E3 Tech Part 1: Hands-on with the 3DS
This year’s E3 had a ton of new announcements and exciting game titles to try out, but the longest lines and biggest questions were all about the new innovations for the system platforms. Microsoft had the Kinect, Sony had the Move and introduced 3-D games, and Nintendo had the 3DS. No doubt, the longest of those lines, and probably the most unexpected development, was that of the 3DS. After wading through hordes of people, we finally got our hands on one.
Each of the Big 3′s new centerpieces will have their own close inspection, but for now, meet the 3DS.
So what’s new?
Wider Screen. The upper screen is 3.53-inch widescreen LCD display, with 800×240 pixel resolution. The touch-screen maintains the original DS’s 3.02-inch width.
More Storage Space: The 3DS has 2GB internal memory, compared to the scant 256MB of the Dsi.
Analog Control. The 3DS adds an analog slider, in addition to the traditional D-Pad, touch screen, and A,B,R,L buttons, allowing game designers to have a myriad of game control options at their disposal.
More Cameras. One of the system’s niftiest features. Not only does it still have the internal camera of the DSi for picture sharing, it also has two exterior lenses that allow you to take pictures in 3-D. These can be shared with your friends, or even uploaded into certain 3-D games for extra weirdness! Put your friends into your games; their heads become 3-D floating targets!
And of course, the biggest feature, 3-D imagery, accomplished without the aid of glasses or any extra peripheral. The lenses you would normally wear are built into the system, layered over the display screen, it really is simple and ingenious. There’s a slider built in along the side of the screen, so you can turn the 3-D effect off it you get tired of it, or lower its intensity if you, um, just want a little bit of 3rd dimension. Still, its nice that you can switch it on and off.
Everyone was excited to see this effect. Sure, Sony is introducing 3-D games this year, but just the nifty idea that you could play them without the glasses was at least enough of a curio to catch peoples’ attentions, if not set them to frothing at the mouth. Nintendo has also gathered tremendous 3rd party support for their system, with a list of titles a bit more impressive than Sony’s IPET. I’m sure Sony will gather more support over time, its inevitable, but Nintendo had it packaged and ready to go for E3. It was the perfect storm.
But does the system deliver? All they hype in the world doesn’t matter if the results aren’t there.
Now, I’m not a huge 3-D kinda guy, personally. I like going to it once in a while at the movie theater. I think the fad at the movies is kind of overdone. Eeeevery movie is done in 3-D. When its just slapped on the product, its hardly worth the extra scratch. But when it works, man, it can be pretty cool and pretty fun. For some people, I know this is a major selling point. That being the case, I hit as many of their titles as I could to get a good idea of where Nintendo was going with this.
On the technical side, the 3-D effect works great. The images suffered no blur or distortion, they were crisp and immediately popped right off the screen. Playing with the slider, you could see the seamless transition from 2-D to 3-D and back. It just takes a second for your eyes to adjust to the effect, and you’re immediately immersed.
Andrew hit up Mario Kart, Ridge Racer, and Samurai Warriors and was immediately sold. Mario Kart was quality, and Samurai Warriors really benefited from the 3-D effect on the wide open battlefield. In addition we checked out Dinosaur Strike, Professor Layton and the [title not finalized], Pilot Wings, Paper Mario, Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater, and Kid Icarus.
Dinosaur Strike- the 3-D effect looks pretty good, with that camera following right behind the dino, tail swinging in your face. Too bad the game is kinda terrible.
Professor Layton- This will be a fun puzzle game. Well, maybe I say that because I was one of like three people that solved the demo puzzle, and I had the beautiful Nintendo girls all over my mad skills. Regardless, it seems to be a good game, but the 3-D lends absolutely nothing to the title.
Pilot Wings- Solid gaming, and exciting to see the franchise return. The 3-D here is very pretty, but doesn’t add much to the game experience.
Paper Mario- Now we’re starting to get somewhere. The game series delivers its usual quirky and creative game style. It doesn’t seem to deliver quite as much creativity as I think it could, but the full game may be full of surprises. Still, we see some very interesting terrain/enemy interactions, and nifty effects like Bone-Fish that split into many different enemies at different depths when you stomp ‘em.
Metal Gear Solid- Leave it to Kojima to break new ground. The 3-D effect here is awesome, and it really adds to the sneak/shooting/espionage action. The fact that you can use the analog stick to adjust the camera only helps.
Kid Icarus- By far, Nintendo’s crown jewel on this system. The game is made for 3-D; the effects look beautiful, and the areal combat is really aided by the 3-D. In fact, the laser dodging would probably be ten-times harder in 2-D.
As we advance through the rest of the E3 news, the key word you will notice here is IMMERSION. Game companies are working harder than ever, with better technology than ever, to make a fully-interactive world environment for you to explore. The 3DS is the first step in this direction. It doesn’t wrap around you, or eliminate the controller like Sony and Microsoft are attempting to do, but its a move in the right direction; towards a world of interactive adventure.
Bottom line, if you’re a fan of 3-D visuals, a 3-D experience, then this system delivers and is a must-buy. Will the games deliver? We’ve seen that some creators have the vision, the imagination to make some mind-blowing games that press creative boundaries to their limit. But if you are buying games specifically for that 3-D experience, as always it is buyer beware. There will be games out there like Kid Icarus and Metal Gear that will push boundaries and be worth every penny. And then there will be Dinosaur Strike, which will surely suck in every dimension you could imagine, be it length, depth, or even time.
Regardless, Nintendo surely has a new hit on their hands, in all likelihood THE Christmas gift this year. Time will tell what kind of boundaries the system will push, but the potential is there to change the portable market forever… again.