The Nintendo 3DS is coming out on March 27, and gamers of all stripes are thinking about whether to take the plunge into the next handheld generation. There's been a lot of talk about the 3DS, and a lot of confusion from gamers who haven't had the chance to see the system in action. I recently spent some time with the 3DS, and I got excited about its possibilities. Here are five reasons why I think other gamers should be excited, too.
5. Third-party publishers are excited about the 3DS.
Third-party publishers don't always work well with Nintendo for a variety of reasons, but the DS proved that it's quite possible for third parties to achieve success on a Nintendo console. Nintendo has already lined up a large number of third-party titles for the 3DS, and a number of major North American game developers have noted that they're excited to develop games for the device. Thus, even gamers who aren't big fans of Nintendo's games should be excited about the possibilities of the 3DS. Now it's just up to third parties to create quality games, rather than quick cash-ins, for the console.
4. The 3DS has some pretty neat online features.
With the 3DS, Nintendo may finally be "getting it" when it comes to online features. They're finally implementing a single friend code for all the games on the system, so friends will no longer have to exchange lengthy codes for every game they want to play together. Nintendo has also made a deal with AT&T to provide free Wi-Fi hotspots throughout the United States for 3DS users, making multiplayer gaming on the go far more viable. In general, Nintendo's strategy for 3DS connectivity is that it should be as simple and automatic as possible, which is a good sign.
While the wireless exchange of game information with nearby strangers, known as Tag Mode on the DS, has generally been a futile endeavor for North American gamers, the Street Pass feature of the 3DS may help us out. Street Pass games allow users to exchange information regardless of which game is currently in the console, so a trip through the larger US cities may actually produce some results.
More interesting are two features announced at the recent Game Developers Conference. Netflix will be available for the 3DS, and there will be a portable Virtual Console that will allow gamers to purchase and play Game Boy, Game Boy Color, Sega Game Gear, and TurboGrafix-16 games on the 3DS. Hopefully all of these features will add together to encourage more people to go online with their 3DS systems, and encourage more companies to add online multiplayer modes to their games.
3. The 3DS sports sharp, attractive visuals.
Will the Sony NGP be capable of producing higher quality graphics than the Nintendo 3DS? No doubt. Will it be able to do so at as affordable a price? Probably not, and the visuals on the 3DS are quite crisp and attractive. The 3D models I saw on the 3DS were a far cry from the blocky aberrations found in Nintendo DS games. Companies developing games for the 3DS will be able to produce attractive visuals without breaking their development budgets, which argues well for the system's future game library.