3DS hands-on report – PAX East 2011

I spent nearly 45 minutes playing with a variety of games at the Nintendo booth during PAX East. Here’s a quick rundown:

  • The first game I played was Steel Diver. When the rep handed the 3DS to me, 3D was switched off. The game was immediately impressive graphically and its motion controls were much more responsive than similarily controlled games on iPhone. Then he turned on the 3D for me and I knew I was pre-ordering the game. It made decent use of 3D, especially the ocean surface, but the game itself was very solid.
  • AR Card games were a lot of fun. It’s really amazing how it incorporates the surface you put the card on, let alone moving around the targets in the real and virtual worlds simultaneously. I hope they can release more cards that trigger new games throughout the life of the system. Even if they’re ads for products, this is such a neat technology I wouldn’t care.
  • Kid Icarus: Uprising was as beautiful as Smash Bros Brawl and made good use of 3D effects. The controls were like patting your head and rubbing your tummy, added to the brand new 3D screen, which altogether made me feel very discombobulated at first. As the game progressed, I quickly got the hang of it. It plays like a variety of games and reminded me of 1942, Galaga, and especially Space Harrier.
  • Nintendogs + Cats was fun and cute, but after two minutes of playing it, I was already bored. This one went from pre-order to rental in a matter of minutes, for me.
  • Pilot Wings Resort gave me exactly what I was hoping for: Wuhu Island and flight, my two favorite things from Wii Sports Resort. Hopefully the game will have many secrets and extras to unlock. I have also played this at my local Best Buy.
  • Super Street Fighter IV is a must-have for the 3DS. Not only is it freaking Street Fighter, but it’s a beautiful portable game and the graphics are incredible enhanced by 3D, not to mention the plethora of StreetPass and online features it has.
  • Games I saw but didn’t get a chance to play were Lego Star Wars III (looked fun, like all Lego titles), Zelda: Ocarina (looks so much better than N64 and included motion controls for the slingshot), Dead or Alive (not as exciting to me as Street Fighter), and Face Raiders (which seemed fun, but I don’t know why you’d want to shoot yourself in the face).
  • And finally I have to mention the operating system and menus. The 3DS is absolutely gorgeous on the outside and this is mirrored in the menus. Extremely fluid and easy to find what you’re looking for. Also, creating a Mii using the camera is incredibly fun.

Any questions?


  1. Was the 3D effect tiring for your eyes?

  2. This is the kind of repot I’d been wating to read about the 3DS. It’s a shame that some titles are facing delay because of Mother Nature hatin’ on Japan, but it’s nice to hear first-hand, hands-on feedback. I’m glad to hear what you thought about Kid Icarus, pretty close to what I hoping for, actually. I think it’ll still be a while before I get 3DS, though, mainly because I’d really like to see more original titles and concepts (like the AR games; I think they’re a brilliant idea).

  3. How accurate was the Mii that the 3DS created for you via the camera?

    So jealous that you got to try it out.

  4. My eyes felt just fine after that amount of time. I could tell they were being focused on something in a different way, but no strain or headache.

    The Mii wasn’t as good as the one from my Wii, but since the system was tethered to a table I had to bend over and the angle wasn’t flattering. 🙂

    They have them at some Best Buy stores now! In fact I just went and played Face Raiders and it was really really fun!

    Also, since this was published, I figured out that the screen and 3D effect are better if you don’t have the system too close to your face. I was holding it about a foot from my face (as close as my iPhone) but it looks better at a foot and a half or two feet away.

    Keep the questions coming!

  5. i have mine preordered but now i regret not getting over night shipping 🙁
    so jealous you got to play it but i might have to stop by my bestbuy now
    david do you think kid icarus would is basically sin and punishment?

  6. just 10 more days sweet

  7. Hey! Call a Best Buy near you!! I just played with a 3ds in Wichita KS today! (they just set up the display last night they said) It was on display, and Pilot Wings was the only game up for demo, but still! I played it for quite a while, and lemme tell you, it was niiice. The Aqua Blue color was soo amazing.. The 3d worked like a charm, turned it up to max right off the bat, and had no problems. Felt awesome to hold, very nice button feel. Clicky buttons! Yay, and the circle pad was a pleasure to use. So call your Best Buy and check it out! I’m so glad I pre-ordered an aqua blue one :). K bye!

  8. i was actually there and played it as well. one thing that occurred to me later on was, i didn’t notice if the 3DS has a mic like the DS. none of the games used it, but does it still have a mic?

  9. I wen’t into BestBuy today and played Pilot Wings on the 3DS 😀
    I was a bit surprised to see it. the slide pad was great to use, and it was cool seeing the 3d effect! But for me I going to hold off on getting one.

  10. Kid Icarus definitely plays similar to Sin & Punishment at times, but this was only a 5 minute demo.

    And yes, there’s a built-in mic.

  11. What colour would you say is better? Aqua blue or cosmo black?

  12. The blue color is cool, but the color scheme is sort of interrupted on the inside. It isn’t blue on the top half surrounding the 3D screen. Also, the outside is shiny blue, sort of reflective. You can actually use it as a mirror.

    So I’d say the blue is very bling-y and the black is more space-y.

  13. And just imagine all the $$ I’ll save once I get the launch batch of 3DS games in Holiday 2012!

  14. 27th is getting here pretty fast, can’t wait!

  15. I would love the blue version if it was 100% on the inside instead of half and half. I’ll go with the black instead.

    How is the hand placement. Is it hard to hold or control? The button placement is on?

    Also, have you found the shoulder buttons in use in any of the games? I have three DS’s (kids) and none of them have working shoulder buttons.


  16. Easy to hold, but the demo units’ tethering cable made it a little awkward for me. Button placement and controls are solid, like every Nintendo handheld or controller.

    Shoulder buttons were used in some of the games I tried (Kid Icarus, Street Fighter).

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