Nintendo 3DS Hands-On Impressions

Holding a 3DS and looking into its top screen didn't blow my mind. Instead, some pieces of the puzzles just clicked into place and I felt the same way I did when I first played the Nintendo DS. Of course this is the next logical step in portable game technology. What else would it be?

It's a natural. The moment you lay your eyes on it and see what 3D is like without wearing glasses or crossing your eyes you're all set. The first game I played was Nintendogs + Cats and having that depth really made it seem like there was an adorable puppy trapped in the DS. I actually felt kind of bad for it.

Kid Icarus wasn't playable, but I did get to see the video from the press conference in full 3D. As you might expect, it looks pretty damn good and was one of the few titles on display clearly pushing some serious graphics compared to most DS games.

I saw more tech demos than I could list here, but one of the simplest and most striking was a cat on a pogo stick. Something Satoru Iwata said at the conference had left me scratching my head: Would the 3D screen really make things like platform jumping easier? Playing this silly little game where you maneuver a cat on a pogo stick from one platform to another really showed this to be true. I could slide the 3DS into 2D mode and get by fine, but sliding back up to 3D really made judging those jumps easier. Thanks, cat on pogo stick.

I also played one demo where you could jump between various 8 bit Nintendo games like Metroid, Mario and Tennis, only they were converted for the 3D view. Surprisingly, it actually worked pretty well. Suddenly the blocks in Super Mario Bros stood out and had depth against the backdrop. The odds of Nintendo triple dipping on a ton of old games (now in 3D!) are high.

The unit itself is not radically different from a DSi. The inclusion of an analog nub is a big plus and the slider on the side of the DS that allows you to adjust how strong the 3D effect is really impressed me. Some of the demos made my eyes strain a bit because the effect was so extreme -- Harvest Moon being one of them. By sliding the 3D effect down a bit, I was able to maintain the 3D look without bothering my poor eyes.

Without a price or firm release date it's hard to speak to the value proposition here. 3D is not going to magically turn bad games into something worthwhile. What it does is gives the game you're playing some more bam. It's a little extra something that you can live without -- but why would you if you had the choice?

Comments

I also played one demo where you could jump between various 8 bit Nintendo games like Metroid, Mario and Tennis, only they were converted for the 3D view. Surprisingly, it actually worked pretty well. Suddenly the blocks in Super Mario Bros stood out and had depth against the backdrop. The odds of Nintendo triple dipping on a ton of old games (now in 3D!) are high.

Dammit. Time to start willpower chant: I will not buy any more original NES games that I already own for a new system. I will not buy any more original NES games that I already own for a new system. I will not buy...

So you can adjust how much "pop" the 3D effect has? That's actually really nifty. In fact, I like that a lot, because if, for whatever reason, your an old curmudgeon that would rather play it "like in the old days" you can just turn it down.

That's awesome. I like it.

That sounds very impressive. It sounds like Nintendo have worked their magic again, and produced a unit that feels natural.

Dammit. Now I need one.

Thanks for the impressions, Shawn. Now, get back out there and bring us more!!!

Thanks for the impressions. My kids are having so much fun with the DSi's they got in prep for our trip to Japan, that we'll all be really excited to check out this new version.

It's still early but it just sounds like portable version of awesome. 3D effects aside, were there any real world demos that gave a sense of how much increased processing power is under the hood? Just curious as the DS already does what it does just fine.

I wanted to echo the comments thanking you guys for your updates. And I much prefer the "impressions" style of article than the "specs and price and release date" information that I can get from everywhere else. Keep up the fine work you're doing out there. And don't forget to enjoy yourselves. Hearing a youngling like Demiurge complain about a lack of sleep while at E3 is criminal! You can complain about that when you're back trying to keep your eyes open at your day job. You're at E E E!

I was a little skeptical on the whole 3DS concept, but adjustable 3D is goddamn brilliant. Wow. I can't believe I'm actually considering buying a third version of the DS.

