70 Reviews

Nintendo 3DS

Review: Splitting image

This is it. This is the latest stride into gaming hardware from the most innovative company in the business. This is glasses-free 3D gaming beamed directly into your eyes.

We've been watching the 3DS develop as more and more information trickles through the gaps in the internet for almost a year now. During that time, we've absorbed information about launch titles, key tech stats and that all-important price-point (sort of) - and witnessed one Hell of an E3 premiere.

This constant drip-feed of data has left us well prepared to ready our eyes for what at first sounded like a technological miracle; real-time, unaided 3D gaming.


When we finally wrap our fingers around the final retail version of the 3DS, then, there's perhaps not the same sweaty palmed anticipation we've felt with other uber-anticipated gizmos in the past.

We've seen and heard so much about it in preparation, 3DS feels like a distant relative that we've Skyped all our life and are finally meeting in person. It's good to see it in the flesh and all - but, in terms of first impressions, it's also largely what we were expecting.

In its closed state, the 3DS pretty much follows the typical DS design. It takes up a slightly smaller area at approximately 135mm x 74mm but is a bit thicker at 20mm deep compared to the DSi (137mm x 75mm x 19mm). It weighs around eight ounces, including battery, stylus and SD card.

It's sleeker than its predecessors, with curved corners, angled edges and a gloss finish. Essentially, though, it's the same book-like box - with only the two cameras placed centrally at the top of the top panel, and each about half the size of the DSi's camera, hinting towards the showcase feature.

Placed at the back on either hinge, as with the DSi, are the two shoulder buttons - not protruding quite so much this time - and the hinges themselves carry on the gradual lines of the device.

Opening the 3DS uncovers further movement into more sophisticated design territory. The black, gloss border making up the front face of the console and surrounding the top screen is somewhat reminiscent of an Apple product (although it isn't glass, of course). It marks a neat departure from the single colour scheme we're used to from Nintendo.

Also of note aesthetically speaking is the placement of the front-facing camera, now above the screen rather than on the join between the panels and the addition of three new buttons (Home, Start and Select) under the bottom screen sitting flush.

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, with clearly little room to move inside the body.

Where the 3DS does trump the PSP in terms of control, however, is with its new analogue nub - officially called the Circle Pad. While Sony's first handheld had a flat nub with imprinted grip, Nintendo has opted for a concave surface, which acts as a nest for the thumb.

It's still a bit of a chore to push around compared to a proper stick (which is where Sony's NGP will no doubt shine) but its shallow banks mean that you have at least something to push and pull your digit against without it slipping off.

We find this analogue nub responsive, with a quick and definite snap back to centre once it it's released. We had three handhelds to play with, however, and one did notice one particularly sticky Cicle Pad, which didn't come all the way back to the middle if pushed to its boundaries. It's important to say that only one device demonstrated this problem - but it could be a sign of nubby problems later on in the 3DS' lifespan.

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