As you know, I own the original Nintendo 3DS, which I bought several months after it came out in the states. I have to admit that there were not many games that I was interested in besides a few first party games. Since the Nintendo 3DS is region locked, a policy that I complained about, I couldn’t import any Japanese games, even if there are some that I am interested in.
Last year, Nintendo has announced a new Nintendo 3DS, which is an evolutionary upgrade of the highly successful 3DS. Since I play mostly Japanese language games nowadays, I decided to go for a Japanese model this time. With that, it’s time to share my overall impressions on the new 3DS along with my short first impressions of Youkai Watch 2.
When I got the Nintendo 3DS, it was obviously a step up from the Nintendo DSi, which was only a small upgrade over the DS that added the dreaded region locking, cameras, music player, a browser and ability to download games. In comparison, the 3DS had better controls and graphics capabilities even though the 3D functionality was a gimmick. I have to admit that the graphics on the 3DS is a huge improvement over the DS as the Pokémon X and Y looked great.
The only downfall with the 3DS is that the system was region locked. In other words, you can’t simply import a game and expect it to work. If you try to play a game in a different region, it will not recognize it. While a good amount of games comes to the west, there are many that don’t make it out of Japan, especially Anime licensed games (this is also true with the Vita, but it’s region free). Of course, there are some companies like Level 5 that take forever to localize their games that you might not see a release until several years later.
So, what is the advantage of getting a Japanese New Nintendo 3DS over a Playstation Vita? For people who are serious about learning Japanese, the 3DS library has a vast number of games with a phonetic guide (振り仮名) which shows kana on top of the Kanji since the 3DS in general is geared to a younger audience that might not know that many characters. For a person who knows Japanese at a beginner or lower intermediate level, getting a Japanese 3DS is probably a better choice. You don’t have to look up the Kanji with radicals used in a word so that you can concentrate more on learning new vocabulary while having fun. Not only that, it’s possible to use foreign credit cards on the Japanese e-Shop and buy games digitally without having to resort to expensive point cards.
As for the hardware, the new Nintendo 3DS is an improvement over the old model since it has swappable faceplates, a slightly bigger screen, second control stick, two additional buttons and Amibo/NFC support. Moreover, the system runs faster than the previous model due to the faster processor on the new model. The slow performance was one of my gripes on the original 3DS since it takes forever to load some things. Of course, the new processor made it possible for Nintendo to make a better browser that has HTML5 video support and faster rendering. Sadly, they have to enable filtering by default, which you can’t turn off unless you pay a small fee. To me, it is a bit greedy on Nintendo’s part. They should have implemented this as a setting in parental controls as this filter can easily be bypassed if a child stole his/her parent’s credit card.
While the New 3DS is an improvement over the old version, there are some things that the Vita does better over the 3DS such as ability to take screenshots, social networking, better media playback support, multi-touch and no region locking. Otherwise, the New Nintendo 3DS is a solid upgrade over the old version.
Youkai Watch 2 Shinuchi (妖怪ウォッチ２真打ち) First Impressions
Now that I got my thoughts on the new 3DS out of the way, it’s time to share my thoughts about the first Japanese 3DS game I got for the system. For a while now, I have gained some interest in playing Yokai Watch, which is Level 5’s new cash cow franchise. The game is very similar to Pokémon and Digimon, except you go around looking for them in town with a light and try to befriend every Yokai (妖怪) which is basically supernatural monsters from Japanese folklore. The game has sold over a million copies with a third sequel announced.
While I decided to skip the first game and got the sequel, there is three versions of the 2nd game, each having different stories compared to Pokémon where the only differences is the type of Pokémon you can catch along with subtle differences to the plot. The gameplay is pretty straight forward as you go around town doing quests, catching insects/fish/etc., battle wondering Yokai and befriending them aside from the events pertaining to the story.
The battle system is very different compared to other Japanese role-playing games. You cannot control your party members directly since they will do their own thing at their own free will. However, you can choose what members to have on the field by turning the member cycle, what enemy to aim for, what abilities to use and items. Items can be used on your members to heal or on the enemy to make it easier to befriend them, if you use a favorite food item on them before battling.
So far, Youkai Watch 2 is a very enjoyable game. While it has some similarities to other monster collecting games, it has interesting gameplay elements, especially with the battle system. Once I finish the game, I will share my overall thoughts.
With that, what do you think about the New Nintendo 3DS? Feel free to share what games you own on the system.
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