bought 3DS XL

I had the regular 3DS since 2011 and I played New Super Mario Bros. 2, Mario and Luigi – Dream Team, Luigi’s Mansion 2,  and Mario Kart 7 on it.  I also upgraded to GBA SP ten years ago.  My GBA graduated high school with me. In high school, I played Mario Kart Super Circuit, followed by Castlevania Circle of the Moon, Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance and Super Mario Bros. 2.  Then I didn’t upgrade the DS to DS XL, because I had to purchase PSP, PS3, Xbox 360 and Wii.  I played each of those consoles for at least 15 hours each.  I added Bravely Default to my collection due to the ranking on gamerankings.

If you like your portable gaming three-dimensional, clam-shelled and big, then Nintendo’s 3DS XL fulfills those broad, unconventional requirements. It’s a design refresh that more closely references both previous generations of DS hardware (and the incoming Wii U) — all while touting a substantially bigger, 3D-capable, parallax-barrier screen. Aside from a larger battery, the XL’s internals rehash what we first saw over a year ago: the controls remain the same, with no addition of a (mildly) hardcore gamer-courting second analog stick. For what it’s worth, the device does arrive with a 4GB SD card in-box (up from 2GB in the original), matching the approximate doubling in physical dimensions. 18 months is a long time in gaming, especially these days, and although 3DS sales have recently rallied against Sony’s latest, we reckon the 3DS XL has double the appeal of its forebear. We’ll explain why right after the break.

Pros

    Bigger screen improves the 3D effect significantly
    Improved battery life under some conditions
    More comfortable to hold and use

Cons

    Digital content still lacking
    No secondary analog stick
    Not the most powerful of handheld hardware

Summary

If you’ve been holding off from buying a 3DS, the improvements to the screens and battery are enough to warrant a purchase, but some issues still remain.

Hardware

It’s a huge relief to see Nintendo return to the cleaner, tidier lines of the DS Lite and DSi. Gone are the awkward tri-colored gloss and the angular, bizarre shape of the 3DS. Instead, it’s now a simple, softly curved oblong, which looks more mature and considered. Closed, the 3DS XL’s matte finish wraps around both halves — and unintentionally reminds us of Sony’s Tablet P. Fortunately, the casing is far more solid than that Android tablet, and feels much slimmer. In fact the device’s thickness feels (and measures) roughly equal to the 3DS, despite the explosion in screen size, improved battery life and a 46 percent weight increase to 336g (11.85 ounces).

While gamers with smaller paws may not agree, the 3DS XL feels more at home in-hand than the 3DS — not to mention, it looks a good deal classier than what came before. Thanks to those rounded corners, the device doesn’t dig into your palms like its slightly squarish predecessor. The circle pad is still supremely comfortable, just the right side of tactile, while the faithful Nintendo button medley and D-pad still do the trick.

    We don’t understand why they couldn’t have embedded another analog stick into the 3DS XL — certainly, it’s not for lack of space

Even more than what’s changed, it’s what’s still missing that baffles us. Given that the 3DS has been furnished with a secondary analog stick through a slightly unwieldy peripheral, we don’t understand why they couldn’t have embedded one into the 3DS XL — certainly, it’s not for lack of space. Our review sample arrived with Resident Evil: Revelations in the slot — a game that’s not very forgiving without that second stick. It’s also worth adding that while the plastic stylus on the bigger hardware remains functional enough, we miss the classy, extendable chrome pen that arrived in the original 3DS. The collar buttons are just as responsive as Nintendo’s preceding handhelds. And if you weren’t a fan of the cheap-looking button trio underneath the secondary screen, you’ll be glad to hear that the odd bar has been replaced by three more standard-looking — and feeling — buttons. The SD slot has been repositioned to the right edge, meaning that Nintendo’s sticking with standard removable storage. There’s also now a horizontal cubby for the aforementioned stylus, referencing the DS Lite and DSi of gaming past.
Displays

DNP Nintendo 3DS XL review Bigger is better, but it’s still not quite enough

Bigger is better. Maybe it’s our review-jaded eyes, but the larger, 4.8-inch screen (just shy of the width of the PlayStation Vita, although slightly taller) seems to make the 3D effect less taxing, not to mention more immersive. The similarly expanded secondary screen also offers more real estate for touch-heavy titles. The pair of screens, however, still looks a little incongruous, each boasting different sizes and dimensions. While matching the humble resolutions found on the original, we found the screens both had comparable (if average) viewing angles. The main screen may be 1.8 times larger, but it packs the same 800 x 240 resolution of last year’s model — now spread a little thinner, with the more typical ‘flat’ 320 × 240 display also unchanged on the secondary.

