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Nintendo 3DS: Futuristic Handheld, Retro Battery

3DS Menus, User Interface

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It’s obvious that Nintendo put a lot of effort into redesigning the user interface on the 3DS. In many ways the menu reminds of the Wii UI, which makes a lot of sense once you factor in the input method for both consoles (using a Wii Remote is supposed to mimic touching a screen, after all).

The menu has the same kind of tile design as the Wii; the default layout is a single line of tiles that you scroll through (by touch or by D-Pad/Circle Pad), but you can expand the view and have all your tiles show up on the screen at once. The top border of the touchscreen has shortcuts for various apps (Web Browser, Notifications, Friend List, and Game Notes) as well as the screen brightness selector. There are five different brightness settings, and Nintendo also includes a power saving mode that adjusts brightness based on battery power. The top border of the top screen displays battery life, date/time, your pedometer/footstep count, and your Internet connection status.

Navigating the 3DS UI is a breeze; Nintendo makes everything very straightforward here, and we never got the feeling that something was hidden or difficult to unearth. Need to add a wireless connection? You’re four clicks away from that screen. Want to jot down a note on how to defeat the boss in Face Raiders? Two clicks.

Our only issue with the 3DS: Multitaksing. In this regard, the console seems like a wolf in sheep’s wool. The menu and interface is laid out so multitasking seems like a given, but if you want to pause a game to take a picture…you can’t. As soon as you click on another application, the 3DS requires you to close your game or other app in order to launch the new one. That said, we are cutting Nintendo some slack because we’re aware of the stress that true multitasking can put on hardware. Even with all that new processing and graphics muscle, having four or five different applications open at once is probably going to make the 3DS keel over.