Smart phone gaming is making this design redundant unless your parents won't let you have a phone.
Nintendo has supersized its 3DS with a 4.9in screen that's almost twice the size area of its predecessor. The handheld goes on sale this week, but if you're unsure whether its worth the upgrade, here's what we thought after a weekend of gaming on it. Nintendo 3DS XL With the enlarged display more or less the only improvement …
Tuesday 31st July 2012 14:58 GMT toadwarrior
Smartphone gaming is a joke. There are no games on smart phones that can offer the same level of control as the 3DS and most games on phones feel like budget titles in terms of game quality.
The best example of the difference of playing mobile games to handhelds is chinatown wars. On the DS it's perfect. On a phone it feels like try to tie your shoes with your fingers glued together while drunk.
The phone iteration came second. It should be the best iteration but it simply can not be the best.
Tuesday 31st July 2012 07:16 GMT Greg J Preece
Wasn't impressed by either the 3DS or the 3DSXL, won't be bothering with either. 3D is the latest in Nintendo's recent procession of gimmicks, trotted out to disguise the fact that they're terminally out of ideas on the game front. My DS and DS Lite still serve me perfectly well, and given that they haven't even bothered to up the screen res (are you kidding me?) I'll be skipping this revision just as I have every pointless upgrade since the DSi.
Tuesday 31st July 2012 08:52 GMT Shonko Kid
Happy to oblige..
OK, so the 3D is a gimmick, but true to form at least give Nintendo credit for at least using it to explore some new gaming elements. You've obviously not played either of the two launch titles, Mario 3D Land and Mario Kart 7, both of which take the well known franchises and give them an added twist, and if you can hit the sweet spot with the viewing angle/distance both look fantastic. Although I do agree with the review that all to often you'll lose the sweet spot at a crucial point, but it's worth it!
I can't honestly see how you can say that they're out of ideas, sure they've refreshed all the main in house franchises, but that's pretty much all the gaming world is these days, very few new gaming elements, and it takes the HW manufacturers tinkering with input/output capabilities to push the envelope a little.
Tuesday 31st July 2012 09:04 GMT Greg J Preece
Re: "Cue fanboys."
Well that was predictable...
Can't even slightly agree. The "added twist" you say has been added to titles that have been done to death already adds nothing in my opinion. A couple of occasional forced gimmicky sections and an infuriatingly difficult-to-use 3D system (tried it on a bus?) don't make them suddenly original games again. Perhaps they could come up with a new franchise, or new gameplay? Taking Mario World and putting it in new graphics, then in 3D, then in 3D on a big screen doesn't change anything - it's still sodding Mario World, and I've already played that to death. (Well, in 3D's case it's more Mario 3 - Mario World's inferior predecessor.)
"I can't honestly see how you can say that they're out of ideas, sure they've refreshed all the main in house franchises"
If you can't see what is wrong with that statement, there's no hope.
"and it takes the HW manufacturers tinkering with input/output capabilities to push the envelope a little."
No no no no no no no no no no. Different controllers do not make for original games. Zelda with a Wiimote is still copy-and-paste Zelda, just with worse controls. 3D Mario is still Mario, just with an added headache. You want to see actual originality, or innovation in gameplay? Wander into the indie PC market sometime. Beyond the masses of "play your music collection" or "woo retro space fighter games", you'll find a whole host of cheap, fun variety.
Tuesday 31st July 2012 11:39 GMT sabroni
Re: "Cue fanboys."
Zelda skyward sword is "just" zelda (i mean "just one of the best games ever made"), but the controls aren't worse than ocarina on an n64, both are perfectly tuned to their control mechanisms. And the idea that the 3d marios play like the 2d ones is misguided. 2d mario has a special momentum that i've never managed to get the hang of, 3d mario I can control fine, even in 2d style sections. Super Mario 3d land is structurally similar to the 2d ones (in terms of worlds and levels within them) but the gameplay is markedly different. If it wasn't I'd be as shit at it as I am at the SNES mario games.
I totally appreciate that some people don't "get" nintendo but to claim that they don't innovate is bizarre, of the 3 big console manufacturers they're far and away the most inventive. Admittedly when they find something that works they iterate it but compared to the yearly fifas, cods etc. they're very restrained. It's one smash bros per platform not one per year...
There are no doubt a load of interesting cheap games on pc, but you buy a console (well, nintendo one) to get simple quick access to games that work. I've just spent too much time fucking around with pcs trying to get games working in the past, just can't be arsed anymore....
Tuesday 31st July 2012 12:29 GMT Shonko Kid
Re: "Cue fanboys."
"difficult-to-use 3D system (tried it on a bus?)"
No, but it's easy enough to turn off. Like I said, it is a gimmick, I didn't buy it because it had 3D, but when used right it does at least add something to the games.
" don't make them suddenly original games again"
No, I never said original. just a fresh take on well worn games.
"it's still sodding Mario World, and I've already played that to death."
