2018-04-19 04:15:29

Minecraft 3DS Review

Minecraft was originally released back in 2009, and I personally have been playing various editions of it since the summer of 2010. To date, I have purchased Minecraft as the original Java edition, on Android, on iOS, on Xbox, and now my most recent purchase, Minecraft New Nintendo 3DS Edition. So why have I purchased so many editions of Minecraft? And is the New Nintendo 3DS Edition of Minecraft worth the cost? Only one of those questions has a reasonable answer, so read on to find out in my review of Minecraft New Nintendo 3DS Edition!

Right off the bat, the first thing you need to keep in mind is that Minecraft New Nintendo 3DS Edition only works on the New Nintendo 3DS series of consoles! As of models that are available for sale right now, this means either the New Nintendo 3DS XL or the New Nintendo 2DS XL. I have seen a lot of negative customer reviews on various online retailers for this game, complaining that the game does not run on their 3DS system. If you are reading this review because you are considering buying Minecraft for your 3DS system, make sure you have one of the two models listed above.

Getting Started
When I first loaded the Minecraft cartridge into my New 2DS XL system, I was immediately informed that there was an update ready to download and install. The update process went pretty quickly. I did not sit there and time it or anything, but it couldn't have taken more than a few minutes. When the update was completed and I launched the game, I was introduced to the patch notes for v1.4. As this update was presented as soon as I put the game into my system, I did not test any of the prior versions of the game, so everything you read below will pertain to the v1.4 patch of Minecraft 3DS Edition.

I want to talk about the controls first, because this was the first thing that struck me when I started playing this version of Minecraft. Coming into Minecraft New Nintendo 3DS Edition after having played many other different versions in the past, I immediately found controlling New 3DS Edition to be the most difficult out of any platform I had tried in the past. As the gamepad layout goes, the controls are very similar (maybe identical, I did not compare) to Minecraft on the Xbox or Android TV systems. The problem I had was with the little control "nubbin" on the 2DS XL that supposedly passes for a right thumbstick.

My first five minutes with Minecraft on the 3DS consisted of my player alternating instantly from looking straight up at the sky to looking straight down at the ground, all while spinning in circles and crashing into things. This was the first 3DS game I played that utilized this control nubbin thing, and I was definitely not feeling it. I was immediately wondering if my purchase had been a mistake, as the game was completely uncontrollable.

Eventually, it did get better. I decided to tough it out and fuddle my way through the controls, and probably after about half an hour, I was reasonably used to it. At this point, I would say that controlling Minecraft on the 3DS is no more difficult than playing on the Xbox or the Fire TV. If you have already played something on the 3DS that uses this control nubbin mechanism, you will probably avoid the learning curve that I had to go through. It just works differently than a regular thumbstick, and for somebody who has never used anything like it before, it took a bit of getting used to.

There is another, more annoying control issue that I have noticed though, which has more to do with the 2DS XL itself than the actual game. While you are playing, you will generally be using the two thumbsticks and the two shoulder buttons (L and R) which control placing blocks and using objects. Because of how close the two thumbsticks are to the two shoulder buttons, I find that holding the 2DS XL in this way becomes uncomfortable after about thirty minutes of play. Whether or not this is an issue to you will largely depend on the size of your hands and how you hold the system while you play.

Some of the main gripes I have seen on the internet about Minecraft New Nintendo 3DS Edition have to do with the graphics in general, frame rate drops, and the overall draw distance. On the 2DS XL, Minecraft simply does not look as good as many of the other versions that are out there.

Now, playing on an actual 2DS XL system looks quite a bit better than the picture above, which I snapped using my smartphone. Even still, there is no denying that playing Minecraft on, say, my iPhone 7 looks significantly sharper. The reason is obviously due to the much higher resolution on the iPhone. In terms of the actual textures, I see no noticeable difference between this version of Minecraft and any other, and while you are actually moving around and playing the game, the lower resolution of the 2DS does not detract in any way from the gameplay.

Sometimes when I am mining down in the caves, I will notice minor graphical glitches. This will generally be in the form of one white or light blue pixel on the wall in the corner of one of the blocks, making it appear as though the blocks do not totally line up right against each other. This is minor and does not happen with any regularity, but I have noticed it at least once per play session. It doesn't really distract gameplay, but it is certainly noticeable.

Framerate drops are something I have noticed as well, although not as bad as I had anticipated. Other reviews I have read had this listed as a fairly significant issue, but to me the issue has been rare and infrequent. I owe this to the fact that there have been several patches since the game was originally released, and I suspect the performance was worse several months ago when Minecraft on the 3DS first came out. It could be my imagination, but I seem to have noticed the most framerate issues when I am in the middle of a forest or chopping down trees.

