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Nintendo 3DS: 22 things you should know

Mysteries and queries all answered here...

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Can I customise the interface?
Yes. The menu background colour is now selected from a palette of shades. Also, you can alter the number of 3DS channels on the home screen - from a scrolling strip (like on DSi) all the way up to 100 on screen at once.

Is 3DS easier to get online than a DS?
Yes. But then so are cats, bricks and hobos, so that's not saying much. The dreaded WEP protocol is finally thrown on its ass in favour of WPA/WPA2. And, unlike DSi with its menu within a menu within a menu, wireless set-up is one easy option. Press it, enter your Wi-Fi password and off you go. Bliss.

How do DS games look on the 3DS?
Black borders trim the widescreen back to DS proportions. Sadly, there's no upscaling wizardry at play. DS games develop a noticeable grain - the result of pumping low-res games through the higher res screens - though pixels don't clench together like they do on a DS Lite. We'd liken it to shifting a GBA game from GBA to DS: it isn't the native resolution and shows.

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How do DS games handle on 3DS?
Reaching down for the D-pad requires a thumb contort, but you soon adjust. The slide-pad can be used, however, giving eight directions of digital input. It's a comfortable cradle for the thumb, certainly, though it generates an even stronger longing for proper analogue controls in Mario 64 DS. Oh, and it's too messy for Jam With The Band.

Can I play my DS games online on 3DS?
Yes, with DS's archaic WEP settings. Honestly, WEP was laughed out of the Great Exhibition of 1851. In 2011 it just makes a great exhibition of itself. Interestingly the DS 'portion' of the 3DS acts like an emulator, right down to booting old DS menus for modifying WEP settings and DS download play. The DS even gets its own profile name for online play. Odd stuff.

Will it play my imported DS games?
On the backwards compatibility front, 3DS mimics DSi. DSi games are still region locked, but DS games will happily play. Don't chuck out Jump Ultimate Stars yet.

Does StreetPass activate automatically?
Nope. You activate it within each game/piece of pre-installed software. The option tends to be tucked away in the options screen, so you have to hunt for it.

Is there a limit to the number of StreetPass communications?
StreetPass lets games drink data from other 3DSes without being in the slot. It's basically DS's tag mode with better odds on a connection. A quick pry reveals a limit of 12 active slots, including the pre-installed Mii Plaza and 3DS Sound (both occupy one slot). The data, however, saves to SD card, so StreetPass can be deactivated without nuking hoarded information.

Can I share rude stuff with strangers?
Call your Mii something offensive and it'll be renamed '???' when it travels to another system. We do detect some lewd potential, however. If you cross paths with a stranger twice in StreetPass, you'll be able to set a personal message for any future encounter. We haven't tested it but this could be a viable smut portal.

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Activity Log pedometer: good or bad?
It's far from an exact science. It isn't programmed to personal walking habits, for example, and is easily tricked with a shake. In action, it works like DS's Walk With Me, timing periods of movement and inaction and calculating steps from there. Standalone pedometers won't lose any sleep. Not that they get much, jangling around in health freaks' pockets. The Activity Log also records which games you've played and for how long.

And what are Play Coins?
Steps earn you Play Coins, which unlock game content, bonus AR games and trinkets for the Mii Plaza StreetPass games. A hundred steps buys you one coin, with a maximum of ten coins a day and an overall 300-coin maximum. It's the same as the Pokéwalker Watt system.

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