First Impressions: Nintendo 3DS and Madden NFL 3DS

Shiny. Sleek. What's not to love?

So yesterday I had a lunch with a friend at Chelsea Market. And to my surprise there were dozens of Nintendo representatives there…with Nintendo 3DSs! I quickly jumped at the chance to try Nintendo’s new handheld. Now I had already pre-ordered my 3DS weeks ago, but it was great to actually try it out before it released. And I gotta say, I’m impressed. If I was 90% sold before trying it, then I’m now 100% sold; simply put, the device is amazing. I got to play Madden while my friend got stuck with LEGO Star Wars. I was the lucky one. Right away I was amazed at the 3D effect without the use of glasses. The stadium, players, and the ball in flight were in full 3D effect. It was also pretty cool to watch the replays in 3D. I also experimented with the 3D slider to adjust the effect, and I took the time to move the 3DS around to see exactly where the “sweet spot” was. In all honesty, the “sweet spot” where you must be looking to enjoy the 3D isn’t all that small. Unless you like acting like a five year old and like moving your DS along with the actions in a game, then you won’t have any problem. You simply play the way you would play any other handheld–at a comfortable distance. I know a lot has been made of the 3D effect putting strain on the eyes; even Nintendo has come out to say you should rest your eyes every 30 minutes. However, each person responds differently to 3D. Me personally, I get headaches watching 3D movies. I don’t seem to be affected by this device though, maybe because it’s smaller and not as profound as a large movie screen. My friend had a hard time seeing the 3D; then again, he was playing LEGO Star Wars, which is nothing but a cheap port. Reports have already come in that the 3D is more prominent in some games more than others. I have another friend who can watch and play in 3D for hours on end. So like I said, every person will respond differently. As for the actual button scheme, I found the circle pad to be quite easy to use; I know a lot has been made of “dual analog sticks” for Sony’s NGP. However, I think going with one on the 3DS is fine. The problem with the PSP’s single analog stick was that the device itself was uncomfortable to use, which made using one small stick a nuisance. The one on the 3DS however, is placed perfectly making for an enjoyable gaming experience.

The graphics are on par with the Wii. Not bad.

Now to the game. While I was playing Madden, it was easy to get the players going where I wanted to, and the four buttons on the right (A, B, X, and Y) were used for passing and special moves. You were able to choose your plays after every down, but if you didn’t want to, there is a “Gameflow” feature where the AI system automatically selects your next best play for the current situation based on authentic and real life NFL team gameplans. I remember one moment on my drive where I hit Kevin Boss on an outside slant on a 3rd and 5 with two defenders converging on me; in Madden 3DS, certain critical plays like this will allow you to go into “Spotlight” mode, where everything moves in slow motion and zoomed in. At this point, you have choices on what to do. In this case, I was given the choice to either press the “L” button or “R” button in order to juke to the left or right. I chose to go right, which let me pick up a few extra yards and a first down. This was an awesome experience to say the least. The 3D effect was very prominent. Graphically, you can tell that the 3DS is a big step up from the DS. The players were no longer clunky and box-like–instead they were smooth and crisp. During plays there were no slow downs and everything remained clear cut. Overall, I was very happy with Madden and will be picking it up along with Street Fighter on launch day.

Would I recommend that people get a 3DS? Yes most definitely. Would I recommend getting one at launch? Hard to say since there is a lack of software. For me, I just want to have one; I’m also content playing Madden and Street Fighter. Also, if you have the money, then by all means go get one–why wait? But for the average joe, until more games are released in the summer along with the blockbuster hits, I might have to say hold off. The only risk I see is that there still might not be enough devices when those big games arrive, especially with the state Japan is in. But my friends I end with these three words: Ocarina of Time. Till next time.

EDIT: Kotaku has posted an interesting article regarding 3DS LEGO Star Wars. It basically says the 3D feels kind of forced and is not really necessary. Check it out here. Also, IGN’s review of the 3DS is up. Take it how you want it. You can find it here.

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