Nintendo continues to find ways of expanding the reach of 3DS to new audiences with events such as this month’s UK photo competition Another Dimension, which saw a group of photography enthusiasts get to grips with 3D picture-taking using the system in organised field trips hosted by a wide range of celebrities, from TV personality Bill Oddie to graffiti artist Pure Evil. To showcase the result of these days out the big N deployed dozens of 3DS machines to the Truman Gallery, an exclusive venue in the heart of fashionable East London, sprinkled some derelict-chic decoration courtesy of artist Graham Hudson and watched as all the beautiful people — Nintendo Life included — rolled in for the opening night.
The installation, featuring the actual handhelds used on the different field trip days, was split by themes: dinosaur-hunting with TV presenter Rick Edwards, dressing up with girl band The Saturdays, street art spotting with Pure Evil, fashion tips with singer VV Brown and animal snapping with Bill Oddie. Some themes lent themselves more to a photographic environment than others, and clearly the broadcast experience of Oddie and Edwards helped their teams bring the best out of their excursions, but overall the quality was decent; even the slightly amateurish self-shoots of the fashion groups were boosted by the silhouette-enhancing 3D effect. The most visually interesting segment of the installation was the street art collection curated by Pure Evil, perhaps because of its natural affinity with the world of videogames. Sadly, these pictures are the ones that translated the worst onto 3D images as the originals were all painted on flat walls or canvasses, benefitting little from the 3D artifices.
Not that this was a particularly pressing issue for the swarms of hipsters that filled the gallery space with their denim shorts, skate boards and ironic tattoos: though they merrily mingled with the few genuine photographers or Nintendo aficionados — we only notched 5 new StreetPass hits in the whole evening — the East London contingency didn’t look overly familiar with the 3DS. Several people tapping on the upper screen of the handhelds had to be quietly informed of that infamous industry secret that is the single touchscreen.
A few of the celebs leading the original expeditions turned up for the inauguration: Bill Oddie, armed with his trademark patterned shirt and a sincere curiosity for the display, felt more in place than many of the young offenders who he trebled in age. So did Pure Evil, ready to affably explain the creative process behind his team’s output to anyone blinking twice in front of a 3DS screen. Sadly, The Saturdays were a no show (presumably because it was a Thursday) and VV Brown kept herself wrapped up in the confinements of her entourage. It was left to the gaming faction of the crowd to subvert the procedures, Wario-style, by naughtily turning on the camera function of some of the 3DS systems on display and attempt to transform the exhibition into a tipsy photo booth night-out experience. A bit of masking tape over the buttons and touchscreen will do wonders next time, Nintendo.
The event also offered the chance to glance at the upcoming 3DS XL in one of its first public appearances, as some of the systems were used in the installation. Unfortunately, the handhelds were gripped to the displays so the all-important question of weight could not be put to the test, however the difference in screen size with the standard model was so vast that peering into one of the old 3DS systems felt like looking into a Game Boy vortex. The 4.88-inch top screen squares up to Vita’s 5-incher and is sure to convince even the most reluctant of revision haters. Crucially, the 3D effect seems gentler on the eye and easier to lock into view, a criticism that has dogged the original 3DS since its release.
The new system is released at the end of the July in Europe and Japan, and half a month later in America. Here’s hoping that more initiatives like Another Dimension are held using the new hardware, as its specs will no doubt enhance the proceedings and confirm Nintendo has entered a new technological era altogether.