I received the Nintendo 3DS for my birthday (thanks GrrlGotGame!), and I have to admit - it's a piece of work. If you love the Nintendo DS, the 3DS is a nice upgrade... with new features and a few notable flaws:
- Price. $250 plus $40 per game is a little hard to stomach with cheap DSes so readily available and so few 3D titles (and virtually no discounts) to entice you. You can augment the meager library with a growing selection of eShop games including optimized DSiWare and GameBoy classics. But...
- eShop is a mess. It's not easy to browse or queue downloads, but there is search so all is not lost. It's a shame the 3D trailers from E3 were only offered for a month (they came down July 7). Nintendo needs to figure out a way to deliver core downloads such as demos and videos permanently, not just for a few weeks or months.
- 3D gaming may give you headaches and/or not work. I recommend trying the 3DS at a store to see how well the effect works for you, and whether you like it. You do need to keep the screen fairly steady or the 3D will fail. If you find you're just not up to prolonged 3D gaming, you can use the slider next to the top screen to turn it off. I almost did so during the opening fairy-cam in The Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time. It made me a little seasick.
- Battery life is shamefully low. You can supposedly get 3 hours of gaming with the built-in battery, but if you turn on WiFi and use the Street Pass feature to exchange Miis and other game unlockables (such as costumes in Dead of Alive: Dimensions), you may not get much play time at all! The Nyko Power Pack or a USB-based portable battery (like the Zaggsparq) with the right cables can extend your battery on long trips, but expect to be near or using a power source more often than you did with the DS or DSi.
- Some DSiWare still doesn't work. I was able to transfer one of the games I bought but the other is not yet available in the eShop (despite reports that more games were added recently, this does not seem to be true). The good news is that games that do transfer are optimized for the 3DS screen (though not in 3D). But you will lose your progress, so be prepared to start them over.
The 3DS plays much like a DS but with an added dimension. Original DS games no longer seem stretched (as they did at launch) though you can still use the workaround (detailed in our tips article) to load them in native mode if you prefer - but it will make them considerably smaller on the screen.
The 3DS comes with a pack of Augmented Reality (AR) cards which use the camera to morph the real world into mini-games and dragon battles. Or you can pose Link, Mario, Kirby or Samus and take their pictures in your living room (just as long as you have enough light to read the card and surrounding area). You can even use the camera to capture yourself and make a Mii that resembles your actual appearance.
This week, Nintendo revealed it will offer a free Netflix streaming app, but it's unlikely this will be your platform of choice for watching TV and movies on demand, unless they somehow find a way to deliver 3D movies. And even then, on such a small screen, it would be uncomfortable to sit that long with your eyes lined up to keep the 3D effect stable. And then there's the issue of battery life: It's doubtful you could make it through a full film with the steady stream of WiFi feeding it to your device. If you have no PC, iPad or game console, Netflix on 3DS might be a passable option. But you probably have at least one of those already, and you're not going to buy a 3DS just for video on demand.
Overall, the Nintendo 3DS is a neat idea, but unless you're a rabid Link or Kasumi fan with money to burn, you can (and probably should) wait for a price drop, deeper library and/or improved battery. But it is fun, so don't feel too bad if you can't resist...