Feature: Nintendo Life 3DS FAQ

Everything you want to know about Nintendo's new 3DS console

With an absolute barrage of information swarming around as we approach the upcoming release of the Nintendo 3DS system, we thought now might be a good time to sit down and sift through the mess and try to add some answers to the many questions that have been floating around.

Rather than have the information strung all over the site, we've now piled it all into one place for your viewing pleasure. So without further ado, let's get to the questions and answers.

What is the Nintendo 3DS?

The 3DS is Nintendo's newest portable game system and true successor to Nintendo's DS system and features the ability to view games in full 3D without the need for glasses.

What are the specs for the 3DS?

GPU: Pica200
Size (closed): 2.9" x 5.3" x 0.8"
Weight: 8.1 ounces
Upper Screen: Widescreen 3D LCD (800x240 or 400x240 per eye)
Upper Screen Size: 3.52" diagonally
Lower Screen: LCD Touchscreen (320x240)
Lower Screen Size: 3.02" diagonally
Colours: Approximately 16.7 million
Cameras: 0.3 Megapixels - (2 on the outer case and 1 inside)
Wireless Function: 2.4GHz (100 feet recommended range)
Sound: Stereo speakers to the right and left of the top screen
Stylus: Telescoping stylus (3.95 inches extended)
Power: AC adapter and lithium ion battery
Charge Time: Approximately 3.5 hours
Battery Life: Approximately 3-5 hours for 3DS games and 5-8 hours for DS games.

When will the 3DS be available?

  • Japan - February 26th
  • North America - March 27th
  • Europe - March 25th
  • Australia - March 31st

How much will the 3DS cost?

  • Japan - ¥25,000
  • North America - $249.99
  • Europe - Retailers will set the cost (About £229.99)
  • Australia - $349.95 AUD

What does the 3DS system come with?

  • 3DS System
  • Charging cradle
  • AC Adapter
  • Telescopic stylus
  • 2GB SD Card
  • Six (6) augmented reality cards
  • Documentation

What colours will be available at launch?

The 3DS system will be available in both Aqua Blue and Cosmo Black in all territories upon launch.

Are any other colours planned?

Nintendo has shown a red 3DS system at various events, but there's currently been no word on an official release for other colours. If history is any indication, it would seem likely that Nintendo will be releasing the system in more colour choices down the line, but until then we'll just have to wait and see.

What games will be available at launch?

The Australian launch lineup has not yet been finalized by Nintendo of Australia. We'll of course update the finalised listing as soon as they confirm it.


North America


What third party companies are currently working on 3DS projects?

Below is a partial listing of the third party companies that we know are working on 3DS titles: Activision, Atlus, Capcom, Electronic Arts, Harmonix, Konami, Level-5, Majesco, Marvelous, Nicalis, Sega, Square-Enix, Take-Two Interactive, Tecmo Koei, THQ, Ubisoft, Warner Bros., and WayForward.

When will the Virtual Console be available for the 3DS?

Although there have been conflicting reports as to exactly when the 3DS eShop will be available, Nintendo has only stated that it should become available via a system software update sometime in late May 2011.

What systems will be offered up on the eShop?

The only systems that have been officially announced for the 3DS Virtual Console have been Game Boy, Game Boy Color, Sega Game Gear, and NEC TurboGrafx-16. Super Mario Land and Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening DX have been shown at various media events, which leads us to believe that they will be some of the first classic Game Boy titles to hit the 3DS eShop at the end of May.

Will Game Boy Advance games be available on the 3DS eShop?

So far no word on whether or not Game Boy Advance releases will be made available on the 3DS eShop, but given the hardware similarities, it's certainly possible that Nintendo might make them available at some point.

Will there be a pack-in game?

No, but there are quite a few programs built into the system that include:

  • 3DS Camera
  • Mii Maker
  • StreetPass Mii Plaza
  • Augmented Reality Games
  • Face Raiders
  • Activity Log
  • Internet Browser
  • 3DS Sound

Does the 3DS feature a microphone?

Yes, there's a built-in microphone near the bottom of the system just below the START button.

Can you use headphones with the 3DS system?

Yes, the 3DS uses a standard 3.5mm headphone jack.

Are both screens 3D?

No. Only the top screen of the 3DS is capable of 3D output, with the bottom screen offering the touch screen controls.

Is the top 3D widescreen a touchscreen?

