I was unsure of the 3DS initially. I was not a fan of the DSi for the sheer lack of features and being more of a money scam for Nintendo, I was very suspicious of the 3DS being similarly, well, similar. I was certainly not in line the day it came out, but months later I decided to check it out at the display in Walmart. The problem with the product's advertising is that they cannot display the true crown jewel of the product, the 3D capability.
After seeing it for myself it made a lasting impression. The 3D is impressive. I flew through a round of Starfox 3D, an old N64 favorite of mine, and got hooked. The meteors were popping out of the screen in the foreground, while the stars twinkled in the background. Rescuing your teammates felt more fresh than ever with an absolutely beautiful re-texture of the original hit. It is simply amazing how such a portable device has surpassed the graphics capability of its big screen ancestors. Not only that, but it was cheaper than I initially suspected. After a few weeks of daydreaming I picked up the blue 3DS and a couple games. At home I relished in the beautiful recreations of my old favorites again.
The 3D is, in my opinion, fantastic. Something about the dimension just immerses you. Resident Evil is scarier, Hyrule Field seems larger than ever, and my free time seems shorter than ever. In the first week I noticed some eye strain. It could be that I have astigmatism, but despite adhereing to Nintendo's periodic warnings to take a break, my eyes just felt strained for 30 minutes or so after playing. Setting the adjustable 3D level lower solved this problem, though, and after a week I was playing pain-free. My older (60s) parents claimed double vision and shut the 3D off, so it may simply not be for everyone.
The system is very user-friendly. From 10 to 60 years old all of my friends are able to figure the system out. It comes with a variety of programs (similar to apps) for free, including 3D camera function and downloadable features and mini games such as Swapnote (similar to email) and face invaders. The inclusion of your face and rooms via the camera function is quite entertaining. The camera is nice, akin to a webcam. Blurry, but effective. Beyond the freebies, however, buying new apps can be expensive and non-refundable. The system also features a wireless program called Streetpass. You put the system into sleep mode, then take it with you throughout your day. A built in pedometer counts your steps, and you earn rewards for walking. Additionally if you pass someone else with a 3DS you recieve an avatar that they created, along with a custom greeting, and can use their character to advance in mini games. For some this is a unique and fun feature, while for those who live in more isolated areas it may not mean as much.
The new structural features are nice as well. A joystick-like nub was added, giving you a smoother way to move about in games. I find that it feels more natural than the d-pad, though it is still there if you prefer it. The upper screen is larger, which is nice, though useless in regular DS games. The wireless on/off slider is also very convenient for airports and battery conscious people. The touch screen works well. The blinking warning light when the system is going to go dead is nice. The pen is now larger and collapseable, which is more comfortable. It doesn't fall out as easily as the DS did. Somewhat disappointingly, it no longer supports GBA titles.
Klutzes beware, my 3DS only survived 2 falls before the pedometer stopped working. All else functions well.
I also find that the device appeals to a wide audience. All age ranges can enjoy the silly mini games. Serious gamers can relish in Resident Evil, while generations old and new can enjoy the nostalgic rereleases. Kids love Nintendogs+Cats, there is truly something for almost everyone.