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Getting my 3DS just a mere week ago, I’ve already fallen in love with the three dimensional, two screened machine. I’ve spend countless hours, late into the night getting destroyed by random strangers at Street Fighter IV and crashing into Mario’s castle in Pilot Wings. Not many experiences compare to the first moment when I turned the 3DS on and saw my little Mii pop up in 3D without those annoying glasses. And as much as I love the little device, I have just one problem: why do we need two screens?

In the three games I’ve had the opportunity to play (and all the little apps that come with the 3DS) on the 3DS, none of them use the bottom screen for anything more than menus or… well, nothing. Pilot Wings use it for menus, ones that could be used just as easily on the top screen. Street Fighter IV uses it for special attacks that could very well have been mapped to an actual button instead of one of the four giant buttons on the bottom screen. The Mii Plaza and the Augmented Reality games don’t even do anything with the bottom screen. This begs the question: Why does this system need two screens?

If Nintendo had opted to make the Nintendo 3DS a one-screened, they could have made the system half the size. They could have made the top screen (the important one) bigger and maybe had improved the performance of the device with the extra space. There are many possibilities to how Nintendo, being the creative bunch they are, could have improved their device had they had the extra real estate, and yet they added the extra screen, one that doesn’t even get used… at all.

The touch part of the bottom screen is obviously a plus; it makes for some interesting games and features. But why not just make the top screen touch as well (like the NGP). That would solve that simple problem.

Not to say that there isn’t a reason to have a bottom screen. Obviously, there wouldn’t be any backwards compatibility if they rid the console of the bottom screen. And of course there are many games (on the original DS) that DO take advantage of the bottom screen. However, do the pros outweigh the cons? Would getting rid of the screen make the console much better, or much worse? I guess we’ll never know, but I have a hunch; from what I’ve seen so far, the bottom screen is not getting used enough for it to validate its existence, so why not just get rid of it?

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UPDATED after spending more time with the console: 3/28/11 (Updated sections are marked with a red ***)

***Fighting a broken bike, freezing rain and a dark city, at 11:30pm on Saturday the 26th, I rode myself down to my local Walmart to pick myself up Nintendo’s newest console, the 3DS. I’ve had my eye on the console for quite a while now, and after hearing of the games coming soon for the little device, I knew I had to have it. And boy, am I glad I do have it.

WHAT I LIKED:

The. 3D. Works: No, seriously. This is not a gimmick. The Nintendo 3DS shows 3D nearly on par with a giant IMAX theater (if an IMAX theater only had a 2 inch screen). The main menu alone is proof enough that the 3D really does work; browsing through the apps that come pre-installed, you can see little Miis and pictures that seem to magically float in and out of space itself without the help of a giant pair of two hundred dollar glasses. When you get in game, it takes a little bit of adjusting to find exactly what works best for you (I had problems focusing when the 3D slider was all the way up), but once you do, it’s just magical. The depth is pretty cool, however, it’s when things get up in your face when minds really start to blow. Flying a plane in Pilot Wings and having the jet stream slap you in your face is just an experience unlike any other. This is real 3D without glasses. Believe it. *** I’ve also, now, had the chance to try out Street Fighter IV 3D on the 3DS. The 3D is hands down better than anything in Pilot Wings. Even on full 3D, my eyes never hurt and it was a perfect combination of background images, foreground images and everything in between. If you have to get a game with your 3DS, GET STREET FIGHTER.

The Look: When I pulled the 3DS out of its packaging, I was expecting a LOT more console. What I got was a very sleek, layered look that wasn’t too big or too small. The lights everywhere feel somewhat cool, even if a little unnecessary, and the addition of a dedicated Wi-Fi button is very welcome. The analog nub is worlds above what the PSP has; it actually feels like a controller worthy of a console game instead of a dumbed down handheld version. Over all, the 3DS looks and feels incredibly nice. (However, when you’re using the 3D, you notice EVERY SINGLE LITTLE PIECE OF DUST on the top screen).

The Built In Games: The 3DS comes preloaded with all sorts of goodies. The augmented reality cards are just completely mind blowing, and the Street Pass feature sounds like it could be interesting if it catches on. There are some nice features like taking 3D photos and the same music software that was on the DSi. Basically, even without a game, a person could survive for a good, long while on just preloaded apps.

The Promises: Nintendo has promised a lot with the 3DS; Ocarina of Time, a new Mario game, Game Boy virtual console games and 3D Netflix are just a few of the bigger announcements. A lot of these promises are not in sight yet, but just the fact that they’re there makes me feel a lot better about owning this console now.

