I have a lot of different posts in the backlog, but today, being what it is, I figured this was the most important one. For those of you in a hurry, and need me to cut straight to the point on my impressions, here it is:

Wow.

For those with a bit of time, let’s get into it more.

I didn’t have to fight for the 3DS like I did the Wii. No mad rush or camping out all night like I did for the Wii, with people howling like Tusken Raiders and throwing objects in wanton madness (I asked the sales clerk at Gamestop if I could do this, and he granted me free reign to toss a coupon. It lacked… satisfaction). But here I am, no battle scars, and a new DS. A 3DS.

To be honest, I’ve always been fond of my DS Lite. I refused to buy the DSi, as it was merely a camera and downloadable game upgrade (not one piece of software came out that ever made specifically for DSi system, and that always bugged me). The DS always suited me fine. It’s been an old friend for years. Recently, I bought the two Atari Greatest Hits volumes, and have been basking in my 2600 nostalgia (another post for another time).

When E3 came about last year, I could have cared less about the promise of “glasses free 3D gaming”. No, they ensnared me the second they announced a new Kid Icarus game after 20 years of painfully waiting and hoping, and an upgrade of Ocarina of Time, not only my favorite Legend of Zelda game of all time, but one of my “Top 3” games of all time, period.

Too bad both games don’t come out until June. Oh, well.

So I’m “stuck” with just the system, and courtesy of a “Buy one, get the second game 50% off” sale at Toys R Us running now until April 2, I picked up Super Street Fighter IV and LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars.

Funny thing is, the 3DS is packed with not one, but multiple games.

There’s Face Raiders, which is funny. I’ve used my face, my dog’s face, and even a picture of me when I was 5, navigating my house shooting at these flying foes. The AR game, with the included packet of cards, is actually fun to use the system’s built in motion control to navigate my own house. There’s Find Mii, and RPG-lite game that grows with the Streetpass feature, and a puzzle game that does the same. four titles. not epic games, but playable in their own right. The 3Ds is filled with all sorts of hidden, fun stuff.

The internet features, such as Netflix, the internet, and downloadable titles don’t come until May, which makes me wonder if Nintendo rushed this thing out for quarterly sales profits, considering these are a number of “not out of the box” features, not to mention all of their initial “Killer App” games are months out. But instead of being negative, there are still a lot of positives.

There’s now analog control (which begs me to try Super Mario 64 DS now to see if I can finally play it properly), a built-in pedometer that gives you gameplay coins as you take it with you (100 steps = 1 coin – A definitely way for Nintendo to ensure that you keep your DS with you at all times), Streetpass, which makes it easy to get new stuff on the fly, and some things the Wii had desperately needed.

Miis. They have more facial expressions and styles now. It’s not as in-depth as the 360’s Avatars, but it is a much-needed evolution. The “Friend Code” is indeed back, but it’s one (smaller) code that once you’re linked up, you can see who is online playing what, and you don’t need a code for every single game that you and your friends have. It tells you and links you.

The activity log is more detailed and put together better, as are notifications. And you can transfer Miis from the Wii to the 3DS. This is actually a big deal to me. Long-time readers know the Hell I went through when my Wii went rouge last year, and started eating discs. Nintendo’s “repair” service formatted my system and sent me a new one against my wishes, and I lost over three years worth of data in the process…. Save for my original Mii stored within my Wii Remote.

Now, like Tron Legacy, where Kevin Flynn had moved Tron from the original Encom server to his own private server, I get to keep my original Mii and bring him to an all-new environment. I’d somewhat like to pretend that the day-long verbal tirade I unleashed upon Nintendo’s repair service prompted the designers to find a way to keep one’s Miis “alive”.

The games I got today? Both Street Fighter IV and Star Wars look wonderful. Street Fighter IV looks little removed from the 360/PS3 versions. The level of detail and animation is astounding, and the 3D effect adds a crazy level of depth that really got me. Not to mention the game handles like a dream. LEGO Star Wars III looks like a huge toy box now, with great effects, and an excellent look to it. I’ve liked the LEGO games over the years. This one is very glossy. The 3D goes everywhere from subtle to in your face, and each level looks incredible. Honestly, I hope that I never lose this “wow” factor whenever I start up a new game. Yes, the 3D actually, absolutely works. Oh yes, you can also take “real world” 3D pictures, not to mention the AR cards turn whatever surface you play them on into a live-action video game. I hope this feature is not abandoned. I was actually shocked by it.

Between motion controls, 3D, internet/online connectivity, and more “traditional” style games, the 3DS looks to address the issues that people had with the Wii. I can see how Nintendo will keep people “addicted” to their system, “forcing” them to take it anywhere and everywhere to get the most out of it. I expect when the rest of the online feature open up this Summer, that’s going to be another whole new level.

Like the Wii? It takes some of the better features from the system, and refines them, makes them better, and adds more. Like the DS? Everything you liked about it is here, and more. The 3D works. The gaming line-up seems better and may draw in more of the “traditional” gaming crowd who derided the constant casual, mini-game fare that populated a huge chunk of the Wii’s overall library. Want Street Fighter, Metal Gear, Kingdom Hearts, and Resident Evil, angry that the PS3/360 crowd “gets all the fun”? You can finally stop being jealous.

It’s up to you as to whether to buy it now or wait. Remember, Nintendo systems are maddeningly hard to get due to all the “must have” hype that surrounds them, and who’s to say that people still won’t be desperately searching a year later to find one? It doesn’t have everything yet, but there’s stuff to do in the meantime, and “better safe than sorry”, you know?

All I know is, when Kid Icarus finally arrives, you won’t be hearing from me for a while.

Oh yes, for those interested, my friend code is: 1332-7709-5212 – Let me know if you would like to add me. I hope the 3DS tells us people have added us/added us back.

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