related to work, not this blog).

I've heard good things about Car Battler Joe, by the way. I'm not entirely sure it's a game I'd enjoy, but I should give it a try anyway, I think. Maybe I'll start with emulation and then buy it if I really like it.

As for the Summon Night games: Are any of them in English? I thought all of them were only in Japanese? Hmmm, may have to look them up, too.

RE: The Frankenstick's shoulder buttons -- there are four on the Frankenstick, with two replacing the ones that already appear on the 3DS and two that are new. At this point, I personally can't see Nintendo adding just the Frankenstick's second analog pad and not its extra two shoulder buttons to a revised 3DS. It just wouldn't make much sense. I don't think it's impossible that they'll add in those shoulder buttons, by the way, but I also can't imagine how they're going to do so without making the system thicker.

Regardless, you know a revision of some sort will be announced sooner rather than later (although most think it would happen until early 2013). Hopefully it'll be in line with the DS to DS Lite transition and take a somewhat clunky system to something that's a bit more sleek.

warp said...

I definitely am waiting for the revision this time, after getting the fat & ugly versions of DS and GBA.

There were 2 really great Summon Night Swordcraft Story games that were localized by Atlus for GBA. The battles were like 2D fighting games -- very fun (but tough). There was also a decent Summon Night game localized for DS as well. It's very different -- a bit Diablo-esque, but well worth checking out.

Bryan Ochalla said...

I understand waiting for a revision, warp. I was planning to wait for a revision, but I wanted to play Mario 3D Land and Mario Kart 7 more than I wanted to wait.

Interestingly, as much as I love my DS Lite, I really want to get one of the original "phat" DSes at some point. I don't know why, but the design appeals to me :)

As for the Summon Night games: I forgot that there were GBA-based spin-offs. The Summon Night games I was thinking of are the SRPG ones released for PS1 and (I think) PS2.

Anyway, I'll have to check out the GBA ones you recommended. I remember them having nice-enough graphics, right?

warp said...

Yeah, the Swordcraft Story games had pretty good graphics for the GBA, and a nice design style to them as well. Also I forgot to mention they have a dating-sim element, and your character (you choose boy/girl at the beginning) can date any other character -- even same sex. They're not very romantic dates (in fact they're more like "play dates"), but you take what you can get, right?

Bryan Ochalla said...

Oh, that's interesting to hear, warp -- the same-sex dating element, I mean. Now I'm definitely going to have to check out these games :)

Lewis said...

I just finished writing up my first impressions on the 3DS (, and I totally agree with you about the surprisingly addictive qualities of the pedometer! I forgot to mention the eShop though - I agree it's painfully disorganised. Why is it that Nintendom finds shopping so hard?

Bryan Ochalla said...

Ah, thanks for pointing out your article/post, Lewis! I'll go read it right now. I'm glad to hear someone else enjoys the pedometer and included software. Nintendo was a genius in that way, I think, as the pedometer and software like Find Mii (and SpotPass/StreetPass) really get people to have their 3DS on them whenever they leave the house.

As for why Nintendo finds shopping so hard: I wish I knew! I think they're definitely getting better, but they're still quite a way from being perfect. Oh, well.

Linnea said...

I want to add one thing that really grinds my gears about the online shop. When you submit a review for a game, you have to choose if it's a "girl game" or a "boy game". It's neither of those, it's just a game! It is not possible to choose that the game appeals to both male and females. That is really stinky.

Bryan Ochalla said...

Oh, my, Linnea--I didn't know that! (I've never tried to submit a review through the eShop.) Ugh, what did they do that??