This conversation started off as a casual chat between Ishaan and I. Ishaan picked up a Nintendo 3DS at launch and I got mine just about two weeks ago. When I got my system I was determined to complete the Find Mii mini-game, a RPG-lite quest where you use Miis you find in the StreetPass Mii Plaza to save your Mii, and I constantly told him about my progress. (White cat attacks, attacks, attacks again!)
Ishaan: With the help of your cat warriors?
Spencer: Yeah, it took almost 200 cats, but I did it in less than two weeks! I wasn’t able to find that many StreetPass tags. The idea is neat and Nintendo, incentives it too by giving people Playcoins to spend so they carry their 3DS around, but finding other people is rare.
Ishaan: Wait, so how’d you manage to get 200 cats? And how do you unlock StreeetPass Quest in the first place?
Spencer: I meant the Find Mii game in the StreetPass Plaza, you know the one that plays like a simple RPG, but each warrior runs away after attacking once?
The secret… is cheating on Playcoins. I reset the date on my 3DS since you’re limited to 10 playcoins a day and I was pretty vigilant about that. Jogging, walks, even around the house I carried my 3DS to earn Nintendo’s kinetic currency.
Ishaan: So, here’s the interesting thing…you know how we’ve been covering this system for months now, in one form or another?
I actually had no idea how to access StreetPass Quest until you just told me where to find it. There’s so much stuff on the 3DS main menu, and so much of it is locked away. I haven’t even unlocked all of the AR Games yet…
Spencer: There’s a 3D picture/puzzle StreetPass game too and a bunch of Face Raiders stages to beat. I played a lot with the preloaded games and camera a lot since those interested my friends who aren’t big into video games.
Ishaan: So, what have you been playing most, of all the pre-loaded software?
Spencer: StreetPass quest hahaha either that or the camera. The pictures aren’t sharing quality, but there’s some novelty in taking 3D pictures.
Ishaan: Yeah. To be honest, the camera isn’t as much fun as I expected it to be. I think that was probably what I was most excited for before I got the system But it’s really, really low-res and you need to fiddle around with it a lot if you want your pictures to turn out looking reasonably nice.
Ishaan: It does…I tried transferring images over to my PC, too, but I’m having trouble getting any of my MicroSD cards to work with the 3DS. But I agree, they do need to make photo-sharing a much easier process. I believe DSi is compatible with Facebook already…
Spencer: Yeah, it is. You can upload photos directly to your profile.
Ishaan: Yeah, I don’t want to sound too demanding or anything, but I feel like photo-sharing should’ve been an "out of the box" feature. You kind of lose interest in taking photos if you can’t share them, too, so I really hope the May firmware update fixes that.
Ishaan: Well…I’d describe my 3DS relationship as a really wild one night stand after many glances exchanged at karaoke parties. And you kind of want to get into a proper relationship afterward, but she’s hard to figure out. I think there’s a lot of "future potential" here, and I think firmware updates will be the key to tapping it.
I love the individual features of the system. The 3D effect, the coins, the cameras…but they aren’t "coming together" for me yet. I take it out with me whenever I leave the house. I try to take 3D pictures every now and then (which can be hard sometimes). I play a lot of Super SFIV online. That’s about the gist of it. So I think what I really miss or want is the sharing stuff we talked about…I’m missing the "social" aspect of the system.
Spencer: I haven’t seen much of the social side either. It might be because space is too big or because we’re early adopters. In America though, I think only cities where there’s a lot of walking like New York and college campuses will have real StreetPass communities. Well unless Nintendo can update the range to make HighwayPass(TM!)
Ishaan: I think StreetPass is something that will grow over time, as more and more people own 3DSes. But from the very beginning, they’ve been making a make deal out of online, and I think we’re short on features that way.
The way I see it, the 3DS draws inspiration from smartphones in a sense. The UI is designed to be smartphone-like, and you have the ability to take pictures, too. On a smartphone, taking a picture and uploading it to Twitter is almost second nature. But you can’t do that on the 3DS…not yet, anyway.
Spencer: I’m looking forward to more connectivity too, but I think from seeing people who don’t usually play games they’re impressed with things like Face Raiders and AR Games. The camera can be kind of muddy, but I’m looking forward to new styles of games with the 3DS. The AR stuff is pretty neat and I’m waiting for an actual tabletop RPG now.
Ishaan: I’m looking forward to some kind of strategy game, haha. That could be very cool. I really hope AR games catch on because there’s a lot of potential there. It’s interesting…the AR Games that come pre-built are impressive tech demos to show other people, but I feel like, if you wanted to create a full game using augmented reality, you’d need the camera to modify the environment to fit the style of the game more.