The draw distance is a legitimate issue though. It is not so bad as to make the game hard to play, and it is barely noticeable indoors or down in the mines. I really didn't think too much of the draw distance at all, until I found myself out on a quest to find some wool. In a large open field, not being able to see all the way to the other side can be annoying, as is trying to find your way back to your encampment. Is the issue game breaking? No. Is it annoying? Certainly.

To me, one of the areas in which Minecraft on the 3DS really shines is with the dual screen interface. Other Ocean Interactive, the outfit charged with porting Minecraft over to the 3DS, did an admirable job in utilizing the two screens on the 3DS system, and that interface alone, despite the inferior graphics and other shortcomings, has almost made the 3DS version of Minecraft my favorite so far.

Having your map along with X:Y:Z coordinates on-screen at all times is just great, and something that immediately feels like it is missing once you go back to another version of Minecraft, especially one of the smartphone versions. Managing inventory and crafting are also very well done on the 3DS. This is one area of the game where everything just feels right and works as you expect that it should.

How you play Minecraft may ultimately be a critical factor in deciding whether or not this version is right for you. From reading online, I understand that from a technical and content perspective, Minecraft on the 3DS is several iterations behind the current Pocket Edition of the game. The world size is also finite on the 3DS. I have read online that you can choose between Small, Medium, and Large world sizes during Map Creation, clocking in at 672x672, 1344x1344, and 2016x2016, respectively. Truthfully, when I created my game, I just rushed through it and didn't even notice the World Size selection option, so whichever size is the default is the one I am currently playing. I have not yet reached the end of the world. I should note that when you step off of the on-screen map that is always showing, you have not reached the end of the world. You simply show up on another blank map page.

Because of the finite map size and content limitations though, Minecraft on the 3DS does not support the "Better Together" update, which allows it to play cross platform with other versions of the game. As of the current path, two player local multiplayer is supported with other 3DS edition players, although I have not personally tested this out. Still, it would be a lot nicer to be able to play cross platform with the other editions of the game, as Minecraft now exists on virtually every type of device that you would reasonably want to play Minecraft on. Will Minecraft on the 3DS ever gain cross platform multiplayer? I sort of doubt it. While that game has already gotten several patches since it's release, I suspect that the hardware of the 3DS series is the reason why this version is lacking features found in most of the other Minecraft editions out there.

To some, these limitations might be a big deal, and to others, not so much. For me personally, I have not noticed any of the missing content, and while cross-platform multiplayer would be nice to have, I do still own Minecraft on many other devices which do support multiplayer, should the need arise. For just running around and crafting though, building up your base, and doing what you need to do to survive, Minecraft on the New Nintendo 3DS is every bit as good and as fun as all of the other editions out there.

At the end of the day, the important question to ask here is whether or not Minecraft New Nintendo 3DS Edition is worth the cost? This is a question that will largely depend on you, how you like to play, and whether or not you already own other versions of Minecraft.

If you just look at it on it's face from a technical perspective, Minecraft 3DS is inferior to almost every other edition of Minecraft that is out there. It is also one of the most expensive editions you can buy, costing $29.99 new in stores or on the Nintendo eShop. That said, I was able to find it on eBay for only $16.80. Obviously it was used, but it came with the box and all papers, and nothing seemed to be scratched or damaged. It is possibly that I still would have made a purchase at the full $30 price, but finding it on eBay for almost half off certainly made the decision to buy a whole lot easier.

And truthfully, I've been having a ton of fun with Minecraft on the 3DS. My main gripe at the beginning was with the controls, but now that I have them down, I much prefer playing on the 3DS to playing on the smartphone. I've never really enjoyed Minecraft's touchscreen controls, which is one of the main reasons I was drawn to the 3DS edition to begin with. On the smartphone, I constantly find myself accidentally destroying walls and important structures while trying to look around. I never have this problem on the 3DS. Now, at the end of the day, playing on a PC with a keyboard and mouse is by far the easiest way to control Minecraft, in my opinion. However, sometimes at the end of the day, you just want to play a few minutes of Minecraft before bed, or while you are sitting in the car during a long roadtrip. In these instances, I believe that Minecraft on the 3DS beats the other smartphone offerings, hands down.

