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E3 2010: First Impressions: Nintendo 3DS

Posted by Corbie Dillard

Hands on with Nintendo's amazing 3D portable

Any time there's an announcement of new video game hardware, a certain buzz is created. In all truth, you couldn't walk five feet on the streets of Los Angeles on the way to the Convention Center without hearing someone talking about Nintendo's upcoming 3DS system. Even the line for the Nintendo keynote was atwitter with talk of 3DS and what it would bring to the gaming table.

Having had a chance to sit down and put the 3DS through its paces in Nintendo's E3 media room, it's clear that gamers are in for a special treat when the system is released at a sadly unspecified price and date.

The first thing that stands out when you first see the 3D screen is just how much depth the display portrays. It's almost surreal to be able to experience true 3D without needing to wear the bothersome glasses that normally accompany the illusion. You will need to keep the screen fairly centered in front of you in order to keep the screen clear and visible, as getting the unit tilted too far off to the side can make the viewing a little fuzzy. It's a very small price to pay for the absolutely gorgeous visuals you get to experience with the system, not to mention the almost limitless possibilities from its unique capabilities.

The hardware itself is very similar in design and feel to the DSi. While the handhelds were tethered to various tables and beautiful booth babes, it was still fairly easy to get a feel for the weight and feel of holding the system in your hands. The analog stick is the most striking new feature and one long overdue. It slides side-to-side much the same way the Sony PSP nub functions, but this stick features a much looser and smoother movement, not to mention is quite a bit larger than the one found on Sony's handheld. This should provide a much smoother and more responsive control method for the more 3D-oriented games we'll be seeing on the system

With the analog stick overtaking as the primary directional input, the D-Pad has been moved to a lower spot on the unit's left side. Even though it still felt reasonably accessible, it makes us curious as to how tiring this new lower position might be on your hand over a long period of play time. The button layout remains virtually identical to the DSi, with the four action buttons arranged in a diamond shape on the face of the unit and the two shoulder buttons on top. It is worth noting that the buttons are fairly clicky in feel, perhaps even more so than the DSi.

There were quite a few games to check out, some just basically running tech demos and others fully playable. Star Fox 64 3D was one of the more interesting playable titles, looking and playing very similar to the classic Nintendo 64 release. The visuals were very detailed and the gameplay was simple and responsive. You basically used the analog stick to move the targeting reticle around the screen, which in turn would send your ship flying in the very same direction. You could duck in and around the various obstacles and fire at enemy ships trying to get in your way. The 3D effect is incredible in the game and adds so much depth to the flying area as it scrolls by. There's definitely a lot of potential with this title and it should be interesting to see what the developers are able to accomplish from a visual standpoint given the 3DS's hardware capabilities.

Pilotwings Resort was probably the most colorful and visually impressive game on display for the 3DS, and it was perfectly clear from seeing the game in motion that the new handheld has some serious horsepower under the hood. The 3D effect only added to the sense of realism and sense of wide open spaces. Your goal in the demo was to fly your plane through various rings that popped up around the course. The controls were extremely tight and responsive and this was probably the most playable game on display with the unit. Even as good as the Super Nintendo original was, this 3DS rendition might just eclipse it in terms of form and function.

Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater 3D and Kid Icarus: Uprising are two of the higher profile titles in development for the 3DS, but sadly they were only on display as a viewable demo with minimal ability to control anything happening onscreen. Of course that's not to say that they weren't every bit as impressive, if not maybe a bit more impressive, than the playable demos. Metal Gear Solid features some of the best 3D visuals seen on the 3DS so far and looked insanely sharp and detailed as the jungle scene scrolled along. The same can be said of Kid Icarus as well, as the lightning-fast scrolling and flying around gives an almost stomach-turning feeling as Pit zooms across the skies shooting everything in sight. The combination of rail shooting with platforming seems like a great fit for the 3DS and should prove to be the perfect show-off title for the system.

There's absolutely no denying that Nintendo's new 3D portable is going to stir up huge amounts of hype and anticipation between now and its eventual release, most likely sometime next year. And having seen the system's incredible 3D capabilities in action, about the only thing left to do now is endure the agonizing wait for release day. The system goes far beyond anything we personally expected from the unit and is easily one of the most stunning things we've had the chance to experience in our many years of gaming. This system has massive potential to change gaming in similar ways to when the industry shifted from sprites to polygons. The only downside to a system like this is that you really have to see it in person to fully comprehend what it can do, but that's something Nintendo will have to deal with when they get ready to begin marketing the unit.

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User Comments (47)

Kreegs07

#1

Kreegs07 said:

You know what? The analog stick would allow much better controls for Super Mario 64 DS!

LordJumpMad

#3

LordJumpMad said:

"Cheer up, Snake, there's not a Final Smash in sight!"
(But there is a Falcon behind you)

Adam

#4

Adam said:

How do you do a barrel role?

If it gets fuzzy when tilted too much to one side, doesn't that defeat the purpose of the built-in motion sensor?

Imerion

#5

Imerion said:

E3 overload! So much awesome has happened this E3 I want to write a comment praising every one of the things. But that would take quite some time, so I'll let it be. Still, the amazing 3DS with it's almost legendary game lineup is certainly the best part. We did know about it, but I don't think I had actually reflected on how cool the 3D effect and it's other features are. Now I can't wait to try it out. Seriously, I will be counting the days until it's release...

warioswoods

#7

warioswoods said:

@Adam

(Ha, barrel role, I didn't catch that.) I've been wondering the same thing about the motion sensing.

