Home / Gaming / Games / Nintendo 3DS / Games, Battery life, Value and Verdict

Nintendo 3DS - Games, Battery life, Value and Verdict

Ardjuna Seghers

By Ardjuna Seghers



Our Score:


User Score:

In a nice and clever touch, Nintendo has finally included games with one of its consoles out of the box, and they do a good job of showing off some of what makes the 3DS unique.

Face Raiders, which is just as disturbing as it sounds, takes a picture of your face (and those of loved ones, friends or colleagues) and plasters it onto a malignant floating 3D head, which you then have to shoot against the background of your actual environment (which is captured in real time by the twin rear cameras). You move your view not by using the controls but by moving the whole console, which tracks your movements very accurately using its built-in motion sensor and gyroscope. If you’ve ever seen Eliminate: GunRange on the iPhone 4 you’ll know exactly how this plays, except here the action gets really frantic and there’s a double dose of augmented reality in ‘real’ 3D.

The other title is AR Games, where AR stands for Augmented Reality. With your 3DS you’ll get a cardboard package containing six cards. Five of these contain 3D models of some iconic Nintendo characters like Mario, Zelda and Samus. However, one merely has a question mark on it. Put this card on a surface, wait for the 3DS to ‘read’ it and it will overlay a virtual world onto this surface. Creatures and stages will pop out of this physical card to make for some of the most entertaining augmented reality mini-games we’ve ever played. We’re really looking forward to what future cards might do.

We’re also cautiously excited about Nintendo’s launch lineup of full-blown titles. Highlights include Street Fighter IV 3D, Nintendogs + Cats, Pilot Wings Resort, Ridge Racer 3D, Super Monkey Ball 3D, Pro Evo Soccer 2011 3D, The Sims 3 and more. Unfortunately, none of them are original properties, but at worst they add an extra dimension to familiar titles, and at best they’re impressive showcases of just how far mobile gaming has come.

We’re very sorry to hear that 3DS games will be region-locked, where before Nintendo handhelds always let you buy your games anywhere in the world. This is a major step back, though it won’t affect a large portion of consumers.

Unfortunately, our biggest complaint with the 3DS has nothing to do with its 3D, connectivity or usability, but with its battery life – or rather lack thereof. On the DS Lite you could happily game all day, and then game some more; over 10 hours at a very usable screen brightness was easy to achieve. With the 3DS, you’ll be lucky to get half that, and that’s with the brightness turned down and Wi-Fi turned off.

Of course, this is more than enough for many, but Nintendo’s console is like modern smartphones in that you will need to remember to charge it every day if you intend to use it with everything turned on. Turning off 3D will also increase battery life, but then of course you’re missing out on one of the console’s main attractions. It’s worth noting that third party manufacturers are already offering extended battery packs.

When it comes to value the 3DS is a very reasonable proposition. Though there’s no MSRP in Europe since Nintendo is letting retailers set their own prices, at the moment £188 seems to be about the cheapest it is available at. Considering the DSi debuted at £150 and did far less to justify its cost, the 3DS could be considered a bit of a bargain.


It’s not without its faults and won’t be for everyone, but overall Nintendo’s 3DS does it once again: it’s a well-built and eminently usable console that offers unique appeal, stuffed with fun features and potential. The glasses-free 3D really works, and if you get tired of it you can simply use it in 2D, where you still get the most powerful dedicated portable gaming machine around. Considering its small premium over previous generation DS systems, it’s definitely worth considering if you don’t mind its short battery life.

Overall Score


Scores In Detail

  • Design 7
  • Features 9
  • Value 8


March 25, 2011, 12:31 pm

Just a minor comment on the quote "Considering its small premium over previous generation DS systems". I don't see this. Nintendo DSI can be purchased from many online retailers for £100, a saving of £87 or approx 45%. Otherwise a good review.

Luan Bach

March 25, 2011, 12:59 pm

@justinh, and some places goes as low as £89.


March 25, 2011, 1:53 pm

Now seems the perfect time to buy a DS if they are only £90.


March 25, 2011, 2:11 pm

Decent review. Just one minor nit-pick...

" It’s no AMOLED display like on the Samsung Galaxy S or iPhone 4 Retina display"

...iPhone 4 uses IPS-derived LCD technology, rather than AMOLED.


March 25, 2011, 2:15 pm

@ justinh I believe the reviewer is talking about respective launch prices.

Tim Sutton

March 25, 2011, 2:18 pm


The respective prices at launch is specifically stated when talking about value. I understand the PSOne was available quite a bit cheaper than the PS3 on PS3 launch day, but I'm not sure it was better value :-)


March 25, 2011, 2:22 pm

"On the best launch titles, quality would appear to be somewhat better than the level of the original Xbox â€" an impressive feat considering this is a mobile console and that it needs to render each frame twice to output 3D." See a year ago I'd have agreed with you but look at what the iPhone (or better yet the iPad 2) is doing now and I'm not so sure it is that impressive to be honest.

And that's kinda my worry with the 3DS, that it's going to feel very dated very quickly. Not just in terms of graphics (Nintendo have proved that's not a major issue in the portable space, at least for their target market) but it just feels... old fashioned somehow. The stylus feels like an antique (and the resistive screen really removed the option of good finger control), the styling is a bit too close to the DS for comfort, the on-line options are, in places, a bit weak... Lots of little things adding up to what could be a big problem.

The one saving grace, the 3D stuff, effectively got neutered this week when Nintendo announced all games MUST run in 2D as well as 3D modes. That takes out any possibility of introducing real gameplay innovations and just reduces it to increasing immersion. That feels like a bad move to me and really removes a lot of my interest in the system.