The Dock: Plop; my 3DS is charging. No plugging anything in or reaching for cables that have fallen behind the desk ever again.

***Street Pass: Walking through Target today to pick up a new game (actually, my mother was inside and I had to go in to use the restroom), I flipped open my 3DS after a couple of minutes to find that the little green Street Pass light was blinking. Excitedly, I opened the 3DS up to see that I had encountered another 3DS owner! Her name was Gabby, and her little Mii popped up on screen and said “Hi there!” While it wasn’t the most exciting thing in the world, it was pretty cool to think that as I walked through this store with the 3DS closed and in my pocket, it picked up another 3DS closed, and in someone elses pocked and communicated with it. Creepy? Maybe a little. Fun at the same time? Completely.

***The Pedometer: As dumb as this might sound, it’s interesting to see all the steps you’ve taken tallied out onto graphs that you can compare to previous days. You can see specifically when I get up in the morning and when I switch classes during the day just how far I walked (in steps). Small feature, pretty fun.

***The Friends List: While completely lacking right now, Nintendo has created the frame work for an amazing friends list feature. You can add friends just like on the 360 which are listed in a nice flowing chart. The system gives their status (whether or not they’re online and what game they’re playing) along with their favorite game. You can even access all this without leaving game (just press the home button, sending your current game into a frozen state, then you can access your entire home screen). However, right now, besides the “now playing” part, there is no interaction between friends; no messaging of any kind (besides a 16 character limit “phrase). Nintendo is sure to fix this, and when they do, it’s going to be awesome. For now though, it’s completely underwhelming.

WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE:

Ouch: After playing for about four hours on and off again, my eyes are very soar. This may be because it’s not 8am and I haven’t slept yet, but my eyes never hurt this bad, even at this late an hour. Granted, I was playing with the 3D slider more than I would have had I not just picked the console up for the first time, but still, I don’t feel like I could play a game in 3D for very long before really feeling the pain. *** After playing with the 3D effects more and more, I’ve realized that because of how big of an area Pilot Wings has, and how much strain it caused on my eyes sliding the 3D slider back and forth, my eyes were obviously going to hurt. Playing two hours of Street Fighter didn’t hurt my eyes in the slightest, and I was playing in a moving van in the dark. I suppose it still depends on the game and on the users eyes, but so far, after that first initial eye strain, it’s not been NEARLY as bad.

The Games: Oh, the games. Quite frankly, this is one of the weaker console launches I’ve ever seen in my lifetime (No, the Gizmondo doesn’t count). No game in the entire line up is a “must have” game, period. You would think Nintendo would start off the life of this brilliant console with a Mario or Zelda or something. But no; we got Nintendogs + Cats. However, like I said, Nintendo is making promises like crazy. Fingers crossed? *** Get Super Street Fighter IV.

The Battery: I got the 3DS at midnight. It’s 8am. I’ve charged it twice already. NOT. COOL. *** However, I just spend the entire day out and about with the 3DS, playing games (both 3D and non), using Street Pass and showing people the augmented reality cards. When I sat down back at my desk this evening, it was just about dead. Think about it: how often are you going to be blasting 3D and wi-fi on your 3DS when you’re outside a place where a charger is handily available? Walking around, you’ll probably have wi-fi on, but the 3D off (it’s hard to walk and use the 3D at all), which adds hours to the battery life. The more I think about it, the more I’m realizing that the battery might not be all that bad after all.

The 3DS really has impressed me. The 3D effects are just effing amazing considering every human who’s ever seen 3D has had to wear those stupid glasses. And yet, right before our eyes, we’re seeing 3D… without looking like dorks. That, to me, is enough of a justification to own this console. Any game that takes advantage of that is just icing on the cake.

Game reviews coming in the future for both Super Street Fighter IV and Pilot Wings, so stay tuned!

***This review was written with little to no sleep at 8am. I am not responsible for weird typos or incomplete thoughts.

Apple has been known in the iPod and iPhone industry to release a new, “better” version of their devices every year. This is something that fans have grown accustom to. Year after year, Apple fans will sell their old iPod and cut up their contract for their old iPhones just to get in on the newest and best that Apple has to offer.

Nintendo, on the other hand, sees things slightly different. Back when the Game Boy was released in 1989, it was the biggest thing to happen to games for years. It basically created the idea of “portable gaming” and it stayed on the market for many years, not being replaced until the release of the Game Boy Color in 1998 (there was the Game Boy: Light and Pocket, in 1998 and 1996. They were upgrades, about two years apart, though not a replacement to the original Game Boy) . That’s almost a ten year jump! From there, the Game Boy Advanced was released in 2001, and then the “special edition” Game Boy Advanced, the SP came out in 2003. Finally, the last Game Boy, the Micro, came out in 2005. The average length between a major Game Boy release was about four or five years.