So for me, I have no issues whatsoever in recommending Minecraft New Nintendo 3DS Edition. If you already play on the iPhone or Android and you like that version, then it ultimately may not be worth your money. I personally prefer playing on my 2DS XL, and I have certainly had more fun playing Minecraft 3DS over the past couple of weeks than I have ever had playing on the iPhone. Ultimately, I do think that PC remains the best overall version of the game, put for playing Minecraft on the go, I think that Minecraft New Nintendo 3DS Edition is tough to beat. Just take a look at eBay before you pull the trigger on the eShop, because while getting this game for $30 isn't too terrible, getting it at $16 is absolutely wonderful.

#reviews #minecraft #3ds
2018-04-14 00:46:51

Is the Nintendo 2DS XL Worth Getting in 2018?

I wanted to go over an important question that many of you might be pondering in the current era of the Nintendo Switch that we find ourselves in. Is the Nintendo 2DS XL still worth getting in 2018, or is this a dead console on it's last leg? This is a question my family and I pondered late last year when Super Mario Odyssey came out on the Switch, leading me to decide that I really needed a Nintendo Switch. So I pondered it for a while, looked at the reviews, pondered it some more, and finally took the family to the store with the intention of coming home with a new Switch. About an hour later, we came home with three brand new 3DS series consoles instead! What happened?

Ok, so in truth I had never even considered a 3DS console to be an option. I had a Nintendo DS Lite back in 2006, which was a great handheld while I was working the night shift during college. I eventually quit playing it and ended up putting it on craigslist in 2009 (along with all of my games), a decision which I am deeply regretting to this day. Then in either 2010 or 2011, I was visiting Los Angeles with some friends and went to an outdoor booth Nintendo had set up to showcase the new Nintendo 3DS console. I tried it out, but the 3D aspect of it never really did much for me, so I never even considered the purchase.

Fast forward now to a few months ago. As I said, Mario Odyssey was the hot new thing, and I decided to pick up a Switch and get back onto the Nintendo train. Once at the store though, looking through the section of all things Nintendo, a startling realization came to my mind - the incredible value and library of games for the 3DS series is simply impossible to ignore. For only a little bit more than the price of the Switch, we could walk out of there with a handheld console for myself, my wife, and our son. After talking it over a bit with the clerk, that is exactly what we ended up doing. Our household now has two 2DS XL consoles, and one regular 2DS. And neither of us regret it in the slightest.

First of all, in terms of the sheer amount of games available, the 3DS series of consoles is absolutely insane. The consoles play the entire library of Nintendo 3DS games, on top of the existing library of regular Nintendo DS games spanning back over fourteen years now. The amount of games available easily numbers in the several thousands, many of which can be found dirt cheap online or at vintage shops. On top of this, the 3DS consoles come with an eShop app allowing you to download indie titles, as well as Virtual Console games, featuring many of the best classics from Nintendo systems of old. You could literally go your entire life without exhausting the content available for these consoles.

The model I have is the black and blue New 2DS XL, which was just released to the public in June of last year. The console itself feels great in pretty much every way it needs to. I will admit that it feels a bit on the cheap side, but I certainly don't worry that it's just going to break down on me or anything. When I first pulled out the stylus, I thought that it was laughably small, but after using it for a bit, the size hasn't been an issue in the slightest. The screen resolutions are not going to impress anybody who has used a smartphone, but for what this thing is, it certainly gets the job done. So all in all, the New 2DS XL is, in my opinion, an excellent handheld console.

So the console itself it great, but that's not the only question here. Is the console great in 2018? And more importantly, should you consider buying one of these things in the age of the Nintendo Switch? Well for me, the answer to both of those questions is a resounding yes, and I will explain why.

First of all, if you've never owned a 3DS system before and have been wanting to get in on the action, I believe that the New 2DS XL is the model to get, hands down. It's still reasonably priced, has nice big screens, and it feels good in the hands. You may feel as though buying it is a risk, that maybe Nintendo is on the verge of discontinuing the 3DS line now that the Switch is available. That is a thought that crossed my mind when I was making my purchase also. The way I see it though, with the 3DS line having its best sales since 2013 and a new model having just been released under a year ago, I think this platform is still safe for the time being.

So what if you are on the fence between a New 2DS XL and the Nintendo Switch? To me, it really depends on what kind of gamer you are. If you need the latest and greatest, with the high budget titles and best graphics, then I suppose it's really not much of a competition, and you should go for the Switch. For me, it was a bit different. I really only play games a few times per week, and not for more than a few hours at most. In this capacity, the 2DS XL is absolutely perfect for me. Although they are both technically portable, the 2DS is a lot more portable. I don't worry about having it in my pocket. I'm not worried about breaking it.

