As a fan of all things video games, I was damn excited when Nintendo unveiled their new 3DS, especially since I’ve owned some variation of every Nintendo handheld that’s ever released. So without even thinking twice about it, I plunked down the money for a preorder as soon as a price and date were announced for it.
A week after its release I’ve had the chance to really dive into what Nintendo’s newest system has to offer and have come away from it thoroughly impressed by it, as well as being excited by its potential.
I am, however, still an enormous PlayStation fan. So as much as I’ve enjoyed using my 3DS, I couldn’t help but think of what it all means for Sony’s upcoming and creatively named Next Generation Portable. So with that in mind, let me tell why I think the 3DS will mop the floor with the NGP and, conversely, why the NGP will clean the 3DS’s clock.
Why the NGP will be crushed by the 3DS
It’s only been one week, but I’m already confident that the 3DS was $250 well spent. On top of being a well-built piece of tech, it shows that Nintendo is capable of being a forward-thinking company when it chooses to be — and I’m not even talking about the glasses-free 3D. Let’s dive into it in a little more detail.
The 3DS encourages you to take it everywhere
You might not think that I should be making a big deal about this. After all, these are handheld systems we’re talking about. However, do keep in mind that many, including myself, mostly play their handhelds from the comforts of home. It’s something I’ve done with every portable I’ve ever owned.
Yet this time around I take my 3DS with me everywhere. When you keep the system in standby, it acts as a pedometer, rewarding you with coins the more you walk (for a maximum of 10 coins per day). You can spend these coins a variety of different ways, whether in the built-in Mii games or full 3DS games — I’ve been buying collectible figures in Super Street Fighter IV, for example.
My favorite reason to carry my 3DS everywhere, though, is StreetPass. Walking by other people with their systems in standby, you can exchange Miis, which you can then use for your party in a simple RPG included on the 3DS. Other games have their own StreetPass functionality, too — those SSFIV figures mentioned above are used to battle other players in a social minigame of sorts. It might not sound like the deepest experience, which is because it isn’t. However, I’m not going to pretend that I’m not excited to see the green LED light up to tell me that I have StreetPass notifications to check. I’ve collected 4 Miis over the course of a week and I’m all too excited about it.
One last factor is the most obvious when considering a handheld’s portability: the physical size and shape of the device. While the 3DS weighs slightly more (230 grams) than previous DS Lite (218g) and DSi (214g) models, it has the same dimensions as a DS Lite (134 mm x 74mm x 21 mm) and is actually slightly smaller than the DSi (137mm x 75mm x 19mm). While the current dimensions for the NGP (182.0mm x 83.5mm x 18.6mm) aren’t final, it’s already bigger than the current PSP-3000 (169mm x 71mm x 19mm). The DS was already easier to carry around than a PSP, and that’s only more pronounced when the NGP hits the market. Those twin analog sticks won’t encourage much pocket action, either.
The 3DS is truly backwards compatible
It’s no secret that the 3DS launch lineup is less than stellar. In fact, it wouldn’t be inaccurate to call it terrible. As good as SSFIV is, it’s hard to get excited about it when I’ve played it on full-size consoles so long ago.
That’s why it’s a damn good thing that it plays all of my old DS games. I sold my DSi over a month before the 3DS released to help pay for it, so Pokemon White had been sitting on my shelf for a while. Needless to say, it’s Pokemon, and not SSFIV or Pilotwings Resort, dominating my 3DS’s game card slot. And with nothing substantial releasing for the system until at least the summer, I already have Ghost Trick and Okamiden queued up to tide me over.
Of course, the NGP will be backwards compatible as well. However, you’ll notice the lack of a UMD drive on the system, meaning that this compatibility will only apply to games that you’ve downloaded via PSN. If you’re thinking of trading in or selling your PSP in anticipation of the NGP, you may have to think again, unless you plan on selling and repurchasing your games on the PlayStation Store.
The 3DS is sorcery at work
The obvious draw to Nintendo’s latest handheld is right there in its name: 3D. And through the kind of high-falootin’ witchery that I wouldn’t have believed possible just five years ago, it’s done without the use of cumbersome glasses.
Suddenly, a 3D experience is accessible for just about everyone. People that already wear glasses (like me) won’t have to wear a second pair, and you can simply adjust the intensity of the effect on the fly … or turn it off altogether if you’re still bothered by it.
If the Wii is any indication, people go nuts over a new way to experience their games; on top of the few standout games, there are a lot of underwhelming games that rake in tons of cash because of the motion control built in to the game and console. Putting two and two together and it’s entirely possible to see this repeated on the Nintendo 3DS.
Why the NGP will crush the 3DS
Even with everything the 3DS has going for it, the NGP has plenty up its sleeve, and it should be more than enough to make Nintendo nervous.
The NGP has all-around better hardware
As far as raw power is concerned, Nintendo’s handheld is once again a full step behind Sony’s offering. Obviously, that didn’t stop the DS from running circles around the PSP, so let’s just go ahead and compare other parts of the hardware to decide on what will be better for gamers.
For starters, the NGP’s battery life is a little better. The problem with wanting to take your 3DS everywhere is that it exposes just how crappy the battery life is. While it’s no problem when you have the system in standby, the fact that you can only play it for 5 hours at best is a serious bummer. Nintendo have done a pretty good job of countering this by including a charging cradle with every system, but that doesn’t help you on a cross-country flight. While Sony’s estimates for the NGP aren’t awe-inspiring (4-6 hours), it’s definitely an improvement. In fact, it’s pretty much what you get out of a PSP-3000.