|Release: March 27, 2011|
|Screen Resolution: N/A|
In addition to the practical applications that come as part of the 3DS package, there is also some software that comes pre-loaded onto the unit that you can play with right away. There are four main software titles included as part of the 3DS' core software: Mii Maker, Mii Plaza, AR Games, and Face Raiders.
The MiiMaker is pretty straightforward, and features an interface that allows you to make a Mii to use with the 3DS software. However, there is one pretty big feature on the 3DS not present on the Wii: the ability to let the software do the work for you and make a Mii based on a picture taken with the 3DS camera. Though the results of using this feature aren't exactly the most accurate, the MiiMaker photo feature does a great job of getting the "gist" of what your Mii should look like, and aside from a different nose shape and less blink-y eyes, I didn't have to make too many changes to make my photo Mii look like myself. Though you won't spend a lot of time with Mii Maker, it is a pretty fun application to use to make Mii-making quick and easy. If you want to share your Mii, the Mii Maker also allows you to create special 3DS QR codes that will make your Mii materialize on any 3DS that photographs the code.
The Mii Plaza works with the Mii Maker, and allows you to put your Mii to work. In this application, you can look at Miis you've met via the game's StreetPass system, and use them to play games like Find Mii and Puzzle Swap. Though Puzzle Swap is a fairly straightforward jigsaw puzzle game where pieces are unlocked by finding Miis using street pass (or walking around and using the Pedometer to unlock Play coins) the real breakout feature here is Find Mii. Find Mii is an RPG that allows you to use Miis you find using StreetPass (or Miis you hire with Play Coins) and fight enemies within a multi-layered dungeon. And by completing different dungeon levels, you can unlock accessories for your Mii, which kept me walking and fighting enemies.
However, even though these two applications have some gameplay elements, Face Raiders and AR games are the closest things you can get to dedicated game software pre-loaded on the system. Face Raiders is a first-person shooter game that uses basically all of the features of the 3DS. You take a 3DS picture of your face (or your cat's face, or anything else you want to shoot at), and then monsters bearing those faces will come out of the screen, and you'll have to shoot out at them. The twist is that the game uses live video feed of your surroundings, and you'll have to move around to catch all of the face raiders invading your home. This requires quite a bit of twisting and moving around, which can be a little bit jarring with the 3D effect turned all the way up, as you'll have to keep the 3DS in the perfect position at all times while you are moving to avoid any flickering or distortion. However, if you can keep the DS in position, the 3D effect is used pretty amazingly in Face Raiders, as the little face monsters will come towards you with pretty stunning animation.
I was impressed with Face Raiders, but it's certainly not a game you can play for hours on end. The same goes for the AR Games suite. However, at least the AR Games are more varied, and feature immersive mini-game play similar to what you would find in WiiSports. When you boot up AR games for the first time, you will have six "mystery" boxes that you will have to unlock by scanning the six AR cards that come with the 3DS unit. When you play an AR game, you will have to steady the 3DS' camera on the card, and then you can watch as your countertop, table, or desk is transformed into a little golf course or epic battlefield where you can fight dragons. The AR Games may feel disposable, but the tech behind them is amazing, and fighting creatures that came out of my kitchen counter was definitely an exhilarating feeling.
The 3DS is truly a leap forward for Nintendo and the gaming industry at large. Although Sony has led the charge for 3D gaming this generation, Nintendo is bringing it to the masses. Though $250 is certainly a steep price for a handheld system, the 3DS is worth every penny. The 3D is seamlessly implemented, the new UI features plenty of useful applications and a streamlined visual interface, and the bundled software, while not incredibly memorable on its own, works well at showing off exactly what we can expect from the 3DS in terms of features that can be implemented in other games. The 3DS is a tight little package, and one that is definitely worthy of being the next generation of Nintendo handhelds. Just make sure you don't get lost in the 3D visuals!
Amanda L. Kondolojy
CCC Senior Contributing Writer