Battle of the system updates

This week has seen the release of substantial system updates for both the Xbox 360 and the Nintendo 3DS. When it comes to these updates for two very different, utterly incomparable consoles, there is obviously only one question in people’s minds. Which is better?

Xbox 360 Dashboard version 2.0.14699.0

We’ll start with the Dashboard update. The look has been completely refreshed, and now uses Microsoft’s Metro interface, which will eventually tie together the Dashboard, Windows 8 and Windows Phone. It’s pleasing on the eye – the default grey colour-scheme is much nicer to look at than the bright green of the previous default scheme. All the functions of the console are arranged into tabs. You have easy access to the last few games you’ve played on the Home tab, but to buy games or access your full collection you have to wade across to the middle of the menu, as for some reason Microsoft have deemed it more important that you be able to access social, TV, and video apps than the gaming functions.

A screenshot of the new Dashboard interface, showing the Home tab

Waiter, waiter, there's an advert in my interface

The new interface and the various apps (which will be added to over time – services like 4oD will be added soon) are an improvement in terms of accessing secondary media functions like video and music, but the update feels like a retrograde step in terms of accessing gaming content. The Game Marketplace feels more difficult to access and is harder to use – access to the basic game categories (Arcade, Games on Demand, Indie Games and Xbox Originals) feels buried. Oh, and it’s a cock-tease, displaying Sonic CD in the ‘New Releases’ section despite it apparently not being out yet. While the new interface is generally an improvement, I’ll be disappointed if it isn’t tweaked a bit.

There’s a welcome video that explains some of the new features (if you can stomach the young man’s horrible cardigan and ‘zany’ ear adornments). The video apps I’m interested in aren’t out yet, so this system update doesn’t contain a great deal that’s of interest to me. Moving on to the 3DS…

Nintendo 3DS system update version 3.0.0-5

Nintendo’s system update for the 3DS doesn’t drastically change the console’s interface (which is unfortunate in the case of the online store). But it does add extra content to the console’s selection of built-in software.

The most well-publicised addition is to the Nintendo 3DS Camera app. You can now capture 3D video footage with the built-in 3D camera. I gave this a quick go, capturing a short video of me waving my hand in front of the camera. The 3D effect of the resulting footage was vastly more pronounced than anything I’ve seen on the Nintendo Video channel, albeit eye-wateringly so. Apparently you can create time-lapse footage and stop-motion footage using this new feature, although I would have thought the former would only be useful if the 3DS had the extra hinge position of the DSi XL, which allows it to sit on a surface. I doubt I’ll use the video function much but, given that there is an appreciable 3D effect on the footage it produces, I can’t complain about its addition.

A frame of footage of a hand from the 3DS Camera software.

Whoo, it's my HAND and it's right in your FACE

StreetPass Mii Plaza has some new content, and it can now use SpotPass as well as StreetPass (although I’m not sure what affect this has). I can’t say I use StreetPass that much (I don’t use the console much at all, if I’m being honest) so this new stuff doesn’t hold much appeal for me.

You can now transfer content between 3DS systems and the store’s been improved. Some of the improvements to the store sound pretty neat, for example there’s now an option to add just enough money to your account to meet the cost of your current purchase, meaning you don’t end up with weird bits of money stuck on your account. Seems like a pretty progressive step to me. The store should now be able to provide demos for 3DS software as well, although disappointingly there don’t seem to be any available at the moment. This means, as with the Xbox update, I ran out of stuff to play with pretty quickly.

The result

So we have two updates, both pretty major in the scheme of things but, ultimately, just boring old system updates. Which one is the victor in this pointless, absurd contest? I think the 3DS update just tips it for me, but only because it’s maybe a bit more content-oriented. And it doesn’t feature a twat in a cardigan.

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