Then Nintendo released the Nintendo DS, a revolution of sorts in the hand held industry. It first came out at the end of 2004. The DS basically printed money, and it had a run of about two and a half years before Nintendo released an updated version of the device in the summer of 2006, called the DS Lite. It wasn’t a new console, per say, more of an upgrade. That was the same with the DSi, released in 2009, which was mostly a recreation of the DS Lite with more features added.

However, only one year later, mere days after the announcement of the 3DS, Nintendo released the DSi XL, a bigger version of the DSi. The fact that Nintendo released the handheld so soon after releasing  the DSi and so soon after announcing the 3DS has people worried that Nintendo is going to fall into the Apple way of doing things; a new upgrade every year.

I think that’s bogus. Nintendo, in all their years of releasing hand held consoles, on average released, their handhelds at years three or four years apart. The DSi XL was the only time that they had ever released two handhelds one year after another, and I think it was a one time thing.

The 3DS will have a better, more awesome version come out eventually; that’s a given. However, I think us early adopters are safe in thinking that we’re going to have the best of the best for at least two years, maybe even more.

Yes, this entire post was done on my brand new black DSi that I bought yesterday. I like the little thing so far. The new features are very nice and I cant wait to get some DSi Ware games when I get points.

I had some trouble with buying this device right before we hear about the 3DS, but I really needed an update to my phat DS and I can probably sell this DSi if the 3DS becomes something I want.

My hand hurts. I’m out.

People hate waiting for the newest stuff. We like to have the newest iPod, laptop, video game and car as soon as physically possible  So, because the American electronic consumers want more information about the newest gadgets all the time, most company’s try to do the opposite; keep as much information secret as possible to build up hype and, hopefully, sales.

2010 hasn’t been a kind year for video games and electronics though. We’ve had at least three rather large announcements announced months, even years ahead of time, along with some smaller leaks, and it’s only April. Let’s get a quick run down.

Gears of War 3:

Cliffy B, the lead designer for Gears of War, was scheduled to be on the Jimmy Fallon show on a Thursday. On Wednesday of the same week, he had to reschedule for Tuesday, the next week. Well, someone forgot to mention that little fact to the good people in the advertisement department for Xbox Live, because this little blurb appeared announcing on the game on Thursday. Cliffy B, on Tuesday, called Gears 3 “The Worst Kept Secret”. No kidding. I’m sure Epic was real happy about the slip up, and you know someone over on Xbox Live got fired.

Nintendo 3DS:

Though we had heard rumors of a new Nintendo DS that was being planned by Nintendo, the world was expecting news at E3; no earlier. One late night, on a random day in March (March 23rd, to be exact), Nintendo announced some small facts about a brand new Nintendo DS: the 3DS. It was to be a type of 3D that wouldn’t use glasses and was going to be nearly “the strength of a Gamecube”, but that was all the information Nintendo released. No pictures, no concept art, nothing. But it was actually Nintendo who announced what little information we got about the 3DS, so why the weird time?

Turns out that some journalists had aquired some facts about the new Nintendo handheld, some true, some false and Nintendo wanted to beat them to the punch by officially announcing it.

Apple iPhone 4th Generation:

Probably the biggest leak this year was from the big Apple themselves. Apple has a track record to be very very secretive about their newest devices or software. We’ve never had a leak of the newest version of the iPod or iPhone unless Apple specifically wanted it to be leaked.

Until a brand new version of the iPhone, cleverly disguised inside a casing that made it look like a 3GS, but running the new OS, version 4, showed up in a random bar.

An Apple employee was out for his birthday, probably had a little too much to drink and walked off… leaving a prototype of the newest Apple iPhone that hadn’t even been seen by people inside Apple yet, on a stool.

Oops.

As soon as Apple realized that it was lost, they bricked the console so it wouldn’t even turn on. Gizmodo.com bought the device for $5000, and had the first world release of the newest iPhone. Hours later, Apple wrote Gizmodo and asked for the iPhone back (which confirmed that it wasn’t a fake). Gizmodo gave it back without a fight.

