New 3DS: First Impressions

The wait is over. I finally have my hands on a limited edition Monster Hunter 4 new 3DS XL, and it’s beautiful. I mean, look at it. So, so shiny. It excites.

And not only is it a looker, it’s a powerful beast, too. Already I’ve noticed that it loads games considerably faster than the old version, and I no longer have to wait precious seconds while the game icons populate the menu screens. A small change, but a definite improvement.

It's so... so... SHINY.
It’s so… so… SHINY.

Perhaps the biggest improvement, however, is the 3D. The new 3DS now tracks your eyes and adjusts the 3D effect to compensate: no longer does the image begin doubling or blurring in response to the slightest tilt of your head, and this has made an enormous difference. Whereas before I might only turn on the 3D once in a blue moon, now I have it on all the time. And I’m impressed by how robust the tracking is – turn your head away and then back and the screen readjusts in a fraction of a second to realign with your eyes. Finally the 3DS lives up to its name.

It’s great to have a second analogue stick too – the right-hand ‘nubbin’ works like the mouse pointer on an old IBM Thinkpad, and it’s surprisingly responsive considering that it doesn’t move. It works brilliantly with Monster Hunter, and the positioning of the stick is much more intuitive than the clunky old 3DS Circle Pad Pro, which used to give me gamer’s claw after long sessions. That clumsy experiment in pad design can now safely be consigned to the dustbin of gaming history.

But although I’m impressed with my new 3DS, the process of buying it and setting it up was unnecessarily tortuous. I preordered it from GAME to take advantage of their offer on trading in my old 3DS, and on Friday afternoon I headed down to the store armed with a type 0 screwdriver, a new microSD card and a PC for transferring the SD cards (for more on the ridiculous hoops new 3DS owners are forced to jump through, see this post).

The store was incredibly busy. Then when I got to the front of the queue, I was informed that customers were being told that they would have to pay the full cost of the new 3DS and then come in the next day to trade in their old 3DS because the transfer process takes “4 hours” ( a figure seemingly plucked out of thin air). I disputed this, saying that actually it’s much quicker if you transfer using a PC, and that even if I was to do the transfer by Wi-Fi, Nintendo say that transferring 4GB would take around 2 hours. But they insisted, and said that the Wi-Fi in the store was “patchy”. By this point I was getting a bit annoyed at the thought of having to come back the next day (Valentine’s Day, no less). But then the store assistant said I would be getting “credit” when I came back to trade in my old 3DS.

“Hold on, credit?” I said. “I thought I was getting cash?”

I explained that I didn’t want credit, as I wasn’t planning to spend 70-odd pounds in GAME in the near future – times are tight, after all, and I already have a mountain of games to play. This discussion went on for some time, until eventually the manager came over and said that actually I would be getting cash, and the store assistant was misinformed.

That wasn’t the only misinformation floating about, either. When I schlepped back into the store the next day, I found out that I would be getting £55 for the 3DS, not the £85 I was told originally (when I preordered, I was told I would get the £209.99 special edition for £124.99 when I traded in, but it turns out the assistant was reading the price for trading in against the regular new 3DS XL, not the special edition). And then I got told I’d have to trade in the power cable for my old 3DS as well. This despite the fact that on two previous occasions I’d been told by assistants in the same shop that I’d be able to keep the cable to use with my new 3DS XL (which doesn’t come with one).

Eventually they relented on the cable, but by this point I was already feeling pretty put out after having to go back to the store a second time and having to argue my case both times. I don’t appreciate being made to feel like I’m in the wrong, especially when I’m right. As I watched the store assistant turn his back to me and start fiddling around with my 3DS (presumably to test it, although he didn’t say that, he just turned around unannounced and left me staring at his back for five minutes), I was left astounded that despite the chain almost being thrown into financial oblivion a while back, GAME still hasn’t improved its notoriously poor customer service. Indeed, when I worked there many years ago, the attitude from management was very much that customers were there to be shaken down for every penny they’re worth.

Setting up my new 3DS was fairly tricky (involving a 16-step process, followed by downloading MH4U again), but it was a damn sight easier than buying the bloody thing in the first place.