    Even if the 3DS XL doesn’t win on crispness, however, Sony’s onyx wonder can’t (and never will) output 3D content

Purely number-wise, it doesn’t sound impressive to anyone spoiled by Retina displays and the like. The screens on the original weren’t the sharpest back then, but the jagged edges on fonts and detail is noticeably more pronounced on the bigger model. It goes without saying that the Vita’s screen is a stronger performer, both visually and technically (being capacitive and all). We presume this is why Nintendo imposed filming and photography restrictions on its reviews for the 3DS XL, even though pixel math dictates that the bigger screen won’t look so hot close-up. Even if the 3DS XL doesn’t win on crispness, however, Sony’s onyx wonder can’t — and never will — output 3D content.

Software

So apart from size, the hardware hasn’t changed that much. The same can be said for the software, but it’s a good chance to see how Nintendo’s embraced online content and gaming in the midst of strong smartphone contenders. Since launching last March, Nintendo’s baked-in software, including eShop, Spot Pass, Mii Plaza and online functions, have had time to grow and it’s particularly noticeable when it comes time to interact with other users. During the first few months of use, you weren’t going to pick up many Mii visitors — not unless you were hanging around gaming writers, tech bloggers and importers, anyway.

Now, whether we flit across the country by train or park somewhere in center city, we pick up new Miis — and accessories — in the process. Admittedly, the games that tie into this social component really aren’t worth your time, but the simple process of connecting with other users — and being notified of it — still makes us smile. The uncomplicated approach makes online gaming a cinch. With access to WiFi, we could connect in-game with a single option selection and would soon be battling strangers with far greater skills than we could ever muster. The friend PIN system also allows you to connect with real-life competitors.

The augmented reality games are still baked into Nintendo’s newest portable, although they haven’t moved on in any way. If you’ve played with them on the original, you’re getting the same deal again here. The Nintendo eShop has expanded its offerings since we last opened our online wallets for the 3DS launch, with its wares separated out for ease of navigation. “In Stores” houses demos of incoming 3DS titles, and is presumably where the full-length games will be housed in the near future. Next is the Virtual Console, wrapping up NES, GameBoy, GameBoy Color and (gasp) Game Gear titles for anyone over 20 to replay again. It’s joined by software and mini-game channels and a recommended videos collection. Unfortunately, the likes of Netflix and Hulu weren’t available on our review model here in the UK and overall it’s still not as good as it could be. While it does give taste of how content will be sold through Nintendo in the future, we’d like those to be available now, not in another two months.
Battery life

Nintendo reckons you’ll see around three to six and a half hours of gameplay from 3DS titles, and between five and eight for simpler DS games. In our experience, we managed an average of four hours of playtime in full-fat gamer mode, with the 3D switch and brightness cranked up to maximum, WiFi connected and around two hours of online play folded into our test. As even Nintendo forewarns on the console, how the 3DS XL is used has a huge impact on total runtime. Switch off the 3D mode, dabble with older DS titles and retro hits, and you’ll see a substantial improvement in battery life. We did just that, also switching on battery saver mode and dropping brightness down to the middle setting, and got closer to nine hours of playtime — it’s a substantial improvement but obviously means limiting your gamer habits to some extent.
Transitioning

Nintendo’s explanation for the lack of an AC adapter in both European and (some) Asian countries is that most buyers will be coming from older hardware — naturally. Thus, buried in the settings menu, is the option to transfer your content — like your digital purchases — across from original 3DS consoles and the DSi. You’ll need both devices and an SD card to get it done, and it feels like an exercise in frustration compared to the effortless systems in place for other gaming challengers like Google Play, which allows you to house your purchases on multiple devices without so much hassle.
Wrap-up

DNP Nintendo 3DS XL review Bigger is better, but it’s still not quite enough

After playing with the 3DS XL, we returned to the original only to find it difficult and awkward to use in comparison. The new size is an improvement in so many ways, including ergonomics and playability. The bigger screen makes 3D gaming less tiring, and offers a larger sweet spot for Nintendo’s all-important gaming effect, while the curved edges simply fit your hands better. Competition remains tough, however. The Vita remains clearly ahead technically, while Nintendo banks on its strong in-house software team to bring in the customers. Pitch Resident Evil: Revelations against Uncharted, or Super Street Fighter IV 3D against Marvel Vs. Capcom 3, and it’s clear to see on those big ole’ portable screens which has the most potent hardware. But if you’ve been waiting out for a 3DS Lite before taking the plunge into 3D waters, then we can’t help but recommend Nintendo’s latest. We just hope the company can give its online content offering a shot in the arm soon, as it’s really starting to age the hardware.