In terms of the games, I believe the 3DS still beats the Switch, hands down. Especially if you have never played any of the games it has to offer yet. I think it also has the superior lineup for the more causal gamer. While both systems have the larger, more in-depth titles, the 3DS series offers more casual pick up and play games for people who are on the go. Obviously the Switch is still somewhat new, and the games lineup will improve with time. As of right now though, today in 2018, the 3DS (in my view) wins in the games category hands down.

Finally, there is the price. The New 2DS XL is half the price of the Switch. There is even a cheaper option than that, the regular 2DS (which I will write about later), coming in at only $80 with a top tier game included. That is hard to beat. Again, if the 3DS line isn't your thing or you already own one, the Switch at $300 is still probably a good system to get. But if you are just looking for a great portable gaming system, I think the New Nintendo 2DS XL is pretty hard to beat.

In conclusion, there is absolutely no question in my mind that the New Nintendo 2DS XL is still a great buy in 2018, and to me it absolutely makes sense to pick one up if you are in the market for great portable gaming. It might have a couple of shortcomings (which I will elaborate on in a later post), but on the whole, this is a great portable console with an amazing lineup of games, which I highly recommend to anybody. That is just my humble opinion though, feel free to let me know in the comments below how you feel about the New 2DS XL!

2018-04-13 21:39:32

Welcome to Pocket Champions!

Alright everybody, welcome to Pocket Champions, a new blog site dedicated to mobile video game reviews, including handheld consoles like the Nintendo 3DS. In this introductory post, I'd just like to tell you about myself, my idea for the site, and what I plan on doing here.

About Me

So first off, I am Brandon Stecklein, and I am the creator of this website. I live near Spring Hill, Kansas and I own a mobile software company called Ape Apps. Just to be up front here, the purpose of this site is not to publish glowing reviews of my own games. In fact, I do not intend to mention any of my Ape Apps projects here on Pocket Champions.

Why Pocket Champions?

So here is a good question, where did the name for the site come from? Back in 2012, I had the idea for a new mobile game called Pocket Champions, where you would create little characters, build them up, and fight other players online. It was such a great idea, I went out and bought a 10 year subscription to the pocketchampions.com domain name. The only problem is that I never ended up making the game.

Fast forward to about a week ago, I had the idea in my head to make a video game review site after searching online for reviews of Minecraft 3DS edition. So many of the review sites are now big name corporate reviews, whereas I was looking for something a bit more personal. I found what I was looking for on YouTube, but for me, I much prefer reading an article to watching a video. So I decided to put up my own site, where I could occasionally post my thoughts on various games that I have played.

So I started searching for a good domain name, but everything I could think of was already taken. Basically, anything with the name "Game" or "Gaming" in it is either already taken, or ultra expensive. So I decided to look through my list of domains, as I currently own about 80 of them through my Ape Apps business which are not even being used for anything. I was about to give up, when towards the bottom of the list I saw pocketchampions.com there. Now, the champions part is basically irrelevant, but it does have the word Pocket in it. It was the closest thing I had that would fit the bill, and the domain is already paid for up until at least 2022, so fast forward a couple of days and boom, Pocket Champions is born!

The Purpose of this Site

So we went over who I am, where the name came from, so now what is the purpose of this site going to be? There are actually a couple. The first is simply a technical demonstration and debugging platform for my own custom content management software. Everything you see on the site here has been written by me from scratch. The blogging software is one that I wrote for www.ape-apps.com , and which I intend to eventually port over to another one of my websites called Role Playing Forums. The user account management system uses my own custom Ape Apps Accounts system. The embeded chat software uses my own Ape Chat service, and eventually when I publish the mobile app for this site, it will use my own custom software as well. So you could say I am a bit of a tech do-it-yourselfer, and every site that I use this software on will go a long way towards debugging and improving it, not just on here, but for all of my sites that use this stuff.

Beyond all of that, the primary purpose of this site is for posting my thoughts and reviews on different games. Some of them will be mobile games (think Android and iOS), but primarily I will be looking at games for portable Nintendo systems, like the 3DS and the Switch. I've always been a Nintendo fan, so I think it would be awesome to run and operate a Nintendo related site, so that's what I did.

So, how often will I post updates? I don't know. I will try to do at least a couple per week. Even if nobody reads them, I will at least be posting about all of the games that I currently own and play. Some of the reviews might be for older titles, but who cares? People still want to read about that stuff before they buy it. If I can help a couple of people with a buying decision, then that would be fine with me.


So there is your standard introduction to the site. I hope to add the first bit of real content shortly, with regular updates to follow. If people actually start visiting the site, there are a lot of features in my software here that I can activate, including a full Forum system for discussion. It all depends on how it plays out, so stay tuned for more!