From what I can tell, they'll not be asking you to tilt the screen side-to-side, since that would indeed screw up the illusion. It's more likely that they'll use it in the way one of the devs illustrated in an interview: holding it out so that you're still looking straight at it, but moving it around in space, like sliding the "window" of the screen around to look at different things in the 3D world behind it. Beyond that, I can't imagine what they can do with it.

Archy

#9

Archy said:

Does the 3DS have the same problem with the L and R shoulder buttons as the DSi? I mean I have a DSi and after a wile of playing FPS games on it
(1 year or so) I broke both of my buttons.

CorbsAdmin

#10

Corbs said:

You can always turn the 3D off, even on the fly. Just slide the little switch on the side of the unit. Works like a charm. :) Believe me, I tried it about 50 times. LOL.

warioswoods

#11

warioswoods said:

Did you get a chance to try any of the "augmented reality" games? I've heard reports that some used the 3D camera to great effect.

Sean007s

#12

Sean007s said:

When you turn the 3D effect off,will the games still work like Starfox?
Can they be played without 3D?

CorbsAdmin

#13

Corbs said:

Sure they can be played without 3D. They just look a bit more pixelated and lack the depth.

Pj1

#15

Pj1 said:

Any more major games conferences coming up this year? if so Nintendo will and might announce futher information about 3DS!!

HipsterDashie

#18

HipsterDashie said:

@Archy

I suffered the same problem with my DSi. My R button screwed up about a month before my warranty expired (too much snaking in Mario Kart XD) and then my L button went about 2 weeks out of warranty. Incredibly, Nintendo replaced my unit free of charge. :)

King_Boo

#19

King_Boo said:

Any word that the analog stick will work with DS games without issue, or will they require you to use the D-pad?

Bigdog

#24

Bigdog said:

@adam

Having the motion controls only opens up design possibilities. You can design games WITHOUT 3D, but with great motion controls, and vice-versa. And I'm betting the motion tech wasn't but a few bucks to implement in there.

Nin1Od0

#25

Nin1Od0 said:

has there been a mention of the graphical power yet?

I'm guessing it's between Gamecube and Wii, which would be about correct since all portables followed home consoles in order.

RyuZebian

#26

RyuZebian said:

The biggest questionmark above my head right now is the one concerning the type of 3D! Is it the of the sort that doesn't change depending on the angle (viewable by multiple persons) or does it have head tracking? Head tracking would means that you could see different thing depending on your viewing angle, but only you can view it correctly... I'm REALLY curious and I hope someone will answear my question!

Nintenzo

#27

Nintenzo said:

I really hope it's not priced more than the Wii.
Now, that would just be ridiculous, right?

Right? Or wrong?

James

#29

James said:

@RyuZebian It's not got head-tracking so if you move to the side you can see the separation in the images and things look blurry. Head-on you're fine: side-on, not so much.

dizzy_boy

#30

dizzy_boy said:

the whole montion sensing and 3D visuals got me thinking.
does the effect work sort of like a moving hologram? because, when you tilt a hologram picture, you can see the image from different angles. and you don`t need 3D glasses for a hologram picture.

Ravage

#31

Ravage said:

It does not act like a hologram as it is still a 2-D image, however the illusion is that it looks like it could be a hologram.

GammaGames

#34

GammaGames said:

wish there were 2 analog sticks, for some 3D FPS games. im still gonna uy the 3DS, no matter what my parents say :)

timp29

#35

timp29 said:

Thanks corbie, that answered all my questions :)

Now my next wonderings are, how the hell is nintendo going to market something that has to be seen to be believed?

Percentful

#36

Percentful said:

I'm curious if you will be able to use the analog stick for normal DS games, and if those will be portrayed in 3d also. I'm guessing no, but I wouldn't mind too much anyway. Backwards compatibility in itself is good enough for me.

Token_Girl

#37

Token_Girl said:

I too would be interested to know what the graphics power looks like up close and in person.

Bobpie

#38

Bobpie said:

Hmm.. on a hardware perspective, my only hopes are that the L and R buttons don't become dysfunctional in time, like they do on the DSi and Lite.

Ozl

#41

Ozl said:

3DS is going to be my first portable gaming machine that i will actually buy!

I have played the Gameboy, the Advance, the DS, the PSP, but none were mine...
Good day people!

joeshabadoo

#43

joeshabadoo said:

It will accept DS carts and the new 3DS carts, yes.

You guys should've mentioned the accelerometers/gyroscopes in the system . . ., but that said I'm so freaking stoked to get one of these

WaveWarlock

#44

WaveWarlock said:

I'm going to camp out for this beast if I have to, something which I've 'never' done for any videogame console :p I'm that excited for it.

Toxic

#45

Toxic said:

I've got a feeling that the analog stick would work better on the right side of the console? It seems like the old PSP problem repeats itself. How do you think, guys?

green23

#46

green23 said:

OMG i have 2 find out when it is comin out. CANT WAIT!!!!!!!!!!!!! I hope that it comes in lime green!!!!!!!!

green23

#47

green23 said:

Please dont make it to expensive and the games to expensive because the games are awesome

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