As I mentioned in the Nintendo press conference thread, I haven't bought a DS yet. If the 3DS is a decent price I may have to go for it.

So, now I'll probably buy a 3DS to sit alongside my DSi and DSi XL that don't get used that much. But, they do allow me to add a lot of great games to my unplayed pile. It's just that some of my unplayed games will now be in 3D.

I was much more impressed than I expected to be, though. I suspect I will end up with one of these and occasionally even get some play out of it before Nintendo gets me to buy the 3DS XL that you know they will eventually announce.

Irongut wrote:

3D effects aside, were there any real world demos that gave a sense of how much increased processing power is under the hood? Just curious as the DS already does what it does just fine.

The MGS tech demo pulls off some impressive graphics without the 3D, but otherwise we don't have a true sense of just how much powerful the 3DS is.

KaterinLHC wrote:

I was a little skeptical on the whole 3DS concept, but adjustable 3D is goddamn brilliant.

Sony mentioned that the 3D setting is adjustable on their TVs as well. I think this is going to be a standard feature, simply so people can calibrate the 3D effect to their own eyes or the distance from the screen.

So. I understand how stereoscopic vision works, how holograms work and how 3D glasses work but how does this thing basically work? Black magic? Is security so tight that no one really knows?

Dax wrote:

So. I understand how stereoscopic vision works, how holograms work and how 3D glasses work but how does this thing basically work? Black magic? Is security so tight that no one really knows?

During the initial setup and calibration there's a training mode that teaches you to alternating blink really fast.

LiquidMantis wrote:
Dax wrote:

So. I understand how stereoscopic vision works, how holograms work and how 3D glasses work but how does this thing basically work? Black magic? Is security so tight that no one really knows?

During the initial setup and calibration there's a training mode that teaches you to alternating blink really fast.

Maybe some kind of subliminal message.

Dax wrote:

So. I understand how stereoscopic vision works, how holograms work and how 3D glasses work but how does this thing basically work? Black magic? Is security so tight that no one really knows?

From what I've seen in pictures and heard about, it's the same basic technology as those baseball cards where the pitcher throws the ball when you turn them. Basically every alternating vertical line on the display has a lens above it that makes it only visible from one angle and not the other, so each eye only sees every other line.

This looks really cool. I've never bought into any of the incremental hardware updates that Nintendo has done for the DS yet, but I'm definitely trading in my old DS fat for a 3DS when it's available. I just hope they remake Picross3D for it.

OK its hard to find online- but it appears that the method involves head (specifically eye) tracking to produce the 3D effect. That makes sense to me, if that's the case it should work for a wide range of viewing for the player (though not for nearby spectators) before the effect breaks. On the other hand some people's experience at E3 was that you could break the effect easier, but I'm guessing that was more a result of frantic button mashing resulting in jerking the 3DS until it can't track your eyes anymore.

Switchbreak wrote:

A different theory.

*Head scratching* Maybe a combination of both. I must know!

Come on, Certis, talk me out of one.

Dax wrote:
Switchbreak wrote:

A different theory.

*Head scratching* Maybe a combination of both. I must know!

You're thinking of Rittai Kakushie Attakoreda, a DSi game that Youtube videos have been circulating of. Check out the picture here: http://arstechnica.com/gaming/news/2... - that looks like it is definitely the alternating-vertical-line method.

Switchbreak wrote:
Dax wrote:
Switchbreak wrote:

A different theory.

*Head scratching* Maybe a combination of both. I must know!

You're thinking of Rittai Kakushie Attakoreda, a DSi game that Youtube videos have been circulating of. Check out the picture here: http://arstechnica.com/gaming/news/2... - that looks like it is definitely the alternating-vertical-line method.

Ah ok. Makes sense. The site that led me astray was http://pinoytutorial.com/techtorial/nintendo-3ds-official-specs-release-date/ but now that I think about it, people would have quickly picked up on an image that changed as you moved your head around, which doesn't seem to be the case.

