I am not one of those moms who has an issue with video games.
Yes, I like to limit overall screen time. And, yes, I know that there can be too much of a good thing.
But I was really into video games as a kid, and I can appreciate that it has value beyond pure entertainment. I think it’s killer for hand-eye co-ordination and I also think it can build some pretty valuable problem solving skills.
The K Man is way into Skylanders, so when Nintendo sent him a 3DS XL, I wasn’t sure he’d be interested in tearing himself away from Barf Eruptor, Pop Fizz, Eye-Brawl and the rest of the gang he hangs out with on the Wii.
But he was game, and beyond the review copies of games that Nintendo’s sent us, we’ve started to buy other 3DS games as well (which we’ll write about just as soon as we stop gaming and can add to the slideshow below).
We’ll talk through the pros and cons of each game in the slideshow, but first: a bit about the Nintendo 3DS XL…
Very, very easy for even the non-techy parent to set up. Seriously. If you can read, you can set up your kid’s 3DS. If you have a child who can read well, s/he can set it up. It’s really one of the easiest gadgets I’ve ever had to get going for my kids.
There are lots of safety options, like adding passwords to prevent access to WiFi or 3D mode (which is not recommended before age six, according to the instructions I read on-screen). You can completely customize the experience and then adapt it as your kid grows up. Sniff.
Two screens. I don’t know why you need two screens but it feels very advanced and somehow worth $200. If you remember the Game Boy handheld gaming system, you can put that image into a dark recess of your brain because the 3DS will blow your mind. Apparently, a lot can happen with technology in 25 to 30 years.
We’ve found this device really easy to pack up and take with us on road trips and into doctor’s and dentist’s offices. We bought a $15 hard case for it (which also houses space for eight games) and it’s fairly compact when folded.
It comes with a rechargeable battery, and charging doesn’t take long.
Depending on the game, the Nintendo 3DS XL functions intuitively enough that Miss Q (age 3 years, 4 months at time of writing) handles it like a master.
I personally find the resolution impressive for what is intended as a children’s toy, more or less. No offence to the 40-year-old die-hards out there or anything.
You don’t actually HAVE to use the stylus if you don’t want to (for the bottom screen); while it’s not as sensitive as, say, an iPhone screen, it will respond to touch if you exercise a bit of patience. For younger kids, the stylus provides more of a consistent sense of control.
When the 3D option is turned on, it’s freaky cool.
We’ve found the battery life to be pretty impressive. It makes it through days of play before we need to plug it back into the wall charger. (Keep in mind, we only let the kids play for 30 minutes or so a day.)
The little “mystery card” with the question mark on it that comes with the Nintendo 3DS XL is an odd but totally fun little surprise. It turns your floor or bed (or wherever you rest the card) into part of the game. At times, it made our bed look like it was birthing an alien. Neato.
But only one of the mystery cards seems to work for us; so I have no idea what the others do.
I really wish there was a string option to attach the stylus to the device. I have a three year old who we call The Terrorist with good reason!
There are just slightly too many steps to make perfect game extraction happen with ease for a five year old. You have to close what you’re doing, exit the software and THEN eject your game before putting a new one in.
I also wish there were rubber corners or something for some added impact protection after the device is accidentally (and not-so-accidentally) dropped.
I would love a car charger to be included.
Games can get expensive; while some are only $20, some inch up toward the $50 mark if you’re buying brand new at retail. One way to save money is to consider pre-loved games, which you can find on sites like Craigslist and even in some retailers, like E.B. Games.
The camera sucks. Like really sucks. I don’t even know why Nintendo bothered to add it. Forget trying to take a clear picture. In fact, just forget the function exists altogether.