Well that's ok, there are plenty of people out there who haven't, and just because some people are bored of the concept doesn't make it any less of a good game. Yes, I am biased in favour, SMW was, and still is, a fantastic example of the 2D platformer. Personally, I can see and appreciate what they did with 3D land in trying to add fresh viewpoints onto the genre.
"If you can't see what is wrong with that statement, there's no hope."
That's the way the mainstream videogame industry is, and has been for quite some time.
Perhaps what is needed is a good kicking into touch, and maybe, just maybe, smartphone gaming will be that boot.
"You want to see actual originality, or innovation in gameplay?"
Yeah, care to point to anything. I'd be intrigued to see something that was actually new, and not derivative in any way. It's been a while since I saw that.
Tuesday 31st July 2012 15:03 GMT toadwarrior
Fine if you want to live in the past then do so. I rather have a console that plays my ds games and gives me access to the new games some of which are the best handheld games you can buy and even compete well against large console games.
Plus you can finally experience internet play in a real manner unlike the DS.
And people who can't stand 3d can turn it off and it still offers the best portable gaming experience.
Tuesday 31st July 2012 08:03 GMT Graham Triggs
You say that Nintendo have had a year to listen to community feedback, but surely the only thing they need to listen to is the sales of the circle pad add on. If that has only sold to a small percentage of the total of the 3DS market, then wouldn't that mean the community has said that it isn't that bothered?
Besides which, Nintendo - quite correctly - increased the size of the bottom display on the XL. So the only way they could have put a second pad on there is to have it below the buttons, which is hardly ideal in itself.
Yes, the Vita may have got two thumbsticks on their device, but the placement means it is a bit uncomfortable to use the direction pad and buttons.
Tuesday 31st July 2012 08:05 GMT Chris McFaul
the first line is wrong!!! the screen isnt OVER twice the size of its predecessor
ignoring that fact that to most people a screen twice the SIZE of a 3.5" one would be a 7" one....
i can only assume you are talking about area - and ironically the advert this article appears on top of says that the XL has 90% more area... meaning its LESS than twice the area
Tuesday 31st July 2012 08:22 GMT sabroni
Don't understand the logic?
Don't understand why they didn't include a second analogue? It's pretty straightforward. They don't want to splinter the 3ds games market by having games the won't work on older handsets because the only have one.
To my mind, the real problem with the 3ds is a lack of killer software. While the console itself comes with some fun games and stuff built in, finding a full price game worth buying is tricky. I've been playing wario land 4 on mine recently, that's a gameboy game... If they don't get themselves a killer app soon the phones will win!!!
Tuesday 31st July 2012 13:48 GMT Kevin 6
Re: Don't understand the logic?
agree 100% on the no 2nd analog pad reason.
Game wise it had some great games to start then they just stopped flowing sure one comes out here and there, but for the most part is calmed down. Doubt Nintendo can be blamed though seeing from what I seen its happening on every system across the board just nothing really interesting is coming out
And before people jump on me stuff like NBA 2013 which just had a roster update, and CoD's 10 billionth sequel that just has a few new textures, and maps don't count as interesting IMO
Side note I personally like that the 3ds doesn't have 2 analog pads as I've never liked controllers that have had them.
Tuesday 31st July 2012 08:25 GMT Anonymous Coward
Tuesday 31st July 2012 12:36 GMT Dave 126
Re: RE: Smart phone gaming is making this design redundant..
Agreed, many games are horrible without physical controls...
However, a Bluetooth (or USB OTG) joystick solution already exist... it is just that would need to be supported by more games natively (or just a small handful of 'killer apps' like GoldenEye, Tekken or WipEout). The buy-in cost is in the region of £25, if one already has a suitable Android phone. I don't see this as an insurmountable barrier... but rather one of the fuzzy hurdles that requires a 'critial mass' of software support. So, I wouldn't yet call 'bullshit' on the possibility of smartphone gaming supplanting dedicated pocket consoles...
Tuesday 31st July 2012 08:47 GMT DrXym
Pixelation is a result of a few things.
a) The GPU in the 3DS is 7 year old tech, supporting OpenGL ES 1.1 not 2.0 which limits the sort of procedural effects it can do (i.e. shaders),
b) 3D halves the horizontal resolution to deliver discrete pixels to each eye so although the screen is 800x240, the effective resolution is only 400x240.
c) Larger screen means less pixel density
At £200 I'm not sure who the market is meant to be for this device.
Wednesday 1st August 2012 08:58 GMT Epobirs
It's really just down to C.
A doesn't matter because this is a handheld. No great shock that its GPU trails the settops and desktop PCs. It needs to work under much greater constraints.
B is a given in the original model and thus neither here nor there. The resolution is a constant across both.
It's all C. Existing games were designed to look their best on the original screen. This isn't a new development. Playing games optimized for a 25" NTSC/PAL CRT would have this drawback if a big 36" tube of the same resolution were used. OTOH, you could comfortably play at a greater distance and companies got to sell controller extension cords before wireless took over.
