Monday, October 13, 2014

Nintendo DS2 and Nintendo 3DS XL Review

Nintendo has long been loved by children everywhere. I remember playing Tertris on a friend's Nintendo Gameboy as a teen and being ever so jealous that I didn't have one myself. When I told my kids this their eyes widened in wonder that they actually had Nintendo consoles 'in the olden days'. 

Thanks kids. 

But things have moved on quite a bit since those Tertris playing times it seems, so Nintendo sent us out a few consoles to test out and put through their paces. Kaya (10) and Marley (8) both received a Nintendo 3DS XL and Baxter (6) received the Nintendo DS2 to review. 

A set of games were also tested - Mario Kart 7, Tomadachi Life, Phonics Fun with Biff, Chip & Kipper and Super Mario Bros 2. Yes, Christmas came early this year. To say they were excited was the understatement of the century. 

Once the screaming and running around the house was finished we got to work setting them up. Now I say work, but in fact these are the ultimate plug and play consoles - and for a not very technically minded mum that is a huge plus. On both the DS2 and the 3DS XL you simply switch them on and within a few simple instructions (inputting name \ date etc) you are ready to go. The set up option also gives you the chance to set parental controls and wifi details, but naturally my kids weren't patient enough for all that so we chose the 'set up later' option. 

The Console.

The consoles come with a Mii Maker similar to the Nintendo Wii. All three of mine jumped straight in creating themselves, their friends and each other.

Also available is StreetPass - an online world where their characters can connect to each other over the internet. Very clever and they had a lot of fun exploring it. This feature can be fully controlled and switched off if you are not comfortable with it (or if your kids aren't very fond of each other and don't want their brothers Mii character following them around the plaza...) 

Both the Nintendo DS2 and Nintendo 3DS XL have cameras that can be played around with, and Marley in particular enjoyed the Face Raiders preloaded game where you get to blast your siblings faces out of the sky. Also - did you know that you can actually take 3D pictures with the 3DS XL? Me neither. *mind explodes*

There's a heap of other stuff loaded onto the consoles too that the kids enjoyed finding and exploring. 

The eShop. 

The eShop allows you to browse and download games via your console. This is a brilliant feature for pocket money spends or even birthday gifts from grandparents who might not know what to buy for them. Games can be paid for via a voucher code or credit \ debit card, and again parental controls can be set to ensure no unexpected purchases are made. 

The Games

Mario Kart 7
Baxter the 6 year old adores car \ racing games so I knew this would be a hit with him. His older brother however was a bit put out until they discovered that - wait for it - if you have 2 consoles you can use the Download Play feature to explore local multi-player using just the one game cartridge! Amazing! No more fights over whose turn it is anymore (just fights over who is winning this time).

Tomodachi Life
A simulated life game that really taps into their creative juices! It's great for any child who likes role-play and imagination so Kaya loved it.  The more this game is played the more that is unlocked.

Phonics Fun with Biff, Chip & Kipper
I was delighted that my youngest Baxter received this game. His entry into school life was when we were living in Spain so he missed out on the first half of the year's learning back here. Although he's caught up with most things his foundation into phonics was delayed, so he struggles a little with this. Having a game to play rather than sitting down at a table for extra homework is a very welcome option and we're looking forward to moving through the range of games available. 

Super Mario Bros 2
Impossible to fault, Kids of all ages adore it. Probably Marley's favourite game of all - but they've all been Mario fans for quite a while now.  

What I liked best.

I have to say there were loads of aspects about the Nintendo consoles that I love. 

As mentioned the set up and use of both were incredibly easy. I've found other devices far more difficult to get up and running with - and the stress of it almost takes away from the joy of their 'new toy'. 

I love the sturdiness of the Nintendo DS2 and the double screen design of the 3DS XL. The 3D feature of the 3DS XL really needs to be seen to be believed. No glasses are required and the quality of, erm, 3D-ness is amazing. You can also control the level of 3D that is used, or turn it off entirely. 

The activity log feature is also fantastic. So simple but so affective. Basically it allows you to monitor what they have been playing and - joy of joys - for how long.

Parental controls is another feature that I love. I find computers, ipods, iphone and ipads all very scary when is comes to setting restrictions and often it is really only an 'all or nothing' choice. With Nintendo however it is far easier and more straightforward. You can set restrictions on the eShop, on friends through the internet feature, and on age range for downloads. I feel much safer knowing that they are playing on the Nintendo unsupervised than I would with any of the devices listed above. 

One of the great aspects about the Nintendo consoles is that all the old games can be played on the new ones. So if you are upgrading your child console their existing games aren't rendered useless. There are so many money-making schemes employed by other manufacturers that mean an upgrade of one thing requires an upgrade of everything, so as a parent it's really nice to see that Nintendo have bucked this trend. 

I also loved the fact that I got a Sunday morning in bed in peace whilst they all played together perfectly. 

The only thing I did find strange is that the re-charging kit isn't included with purchase of the console.

What the kids liked best. 

Kaya nearly burst with excitement when she saw Tomadachi Life.
'What's Tomadachi Life?' I asked.
'Well, you get to make people, create your own world and The Vamps play it!' she squeeled in response.
I couldn't quite bring myself to ask who The Vamps were. I am so not down with the youth.

Kaya loves coming in from school, getting her homework done, and then settling in for a little wind down session before dinner. 

Marley loves the Mii Maker, the online features and how amazing the 3D is. He's adding new games to his Christmas list already. 'Do I really have to turn it off? But I've only made 51 Mii characters!'

Baxter loves just about everything but especially Mario Kart 7 and the fact that he now has his very own games console.

The consoles are all so handy and portable, they can be brought along to the different activities they all do, so that when one is say playing football in the rain the other two can keep themselves amused inside the clubhouse while I have a relaxing coffee. Double win.

They are also a great way for the kids to have some downtime at home without me worrying about what they might be doing on their screen time. 


100%. The only thing I think that may put some parents or children off the Nintendo DS2 or 3DS XL is that technology on other devices has moved on so quickly. But for children up to 11 or 12 I think the Nintendo consoles are perfect. As a mother I don't want to have to be worrying about what my kids are inadvertently viewing online. Or that younger siblings are being drawn into older siblings more extreme online games. The Nintendo's allow this age group to have their very own, safe, portable, fun and educational device, that can be easily controlled by a parent and has a long life span due to the range and affordability of many of the games on offer. 

If only we'd had such a thing ourselves way back in the olden days....

This is a Netmum's sponsored review.To find out more click the button:

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