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Is it really 3D?

By RJ Refeurzo
Let’s get a couple of things out of the way: for one, Nintendo’s newest handheld, the 3DS, is NOT simply an update of their DS line, a la the DS Lite and DSi. The 3DS is a technological powerhouse compared to the previous generation and has an abundance of features that place it head and shoulders above its brethren. Secondly, despite its namesake, the 3DS’s claim to fame isn’t its 3D functionality, but rather the myriad updates and enhancements Nintendo has managed to cram into this device.
With that in mind, has the handheld made a sufficient enough leap to justify its hefty $250 price tag? Not today, or even in the first several months, but I believe it will. With the Wii, Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 each selling an iteration of its hardware for less than the 3DS, Nintendo’s little monster has its work cut out for it, especially with the lack of software to compliment the impressive hardware. Albeit, Nintendo promises great first- and third-party support in the upcoming months, but dropping top dollar for “potential” is tough to justify. Luckily, innovation is the name of the game, and we’ve seen this story before with the Wii: Five years and 84 million units later, Nintendo’s risk is still in the lead with sales.

Perhaps the most intuitive addition is the 3D depth slider located on the far right of the top half; because the device is glasses-free, it relies on the user’s ability to see two images at the same time. Not everyone sees images at the same depth level, and that’s where the depth slider comes into play. Each individual can move the slider and find a depth that they are comfortable with. 
The big question  about the 3D: Does it work? The simple answer is yes; it’s a very cool experience, and something that can open the floodgates for innovation. It’s easier to gauge distances in racing games, and the depth adds a new dynamic to the device’s already stellar graphics. However, because the 3D requires the user to view the screen in an unconventional way (it forces your eyes to combine see two slightly different images into one), eye strain becomes inevitable over time. This varies from person to person, and can range from five minutes to hours. Personally, I can use it for about 25 to 30 minutes before I need a break. The bottom line is that the 3D is, at least for the time being, a novelty; the 3DS’s superior graphics and new additions more than make the experience worthwhile.
My biggest complaints reside with battery life and the current software lineup. Using the 3DS for DS and DSi titles handles like you would expect: The lifespan is from eight to fourteen hours, depending on your brightness, and this is on par with the previous generations. 
As for the launch titles, they range from 3D platformers to racing games to the fighting genre, but the ones that are worth picking up are few and far between. The only game I decided to pick up was Super Street Fighter IV, a port of the console fighting game on 360 and PS3 of the same name. Perhaps it’s the smaller screen, but this game looks incredible on the device. As an avid SSFIV player, the game looks and plays like its console counterpart. 
Whether it’s the stereoscopic 3D, improved specs, hardware advancements, full backwards compatibility, or impressive software, Nintendo’s 3DS is a definitive step forward for its handheld line. It may be hard to justify right away, but if you want to experience the next generation of portable gaming, the 3DS and Super Street Fighter IV will blow you away. One only needs to see it to believe it.
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