Thursday, June 16, 2011

Nintendo 3DS

So, the Nintendo 3DS. I know I am woefully late with my review here, but because it has taken me so long to write this, my family and I have really had a chance to see how it works and how much we love it.

There are a lot of features on the 3DS that don't come on other versions of the game systems in the DS family, making it a unique and fun addition to our family gaming collection.

Of course, the biggest advance in this game system is the 3D option. You don't need glasses to use this system in 3D mode, and it is really, really cool. Generally I don't care for 3D, even going out of my way to find movies in regular ol' 2D theaters. 

Playing Asphalt 3D
As a novelty factor, though, the 3D on this system is incredibly neat. Furthermore, it makes certain games so much cooler. I get bored pretty easily of racing games, but playing a car race game in 3D? I was sold immediately. We also have Nintendogs + Cats in 3D, which is cool, but the 3D seems less important.

The nice thing about the 3DS is that there is a slider on the side of the screen so you can easily go from 2D to 3D and back again. If you don't want your kids playing in 3D (and Nintendo itself says not to let kids under 7 use that feature because they don't know for sure how it affects developing eyes) there are parental controls that let you control that feature.

So how is the 3D? Well, you do have to position yourself in just the right spot to get the right effect, which means that no one can look over your shoulder to watch you play because the screen will be fuzzy for them. Also, some people say that the 3D features makes their eyes tired, but if it does, you can switch right over to 2D.
Me and Mii

The 3DS also has a 3D camera, which is a lot of fun, and you can make your own Miis right on the 3DS. I object to the weird place they put the stylus storage spot (on the back of the system), but that's not that big of a deal, especially considering the 3DS also features a circle pad controller. There are several other neat features built into the system as well.

StreetPass is a feature where, if you set your controls to allow it and you carry your sleeping 3DS with you, you will exchange Miis with other sleeping 3DS' that you come in contact with. I would review this feature for you, but since we mostly play this system at home, we haven't managed to collect any other Miis yet, which is sad because it looks like there are additional games you can play once you collect them. I have taking to semi-stalking this kid who plays 3DS in the waiting room of my son's occupational therapist, but I don't want to be the creepy stranger asking to exchange Miis. That said, I think that once a Mii is on your system, there is no further connection to its original 3DS.

Also, if you are looking for Miis for your StreetPass, check out some of the Meetups people are planning on June 25 to exchange Miis all over the world.

The thing that first really pulled my kids into the 3DS is one of the games that comes built in to the system. Face Raiders and AR Games are both really neat, although we've played a lot more Face Raiders because the AR Game requires that you have a physical card on a surface in front of you to play, and I don't carry it with me.

The thing that is cool about both of these games is that they use your environment as part of the game setting. When you play AR Games, you still see your desk and your room—and people in the room—on the screen, but the game builds characters and game play on top of them.

Jack discovers Face Raiders
Face Raiders is even better, and has completely grabbed the attention of my 8-year-old. In this game, you take photographs of people...and then shoot at them. Huh. It doesn't sound so great when I write it like that. But basically it makes people you know—and your PETS, if you want—characters in your game. This is a 360-degree game, meaning you don't just toggle a joystick to move, but you end up rotating all the way around to play, and the cameras on the 3DS make the room where you are sitting your actual game setting.

I didn't do a very good job explaining either of those games, but they both have a real wow-factor. Nintendo explains it better than I do. Check it out here: http://www.nintendo.com/3ds/built-in-software/.

There are a lot of wonderful new games for the 3DS, and you can use your regular DS games in it too. When I went to Seattle to learn about the 3DS, I got to play a lot of the 3D games and they were a tremendous amount of fun.

My favorite is Pilotwings Resort, in which you fly an airplane, hang glider, or jet pack around the Wii-universe island. I know the island has a name, but I can't remember it right now. Regardless, it's fun, has lots of options, and looks awesome in 3D.

Quinn, my six-year-old loves Nintendogs + Cats. He already had an earlier version of Nintendogs, but the addition of cats has changed his whole little world. He adores this thing. It's fun because it has a pedometer, which means you can put the 3DS in sleep mode and go for a walk...with your virtual pet. I know. I thought it was weird too, right up until I saw Quinn doing laps around my house while clutching the 3DS so he could earn treats for his dog.