Bought Chrono Trigger: Crimson Echoes – 95%

This sequel to Chrono Trigger was 98% done and in development for 5 years. Everybody likes it. IT got a 4.7 out of 5.0.

Lets  look beyond those and look at the game itself, the parts that were actually completed. The plot line weaves a very compelling main narrative in which the heroes are summoned to put a stop to King Zeal. How was he resurrected? It turns out to be a friend rather than a foe that did the deed. While the original Chrono Trigger plotline focused on bending the rules of time to protect history, this sequel has much heavier undertones with regards to the consequences of one’s actions in time. The party triggers a timeline change in the past while battling King Zeal, and must consign an entire future of Reptite Kingdoms that spawned from the change into nothingness. Crimson Echoes does a terrific job of bridging the gap from Chrono Trigger to Chrono Cross in it’s storyline. It doesn’t do quite as well at wrapping up the loose ends. For instance, a sidequest to start Lucca’s orphanage was left woefully underdeveloped and felt tacked on, while the game’s idea of why Crono and Marle wind up appearing in Chrono Cross will make you think of the term “magic bullet” pretty quickly.

The aesthetic changes will either leave you cold or strike you as good ideas. One of each from me: I don’t mind at all that Crono learns to talk in this game, and as I read up on the reasoning behind it, where the group wanted multiple characters to shine, it struck me as a fairly well-thought out plan. On the other hand, Frog loses his middle ages accent and text because it isn’t there in the Japanese version of the game. While that’s all well and good, he loses a lot of his character in the switch. His dialog rings hollow and he speaks at times in a way that makes you wonder why the change was made at all. I don’t have any problem with them making him a little less stereotypical, but there are ways to do that without making it feel like he loses who he is in the process. I just felt like I had a stranger in my party.

One of my big pet peeves with Crimson Echoes is the amount of original areas made inaccessible. I don’t need every place in the world to be a gateway into a new sidequest, but would it have been so hard to keep the Dactyl Nest or the Denadoro Mountains in 600 A.D.? Post some guards out at the gate and come up with a magic bullet idea about why the party isn’t allowed in if need be. It just feels weird to navigate familiar world maps without access to every area. You’ll look for openings in mountains for minutes before you realize that something is gone. Then when some areas are beaten, they simply vanish from the World Map as if they never existed. Awkward.

The basic game play is unchanged, but through a lot of the game you’ll feel like the difficulty has been knocked up a notch. Partially this is because it has, but actually it’s because for a lot of the early game you don’t have three characters in the party most of the time. If you thought the Black Omen was difficult, try having to go through an entire forest when your party is Marle solo. You start learning just how many Ice spells it takes to kill an enemy pretty quickly, because there are a lot of eight minute battles involved. Some characters are given new moves, but mostly they retain their earlier skills. Magus got a pretty good makeover in terms of his learned skills, mostly because he loses all the multi-target elemental spells, but the characters as a whole average around two or three skills changed up.

One of the best things the game has going for it are the new areas and maps. The Reptite timeline has a slew of wonderful designs, and Singing Mountain is an incredible dungeon. They pass the smell test for sure, and you never question whether they are part of the game or not. At least after you find it, in Singing Mountain’s case. The final dungeon did a terrific job of integrating the idea of The Dead Sea from Chrono Cross with the sixteen-bit technology of Chrono Trigger. Wander too far off the map and you’ll suddenly find yourself moving from a castle that you erased to a portion of 2300 A.D. that died after you beat Lavos in Chrono Trigger.

I’d say this game rates a solid 8.3-8.4 on my scale. The flaws are very noticeable, but it’s hard to keep down a main storyline that’s this good. Contrast this to say, Final Fantasy 4’s The After Years, which could only be considered a truly good game if you played it with nostalgia, and I think you’ll find that Crimson Echoes is a better game. I wouldn’t call it a must-play, but if you still harbor any feelings for Chrono Trigger, I think it’s worth the 40-50 hours it will take to finish and the 2-3 hours it takes to find a copy of the 98% version. It’s a very ambitious vision that is still completely playable even though it wasn’t finished.

One Piece Boxset One 01/2015

I was  a ware of One Piece since 2005, but the box sets were far beyond my price range until January 2015.    One Piece is better then Bleach and Naruto.  I see Bleach and Narauto at Wal-Mart.  Wal-Mart doesn’t know One Piece is better in overall score  at Internet Movie Database, because they’re stupid. It’s wally’s world.  I don’t see Bleach and Naruto at Target. One Piece boxset 1 costs $90 for 100 episodes.  One Piece Boxset 2 costs $90 for 110 episodes released in February 2015.  That’s 66% off per episode over previous dvd collections.