Don't get me wrong, it's going to sell like gangbusters and I'm sure a lot of people will be very happy with it. I just can't help but wonder if it'll have the sort of long term impact that the DS (and its many many revisions) had especially as phones and other mobile devices race ahead with new technology at a ridiculous rate.


March 25, 2011, 2:41 pm

With Nintendo's track record of tweaking - wouldn't be too surprised to see a revised model with improved battery life within a year or so.


March 25, 2011, 2:50 pm

I'm probably going to get one of these, having been mightily impressed when I played Zelda and Resident Evil at a preview event a few weeks ago.

The launch titles are very uninspiring, however... I think I'll wait for now.

Michael G

March 25, 2011, 3:08 pm


Decent review. Just one minor nit-pick...

" It’s no AMOLED display like on the Samsung Galaxy S or iPhone 4 Retina display"

...iPhone 4 uses IPS-derived LCD technology, rather than AMOLED.

Re-read, there's an "or" in that sentence, there is no implication that the iPhone uses AMOLED.

Personally for me, I feel the device is kind of ugly. It's very boxy looking, it doesn't strike me as being sleek and stylish.


March 25, 2011, 3:39 pm

As PoinsonJam and Tim Sutton said, I was referring to the launch price.

Don't worry, I'm well aware of that, since I'm a screen technlology fan and review monitors :) The AMOLED part was just referring to the Samsung, but it was easy to read amiss so I've altered it for clarification. Thanks!

@Tim Sutton:
Excellent comparison there :)

In fact, some almost look like Xbox 360 titles played on a standard definition telly, and the 3D effect really helps to disguise any 'rough edges'. I'd say graphically the 3DS has little to worry about for now, and the experience offered is far superior to playing games on a smartphone.
But I do agree with your overall point. For better or for worse, the 3DS physically looks and feels like a product that could have come out several years ago. However, I'm with KultiVator in guessing/hoping that Nintendo will streamline it and improve the battery life on updated iterations (as with the DS > DS Lite).

Indeed, Resi looked fantastic :)
Waiting never hurts, so probably a good call.


March 25, 2011, 3:50 pm

I highly recommend you try before you buy, not just for the 3D effect but the upscaling of your DS library. It's not the prettiest.


March 25, 2011, 4:42 pm

@ Michael G

"Personally for me, I feel the device is kind of ugly. It's very boxy looking, it doesn't strike me as being sleek and stylish."

I know design aesthetics are subjective and all but I still don''t understand the positive reviews for the whole DS line, in that respect. Their dull, boxy, plasticky appearance, make them look like 90s Chinese knock-offs of themselves - something Stuart Ashen would end up reviewing. You think of mobile devices roughly in a similar size - iPods, larger smartphones, smaller tablets - and on the whole, they show how badly dated the DSs are. Sure, Nintendo's target market's always been younger but iPods, with their glass, chrome and curves, haven't looked similarly toylike in a long time - and kids and teens don't exactly reject those. And I'm not knocking the actual utility of the stylus but it doesn't exactly have contemporary connotations, does it? But hey, that's looks. I'm as keen to see how the stereoscopy looks as anybody. I'm a lot more enthusiastic about 3D gaming than 3D cinema and television.


March 25, 2011, 9:25 pm

i picked up a black 3ds today - one gripe i found a little frustrating was the nintendo ds emulation. it seems to be built on the ds lite software rather than the dsi software, so the wifi support excludes wifi networks with any security higher than WEP.


March 25, 2011, 11:59 pm

@ilovethemonkeyhead - The newer software update allows WPA2 PSK etc, you just need to turn off security on wireless (or turn it down to WEP), get the update, turn it back up and it works. Just had to do it on my housemate's 3DS.


March 26, 2011, 3:01 am

sounds distinctly sub par to me, even a step backwords in some areas - just think how this console will be seen towards the end of its approx 6 year lifespan


March 26, 2011, 1:33 pm

played a whole day with it - i noticed it didn't have the last gen ds's microphone port, and that my earphones with built in a microphone worked just fine in the sounds app. that's very very useful, in my opinion. also, there's an infrared port, the likes of which i haven't seen since the gameboy days. i think nintendo shot themselves in the foot by not releasing 3dsware at launch (like they did with dsiware). i feel there's so much more the 3ds can do out of the box if an online service was there from the get go. either way, i'm playing super mario 64 ds the way it should have been played :)


March 26, 2011, 4:15 pm

QFT NGP FTW LOL! (oxford dictionary approves)


March 26, 2011, 6:26 pm

"the most powerful dedicated portable gaming machine around."

Are you sure about this? The PSP came out over 6 yeas ago and I'm certain that the "3DS’ sub-300MHz ARM11 CPU and 133MHz, single-core GPU" compares slightly below the 333Mhz MIPS CPU and 133 MHz GPU with dedicated RAM. And from looking at the video of the 3DS, you can see that it far behind the aging PSP. Well atleast they will be able to sell it at half the price of the NGP.


March 26, 2011, 10:20 pm

Would have got one of these if Mario or even just Mario Kart had come out as a release title, it's a shame that neither have really. Remember getting my DS on release day, loved it to pieces, American Sk8land was possibly the best Tony Hawk's game ever, and Mario 64 brought back so many memories..


March 30, 2011, 3:19 am

@Goldenguy. Talking of Ashens, Here's his (entertaining as ever) review http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...


August 17, 2011, 8:27 pm

Now the huge price-drop has happened, I wonder how many people have reconsidered buying the 3DS. Besides the gimmicky 3D, lack of real advancement from the DS and price, I can;t bring myself to buy a console with few to no new games.

You know a console is in trouble when the main game that's shifting it is a re-release of a 13 year old game

comments powered by Disqus