We’ve known about Nintendo’s latest handheld wonder for a while now, but it wasn’t until yesterday (19th January) that the shroud was lifted and we finally got concrete details on what this system is, the games it will have and the release date.
And the Big N didn’t disappoint. The 3DS looks easily to be their most planned and slick piece of hardware to date. It keeps everything that made it’s predecessor great (except perhaps GameBoy support) and adds more bells and whistles than available at a bell and whistle merchants!
So what’s new, well the big thing is undoubtedly the 3D without glasses available on the 3DS top screen. This is an innovation I have longed for ever since I first saw 3D images in magazines in the nineties. Back then the boffins said it would be possible one day and now it’s finally here. Personally, I love the idea of 3D, not the images popping out so much, but the amazing sense of depth you can get behind the screen. From all hands on reviews I have seen, the 3DS handles this superbly. I can’t wait to get my hands on it and see. Oh, and for those of you that hate 3D, you can always reduce the effect or even turn it off all together, sorted!
But there’s much more than 3D to this little handheld. Nintendo have changed the button layout, opting for a circle pad instead of the traditional + sign for the first time in one of their handhelds. This should offer much better precision, but in case you enjoyed the little + pad, theres an additional one underneath.
The 3DS also offers not one, but three cameras to take photos facing forward, backward or even in 3D. This is pretty impressive when you consider 3D cameras available on the market are quite expensive just as stand-alones. Mind you, we haven’t got to the price yet…
The hardware now has SD card support built in and the software allows you to browse the internet straight from a Wi-Fi point without any extra installation. This is great news for those who suffered with the fiddly and extremely slow NDS browser that was previously released.
The software also includes a Mii creator (no surprises there, although this one can generate Miis from a photo), a built in camera game and access to the Nintendo online store. This, to me, is looking very similar to Apple’s app store from the icons used, right up to the info bar at the top of the screen. But this is of course no bad thing. The Nintendo store will give you access to virtual console games from the GameBoy and GameBoy Color as well as new content being released. It’s all very similar to what was already offered with DSi, but once again, it’s been very well refined.
One of the things I’m most excited is the augmented reality now being used on the 3DS. You may have seen my article in October where I mentioned my love for this technology. On the 3DS, you will be given paper cards which when looked at with the 3DS camera, become something else. A Mario block could appear for example and when you burst it, you enter a whole new game played partially in the real world. I adore these clever ideas and with three cameras, I think the 3DS could be the first console to make augmented reality really work.
The 3DS also boasts new wireless tech whereby the machine can go into a ‘sleep’ mode, but continue to transmit data with other 3DS users or the internet via a Wi-Fi hotspot, meaning you never know what you might find on your console when you next open it up.
All in all, the 3DS hardware is a very beautiful and well polished piece of work. It looks the part and does some very clever things. But it’s no good having this great machine, if the games are no good and here is perhaps why I’m still not excited.
The launch lineup includes Street Fighter, Nitendogs, PES, StarFox and Zelda, all have been very popular franchises. But none of them seem to be focusing on anything other than the 3D. The Street Fighter, StarFox and Zelda titles are all remakes or ‘greatest hits’ of games which have already existed on other consoles. And this is my major gripe with the 3DS and 3D in general. I don’t like the idea of studios being less creative, just because they can make it 3D. The visuals can be amazing, but at the end of the day, it is and always will be the gameplay that we crave. This is perhaps one of the reasons people have
And that’s why I wont be buying a 3DS on it’s UK launch of March 25th. Even with it’s incredible tech advances and relatively good price (pre-order for £220.00 at Play.com), there’s just not enough launch games that interest me.
However I can see me owning one of these things in the future. The games will come, they always do and they should play pretty aweseome on this new hardware. In a world where everyone thought Apple and Android were taking over the mobile gaming space, Nintendo have shone again and outdone themselves in a spectacular way. I fully expect the 3DS to be as successful if not more that it’s 2D predecessor.