SITTING HERE, with a cat sleeping on my lap, the sun shining outside, and the as-yet-unreleased Nintendo 3DS handheld in my mitts—it's already available in Japan, but officially comes out here on March 27—you'd think I'd be a whole lot happier, huh? Either I'm devolving into the eyeliner-and-Morrissey mopery of my teenage years, or this thing just isn't the electronic burst of glee we'd all hoped for. Find Bloodflowers on iTunes and I'll explain.
First, the positives: There's just no denying that the 3DS' 3D aspect is damn cool. There are no glasses or squinting required, and the image is as sharp as James Cameron's cat-people fantasies. Likewise, Nintendo also scores big points with the new "analog stick." It isn't an actual stick—it's more of a disc that rotates around a circle gate—but that Nintendo's clever engineers managed to cram the functionality of a stick into the tiny form factor should win gold stars all by itself.
Also, the graphical jump from the original Nintendo DS is just massive. These are above PlayStation 2-level visuals. They don't rival the Xbox 360 and PS3, but they come surprisingly close, especially considering the hardware is sized to match your checkbook.
Sadly—black lipstick and fishnets time, kids—the 3DS also has drawbacks, the biggest of which is its game library. Like the original Nintendo DS, it simply doesn't have a compelling lineup of launch titles. The best, Super Street Fighter IV 3D, is a toned-down version of a year-old Xbox 360/PS3 game with gimmicky 3D additions, while more original games, like Steel Diver or Nintendogs + Cats, are little more than playable demonstrations of the new 3D tech.
Eventually, I'm sure someone will use the 3D well, but until then, there isn't a very good reason to buy a $250 3DS over its still-available, significantly cheaper predecessor.