Onepiece

Agenda 21 prevents photographing

Have you wondered where these terms ‘sustainability’ and ‘smart growth’ and ‘high density urban mixed use development’ came from? Doesn’t it seem like about 10 years ago you’d never heard of them and now everything seems to include these concepts? Is that just a coincidence? That every town and county and state and nation in the world would be changing their land use/planning codes and government policies to align themselves with…what?

First, before I get going, I want to say that yes, I know it’s a small world and it takes a village and we’re all one planet etc. I also know that we have a government of the people, by the people, and for the people, and that as cumbersome as that can be sometimes (Donald Rumsfeld said that the Chinese have it easy; they don’t have to ask their people if they agree. And Bush Junior said that it would be great to have a dictator as long as he was the dictator), we have a three branch government and the Bill of Rights, Constitution, and self-determination. This is one of the reasons why people want to come to the US, right? We don’t have Tiananmen Square here, generally speaking (yes, I remember Kent State–not the same, and yes, an outrage.) So I’m not against making certain issues a priority, such as mindful energy use, alternative energy sponsorship, recycling/reuse, and sensitivity to all living creatures.

Considering its policies are woven into all the General Plans of the cities and counties, it’s important for people to know where these policies are coming from. While many people support the United Nations for its ‘peacemaking’ efforts, hardly anyone knows that they have very specific land use policies that they would like to see implemented in every city, county, state and nation. The specific plan is called United Nations Agenda 21 Sustainable Development, which has its basis in Communitarianism. By now, most Americans have heard of sustainable development but are largely unaware of Agenda 21.

In a nutshell, the plan calls for governments to take control of all land use and not leave any of the decision making in the hands of private property owners. It is assumed that people are not good stewards of their land and the government will do a better job if they are in control. Individual rights in general are to give way to the needs of communities as determined by the governing body. Moreover, people should be rounded up off the land and packed into human settlements, or islands of human habitation, close to employment centers and transportation. Another program, called the Wildlands Project spells out how most of the land is to be set aside for non-humans.

U.N. Agenda 21 cites the affluence of Americans as being a major problem which needs to be corrected. It calls for lowering the standard of living for Americans so that the people in poorer countries will have more, a redistribution of wealth. Although people around the world aspire to achieve the levels of prosperity we have in our country, and will risk their lives to get here, Americans are cast in a very negative light and need to be taken down to a condition closer to average in the world. Only then, they say, will there be social justice which is a cornerstone of the U.N. Agenda 21 plan.

Agenda 21 policies date back to the 70’s but it got its real start in 1992 at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro when President Bush signed onto it. Click here to see a list of the countries that signed UN Agenda 21. President Clinton took office the following year and created the President’s Council on Sustainable Development to implement it in the United States. Made up of federal agencies, corporations, and non-profit groups, the President’s Council on Sustainable Development moved quickly to ensure that all federal agencies would change their policies to comply with UN Agenda 21. A non-governmental organization called the International Council of Local Environmental Initiatives, ICLEI, is tasked with carrying out the goals of Agenda 21 worldwide. Remember: UN Agenda 21/Sustainable Development is a global plan that is implemented locally. Over 600 cities in the U.S. are members; our town joined in 2007. The costs are paid by taxpayers.

It’s time that people educate themselves and read the document and related commentary. After that, get a copy of your city or county’s General Plan and read it. You will find all sorts of policies that are nearly identical to those in U.N. Agenda 21. Unfortunately, their policies have advanced largely unnoticed and we are now in the end game. People need to identify their elected officials who are promoting the U.N.’s policies and hold them accountable for their actions. Only when we’ve identified who the people are and what they are trying to do will we be able to evaluate whether or not we approve of the policies they are putting forward. Some people may think it’s appropriate for agencies outside the United States to set our policies and some people will not. The question is, aren’t Americans able to develop their own policies? Should we rely on an organization that consists of member nations that have different forms of governments, most of which do not value individual rights as much as we do? It’s time to bring U.N. Agenda 21 out in the open where we can have these debates and then set our own policies in accordance with our Constitution and Bill of Rights.
***

Ok, you say, interesting, but I don’t see how that really affects me. Here are a few ways:

No matter where you live, I’ll bet that there have been hundreds of condos built in the center of your town recently. Over the last ten years there has been a ‘planning revolution’ across the US. Your commercial, industrial, and multi-residential land was rezoned to ‘mixed use.’ Nearly everything that got approvals for development was designed the same way: ground floor retail with two stories of residential above. Mixed use. Very hard to finance for construction, and very hard to manage since it has to have a high density of people in order to justify the retail. A lot of it is empty and most of the ground floor retail is empty too. High bankruptcy rate.

