Nintendo 3DS Starter’s Guide

Nintendo 3DS Flame RedWe’ve been owners and fans of the Nintendo 3DS since it came out in March. As early adopters who have never once regretted our decision to buy a 3DS, we decided to create a quick Nintendo 3DS Starter’s Guide to highlight some of the great features on the system and point you towards some of the best, and our favorite, games for the system.

The Nintendo 3DS is extremely user friendly and reaches out to a wider audience than any previous Nintendo hand-held device.  The main menu system, as pictured in the image to the right, is extremely quick and easy to use.  Games are opened like apps, and you can go back to the Home screen at any time where you’ll be able to open a different application immediately.

The circle pad or slide pad on the left, is a new addition to Nintendo hand-helds and functions like a D-Pad but smoother and easier on the thumb.  It works so well that Nintendo is releasing an accessory which adds another circle pad and attaches to the right side of the 3DS.

Nintendo has made a quality product that, despite early criticism, is quickly coming into its own providing interesting, useful apps, and great games both old and new.

Read on to find out which games we recommend and learn about some neat features on the 3DS.


Games we HIGHLY Recommend

No matter what, games are always the most important thing for us when it comes to a gaming system.  Below are our top recommendations in the order that we would buy them.  These aren’t all the great games, and it just so happens that each of these are first-party Nintendo Games, so we encourage you to look around for other familiar titles you may find interesting.



Super Mario 3D Land

A brand new addition to the Mario franchise, Mario 3D Land provides the best use of 3D that the Nintendo 3DS has provided yet.  Mario 3D Land plays with mechanics like a traditional 2D Mario game (if you get hit you lose power-ups or die) but is presented in a 3D environment like Mario 64 — it comes both styles of Mario.  Mario 3D Land feels like it combines great mechanics from several past installments into one great style of play.

Why should you get Mario 3D Land? For the same reason you would get any Mario game.  They’re just fun to play.

Levels are in 3D, yet still seem to direct the player to the right as they would in a 2D game where the goal is to reach the end and jump on the top of that flag.  Like in Super Mario Brothers, you’ll go through levels wanting to find three gold coins and in some levels there is exploration needing to be done in order to find them all.

Gametrailers awarded Super Mario 3D Land the ‘Best Platform Game’ and ‘Best 3DS Game’ of 2011 awards.



Mario Kart 7

You can read out Mario Kart 7 review for a more in-depth look at the game.

Mario Kart 7 adds some great things to the series without having taken much away. Probably one of the biggest additions is the glider that karts can deploy. When you launch yourself over certain ramps your kart automatically deploys a glider, allowing you to pitch up or dive down, gliding over certain obstacles or making your way to specific shortcuts. The mechanic sounds kind of gimmicky, but it actually works out quite well.

Along with the new kart abilities comes kart customization. By collecting  coins during races you can unlock additional kart parts that allow you to chance up how your ride functions. This allows you to do stuff like picking a larger body for better speed or a smaller one for better maneuverability and acceleration. Also you can choose several different wheel options like off-road wheels, which allow you to drive on unpaved surfaces without losing most of your speed. You can change your glider as well, but I am not entirely sure what the effect is as I have not really unlocked a new one yet.



The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D

Although a remake, Ocarina of Time is an enhanced version, a much better looking version, of the first 3D Zelda game.  If you missed Ocarina of Time years ago, this is your chance, and if you loved it back then you’ll love it in this new form.  Ocarina of Time 3D adds to the gameplay by implementing the ‘look around’ feature.  Move the 3DS in real space around you and Link will look around — this makes aiming the slingshot a lot of fun and real accurate (we recommend a swivel chair!).

Master Quest is also included.  Back when Windwaker came out, Nintendo released a disc that had Ocarina of Time on it and Master Quest if you pre-ordered.  When you beat Ocarina of Time 3DS, the Master Quest is unlocked.  The Master Quest retools dungeons to switch things around and make them harder to beat.  Dungeons are also mirrored, which can be disorienting.  Master Quest is a great extension of the game and provides a lot of replayability for the title.


Star Fox 64 3D

Another remake, Star Fox 64 3D is an enhanced version of the Nintendo 64 Star Fox.

The game plays is such that your ship is constantly flying forward, almost like you’re on rails.  You fly through the level shooting enemies and objectives, trying to fly through rings for bonuses.  Some levels have bosses at the end. It plays like you would expect a standard spaceship zapper.  Like in the old Rogue Squadron games, occasionally an area opens up in a mode called ‘All Range Mode’ where you leave the rails and have a dogfight experience.

Star Fox 64 3D also offers gyro controls, but we find it a bit disorienting with the 3D.

The way the game is laid out, you can technically beat it really quick but there’s a galaxy layout of levels that branches out giving you the option to go other places and reach the end in different ways.  In one play-through of the game, you’re not going to see all of the levels.  There’s a lot of replayability as you explore other branches of the galaxy.


What are some neat things the Nintendo 3DS can do?

3D – The 3D effects are really quite good in many games.  It’s true that you have to look at teh system straight on and moving it around will hinder your ability to view the effects clearly, but the value added to games can’t be ignored.  It adds a whole new dimension of play to games like Mario 3D Land.

Take 3D Pictures – The 3Ds comes with a built-in camera that takes real pictures and converts them to the 3DS’ style of 3D.  These images can be saved to the system and used later for sending to friends.  The camera is also used to take pictures of things in the real world for use inside of games.  For example, you can take a picture of someone and it converts them into a Mii.

Street Pass – Most games have a street pass functionality where you can unlock things or something special happens in-game.  All it requires is that your 3DS interacts with another 3DS that has the game registered to its system.  This interaction happens automatically when you get near another 3DS.

Netflix – We’ve tested this feature and it works great.  You simply access your Netflix account and start watching.

Browse the Internet over WiFi

Nintendo eShop– Getting a steady stream of games that has been increasing over time.  There’s some good stuff in the eShop:

  • Buy and Download games from the Gameboy virtual console.  A new game usually releases every Thursday.
  • 3DS content like Pushmo (a puzzle platformer), SwapNote (just released, create and send 3D handwritten notes, pictures, and recordings to your friends through Street Pass or Spot Pass.)
  • DSiWare – Games released on the Nintendo DSi, an iteration of the Nintendo DS.


We hope that we’ve given you enough information to help you on your way towards deciding whether or not a 3DS is right for you.  The games we recommend above really are amazing titles and easily some of the best games released this entire year for any system.  If you have any questions about the 3DS, games, or downloads, we would be happy to try and answer them.