Nintendo 3DS NFC Reader Writer Review

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Ever since the “New” models of the Nintendo 3DS came out with not only exclusive games but exclusive software features, owners of the older models were given a tough choice.  If they wished to play N3DS-exclusive games or use Amiibos in existing 3DS games that support them, they would have to upgrade to the new model.  It was that or to make do without those features and not being able to do everything in a game, right?

Wrong.  Nintendo is sympathetic towards the dislike of being forced to upgrade to a new model for new features.  While there isn’t anything to be done about exclusive games because of the better CPU of the new models, other features are available to the old models.  The C Stick camera functions in many games can be achieved by using the already-existing Circle Pad Pro accessory for 3DS and 3DS XL models.  That just leaves Amiibo support.

Thanks to a small peripheral that Nintendo made and sells for a pretty cheap price (I snatched one for $12.99), all old models, including the 2DS, can use Amiibo features in games and that peripheral is what I am about to talk about.  Here is my review of the NFC Reader/Writer, or as I like to call it, the Amiibo Reader.

Design

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Two AA batteries, fully with Asian text with the Made-in-China device

The design of this reader is incredibly simple.  It is a small cylindrical object about as big around as a soda can and only about 3 or 4” tall.  This may sound derogatory towards the system, but the closest thing I could compare it to is a small, cylindrical paperweight.

The top of the device is smooth with just a single emblem on it for the 3DS screens.  Around the sides, you have the most important parts.  On the very front, you have a power button and two circle indents.  One of these is for the light to show when the device has power and when it is connecting to a 3DS or 2DS system.  The other larger circular indent is the actual feed where the wireless signal of the device is transmitted to connect to those devices.

The bottom is the last part of the reader, which houses a little bit of engraved information about the device, along with a click-to-open battery compartment.  Unlike what you may expect, Nintendo still makes technology that runs on good old-fashioned batteries.  This reader, for example, runs on 2 AA batteries, the same amount that was required by the Game Boy Color back when I was a small child.

The only other thing to say about the design is the weight.  Although this looks like a paperweight by design, it is much lighter.  I wouldn’t say it weighs more than 1 pound, maybe 2.

Performance

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Amiibos sit and connect with ease when on the reader

So, how does this thing work?  Do you have to register it on the system?  Do you have to hold down the power button to register it like the PS Vita’s Disney Infinity base?  It’s all quite simple, in fact, and Nintendo has made it so simple that you hardly even need to read the included instructions to make it work.  It’s as simple as pressing a button, quite literally.

You make this work by getting to a game position that requires an Amiibo, like the amiibo feature in Ace Combat: Assault Horizon Legacy Plus or Super Smash Bros.  Then, you simple turn the reader on, set a figure on top of it, and it automatically connects to your system and does its thing.  It works as fluidly as it does on the New 3DS, when you put Amiibos on its touch screen.

However, I have one gripe to make about how this works.  The reader transmits its wireless signal via infrared, much like many TV Remote Controls do.  This means that the signal is transmitted along a straight line.  To get it to connect, you have to put it directly balanced and in front of your system’s infrared receiver.  Basically, you have to set the system down flat on a table in front of the reader for it to be able to connect, an inconvenience when on the go.

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Straight-line infrared aren’t always a convenient thing

The device gets away with this because no game (that I am aware of) requires you to connect to an Amiibo for more than a few seconds.  Even the features in Super Smash Bros only require you to connect to the reader when you are saving changes to your amiibo character in the game.  I also tested this in Ace Combat and the Mario and Friends: Amiibo Challenge game, and you only ever need to use it for a couple seconds at a time.

Although this is a minor factor, I also went to test just how long the battery can last.  The system does have a feature where it will turn itself off if 5 minutes goes by without any activity.  Just in case you use it and forget to turn it off as you’re playing a game.  But, off of 2 batteries, this unit will last a grand total of – hours.

Summary

The Amiibo Reader is a wonderful gesture from Nintendo to not force fans to spend a ton of money to upgrade for using Amiibos in 3DS games.  The device syncs up within moments, has a long battery life that many gamers won’t be able to burn up in even a year’s time, and is a very convenient size and weight.  The only thing that isn’t optimal is the fact that it uses infrared for its wireless communication. 

9/10

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