It's basically a fancy screen filter that creates the 3D effect (like someone mentioned, the baseball cards or slurpee cups with fancy graphix on them). Nintendogs + cats DOES use some face tracking, but it doesn't add to the 3D effect (get close enough to the screen and your puppy will fake-lick your "face").

It's not perfect, because you can lose the 3D effect if your focus is funny or if you tilt it the wrong way, but it's damned good for something that doesn't require you to spend $4,000 on tech.

Joystiq (via Engadget) had a rumor based on a Sharp corporate website (and an earnings call) that said it MAY be this technology.

http://sharp-world.com/corporate/news/100402.html

From the Sharp summary:

Sharp Corporation has developed a 3D touchscreen LCD featuring the industry’s highest brightness that can switch between 2D and 3D modes. Users can view 3D images without the need to wear special glasses, making this LCD ideal for mobile devices such as digital cameras, mobile phones, and smartphones.

The newly developed 3D LCD uses a parallax barrier system to display 3D images. This parallax barrier, which has a series of vertical slits, is incorporated into an ordinary LCD to control the path of light reaching the right and left eyes, thus creating a sense of depth. However, the conventional 3D LCD with this system had difficulty in displaying high-quality images in 3D mode.

So, it's entirely rumor and speculation, but Sharp has produced a lot of stuff for Nintendo in the past, so a partnership for this technology wouldn't be a huge surprise. Feel free to take this stuff with a wholesome grain of salt.

I'm definitely a day one buyer. I'm super excited, especially hearing about all the remakes that Nintendo will inevitably do. Heck yes, this system is going to be fantastic.

More 3DS specifications are out, via Nintendo:

Size (when closed):
Approximately 5.3 inches wide, 2.9 inches long, 0.8 inches tall.

Weight:
Approximately 8 ounces.

Look:
Final design is TBA.

Top Screen:
3.53-inch widescreen LCD display, enabling 3D view without the need for special glasses; with 800x240 pixel resolution (400 pixels are allocated for each eye to enable 3D viewing).

Touch Screen:
3.02-inch LCD with 320x240 pixel resolution with a touch screen.

Cameras:
One inner camera and two outer cameras with 640x480 (0.3 Mega) pixel resolution.

Pre-Installed Software:
TBA

Nintendo 3DS Game Card:
2 GB Max. at launch.

Wireless Communication:
Can communicate in the 2.4 GHz band. Multiple Nintendo 3DS systems can connect via a local wireless connection to let users communicate or enjoy competitive game play. Systems also can connect to LAN access points to access the Internet and allow people to enjoy games with others. Will support IEEE 802.11 with enhanced security (WPA/WPA2). Nintendo 3DS hardware is designed so that even when not in use, it can automatically exchange data with other Nintendo 3DS systems or receive data via the Internet while in sleep mode.

No real news on the 3D technology used, however...not that I could find, at least!

The return of Kid Icarus moves this into the "Buy" category for me.

I have always loved my portable Nintendo. Up until recently (when we were broken into) I had every handheld from launch, and it's many variations (pocket anyone?).

When it came to repurchase, I settled on an SP, and skipped the whole DS thing. Miyamoto was talking about it being the third pillar of their gaming platforms at the time, NOT a replacement for the Gameboy.

I've continued to wait, and now, I may just have found a reason to dip into the dual screen pool. The power, and the 3D option, and the ressurection of awesome IPs make this a definite temptation...

Got an email from Gamestop today saying that they're selling the 3DS for $150 if you trade in your DSi XL. $200 trade in value? Not bad if there isn't a weird catch to that.

DSGamer wrote:

Got an email from Gamestop today saying that they're selling the 3DS for $150 if you trade in your DSi XL. $200 trade in value? Not bad if there isn't a weird catch to that.

Isn't that $50 more than they were saying earlier?