No. Nintendo felt that using the top screen as a touch screen would take away from the system's 3D output, so it was decided to make only the bottom screen touch screen sensitive.

Can you turn the 3D effect completely off?

Yes. You can not only adjust the various degrees of 3D effect, but you can also turn the 3D completely off by sliding the depth slider all the way to the OFF position.

What do 3DS games look like without the 3D turned on?

They basically look the same, albeit without the depth of the 3D effect. They also tend to look a bit more jagged when viewed with the 3D effect completely turned off.

Can playing games in 3D really hurt my eyesight?

There have been reports that children under the age of 7 should not play stereoscopic 3D games due to the fact that their eyes are still developing and the risk of causing future eyesight problems is present. Another downside to viewing stereoscopic 3D is that it can also be quite fatiguing on the eyes, so taking short breaks in between lengthy playing sessions might be a good idea for gamers of any age.

Is it true that the 3DS can make you motion sick?

There have been numerous reports of a small percentage of people becoming slightly motion sick when playing the 3DS. It will likely depend on the person as to what effects the system's 3D depth will have on them.

How much will 3DS games cost?

Nintendo has stated that 3DS games will be comparable in price to that of DS releases, going so far as to say that they'll likely be in the $35-$45 USD range.

Does the 3DS feature a real analogue stick?

Yes. The 3DS features a 360 degree analogue stick called the Circle Pad. Not only can the Circle Pad offer movements in 360 degrees, it also offers developers a wide range of control sensitivity as well.

Will the 3DS play DS games?

Yes. The 3DS is fully backward compatible with the DS library of games (aside from games that require the GBA slot) and they fit into and play from the very same cartridge slot that the 3DS titles use on the system. About the only physical difference between the two is the small protruding tab on the top-right corner of the 3DS cartridge.

Since the DS games use a different resolution, how will they be displayed on the higher resolution 3DS screen?

DS games will fit the screen vertically, but will feature black bars on the right and left side of them in order to retain their original aspect ratio. This is similar to the way some widescreen movies are displayed on a 4:3 ratio television, only with the black bars on the sides instead of the top and bottom.

You can also launch DS games in their original resolution by holding Start + Select when loading the game, which will replicate them exactly as they are on DS/DS Lite screens with a sizeable black surround.

Will DS games display in 3D on the 3DS?

No. DS titles will not be displayed in 3D on the 3DS screen as they were not originally programmed to do so. DS games will basically look exactly as they do on your standard DS system.

Will some newer DS games feature enhancements when played on 3DS?

There is always the chance that future DS releases might have some type of 3D feature built into them that can be activated when played on the 3DS system, but no releases currently available have this feature.

Will regular DS games be able to use the analogue stick?

Yes. The Circle Pad is mapped to the functions of the D-Pad when running regular DS releases so it can be used in place of the D-Pad for DS titles if the player wishes to use it. (Games will not have full analog support with the circle pad, it will only act as an 8-way joystick)

Will there be parental controls on the system?

Yes. The 3DS will have parental controls that can even allow parents to turn the 3D function completely off.

Why does the Aqua Blue 3DS have a black frame around the top screen?

All of the 3DS models we've seen shown by Nintendo have featured the black frame around the 3D screen, regardless of the body colour, leading many to believe that the black backdrop helps with the 3D effect in some way.

Will the 3DS feature motion controls like the iPhone?

Yes the 3DS features not only gyroscopic tilt controls, but also an accelerometer as well.

Can you still play 3DS even if you wear glasses or contacts?

Yes, glasses or contacts will not affect the 3D effect, although a very small percentage of people cannot see stereoscopic 3D.

Is the 3DS really as powerful as the Xbox 360 and PS3?

On paper, not quite. While the graphical horsepower of the system is impressive, it's the 3D capabilities coupled with the system's built-in texturing and shading effects that give them such a high quality look.

Can the 3DS take 3D photos and video?

The 3DS system can take 3D photos using the dual camera lenses on the outside of the system and then these photos can be viewed on the 3DS widescreen. The system won't be able to shoot 3D video at launch, although it's obviously a feature that could possibly be added at a later date.

Does the 3DS feature Wi-Fi and online play?

Yes, the 3DS will feature not only Wi-Fi capabilities, but also online play for games that feature it.

Will we be stuck with Friend Codes for online play on 3DS?