What surprises me is the number of people, including the reviewer, who act surprised the resolution hasn't changed. The price difference is far too small to expect anything else. To produce a higher resolution model with no compatibility issues would require quadrupling the resolution (aka doubling it in each real dimension) in order for the system to scale things up transparently to software. Anything else would produce ugly visual glitches. This alone would make for a much higher price for the screens. Allowing the higher resolution to be driven directly would mean upgrading the innards as well, for yet more added cost.
I'm looking forward to trying one of these out. I have a 3DS but my aging eyes could do with bigger screens. If it feels good I expect I'll get the XL and see what price I can get for my 3DS. If the XL had been released just a few months ago it's probably what I would gotten in the first place.
Wednesday 1st August 2012 10:49 GMT DrXym
a) It does matter because it limits the tools a developer has to minimize the effect. e.g. a dev might implement MSAA if the GPU supported it. Or perhaps a shader based solution such as MLAA. The PICA200 has mip mapping and blend functions but it's clearly limited in other ways.
b) And the resolution is poor. It's as bad as some budget ldpi phones smart where resolution issues are pronounced even in screens smaller than the 3ds.
c) Yes that makes it worse but the problem was always there and commented on previously.
Nintendo being Nintendo have a penchant for using low specification parts that bolster their profits and the result can be seen in their consoles and in their handhelds. I think the 3DS is no different in this regard and the result for the consumer is they pay a premium for a substandard experience.
Friday 3rd August 2012 14:05 GMT sabroni
Re: substandard experience
I disagree, the experience isn't substandard. Just like a good musician can make a low quality instrument sound good and a crap musician can make a top of the range instrument sound shit. Nintendo are all about the games, not the resolution. A crappy game at high resolution is a high def crappy game.
Tuesday 31st July 2012 08:48 GMT ByeLaw101
RE: Chris McFaul
"ignoring that fact that to most people a screen twice the SIZE of a 3.5" one would be a 7" "
Yes, I will ignore that because it's wrong.
"i can only assume you are talking about area - and ironically the advert this article appears on top of says that the XL has 90% more area... meaning its LESS than twice the area"
OK, so ALMOST twice the size... jeeze, splitting hairs here aren't we?
Tuesday 31st July 2012 08:51 GMT ByeLaw101
"Smart phone gaming is making this design redundant unless your parents won't let you have a phone."
Phones are not equipped with the correct user interface for gaming, so until thats sorted then I will have to stick to dedicated portable gaming systems for my kicks.
"And for people who doubt that try using MAME on a touch screen smartphone, it's not the best experience."
Tuesday 31st July 2012 12:41 GMT Dave 126
Re: @ LarsG
Use a PS3 Bluetooth controller- it will connect by Bluetooth or by USB OTG. I'm repeating the essence of my above post because native support of hardware controls only needs to be implemented in one piece of software, the emulator, for it to be usable with hundreds of games.
If this approach, or one better tuned for mobile devices, becomes more widely adopted remains to be seen, though.
Tuesday 31st July 2012 13:25 GMT Anonymous Coward
Tuesday 31st July 2012 13:29 GMT Anonymous Coward
Tuesday 31st July 2012 15:17 GMT toadwarrior
It doesn't come with one an imo Nintendo is really stupid for doing that. More annoying is, as I believe, enough shit themselves over this that the US 3ds xl is now going to come with an ac adaptor while everyone else is screwed into buying one unless they're upgrading from a 3ds.
Imo, they're listening to the stock market too much which is upset they're only selling boat loads of hardware rather than mega boat loads which of course means they're basically dead in the eyes of someone whose only interest is making an obscene amount of money.
Wednesday 1st August 2012 01:27 GMT veti
How many reviewers wrote this?
The reviewer seems to suffer acute schizophrenia.
"Nintendo has begun to realise that... bigger is better". Then a few paragraphs later: "the package as a whole feels... slightly too clunky to carry around comfortably." Which do you want: big or compact?
Then there's "There's no doubt 3DS fans will prefer this new model, so long as they don't mind the smoother more rounded design, which didn't appeal to me much, truth be told." - which swings two ways within a single sentence - "there's no doubt that fans will prefer this new model, except for those who don't".
Please, if you're going to give out advice to Nintendo, pick a position and stick to it. At the moment you're just cancelling yourself out.
Thursday 2nd August 2012 08:47 GMT GoldenHu
One has to wonder...
.... and then there's the option (and room for) a 2nd circle pad plus the standard buttons. That way the current 3DS users wouldn't have a new system to buy and game developers could create new games that would do really well with two circular pads. For a little more money Nintendo could've made a lot more money. The terrible cameras, the ugly colors, no charger for the European and Asian communuties, the screen resolution.... All if improved would have made this system an incredible experience that people would pay extra for. Instead, decisions were made at Nintendo that show that they are losing touch with their customer base (decisions that quite frankly are dishonorable), and they are going to have to fight hard to earn back our trust. One has to seriously wonder what they were thinking.