Published on January 24th, 2011 | by dinglesurf3
The Nintendo 3DS – Should we care?
Last week Japanese gaming behemoths Nintendo announced the European release date (March 25th) for their latest shiny piece of kit, The Nintendo 3DS. So the question is: Should we care? Or is this just another piece of plastic aimed at emptying out the wallets of spotty teenage boys? Well I for one believe we should.
So whats new this time?
The clue is in the title. The 3DS will be the first gaming console to offer authentic three dimensional graphics WITHOUT the need for any dorky glasses. Nintendo have pioneered ‘stereoscopic’ technology, that delivers jaw dropping depth of field to the gaming experience. It uses two overlaying screens and a polarising filter that sends slightly differing images to each eye, tricking the brain into seeing the image in 3D – or something like that!?! The 3DS is also equipped with a ‘depth slider’ that allows you to manually adjust the intensity of the effect. So if like me you got a headache halfway through Avatar, you can simply set the slider to off, and voilà: 2D gaming again.
But surely this is just a gimmick?
Absolutely not. The 3D effect has all sorts of potential for gaming. From simply bringing a new dimension to racing games, to all manner of brain compounding applications for puzzlers and platformers. And remember Nintendo have been innovators in gaming technology for the past 30 years, always at the forefront of how we interact with our games. They were the first company to ship their consoles with an analogue stick as standard, they led the market in motion sensing control technology with the Wii and practically invented hand held gaming back in the early 90s with the GameBoy. In five years time its not improbable to think that all games could be in 3D.
Nintendo systems are always underpowered, is it the same story this time?
The 3DS will deliver Wii comparable graphics or better in your hand, and they haven’t stopped there. They have crammed their tiny hand held device with all manner of technology and gizmo’s. Let me just run down a few:
Motion & Gyro Sensors – Just like on your iPhone 4 the 3DS will be equipped with motion sensors allowing even more ways to control your games. This is in addition to the returning lower touch sensitive screen, D-pad, camera, microphone and finally an analogue stick. This means that developers have a huge scope for input commands when creating games. Think just how far touch screen gaming has come since the original DS and the launch of Apple’s App Store – 3D Angry Birds anyone?
3D Camera – The 3DS is fitted with three cameras, one internal and two exterior. The two cameras at the rear allow you to take genuine 3D photographs. While this may be more exciting for younger gamers, who doesn’t get a smile from a good muck around on PhotoBooth for a while?
Streetpass – When your 3DS senses another 3DS in its vicinity (using the inbuilt WiFi) the two machines will automatically swap information – even when they are in sleep mode. This means that you could have your 3DS in your bag all day and the machine will automatically import someone else’s high scores or best lap on Mario Kart for you to try and best the next time you turn it on. The 3DS will also use Nintendo’s Mii system in an attempt to give a face to your gaming and make it more social.
Nintendo eShop – After the success of their Virtual Console online platform, allowing gamers to download classic games from the past. Nintendo has decided to do the same for their hand held games archive, opening up a huge back catalogue of games stretching all the way back to the GameBoy that can be stored on the machine or SD card. I am already humming the Tetris theme song in anticipation of this. The 3DS is also backwards compatible with all DS and DSi games, so essentially the machine launches with a whole raft of available titles.
Movies – Its not only games that you can download, but movies too – in 3D without having to shell out thousands of Euros for a 3D plasma. Which means you can watch Toy Story 3D on the bus to work without a set of ridiculous plastic glasses on – although you are on your own if you start blubbing at the end.
But what about the games?
Of course any new platform is going to be judged on its games, as anyone who got sucked in to buying a Sony PSP will attest. Nintendo is cursed with the reputation of only having a dirge of kid friendly party games to offer, only rolling out their megastar Italian plumber every couple of years to save a sagging system. But with the 3DS, developers really seem to be taking notice. Perhaps the lure of being able to design genuine 3D games was too much to resist?
Capcom is one such company. Super Street Fighter IV 3D will be one of the launch titles – with graphics almost identical to the arcade original. And soon after it will be joined by two Resident Evil games; Mercenaries and Relevations. Mercanaries will be a collection of short missions much like the unlockable levels at the end of RE4. Revelations however is a genuine addition to the RE series. Set on a spooky ghost ship it promises to go back to RE’s roots, after the ammo heavy RE5. And if you thought RE games where scary before, imagine the zombies coming at you in 3D!
Kanomi will pitch in with Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, a brand new adventure for Solid Snake that is said to push the 3DS to its limits. You will also see familiar titles such as Final Fantasy, Dead Or Alive 3D, Pro Evolution Soccer and Ridge Racer 3D all taking their bows within the first few months of launch.
And Nintendo themselves will not be slacking either, with updates of the classics Zelda: The Ocarina of Time 3D and Star Fox 64 3D, both with enhanced graphics and improved level designs. And original titles such as a new adventure for the nearly forgotten Kid Icarus, Paper Mario, Pilotwings Resort 3D and the latest installment of the imperious Mario Kart series.
So go on, how much then?
So heres the rub, the initial price for the 3DS is €269.99. Not cheap by anyone’s standards, especially when you can pick up PS3 for around €290. But I imagine the price will drop coming up to next Christmas and it is considerably cheaper than buying a 3D TV for gaming. Also most shops are offering trade in deals on your old DS. But even if that’s still out of your budget, I highly recommend popping into your local games dealer on March 25th to check out the stunning 3D screen for yourself as it truly is one of those “I am living in the future” moments.