So what? Most of your towns provided funding and/or infrastructure development for these private projects. They used Redevelopment Agency funds. Your money. Specifically, your property taxes. Notice how there’s very little money in your General Funds now, and most of that is going to pay Police and Fire? Your street lights are off, your parks are shaggy, your roads are pot-holed, your hospitals are closing. The money that should be used for these things is diverted into the Redevelopment Agency. It’s the only agency in government that can float a bond without a vote of the people. And they did that, and now you’re paying off those bonds for the next 45 years with your property taxes. Did you know that? And by the way, even if Redevelopment is ended, as in California, they still have to pay off existing debt–for 30 to 45 years.

So, what does this have to do with Agenda 21?

Redevelopment is a tool used to further the Agenda 21 vision of remaking America’s cities. With redevelopment, cities have the right to take property by eminent domain—against the will of the property owner, and give it or sell it to a private developer. By declaring an area of town ‘blighted’ (and in some cities over 90% of the city area has been declared blighted) the property taxes in that area can be diverted away from the General Fund. This constriction of available funds is impoverishing the cities, forcing them to offer less and less services, and reducing your standard of living. They’ll be telling you that it’s better, however, since they’ve put in nice street lights and colored paving. The money gets redirected into the Redevelopment Agency and handed out to favored developers building low income housing and mixed use. Smart Growth. Cities have had thousands of condos built in the redevelopment areas and are telling you that you are terrible for wanting your own yard, for wanting privacy, for not wanting to be dictated to by a Condo Homeowner’s Association Board, for being anti-social, for not going along to get along, for not moving into a cramped apartment downtown where they can use your property taxes for paying off that huge bond debt. But it’s not working, and you don’t want to move in there. So they have to make you. Read on.

Human habitation, as it is referred to now, is restricted to lands within the Urban Growth Boundaries of the city. Only certain building designs are permitted. Rural property is more and more restricted in what uses can be on it. Although counties say that they support agricultural uses, eating locally produced food, farmer’s markets, etc, in fact there are so many regulations restricting water and land use (there are scenic corridors, inland rural corridors, baylands corridors, area plans, specific plans, redevelopment plans, huge fees, fines) that farmers are losing their lands altogether. County roads are not being paved. The push is for people to get off of the land, become more dependent, come into the cities. To get out of the suburbs and into the cities. Out of their private homes and into condos. Out of their private cars and onto their bikes.

Bikes. What does that have to do with it? I like to ride my bike and so do you. So what? Bicycle advocacy groups are very powerful now. Advocacy. A fancy word for lobbying, influencing, and maybe strong-arming the public and politicians. What’s the conection with bike groups? National groups such as Complete Streets, Thunderhead Alliance, and others, have training programs teaching their members how to pressure for redevelopment, and training candidates for office. It’s not just about bike lanes, it’s about remaking cities and rural areas to the ‘sustainable model’. High density urban development without parking for cars is the goal. This means that whole towns need to be demolished and rebuilt in the image of sustainable development. Bike groups are being used as the ‘shock troops’ for this plan.

What plan? We’re losing our homes since this recession/depression began, and many of us could never afford those homes to begin with. We got cheap money, used whatever we had to squeak into those homes, and now some of us lost them. We were lured, indebted, and sunk. Whole neighborhoods are empty in some places. Some are being bulldozed. Cities cannot afford to extend services outside of their core areas. Slowly, people will not be able to afford single family homes. Will not be able to afford private cars. Will be more dependent. More restricted. More easily watched and monitored.

This plan is a whole life plan. It involves the educational system, the energy market, the transportation system, the governmental system, the health care system, food production, and more. The plan is to restrict your choices, limit your funds, narrow your freedoms, and take away your voice. One of the ways is by using the Delphi Technique to ‘manufacture consensus.’ Another is to infiltrate community groups or actually start neighborhood associations with hand-picked ‘leaders’. Another is to groom and train future candidates for local offices. Another is to sponsor non-governmental groups that go into schools and train children. Another is to offer federal and private grants and funding for city programs that further the agenda. Another is to educate a new generation of land use planners to require New Urbanism. Another is to convert factories to other uses, introduce energy measures that penalize manufacturing, and set energy consumption goals to pre-1985 levels. Another is to allow unregulated immigration in order to lower standards of living and drain local resources.