So in what has to be the best company Christmas gift I've ever received, I'm now the proud owner of the somewhat confusingly named New Nintendo 3DS XL. Yep, I know I'm late to the 3DS game, but it's one of those things I would struggle to justify grabbing myself (partly due to my towering Steam pile-o-shame.)
I love it. Really I do. I smashed through Paper Mario Sticker Star over the xmas break and it's one of the most charming games I've ever played. In fact, that's the first thing that comes to mind with the 3DS: It's positively charming.
All the way through the system interface the charm comes through, little characters chirp up, icons spin around when noise occurs (which coincides with the stylus being removed), and newly installed games come in a giftwrapped box for you to open. There are plenty of shortcomings which I'll touch on later, but it's a hard package to dislike.
In any case, the charm isn't actually the best thing, the best part is that gaming with it feels positively frictionless because it has a sleep mode. As soon as I close the lid the unit goes to a low power state, and then at any moment I can go from not-gaming to mid-game in the time it takes to open the consoles lid. Magic.
Granted, that's not unique to the 3DS. My ol' DS Lite had that trick, as does my PSP Go. But it's reminded me how great that feature is, and that it should really be standard on all game consoles (and for that matter, gaming PCs and everything else.) I should be able to put things down, do something else, and come back later (almost) instantly. It should feel frictionless for me to get back to where I was.
Contrast the 3DS with the steps involved to get back to something I was playing yesterday on the XBox:
- Head to the lounge
- Flick on the TV
- Power on the console
- Wait a seeming eternity while it boots up, connects to XBox Live and signs me in
- Select the game I want to play through the menu
- See that an update is available, ignore it...
- Wait for the pile of logos and intro videos to play through
- Wait for the menu to load
- Select "Load Game..."
- Select which game I was playing
- Wait for it to load
- Wooo! Back where I was.
It could get even worse if there were updates available and I elected to grab 'em, but all these little things mean that little gaps in the day don't feel long enough to get gaming in. I could just leave my XBox on all the time, but it would be there soaking up juice all day at full pelt, so not that ideal.
On the PC side of things it's a little trickier because I'm always multitasking, what I'm really after is an application-level-suspend where the current state of the running app is cached out to disk. Then I could go about doing some work unencumbered, but as soon as I click the game I was playing everything goes back into RAM from a nice fast SSD and I'm back up and running in seconds.
Anyway, I can dream.
Back to the 3DS: With Sticker Star done with I'm currently working my way through Mariokart 7 and have just kicked into Shovel Knight. Shovel Knight is AMAZING, seriously addictive old school platforming goodness. If you have a 3DS or Wii U it's on special at the moment in Nintendo's eShop until the 9th of Jan. I would provide a link, but Nintendo's site is kinda crap. Definitely will complain about Nintendo's online services later...