Sunday 8 March 2015

New Nintendo 3DS trial and our no screens experiment

It has been a funny couple of weeks in our house, good funny though! We have been having a time without any screens for the kids - no TV, computer, iPad or gaming consoles and this is a first for us. My 11 year old boy, JJ is computer crazy. He is really talented at ICT and his teachers even go to him for advice and help when they have a problem and thus we have encouraged him to develop his talents and he can often be found on the computer or iPad but we think it went a bit too far.

It got to a point where all he wanted to do was sit indoors and play Minecraft and whilst we knew he was developing some great skills for his future career, he was also missing out on lots of opportunities to play and interact with his sisters and friends. The girls had also become a bit reliant on having the TV on whilst they played and I just kept catching the kids being short and argumentative with each other. I decided this must stop and the ban came into place.

I must tell you it has gone brilliantly, it is not something we will sustain ongoing, as life is all about balance and balance means some tech time and some traditional play time. After about a week of our ban the charger and Mario Kart 7 game for the new Nintendo 3DS (we had previously received) arrived and at first I inwardly groaned as it was tech and the kids were supposed to be having time-out but I have to tell you I like the little 3DS and it has really enhanced the last week.

As soon as JJ set eyes on the 3DS he was smitten, he had wanted one when they originally launched back in 2011 but at the time there was worries about how the 3D aspect effected little ones eyes, now 4 years later this does not seem to have come to anything and JJ is much older and his eyes more developed anyway. It is funny as JJ has a DSi XL and he lost his charger in our move in August 2013 and has never shown any interest in getting another one or playing with his DS1 XL but as soon as this new console arrived it was as if he remembered what he had been missing out on.

I had no idea he had so many DS games and the good news is that he can play them on the new console, just of course in 2D mode and I like that feature of the new 3DS, that you have the slider to decide how 3D you want the image to be. It does look super cool in 3D I have to say and the quality of the 3D has been upgraded in this model and is now known as Super-Stable 3D. The system uses a camera to track your eye and head movement, adjusting the on-screen images accordingly to give you the best 3D without needing glasses, all very clever.

I bet you are wondering how the 3DS has enhanced our no-tech week, aren't you?  Well the aim of the no-tech was to have JJ spend more time with us all, to break his habit of running to his room and playing Minecraft as soon as he arrived home and for him to be more interactive (in a pleasant way) with his sisters.

It has really helped us, as the 3DS is portable JJ is happy to play it in the lounge and be amongst us, it also does not seem to take the level of concentration that Minecraft does, so he chats away and feels present in the room. Then amazingly he has been teaching his sisters to play and spending time with them and also playing with a friend where we live, they are competing against each other for the highest scores.

Mario Kart 7 seems to be a mega hit and when you consider that his friend is 21, you see that the age appeal of that game is pretty universal. JJ tells me he has an older version of Mario Kart but this version for the 3DS is awesome as it allows his to customise his kart and also travel underwater and fly which means the tracks are really cool. JJ also tells me the game seems to load and run really well and I suspect this is due to the upgraded professor in this model, which is a bonus as it also speeds up your downloads and navigation between the apps.

The 3DS comes with a 4GB Micro SD card but you can insert another if you feel you will need more than that and it is very easy to change it over, you just remove the cover plate. There is also an easy guide to transfer your data over if you already have games downloaded onto a 2DS or 3DS.

Also, talking of the cover plates you can buy different cover plates for the new 3DS and they are very cool, we got sent the Luigi one and the kids love it, so much nicer than the plain white or black. These cost between £10.99 and £19.99 and I think that is reasonable.

The kids and I all think the New Nintendo 3DS is a really good console in general, the two screens make game pay easy and the bottom touch sensitive screen allows for easy navigation. The camera is acceptable and certainly good enough for the kids to use. JJ loves that he can surf the Internet on there as well and download games, rather than having to carry lots of game cards with him and the new shoulder controls also allow him to surf with ease. You can find out more about the new functionality on the 3DS on the Nintendo site.

My one grumble if I bought a new 3DS would be that it does not come with a charger, I assume this is because Nintendo believe that most people buying it are upgrading and already have one. You can of course buy one and it is £19.99 for the AC adaptor and charging cradle.

The New Nintendo 3DS retails for £149.99 or you can buy it in XL version for £179.99 and this comes in Metallic black or blue.

Many thanks to Nintendo for sending us through the new 3DS, games, charger, cover plate and memory card, we are loving this new toy!

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