Well, it’s fun watching a dragon pop out of your dining table…but if you were to have an actual RTS game or a table-top RPG, wouldn’t you want the environment and the characters to fit together a little better?
Spencer: Of course, but I think that’s further down the road. I expect games with characters running on your desk first.
Spencer: Some of them, there’s a stack on my shelf, but Steel Diver isn’t on it. You may laugh, but… Bust-a-Move Universe has the best use of gimmicky 3D so far. Pictures of Bub and Bob pop out of the screen when you clear a level and a wheel in the background looks like its floating. I was pretty surprised.
Ishaan: … You keep talking about Bust-a-Move… That’s SERIOUSLY your favourite launch game?
Spencer: No, even though it’s a port I’d go with Super Street Fighter IV: 3D Edition. But, I was surprised about Bust-a-Move because… it’s a bubble matching puzzle game, not a technical showcase. It’s still the same game, though, just with 3D dinosaurs and I’m partial to those, I admit it.
Ishaan: Street Fighter is great, yeah. I’m amazed how well-rounded it is. There really isn’t much more you could ask for in the game. You’ve got more games than I do…what do you think of the 3D effect?
Spencer: Hmm… In Ridge Racer 3D it adds depth, but also washes out the colors. I have to set the depth slider in the middle since it’s too much 3D when you’re moving so fast. I suppose it’s like you’re driving into the screen with floating exhaust flames. Sims 3… I think the equivalent of a converted 2D movie to 3D. It looks muddy and the depth doesn’t add much to watching my Sim dance.
Believe it or not I have Pro Evolution Soccer too. Konami sent it and the 3D adds depth to the stadium, but I don’t think it’s necessary. Then again I don’t know anything about soccer so I might be totally wrong!
Spencer: Does it make me a better virtual racer? Nah. My times are better in 2D!
Ishaan: Well, does it make the track any easier to "decipher"? Sometimes, it can be hard to tell which way a corner turns, and you usually have signposts telling you which way to go. So, does 3D help with that?
Spencer: That’s an interesting question… If it did, it’s not at a conscious level. I still glanced at the map on the bottom screen to anticipate turns.
Ishaan: Mmm…I wonder if that’s a sign that racing games will need to be designed specifically with the 3D effect in mind… I suppose Mario Kart will answer that question. It’s interesting that you said the 3D effect in Ridge Racer washed the colours out. In Street Fighter, it’s the exact opposite. Turning the 3D effect on, even slightly, makes the game look much, much better than in 2D. Everything looks more saturated and clearer, and objects stand out from each other better.
Spencer: The contrast suddenly gets darker for Ridge Racer when you turn on 3D.
Ishaan: This is an interesting topic…did you get the sensation that there’s still a lot to figure out with how to use 3D effectively? Things like the distance between different objects and the lighting.
Spencer: Yeah, I’d say so with the launch games. There are some games where you go into the screen and other games that feel like they have layers. The effect is still neat to see, but I think developers are still learning how to utilize it.
Ishaan: Yeah, that’s going to be another aspect of the system to look forward to…seeing how the 3D evolves. There’s a lot little flaws in the how 3D characters are represented that can ruin the effect sometimes.
Like, in some cases it almost looks like a character could pop out of the screen, but that effect never gets across completely if you can’t fit their entire body onto the screen. If their legs or something go outside of the edges of the screen, it prevents them from looking like they’re "coming out" at you.
Spencer: You’re not usually an early adopter, in the 3DS’ case are you happy with your decision?
Ishaan: I think I am, yeah. Especially now that I’m old enough to appreciate how a system and the games for it evolve over a period of several years. You know me…sales and development nerd. I’m really curious to see what sells, how games evolve and how the system holds up over time. …but if you’re asking if I’m happy with Steel Diver, then no. ><
…thankfully, it looks like other games will make up for that soon. Like Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance! I think that might just be the game I’m most excited for on 3DS…at least for the moment. You?
Spencer: I like the idea of the 8th day in Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor Overclocked (final ex alpha 2 edition) a lot. But for made for 3DS games Kid Icarus: Uprising, since I dig rail shooters. It’s Panzer Dragoon-ish.
Ishaan: …you are the curse that plagues the gaming community! First FFIV Complete, now Overclocked!
Spencer: Give me extended scenarios!
Ishaan: Quiet, Hashimoto’s listening. Say too much and you’ll be paying for Dissidia 012 doujin quests before you know it.
Spencer: (Suddenly becomes quiet.)