GAME : 3DS update Round-up
If there's one thing the latest generation of consoles has taught us, it's that newly purchased gaming systems aren't the finished article when you first take them out of their shiny wrapping. Not to say they 're lacking anything fundamental, far from it in fact, but system updates now mean it's possible for platform holders like Nintendo to dramatically improve a console's functionality and boost the user experience post-launch.
December's free 3DS system update is a prime example, introducing fresh game content, social features and hardware functionality to the console. Here, GAME runs you through all the major new additions.
One of our favourite new features is the ability to make ten minute long 3D videos with just a few simple button presses. Icons on the 3DS touch screen allow you to select or fine-tune different recording features such as the 3D effect, altering the sharpness and brightness of your video, and choosing whether to film in regular colour, black and white or sepia. The quality of the recordings we've made so far is surprisingly good, although you obviously have to see them in person to get the full 3D effect.
While the basic ability to record in 3D is a cool feature in itself, special praise is reserved for the three Trick Shot modes. Interval Shot takes still snaps at your choice of intervals, between every half a second and 60 seconds, before playing them in a rapid slideshow.
Frame Pick, which essentially enables you to create stop-motion animations, is similar to Interval Shot except it lets you capture images of a physically manipulated object whenever you choose, creating the illusion of movement when the series of pictures is played as a continuous sequence.
Meanwhile, Clip Link enables you to record various video segments which are then mashed together in the same video file. There's no doubt that budding animators and movie makers will spend a lot of time playing around with these simple to use but rewarding new video recording features.
New Plaza updates
The system update also introduces a range of new features for Mii Plaza, the place where 3DS owners can view the Mii characters they've met via StreetPass (which automatically swaps the Miis and gameplay profiles of players who pass each other on their travels). These include a follow-up to the free, in-built 3DS RPG-style game StreetPass Quest, and new 3D puzzles of famous Nintendo characters to complete by collecting pieces from other players.
You now receive congratulatory messages in the Mii Plaza for achieving goals such as meeting a certain numbers of Miis or ones from different countries (which are displayed on a new StreetPass Map showing the locations of all the Miis you've encountered), or by working your way through StreetPass Quest 2. There are 78 accomplishments to get in total and a congratulatory message for each. They also unlock up to 35 different tunes to listen to in a new Mii Plaza Music Player.
The new Puzzle Panel pieces we've collected so far are for Donkey Kong Country Returns and Legend Of Zelda: Ocarina Of Time 3D. The puzzles themselves are larger than the originals, with 24 pieces to collect instead of 15, including four pink pieces which can only be collected via StreetPass (others can be purchased with Play Coins, a virtual currency accumulated by carrying your 3DS around with you like a pedometer).
New Street Pass Quest
StreetPass Quest 2, in which you control a team of fighters made up of your friends' Miis, challenges players to save three fictional family members kidnapped by slimy monsters and placed in separate cages. It contains branching paths as well as brand new enemies, and even lets players make parties of Miis to carry out team attacks using weapons or magic. The game also offers players the chance to collect a total of 57 hats for their Miis, compared to the original game's 16, but the title's only accessible if you've completed the first one twice.
Additionally, the 3DS system update paves the way for players to download demos of 3DS games, although none have been made available yet, as well as making it easier to browse and pay for games and content in the Nintendo eShop. Players can now transfer games purchased from the eShop, as well as account funds and save data including photographs and audio files, from one 3DS system to another too.
All in all, the 3DS system update is an impressive release, adding great new hardware functionality, amusing new game content and cool new social features. It has been almost nine months since release and our 3DS feels like a fresher piece of kit than ever before, all of which leaves us eagerly awaiting the next major system update.