Nintendo has decided to stick with the Friend Code system, but they have simplified it by only requiring one Friend Code for each system rather than one for each individual game.

Will we be able to transfer our DSiWare games?

Yes, you will be able to transfer your DSiWare games over to your 3DS system, although you will only have a limited number of times to make use of the function.

Will the 3DS eShop use Nintendo Points and can we transfer them to the 3DS system?

No, the 3DS will not use Nintendo Points and your current points are not transferable. The system will instead use regular monetary currency for your digital purchases.

What type of memory cards does the 3DS use and what is the storage size limit?

The 3DS will make use of standard SD cards and there is currently no announced limit as to what size SD card can be used with the system.

Can digital download titles be launched directly from the SD Card?

Yes, you will have the ability to launch games directly from the SD Card, unlike the DSi system that required you to copy them into the system's built-in storage before running them.

What is Street Pass and how does it work?

Street Pass is a function of the 3DS that will allow you to put your 3DS system to sleep while you carry it around. When you come within range of another 3DS system in sleep mode, various data will be automatically exchanged, such as Mii characters, high scores, and other sharable data.

What is Spot Pass and how does it work?

SpotPass will allow you to obtain free games, videos, and game data whenever you come within range of a Wi-Fi access point. This will provide Nintendo with a way to send out information and even free game titles to users without the 3DS owner having to do anything other than come within range of a wireless hotspot.

What are Play Coins and what can they be used for?

Play Coins can be earned by walking around while carrying your 3DS system. Your steps are logged and you're awarded one Play Coin for every 100 steps you take, although there is a 300 Play Coin limit per month (10 per day). These coins can be used to purchase additional content inside of games like Super Street Fighter IV 3D Edition and other supported games.

What is the battery life of the 3DS?

Nintendo has stated that the approximate battery life of the 3DS is between 3-5 hours for 3DS games and 5-8 hours for regular DS releases, depending on what functions and screen brightness are being used on the system.

We'll be doing a battery life test as soon as we get our 3DS system in, so more specific data will be coming soon.

Can the 3DS play 3D movies and will they be available for purchase?

Nintendo has shown some 3D movies being played on the 3DS system at various media events which makes it likely that they will be made available at some point, we just don't know exactly when at the moment.

Will there be shortages of 3DS systems in stores?

Given the popularity of the system, it's entirely possible that there could be hardware shortages, so at the very least it might be a good idea to pre-order a system if you're planning on picking one up at or near launch day. There's already information from various import houses that limited stock for the Japanese launch has already caused them to cut pre-orders off until they can secure more 3DS units.

Is the 3DS region locked?

Yes. Unlike past Nintendo handheld systems, the 3DS system will be region-locked. This means your system will only be able to play games designated for that particular system's specified region.

Is it possible to import a 3DS system from Japan since they're getting it a full month early?

Yes, you can import a system, although you'd better be ready to pay a hefty sum of money for one. NCSX still has their 3DS preorders listed at $459.90 and
Play-Asia is currently taking reservations for their second shipment of 3DS systems, but no price has been quoted as of yet.

Please keep in mind that you can only play Japanese region 3DS games on a Japanese 3DS system.

Will regular European and North American DS games play on the Japanese 3DS system?

While we know that 3DS games are region-locked, regular DS titles are not region-locked and will play on any region 3DS system, according to NCSX who put a 3DS system through its import paces this morning. That means you can play regular DS games from any region on any region 3DS system. DSiWare titles will be region-locked, so you won't be able to play North American or European titles on a Japanese 3DS system, however.

We tested out a handful of regular DS titles including: Pokemon Black and White, Dragon Quest VI, and Radiant Historia and all of them played perfectly fine on the Japanese 3DS system.

Is the 3DS AC adapter the same one used with the DSi system?

Yes, it's the same basic power adapter with the same type of connector.

Is the included cradle that comes with the 3DS an induction charger?

No. The included 3DS cradle uses two small metal prongs on the top-right corner that touch the two tiny metal plates near the area where the AC adapter plugs into the unit, similar to the way a cordless telephone base charges the phone.

What is the 3D like on the 3DS system?

It's basically similar to what you see in 3D movies nowadays. The screen appears to have not only depth, in which the images in the game seem to extend far beyond the back of the 3DS, but also the effect of images popping out of the screen towards you.

How big is the 3D sweet spot and will moving around inhibit the 3D effect?

