Hands on with Nintendo 3DS
Pushes all the right buttons
When Nintendo invited us last week to an event to show off its three dimensional portable gaming console, the 3DS, I wasn't as excited as I should have been. A Nintendo fan since my first Duckhunt, I'd be lying if I said I was uninterested, but apart from a World Cup match in the cinema, 3D technology has never impressed me. There is a wow - for ten seconds or so.
So, ushered toward the 3DS area at the Nintendo gig in Millbank, central London, my expectations were low. I was wrong.
The 3DS is like nothing I've seen before with 3DTV. For starters, no glasses are required. The screen works with a Autostereoscopic parallax barrier and although I had to position myself right first, it wasn't long before I found myself immersed in a demo of Nintendogs and Cats.
The difference was immense - it really felt like I could reach into the screen. As opposed to the 2D layer effect that comes with its television counterparts, the 3DS has an almost true 3D effect with excellent depth. OK, if Nintendogs, a game that I'd usually cringe about had me intrigued, I couldn't wait to see something more up my street.
Next in line was Pilot Wings Resort, a franchise you may remember from as far back as the SNES days. The only fully playable demo on offer, the depth when flying through hoops was remarkable and definitely adds to the game. It bought me back 15 years nostalgically, but it felt like the future of gaming had arrived.
After rinsing the demo, I moved onto the next one, Metal Gear Solid. Although un-playable, the first person view can be controlled as the camera moves through long grass with crocodiles and snakes jumping out. This was by far the most impressive demo for me. Graphically supreme, the sense of depth through the long grass was second to none. When the snake pounced at the screen, I jumped out of my skin, much to the amusement of the PR reps.
As I moved round the table, I saw brief demos of Resident Evil, Kid Icarus and Hollywood 61, none of which impressed nearly as much as MGS. A 3D video demo was slick, with the smashing of a wine glass the most memorable moment. And a clip of the upcoming kids flick Legend of the Guardians worked surprisingly well on the small screen, suggesting the 3DS could be used as a portable cinema for keeping a child occupied in long car journeys.
Last but not least was a short but spectacular clip of Mario Kart, showing off fantastic smoke effects and how the new depth can assist with timing when to fire your power-ups. If Mario Kart could get any better, it was going to need a whole new dimension and that's what's happened, literally.
The experience is one you want to share and with limited viewing for those looking over your shoulder, its something kids will no doubt fight over even more.
There are two cameras on the back for home-made 3D images. A cheesy snap of myself came out quite layered looking, but fun none the less and a great feature that will give children endless hours of fun.
The size and weight is similar to its predecessor, the DS, with a practical design that's well constructed in the traditional glossy finish we've come to associate with Nintendo products. The 3DS is backward-compatible - it handles old games, so shouldn't hold back existing DS users from upgrading upon release. For such games, or if you wanted to give your eyes a break, there is a switch to turn the 3D effect on and off.
It's early days yet, and we were not allowed to take photographs, but the 3DS should be available from early 2011. No hints as to how much they'll cost yet, although you'll probably want one regardless, I know I do. ®
Those crafty Japanese will get you, one way or another...
I recently gave way to pester power, and bought a Wii. My little princess has had a DS Lite with R4DS adaptor for two or three years. And a GBA before that.
I have to say that I've not had so much fun with somebody else (with my clothes on) since Worms PC came out. Aahh, the joyful memories of kicking the crap out of / shooting / blowing up your mates / family members / loved ones never fade!
Since buying the latest Wii version, I have jailbroken it with the Wii Hack Pack, installed the Homebrew channel, and installed the DVD player software. WTF don't Nintendo just enable all the capabilities of their superb little box of tricks from the word go, and save us from voiding our warranties for the sake of a few extra yen? I have also spent a good few drinking vouchers (that's cash, for our foreign readers) on Nintendo points, and WiiWare goodies.
There's still no arguing that Nintendo have the right ideas, at the right time, and generally at the right price. More power to them. Well, not real power, but you know what I mean.
Perhaps Sony and Microsoft should look more at playability and less at "Ooohh look, 17 squillion triangle explosions, with really good smoke and fragmentation effects"! I have learned from experience, and living opposite a Blockbuster Video outlet, that your average PS3 / XBox / PC fanatic /fanboi hardcore gamers do, in fact, generally look like lonely as fuck teens / twenty somethings with probably few, if any REAL friends, other than their online so-called buddies. Then again, without that kind of dedication, would I have been able to watch a youtube video of some pillock in a wooly hat showing me how to hack my Wii, and taking the time to put it all together? For what? Kudos? Not sure what point I am trying to make there, but there you go... Perhaps just a reminder to myself to try not to generalise! ^_^
FUN! Remember that? Laughter? Getting up off your fat arse and actually moving about for the fun of it, not just walking to the fridge for another beer / choccy bar / lard sandwich?
Just hope it doesn't give me an headache...
And no, I don't work for Nintendo. I work primarily for the benefit of myself and family. My customers, I feel, are just lucky people.
Now, I think I'll have a beer. My fingers are getting dry! (Flicks off feathers)
well I'm 44...
and I want one. My DS has provided me with hours of entertainment! You don't have to stop having fun just 'cos you get older you know....
It is susceptible to movement and the optimal horizontal viewing angle is fairly small but it's a hand held device, you won't be looking at it from the side, whether it's resting on your lap or held up level to your face shouldn't make a difference though, just don't rotate along the Y axis and expect the 3D to stay.
The average distance between adult EU eyes is 7cm, we'll say 9cm max. A young child's is probably a minimum of 5cm (guess). So it's designed to handle a eye separation distance of 5-9cm at a viewing distance of 20cm-80cm. That's a pretty narrow view angle from the users perspective but the point is; A) it's impossible with autostereoscopic approach to have wide view angles usable outside the expected ~10-15 degrees per eye, and B) it doesn't need them.
It's true, 3D photographs are useless without a 3D display.
Good thing Nintendo's 3D camera comes attached to one. At least you can show off your 3D pics on the 3DS itself.
I suppose you could perhaps export the 3D pictures into color shifted 3D and show them off with the ol' red & blue specs. Is there a standard file format for 3D images yet?
AC - there is a slider on one side of the 3DS that allows you to change the depth of the 3D. Although no-one will know for certain how good it is at keeping the 3D effect until the final version is released.