Totally Sick, Bro: DualShockers Tests the 3DS to its Vomit-Inducing Limits

By Allen Park

April 7, 2011

My epic search for virtual handheld companions continues! If you didn’t check out my totally not-bland intro to this quest, here’s the deal: StreetPass is a cool thing on your 3DS that lets you swap Mii’s once you’re in the proximity of another 3DS. I’ve heard varied reports of people getting consistent hits on their StreetPass, with some getting as many as 25 Mii’s already, to people not getting any hits at all, even though they take public transportation in a fairly large city. I wanted to see how I would fare in my sleepy little suburb of San Diego.

Day 1 summary? I still have no Mii’s on my 3DS beyond my own. I want some, or else my Mii will cut himself and wear black.

Unfortunately, Day 2 never quite happened, due to unforeseen problems with transportation and getting to actual populated places. However, all wasn’t lost, as I found another valuable way to occupy that time, and use all that science stuff I’ve learned in my unspectacular, failed career as a microbiology college student. Read on for the details!

By now, you probably already know that British tabloid The Sun hates the Nintendo 3DS for some reason. They’ve already reported on the 3DS’ ability to make users ill, and have claimed that concerned/angry parents are returning the console in droves as a result. But just yesterday they topped that all off with their own personal tests of the console, with schlocky reaction shots and everything. Their conclusion was, of course, that it did cause your eyeballs to turn into sweet goo while simultaneously causing a systematic failure of your circulatory system.

This bothered me. I’ve played my 3DS in 90 minute spurts daily, and I don’t have any brain damage, as know far as I know. I’ve experienced the “Magic Eye” effect, sure, but it’s gone away fairly quickly. Was that article really true? Is my brain just going to spontaneously going to combust while I’m buying beets at the local organic market? I HAD TO KNOW.

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So I’m going to try to same experiment that the presumably intellectual chaps at The Sun have undergone. They had their desk monkey play the 3DS for two hours in four 30-minute spurts, with a ten minute break between. Pulse and blood pressure were measured, since everyone knows all of our body’s information is stored within those vital numbers.

I’m going to employ the same methods, except do them one better. I’m going to play my 3DS for three hours in three one-hour blocks and throw caution to the wind like many an irresponsible gamer, and not take any major breaks between. Instead I’ll commit some action that’ll no doubt further inhibit my abilities. I’ll measure my own pulse, but blood pressure is going to be difficult to ascertain, so we’ll just throw that one out for this one. I’ll report in with any news at random times during this period.

Ready? Here we go!

3:16PM: The Sun played two games, Super Street Fighter IV and Pro Evolution Soccer. Since I only have one, Ghost Recon: Shadow Wars, I’ll be playing that for the entirety of the period. My pulse: 74 bpm. Whoa, that’s higher than I anticipated. Guess I shouldn’t have started immediately after downing an absolutely ridiculous sized piece of Mom’s homemade lasagna. Oh well. Onto Shadow Wars!

3:45PM: Had to take a short break to blow my nose. Glanced at my computer monitor; the Magic Eye effect is starting to happen. No headaches or nausea though.

4:17PM: Okay, it’s been an hour so far. Verdict? Magic Eye effect is officially at full throttle; as I’m typing this up the words look like they really are popping out. Still, beyond that, I don’t really feel much worse than if I’d played regular old video games for an hour. I’m going to take a break and brew some coffee; as someone whose sensitive to caffeine, this should speed up the catastrophic crash of my nervous system.

4:23PM: Back from break with a nice big cup of coffee, and some cookies as well; no harm in upping my sugar content, right? Pulse: 84 bpm.

4:27PM: Huzzah, I’ve just experienced my first Nintendo 3DS system crash! Is this the fabled “Black Screen of Death”? I went to attack a Heavy Gunner, at which point the game just turned black, with the following message on the bottom screen:

Hope my game saved mid-mission; that was a painfully long, tedious one.

4:28PM: …and it didn’t save. Wonderful. I think I’m beginning to feel a headache now.

