Thursday, June 13, 2013

3DSXL Impressions

Through all of the E3 talks and excitement, I've had a sort of new companion with me every step of the way to compliment my Vita which is also with me every step of the way.  Especially last night with the storms that prevented me from being on the computer for fear of power outages (of which we had several).  My shiny new Animal Crossing 3DSXL which may or may not have something to do with my suspicious impulse purchases of Strawberry Pop-Tarts and Captain Crunch's Oops! All Berries cereal has been my first dip into the 3DS line at all and has indeed proved to me that I have been missing out on a whole world of things.  It's not an expansive world, so to speak, but it's a world all its own, which always merits exploration.

The one major thing that both the 3DS and Vita -want- to do is give you a major impetus to carrying it around as you move about in the outside world, or perhaps simply in your own space of home.  My Vita accomplishes this merely by being a thing that has games on it that I find that I cannot be detached from for long periods of time as well as being my sole musical device thanks to Music Unlimited, whereas the 3DS takes a slightly different route, something a little meta if you will.  Within the 3DS is a pedometer, which if you're somehow unaware is a device that tracks your steps as you carry it about (I think only while it's closed), and not only does the 3DS track this, but it rewards you in the form of currency known as "Play Coins".  On its face, it's rather interesting, of course, but there is a rather unfortunately long list of caveats to them.

First off, you can only get 10 a day, and you get one per hundred steps, so that's 1,000 steps in a day.  That's.....that's really nothing in the scheme of things.  Beyond that, you can only use them in select few things, like Swapnote, Find Mii and Puzzle Swap, all of which are basically pre-loaded into the system now.  Swapnote is an amusing little app that allows you to send notes to friends where you are free to use the touch screen to draw and write whatever you want which opens up a world of horrific potentiality that is, of course, limited by the scope of 'friends only'.  Find Mii and Puzzle Swap are both basically meta-games for your Mii (Which is appropriate, since they're in the Mii Plaza) where the former allows you to use Miis that you Street/SpotPass to try and traverse a dungeon that grants you treasure in the form of Mii Hats and the latter uses those Miis as delivery systems for pieces of a picture representing a Nintendo game in some fashion.  It's not really a puzzle in that you don't get to 'assemble' the picture which was rather disappointing for me personally.

However there is -one- game that uses it in a rather lovely way and that way is Animal Crossing:  New Leaf.  In Nookling's shop, you can purchase a Fortune Cookie for 2 Play Coins.  Upon eating the cookie, it gives you a lucky ticket that you can then exchange for a Nintendo-themed article of clothing or decoration.  Thus far, I've collected Mario's Kart from Mario Kart 7, the Goal Post from Super Mario Bros. and Link's boots from Legend of Zelda.  Be assured that I am wearing them everywhere.  What that basically means is that your little Animal Crossing Tyke is able to cosplay as your favorite Nintendo character while also being Mayor of an entire town.  It's...somehow appropriate.  And just plain enjoyable, as well, which is sure to surprise absolutely nobody.

Something that constantly confused me about the 3DS prior to my owning one was always whenever someone would bring up SpotPass and StreetPass.  All I knew was that they are content-delivery services of some nature that deliver unto you neat things at times.  Now owning a 3DS, I have to say....I am still mostly in the dark.  As stated, however, they are content-delivery services, but the way they work is a little different since they're entirely passive things.  You'll mostly become familiar with them because of Swapnote and the Mii Plaza games, however.  They are mostly location-specific things that do the same thing, really, where SpotPass gets you things in 'spots' where you have access to the internet, and StreetPass gets you things while you're out and about and pass other people with 3DS systems.  Using my previous examples, SpotPass is what lets me send and receive notes in Swapnote from my friends in other states, whereas the Miis I look forward to getting will be enlisted purely from being near people who also have a 3DS.  (There are exceptions, of course, in that there've been all sorts of special Nintendo Miis from E3 using SpotPass, but shh.)

Of course you really can't talk about the 3DS without talking about the 3D so, here it is:  Yeah, it kind of works.  I haven't hit the level where I just turn the slider all the way down, as half-way seems to produce the best "Still 3D, but I don't have to keep my head in the exact same spot" yield.  It's kind of jarring because some games look absolutely gorgeous on it, like the cutscenes from the Project X Zone demo, where other games's not even a matter of not using the 3DS' power, but rather not really having an idea about the art style, really.  Or they're using something that worked on the DS and not putting a whole lot of extra effort into it.  Which, I admit is a little frustrating when I see something fluid and dynamic like Fire Emblem:  Awakening, but I'll just attribute it to unfamiliarity with the product since it doesn't seem like most of the cases are intentional to reign in the budget some.

All in all, it is a rather nifty little piece of technology with some games on it that will ensure I spend -quite- a bit of time with it.  (Harvest Moon, Animal Crossing and Fire Emblem is, apparently the tri-fecta of "you have no time for a year now")  It's not going to threaten my Vita for handheld dominance, of course, and I do find myself missing features that the Vita touts when I'm playing my 3DS.  Namely the screenshot one - while Animal Crossing has an in-game command for this, it's the only game I have that does.  I don't regret getting it, however, of course, and I'm glad that I did.  It was never that I wasn't going to get one, it was always simply a matter of when.  With Animal Crossing released and Rune Factory 4's release on the horizon whenever the wonderful Brittany Avery is done with the text for it, that time was now.  Or...the 9th.  When I got it.  And now we simply go to the future, ready for anything in the handheld space.  It's a good feeling.

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