My kids and I have been delighted by the 3DS, even if the 3D part of it isn't the biggest draw for them. If you are looking for a fancy full-featured portable game system, this might be it. It also has cool factor. You may not be excited about the 3DS, but if you have elementary school aged kids, they know about the 3DS and they think it is awesome. Trust me. I know this based on reaction my own kids have gotten when others have watched them play.

Bottom line: The Nintendo 3DS costs about $250. The Nintendo DSi costs about $150. If you are looking for a basic gaming system, you will probably do fine with the DSi, but if you have the extra cash, the 3DS is a tremendous amount of fun and has a great wow factor.

Honesty Clause: I was given a free Nintendo 3DS, along with Asphalt 3D, Pilotwings Resort, and Nintendogs + Cats. Furthermore, I went on a fully paid trip to Seattle for a bloggers weekend with Nintendo. However, my opinions are my own.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Dunkin' Donuts Has New Iced Drinks for Summer! (With Giveaway!!)

I get a fair number of pitches from PR firms and companies, but it is rare that I get one that is so spot on as the one I got from Dunkin' Donuts a couple weeks ago. They invited me (and several other bloggers) to an iced drinks tasting at a Dunkin' Donuts about 10 minutes from my house

Honestly, it's like the mother ship was calling me home.

My family are big Dunkin' Donuts fans, regularly engaging in "Donut Breakfast" some weekends. My kids are especially enamored of their Coco Confetti donuts, which are chocolate with chocolate frosting and multi-colored sprinkles. Okay, I just looked that up, and Dunkin' Donuts calls those donuts Cocoa Confetti, but I like my spelling better, so I'm going to stay with it.

Just don't get me started on doughnuts vs. donuts, because I get mad about that at least once a month.

Here is the thing: Even with our long track record with Dunkin' Donuts, we only buy, well, doughnuts donuts. Did you know that they have sandwiches of a variety of styles and on a variety of breads, hash browns, an extensive selection of drinks, and more? They're not all donuts and a Box o'Joe, people.

I was invited, along with Laurie, Amanda, Janine, Jill, Anne and Maggie, to taste test a selection of iced coffees, plus a new summer product, details to come! I don't drink coffee. Ever. But I figured I could soldier through a coffee taste test if it got me into a Dunkin' Donuts tasting.

The fortunate thing is that the new summer products are the Coolattas and other Frozen Beverages, which are delicious in their many flavors. The Coolattas are frozen drinks that come in a variety of fruit and coffee flavors. We tested the strawberry, which was very tasty.

Frozen yummy.

By far my favorite things that we tasted, however, were the Frozen Beverages, of which there are three: Frozen Iced Tea, Frozen Lemonade, and Frozen Hot Chocolate. These were all really, really delicious. I would definitely go back and buy more of these on my own dime. I was actually surprised by the Frozen Iced Tea because, although I adore iced tea, it would never have occurred to me to make a frozen drink out of it.

All three of the Frozen Beverages earn a giant thumbs up from me.

I did try the iced coffee, which mostly served to confirm that, yep, still don't like coffee. Not even in tiny blueberry iced coffee form.

I pretended that I was a giant.

Some of the other ladies there liked the fancy iced coffees though.

I was a wee bit jittery at the end of this tasting event, but I was stable enough to grab my gift bag which included a $25 gift card that I get to give away to one of you! To enter, all you have to do is leave a comment below telling me what is your favorite donut. Mine is lemon filled. Yum.

I'll choose a winner sometime after midnight Eastern time on June 16.

AND THE WINNER (chosen by random.org) IS... KellyG, whose favorite doughnut is raspberry filled jelly!


Honesty Clause: Dunkin' Donuts gave me numerous tiny cups of beverages, plus samples of food dishes at this event. They also gave each attendee a gift bag, including our own $25 gift card, coupons for free products, reusable cups, and coffee. But trust me, I'm a Dunkin' Devotee.