4:38PM: As if having to play an hour’s worth of an unsaved mission is bad enough already, every time I reach for my mug and take a sip, my concentration is diverted away from the screen. When I get back to the game, there’s a brief moment of double-vision that occurs before my eyes adjust. It’s a tad jarring, and even though I’ve only done so four times, my eyes are slowly but surely starting to feel the strain.

5:18PM: Closing in on the two hour mark, and it seems like the longer the play, the smaller the sweet spot for the 3D gets. Whereas simple fidgeting with the 3DS in my hand wouldn’t distort the image before, now I start seeing double on screen at the slightest shake.

5:26PM: Two hours now. Status: I’ve developed a lazy eye or something, as words and sentences are jumping in and out of 3D arbitrarily. Quickly downing two cups of coffee has made me hot, resulting in the sweats, which further adds to my discomfort. My heart seems to be beating harder than normal, but not faster (pulse is 72), no doubt due to excessive caffeine and sugar consumption. I do feel eye strain, but it’s not outside the norm; two solid hours on a DS Lite has resulted in the same outcome. No nausea, no migraines otherwise. Bathroom break, and then it’s the final stretch.

5:30PM: Back to business, and with more monkey wrenches. Apparently what causes my nausea is overstimulation of my senses, and the fact that the visions my eyes see is tricking what the other senses know isn’t there. At least, that’s according to The Sun’s Dr. Carol Cooper. I guess my senses aren’t being overstimulated enough, so why not crank the distractions up to 11? For this last hour I’ll be playing my 3DS with Season 4 of The Simpsons on in the background, volume blasting. That should provide enough confusion in my noggin to at least get me throwing up in my trash can, right? Let’s get started.

5:34PM: Those of you wondering, currently watching “Marge Gets a Job”. Not my favorite, but still a classic.

5:51PM: That’s one episode down, and finally, things are starting to get wacky. It feels like my eyes are literally being shoved closer together, as if some invisible entity is forcibly trying to turn me into some weird, sexy cyclops. Starting to get a headache in the back of my head, the kind I usually get when hungover and/or dehydrated.

5:53PM: Starting up “Mr. Plow.” Loving it. Can’t say the same for my gaming experience right now. Constantly diverting my sight away from the 3D screen is seriously messing with my eyes.

6:27PM: Well, there’s three hours.  Last half hour actually wasn’t too bad; the first signs of motion sickness actually stabilized into a small minor headache. My vision is actually starting to come back to normal, so I’m actually pleasantly surprised that–

…oh. That’s awfully convenient. Good thing I was just starting another mission, or I may be a little more miffed.

So was The Sun correct? In my experience, no, not even close. I even tried to induce some visible, serious nausea and headaches, and even when that finally did occur under extreme circumstances, it stabilized into nothing more than a minor annoyance.

But then again, I wasn’t playing with the 3D slider on full blast, but I never do that, as the games get unplayable for me. If that’s what The Sun did, then okay, I can see their argument against it. But that’s the entire purpose of the slider; it’s likely that a lot of people have different preferences when it comes to the 3D effect. For the majority of the duration, I played Ghost Recon: Shadow Wars with 25%-50% of the 3D turned on, and I was fine.

Don’t like the 3D at all? You can turn it off, and still have fun with the games; it’s not like turning the 3D on is an absolute requirement for every single game. Some of the best games on the Nintendo DS don’t even employ the touch screen. Sorry Sun, but there’s a reason why the 3D is customizable, and you apparently failed to noticed that. Great job.

My greater concern is actually with the fact that my 3DS crashed not once, but twice in a three hour span. It’s not that big a deal now, but what happens when Ocarina of Time 3D comes out and I wasn’t able to save in time, so I lose hours of progress just like that? Do I have to race against some arbitrary time bomb during every single gaming session? I certainly hope Nintendo has an answer for us, and can fix it via a firmware update or something.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go lay down a bit. Sugar and caffeine crashes suck.

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Allen Park

Allen is an utter whore of a gamer; he's completely open-minded to all games, be they AAA blockbusters or $5 casual children's games. His focus is on indie games specifically, valuing gameplay and ingenuity over sparkly visuals and ridiculous gimmicks. When he's not geeking out over the newest art game, he's out toning his sexy, sculpted shoulders while surfing epic 1.5ft waves, or having a good time with local, high-gravity microbrews.

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