[30 March 2011]
Being a fan of technology and gee-whiz gadgets can take its toll on your bank account and your faith in innovation at times.
Often the hype preceding the latest bit of new technical wizardry doesn’t live up to the gadget itself, or early adopters of new technology find themselves the owners of obsolescence, failures or over-priced, under-performing promises.
I have a box full of these technical wonders that never really delivered: Early attempts at game phones, portable multimedia devices and gaming platforms that quickly withered and died from unknown and known game developers.
Even the devices that succeed often aren’t perfect when they first hit stores.
Nintendo’s $250 3DS almost falls in that last category — almost.
While the device has issues with short battery life and a tiny library of new, original games worth playing, the basic ideas behind the 3DS seem nearly perfected.
3-D on the 3DS is still stunning. Those first experiencing it, without the need of glasses, are going to be blown away. While over time I slowly adjusted to the effect, there were still plenty of moments, even after weeks of experiencing the auto-stereoscopic imagery, when I felt a new appreciation for the visual depth the device can deliver.
The augmented reality gaming remains one of the most enjoyable experiences on the device. Turning your surroundings into a playground for easy, pick-up-and-play games never seems to get old. Watching pits form in my kitchen table, and dragons sprout from a countertop, is almost worth the price of the device alone.
I managed to find a few games I love among the 16 currently available on the system. My favorite two remain Super Street Fighter IV 3D Edition and turn-based strategy game Ghost Recon: Shadow Wars. I was disappointed to realize that few of the launch games encourage or support gaming between 3DS devices. One of my biggest single disappointments was discovering that I wouldn’t be able to play LEGO Star Wars III with my son using our two 3DS. Madden also, surprisingly, lacks the ability to play on multiple systems.
But that’s the price of buying early.
Other things missing from the system? The device’s online game store hasn’t launched yet, but is promised. Upcoming updates will add the ability to surf the Internet, watch Netflix movies and send messages to your registered friends. None of that is available yet.
As an experienced adopter of early technology, this doesn’t surprise me. It may surprise you, though.
If you love your technology and want to be able to impress friends with a sort of technical magic that a lot of people haven’t yet experienced, then buying the 3DS now makes sense.
If you’d prefer to wait until the bugs are ironed out, the features mostly delivered and the game library more than doubled in size, you should probably wait till late summer or maybe even the holidays to pick up the 3DS.
Either way, the system is worth a purchase.
Brian Crecente is managing editor of Kotaku.com, a video-game Web site owned by Gawker Media. Join in the discussion at kotaku.com/tag/well-played.