3DS One Month In…
This blog entry was originally going to be my personal impressions of the 3DS after its first week on the market. Fortunately, I’ve been pretty busy at n-Space writing all kinds of other docs, so this article sat on the back burner. A week turned into two which turned into three and now here we are at nearly a month since the US launch of the platform. My impressions haven’t changed exactly, however they have evolved a bit.
It sure is pretty
n-Space was lucky enough to have received 3DS devkits shortly after E3 of last year. With so many of us being blown away by the 3D screen and the overall capabilities of the system, it was great to finally have kits in-house. But March 27th 2011 marked the first time many of us had a chance to sit down and spend time with a production model of the hardware, the launch titles, and the final version of the in-game interface.
As soon as I started up the 3DS, I was immediately impressed with the presentation. Nintendo has a special, even magical way of putting the player at ease. The Home menu is simple to navigate, pleasant to look at, and easy on the ears, with soft, gentle tones and bright, cheery notifications. Right off the bat, I was smiling.
There’s a lot to play with!
I don’t think anyone expected so many built-in games, tools, and toys to be included with the system. That first week, many of us spent more time noodling around with AR Cards and StreetPass collection and raiding Faces than we did playing any of the launch titles.
But with so many other 3DS owners around me every day, there was no shortage of games to try out. I dabbled in just about everything, but spent the most time on the two titles that excited me the most – Steel Diver and Pilotwings. I remember playing Steel Diver WAY back at E3 2004 and thought it was a great showcase of what made that system unique, but for years I wondered if it was destined to becomes one of those great tech-demos that should have been developed into a full title but never was. I was happy to see its return and very pleased with the results.
Pilotwings brought me back to the good ol’ N64 days of peacefully gliding through the air or gingerly landing a jetpack on small, circular targets. The 3DS follow-up was exactly what I was hoping it would be. But oddly enough, Pilotwings gave me the most trouble when it came to focusing on the game in 3D. It was the only title that had me dialing the slider back or even turning the 3D effect off entirely from time to time. With everything else I’ve played, I was surprised at how much I used the 3D, keeping the slider on full the entire time.
A slave to the green light
With other handhelds like the DS, DSi, and PSP, I’d go through my honeymoon phase of playing it every day for the first few weeks or longer, but then my interest would wane and become divided between that and other gaming outlets like consoles, iOS games, etc. But no other handheld has ever made me put it in my pocket before heading out to lunch – or grab it before going to a meeting on the other side of the building – or stick it in my back pocket as I went for a quick walk around the parking lot. For the first few weeks, I carried it with me everywhere I could, driven by this strange desire to generate footsteps, collect puzzle pieces, and build a wardrobe of goofy hats. StreetPass was one of those features that had a few people scratching their heads when it was first announced. But now those same people are walking around the office twice a day, waving their 3DS around as they try to make new connections.
StreetPass even inspired some friendly competition. Shortly after release, Dan and I visited Full Sail here in Orlando to see some student presentations and give a talk about n-Space. We both went armed with our 3DS systems in Sleep mode, hopeful that we wouldn’t be the only ones. To our delight, we proceeded to pick up stray Miis as we walked around campus, both of us periodically (if not frequently) checking for the little green light that indicated a StreetPass had taken place.
By the end of the day, Dan and I were comparing the number of collected people. Dan even accused me of being “very competitive” which I never thought I was. True, I was thrilled when I had collected 1 more Mii that he somehow missed – and it’s also true I considered powering off his sleeping system when he left it unintended on the podium during our presentation – but me, competitive? No way!
As much as I was impressed with StreetPass and Nintendo’s support of it with the built-in software, I was equally disappointed that more games didn’t support the feature at launch. Simple things to share like ghost data or high scores for Pilotwings or Steel Diver would have been great.
It was after that trip to Full Sail that Dan started thinking about a way to do a meet-up of 3DS owners in the Central Florida area, with the sole purpose of making more StreetPass connections (who’s the competitive one now?!). As we started brainstorming about how to organize such an event, we stumbled across the StreetPassNetwork.com site and learned that we weren’t the only 3DS owners excited by this feature and looking to use it to its fullest potential.
So what’s next?
We know n-Space is a special case. Not everyone out there comes into contact with a dozen of other 3DS owners 5 days a week, each one turning their system on at the start of the day and even walking around the office fishing for connections. Therefore the StreetPass experience featured in Mii Plaza was somewhat accelerated for us. Within two-and-a-half weeks, many of us had completed all of the puzzles and finished the “Find Mii” RPG not once but twice. By the end of week 3, my Mii plaza was crowded with 46 Miis, a quarter of which were sporting purple demon heads (sorry if that was a spoiler!).
All of us are hoping Nintendo is already working on (or even sitting on) new content to share via StreetPass. New puzzles, new quests with new hats, or even new game modes entirely would be a welcome surprise and put everyone here back in the habit of walking around looking for connections. Right now, my 3DS is on my desk sleeping and I can see the little green light it on, but it doesn’t have the pull it used to. Still, I have a few more games to try and a couple more to finish, but I have to admit I’m a little sad I don’t feel the need to grab my system before going to the bathroom (that sounded awkward).
That’s not to say we don’t care about meeting new people! On Saturday, April 23rd, n-Space is hosting what we hope to be the first of many StreetPass Orlando meet-ups, this one taking place at Downtown Disney [Event page]. We’re not only excited to make new friends and new 3DS connections, but we’re most interested in seeing what other people think of the 3DS and their experiences and specifically their impressions of StreetPass. As developers, the info we gather at an event like this will ultimately help us design the best features for the games we are presently working on and the many more to come in the future.
I only wish I had some puzzles to complete or new hats to collect…