|Release: March 27, 2011|
|Screen Resolution: N/A|
If you keep the 3D on a medium level while you play, you will sacrifice some depth, but 3D games still play terrifically. Because of the reduced depth, you do have a little bit more room to move the system around, but not much, and you'll still have to keep the system relatively still to experience the effect. Of course, if you don't want to experience the 3D at all, you can always turn the 3D off completely, but I wouldn't recommend doing this immediately after a long 3D game session, as it can also be a little disorienting (and you'll find your eyes trying to focus and re-focus a lot). Though the 3D looks good on the system (and the games I have played thus far have implemented it spectacularly), I realize it isn't for everyone. In fact all of the 3DS games come with a warning that each game has a 2D mode, and the 3D mode is intended for those aged seven and above only. So if you are sensitive to 3D or are buying the 3DS for a young family member or friend, you may want to hold off on a purchase if the 3D effect is the only reason you are picking up the system.
The only real problem you'll face with the system's hardware is one you don't see, but you'll feel the effects of immediately: the battery. Much has been made of how short the 3DS' battery life is, and unfortunately, I can confirm that all these rumors are true. Playing Super Street Fighter IV with the 3D turned up and the online modes enabled drained my battery in three hours. Of course, just playing around with the UI and testing out the features, I was able to get five hours from the system (with the 3D turned on) and I was able to play a regular DS cartridge in the system for seven hours before the battery started going. Realistically, your mileage may vary with the battery. But know that if you are planning on long, marathon 3D/online gameplay sessions, you'll want your 3DS dock nearby, as the battery life goes quickly.
Though the system has plenty of physical differences from its DS brethren, the user interface has had a huge facelift for the 3DS. The game takes a few nods from the DSi user interface, and represents different games and content as "app"-like icons. You can customize the home screen with different menu layouts and can order the applications in any way you want.
The user interface also includes streamlined access to your friends list, a message center, and the Internet. Although the Internet application has not gone live at the time of this review, we hope Nintendo will roll out that feature when the system actually launches. The design of the new user interface is simplistic, but you can see that Nintendo has some serious plans when it comes to social gaming. The persistent friends area (which even features gamertag like "cards" that shows on each friend's online status) is probably the biggest upgrade here, and even though you'll have to manually add friend codes for online friends, you'll only have one to remember that will carry over through all supported games. But in even better news, if you meet people on the street that you want to friend, you can add them just by sending a local friend request...no codes needed!
The friends section of the user interface is easy to use, and this trend continues throughout the other standard "applications" that are included with your DS. One interesting feature of the UI is a personal notes system that can be accessed even when you are mid-game. The interface is able to switch between the active game (which is paused) and the notes application, and then allows you to seamlessly switch back by selecting the game from the home screen once you have exited the notes application.
Although a lot of the user interface is new, you will recognize some old favorites. The music player remains basically unchanged, with the same music-loading capabilities and cute talking bird character. The photo application is also about the same, although it does have some enhancements that take advantage of the 3DS' 3D photo-taking capabilities. The photo application will also probably change in the coming months, as Nintendo rolls out a 3D video capturing feature.