Nintendo’s most devoted 3DS fans gathered this past Saturday 28 July at the Café Culture in Pineslopes for the official Johannesburg Nintendo 3 DS XL launch hosted by JHB Gamers. As it has come to be expected, Jarrod Lane’s JHB Gamers hosted a successful event in association with Nintendo South Africa’s communication manager, Mandy Meredith and Nintendo staff. A good turnout, a swanky venue, some Nintendo swag and the promise of a Mario Kart 7 tournament to win a Nintendo 3DS XL console made for a bubbly atmosphere.
I thought my romance with Nintendo was behind me
I have only recently joined the Nintendo 3DS scene, and my affair with Mario and all things Nintendo is back and as infatuated as it once was when I first fell in love with gaming. I even had a good conversation with Dawid Venter (G3AR, PC Format) about that winning formula – the simplistic, unadulterated formula that made Mario and Luigi household names and many of us gamers for life. In a gaming world where the graphics have gone high-definition, where the gameplay and physics mimic life, and where games play-out like grand Hollywood productions; it’s amazing that games with candid little characters in Karts, and RPG’s with Disney characters can still pull you in like the best of them. And in this arena… decades down the line, Nintendo still reigns.
I thought my romance with Nintendo was behind me. I was wrong.
Size does matter
The Nintendo 3DS XL features a small upgrade in a few specifications; the download speed has been improved, the battery life has been increased from five hours with the 3DS to six and a half hours with the new console; but it’s the ninety percent larger screen that the new console is all about. And let me tell you, as it stands, there is around a R 500 price difference between the two consoles, and I would happily pay for that screen alone. There is nothing wrong with the 3DS screen size, but the larger screen does make a difference, and the 3D effect seems more impactful with the increased sized screen. I had my reservations about whether there would be pixel issues with the larger screen, but from what I saw with Kingdom Hearts 3D Dream Drop Distance and Mario Kart 7, there doesn’t seem to be an issue here.
The Nintendo handheld console is not all about Mario, Zelda and Disney characters. I was content with finding out from most fans that I asked at the launch, that my favourite 3DS game – Resident Evil Revelations – is among many fans’ favourite lists. The 3DS does the more serious stuff too. If you are concerned about the single circle-pad, then you will be happy to know The Circle Pad Pro has been confirmed for the 3DS XL too, which adds the extra circle-pad and shoulder-buttons to the console, for the traditional ‘controller feel’ that’s enjoyed with shooting titles.
The Nintendo 3DS caters for the most serious of gamers, to the more casual. It’s a competent handheld console that excels in all departments a modern handheld console should, and the bigger screen impresses to say the least. What surprised me the most was the fact that the larger screen wasn’t even the main reason I want the XL. It’s the more comfortable design that surprisingly impressed me the most. I don’t even have the largest of hands, but the rounded-off sides of the console made for a more comfortable fit in my hands, and I needed to readjust my grip less than with my standard 3DS with its more square sides.
The serious business of racing
The main event of the launch was the Mario Kart 7 tournament. Groups of eight racers competed in a Grand Prix consisting of four races. The winner who accumulated the most points within the group over the four races went through to the final. After all the groups had competed for the individual winners to prevail, those individuals went through to the final round where the overall winner got to take home a brand new 3DS XL put up by Nintendo. I do suspect I was racing with a 80cc kart while everyone else was using 100cc karts, and so I am just awaiting a response from the FIA to see if they would have jurisdiction over the matter.
The light-hearted competition put a smile on everyone’s face and went off in great spirit, making the trip all the more worth it. And if the opportunity to win a newly launched handheld console wasn’t enough; attendees could also win random, exclusive Nintendo swag. PC Format gave away magazines and the cherry on top (for me at least) was a special edition Nintendo book give-away that marked the 25th anniversary of Super Mario Bros. and Nintendo. The book is filled with Nintendo history and the recollection of the Super Mario Bros. franchise from 1985 to present – a prized procession for any collector!
I know people often inundate JHB Gamers with requests to host events in the East, or the South etc. And while it will be great to move the venues around, really, in JHB where is “good for everyone?” The JHB Gamers events are growing in popularity and the organisers enjoy the full support of the local gaming industry, so the events continue to gather momentum. There is a great sense of camaraderie at the events nowadays. I remember the earlier ones, where in typical Joburg fashion everyone is looking around and smiling, but conversing within their cliques. Nowadays that gaming spirit is coming out, more beer is getting drunk and the spirit is great at these events. So you really need to put in the effort and get to them. Besides, we can’t let our “shoowaa, look at the mountain” friends stand us up.
We would like to thank Mandy Meridith (Nintendo South Africa), Nintendo staff and Jarrod Lane (JHB Gamers) for hosting the event. We would also like to thank Lazygamer and G3AR for their involvement.
Once again I would like to apologise for the quality of the photos. Those that know me will know that despite working in the AV industry and being a gamer longer than Mario has starred in them, I do not get along with technology. I’m like the opposite of a Japanese teenager. Photoshop hasn’t conceived a version that could even begin to fix the photos I take.