Regrettably not all the best-looking titles at the Discover 3DS event were available to play, with many games only visible in rolling footage. We spent plenty of time touring the cinematic areas of the events in Europe and New York to see how some of the non-playable games were shaping up.
One of the best-looking titles on display was undoubtedly Paper Mario, which made excellent use of the 3D effect to create a number of nicely layered stages. Bizarrely, for a game based on totally flat characters, it benefited tremendously from the transition into three dimensions: levels looked to have real depth, and the crisp resolution kept the detail level high. The video showed Mario making his way through grass, fire and ice levels, with a dash of simple battling in there too, but very little genuinely new was shown. Still, this is definitely one to keep your eye on as it develops.
Next up was video footage of Animal Crossing, which displayed a rather pleasing rounded style with lots of shaders to give the world a glossy look, almost as though the characters were figurines. A short rolling video showed a little of the outside world, with what looked like rose bushes populating the world alongside the usual fruit trees and flowers. A visual step above the Wii outing Animal Crossing: City Folk, player characters look taller, and the 3D effect works exceptionally well, as it does with most slower games – the "rolling log" effect is still in place but less pronounced, letting you see farther into the distance, it seemed. Animal Crossing was already on our most anticipated list for 3DS, and although the series may only make incremental improvements with each release it's still many players' idea of a good way to spend your gaming time.
Mario Kart was present in the same video we saw last year at E3 and the London event, but still looked crisp and clear here, with a fast frame rate and plenty of close-up and far-off detail to catch the eye. This is one title we would have loved to have played, but regrettably not.
Tecmo Koei's Samurai Warriors: Chronicles was only displaying the game's rendered intro, but it looked absolutely fantastic: high-quality compression, over-the-top action and plenty of spectacle. If the game itself can live up to this introduction video, it'll do very well indeed.
Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater 3D was, like Mario Kart, only present in the same video Konami revealed six months ago. It still looks great but we're ready to see something new now, Konami.
Star Fox 64 3D looked good: sharper than the original, it's ideally suited to 3D with its into-the-screen action but the video here was too short to get a good impression for how this N64 classic (known as Lylat Wars in Europe) will fare in the transition to a handheld system.
Lastly we cast our eyes over the Eurosport presentation, which showed a series of clips from various sports in glorious 3D. With the prohibitive cost of 3DTVs and receivers Nintendo is obviously hoping to secure a few sports fans by hooking up with Eurosport to bring major events to the machine via SpotPass. The presentation was excellent – detailed and engaging, though the provider will need to tailor its content to the smaller screen as viewing statistics and tickers on the 3DS's screen could be a little strenuous on the eye. Like the machine's 3D movie capabilities, this is something that Nintendo is cautious to reveal too much about, but could prove to be a real ace up its sleeve.
Like the games available to play, the videos on show were a mixed bag: seeing Paper Mario and Animal Crossing in motion should be enough to stir up the interest of even those gamers who've long since sworn off the series, but some titles were notable by their absence. Two of the world's biggest publishing powers, EA and Ubisoft, didn't have a single video on display between them, though they did have several titles dotted about the play areas.
There were also no 3D movies on display, an odd omission when you consider we saw Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole and several specially-shot clips six months ago, though this is more likely to be due to licensing negotiations than any backtracking on Nintendo's part.
Stay tuned for more 3DS impressions in the coming days.