Xbox 360 Slim?:

On March 17th, this picture of what was thought to be a Xbox 360’s motherboard appeared all over the internet. It has a Xbox branding and some of the same parts as the 360 does. But to anyone who has seen the current Xbox motherboard, you’ll notice a slight difference in this new find: it’s way smaller. It looks like the CPU and GPU have been combined and some of the ports have been shuffled around to make the motherboard shorter than the current version. We heard exactly nothing from Microsoft about this rumor, but it’s obvious they are trying everything to get 100% rid of the Red Rings of Death problem that has been plaguing their consoles for years. Seems like a redesign of the terrible X-Clamps would be a good start to rid the world of the problem forever.

All these slip ups so far, you have to wonder what else is going to hit the press months or even years early this year.  

Just last night, two big bomb shells were let loose by the gaming community. First is Gears of War 3.

CliffyB, or Dude Huge, whatever you’d like, was scheduled to be on the Jimmy Fallow late night show just yesterday, that is, Thursday. But, at the last minute, he was bumped to a Monday showing. Well, I suppose the good people at the ad department for Xbox Live missed the memo, because a nice little ad for “Gears of War 3” appeared on the service, giving us a “April, 2011” date. While this is sort of nice, I would have rather the game be unveiled by CliffyB himself. Seems like in this day and age, no matter how hard we try, nothing is a secret for long. There are hardly ever secrets that the actual developers get to reveal.

Anyways, also announced last night was Pokemon Black/White. We know nothing about the game at this point, but I’m really hoping for a total re-boot of the series. It’s high time we get something new out of our Pokemon games; we’ve basically been playing the same game over and over again for the past ten or so years. Lets get with it Nintendo, change some things up, lets have some innovation!!

Oh yeah, one more thing; the new Pokemon will NOT be a 3DS game.

UPDATE: WE GOT 3DS!!! Check Kotaku today for more information!!

We’ve been seeing a lot more of Nintendo’s little handheld, the Nintendo DS, within the past year. The Nintendo DSi came out almost a year ago, in April. Then, it’s larger, younger brother, the DSi XL, came out just a few short weeks ago. One would think that Nintendo was finished releasing new DS’s for a while.

“Whon” was wrong.

In previous months, we’ve heard from Nintendo a few small details about what a new DS would look like, but nothing about them actually working on one. They said that they are going to include new Nvidia graphics card made specifically for portable devices, codenamed “Tegra”. Nintendo has also mentioned making it with an accelerometer.

A mock up of the DS 2 by Gizmondo. I imagine it to have bigger, closer screens and analog nubs.

In recent GDC (Gamers Developing Conference) events, Kotaku, among other news medias, have strained a few new facts, though most should be considered purely rumors at this point.

From Kotaku:

* The system has two screens, just like the DS, but they are bigger and higher resolution. I’m sure most of you could have guessed that, but the interesting part is that the gap between the two screens is negligible. Developers will be able to use them as one giant screen.

* The next Nintendo handheld has an accelerometer.

* The dev kit is similar in power to the GameCube. Developers that worked on GameCube or Wii games will find it easy to create with. The DS successor is rumored to use an Nvidia Tegra chip, while the GameCube and Wii have PowerPC CPUs and ATI GPUs. The people familiar with the dev kit made it sound like there wasn’t much of a learning curve on the new system.

* The developers I spoke with will be finished with their games before the end of the year. The Nintendo DS is still going strong and the company could delay the next handheld’s release if it wanted to, but it looks like an E3 2010 announcement and a late 2010 release.

Is it just me, or does that just blow your mind? A Gamecube (and Wii, because we all know that the Wii is just a Gamecube with a Wiimote) powered handheld? It’s exciting! I know that the PSP has had the power of the PS2 for years now, but Nintendo, who’s, more recently, been very behind in terms of graphical capabilities in their game consoles, creating a handheld this powerful? Color me excited!

Here is a list of what I’m expecting out of the new DS:

* A sleek look. The DS, all of them, look nice, I guess. But I want something sleek, shiny (though that sounds a little immature). Think iTouch; thin, small, with a beautiful looking screen.

* No touch screen. The DS’s touch screen was a great idea, don’t get me wrong. There were lots of games that took perfect advantage of the touch screen, but in this new generation of DS’s, I want developers to focus on making good games, not worrying about the controls for the touch screen.

*Analog nubs. And not one lonely one, I want two. The lack of another analog nub was the PSP’s biggest problem, and by having two in their newest system, Nintendo could get a huge jump ahead of the PSP.

I am rather excited about the prospect of the new DS2, or whatever it’s going to be called. The features listed above, all realistic, sound like something that is easily doable by Nintendo. Let’s all hope for some information come this E3.

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