There is a fairly large sweet spot as long as you keep the 3DS screen fairly centered out in front of you. Moving the system off to the side or vertically too much will cause the images to look doubled, so you're not going to want to do too much moving around while playing 3DS titles.

Is there a noticeable difference between the various degrees of 3D when using the depth slider?

There is a fairly wide range of 3D effect between the highest and lowest setting of the depth slider and it's very noticeable as you move the slider up and down.

What is the best setting for the 3D slider?

This will likely depend on the individual player. You'll still be getting a fairly intense 3D effect, even on a middle setting, but a lot of it will depend on how sensitive you are to motion sickness and how tolerant your eyes are of the 3D effect, at least as far as eye fatigue goes.

What are some of the confirmed first-party 3DS games that will be coming after the launch of the system?

Nintendo has already announced several titles that are well into development and likely to be released this calendar year including:

Do any of these announced first-party titles have a release date?

None of the above-listed titles currently have a confirmed release date, although it shouldn't be too much longer before at least a couple of them do.

Is Nintendo still planning on releasing the "3D Classics" and when can we expect them?

Nintendo has been fairly tight-lipped about the 3D Classics that they talked about back when the 3DS was first announced. We'll likely hear more about them after the eShop arrives in late May.

Will Nintendo Life be getting a Japanese 3DS system and if so, when can we expect some coverage of it?

Our 3DS system should be arriving on Monday and we'll start putting up some articles about it shortly thereafter, including some hands-on features and possibly an early review or two.

Is it true that the Nintendo 3DS system sold out in Japan?

Yes, according to reports the 3DS system sold out in its first day of release in Japan selling over 400,000 units in total. It's yet another good reason to pre-order your 3DS now if you have not already done so.

When are 3DS demo units going to hit retail outlets outside of Japan?

So far there's been no concrete date announced, although a few retail managers we've spoken to have told us that they expect them any day now. Your best bet is to keep checking your local EB Games or GameStop store.

Is the 3DS D-Pad difficult to use being that low down on the system face?

It feels more out-of-place than uncomfortable. We've gotten so familiar with it being farther up for so long that it does take a bit of getting used to. In truth, it felt just fine after a few minutes of use and you can always use the Circle Pad, which is mapped to the D-Pad functions on DS titles, if you find the D-Pad too uncomfortable to use.

Is there an English language menu setting on the Japanese 3DS system?

No. You cannot change the menu setting on the Japanese 3DS to English. So if you're going to import a Japanese system, you'll have to figure out the menus on your own, although there are already quite a few videos on YouTube that show you how to get the system up and running, at least enough to be able to play regular 3DS games.

What do the D-Pad and buttons feel like in comparison to the DSi system?

The D-Pad and buttons on the 3DS are actually a little bit clickier than those found on the DSi system. They're both the exact same size, but the slightly tighter feel is actually quite nice to use.

How do regular DS games look on the 3DS screen and do you have to play them stretched to fit the 3DS screen vertically?

The regular DS games still look just fine on the 3DS screen, even stretched out, although they are a very slight bit fuzzier and do lose a very minute amount of vibrancy as a result. You can hold down the START and SELECT buttons when you launch a regular DS game that will allow you to play them at their original resolution, although they are quite a bit smaller in size on the 3DS screens due to the increased 3DS resolution.

How many icons can you have on the 3DS Home Menu in total?

There are 60 slots available, which include those taken up by built-in programs. 12 of these slots are initially taken by these programs when you boot the system out of the box.

Can you use Download Play and play local wi-fi multiplayer games using a 3DS and DS system?

Yes. You can use Download Play across both a regular DS or DSi system and the 3DS just fine and wireless play also works just as it would across two DS systems. Even using games and systems from varying regions didn't affect the DS wireless play.

Does the 3DS suffer from the same low volume the DS lineup did?

Unfortunately, yes. In fact, the highest volume setting of the 3DS is even lower than that of the highest volume setting on the DSi system. Even using headphones doesn't help much, sadly.

What is the 3DS Sound program like and what new features does it offer over the DSi version?

It seems that they're basically the same program with basically the same editing tools and four sound effects.

Does the 3DS work with the Nintendo USB dongle?

Yes it works just fine with the USB dongle.

We'll be continuously updating the FAQ, adding in more questions and answers, as well as updating any currently unconfirmed information. If you have any questions, drop us an email and maybe we'll add your question to the FAQ.

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