3DS Impressions

By Richard Pilot

With just over a month until the launch of Nintendo’s latest handheld, the company has started ramping up their marketing campaign. As part of this, Nintendo have just completed a series of 3DS “exclusive pre-launch events” that give members of the public a chance to try the 3DS. Sponsored by Game and HMV, it gave consumers the chance to try the device and then have the option of placing pre-orders as well as seeing what is available in the launch lineup. It was this event that saw us travel to Bristol in the pouring rain so that we could get our hands on the 3D device. Both myself, Richard Pilot, and Andrew Daniel recount our experiences with the 3DS and debate whether its worth the £220 price tag.

Richard’s Impressions

After a freaky interactive sequence with real life enactments of Street Fighter and Resident Evil (Beware of zombies, they like to get grabby!) we were greeted by a video of Jonathan Ross, giving us a quick introduction sharing his experiences with the device. We were also treated to a video (sadly in 2D) with clips of various games that are in the works. From there we were then treated to a section of the consoles action oriented titles, such as Street Fighter IV, Ridge Racer, Zelda and Pilotwings. These really showed that Nintendo still had a hardcore gamer focus in mind and the gameplay available offered tantalising glimpses into these types of games. The first title I picked up was Pilotwings Resort and anyone who has played the Wii title Sports Resort will immediately recognise the same island from that games flight mode. A range of modes were available including free-roam and missions sets around the island. Legend of Zelda was playable to saw us stepping back to 1998 and once again allowed us to explore the land of Hyrule. Ridge Racer appeared to be the buggiest title, with two 3DS’s crashing whilst loading a race (although a chirpy Nintendo Rep said it was the device that was playing up).

You may have noticed I haven’t really mentioned the 3D yet. I’m a big fan of 3D gaming and I own the NVidia 3D Vision system for my PC. The level of 3D available in the games was fantastic, each title made great use of this in both games and menus. However, unlike motion gaming or a new method of input, it doesn’t really change the experience. That said, the 3D on offer demonstrated a remarkable piece of technology. 3D gaming, without glasses, is definitely the future, as colour quality is not lost. The device also has a handy little slider that allows you to adjust the depth of the 3D being displayed all the way down to 2D which allows you to match to your personal preferences and viewing habits. I was very worried that I’d have to spend ages getting the right viewing angle on the screen and whilst there is a limited viewing angle on the 3D, your eyesight adjusts within a second and if you ever lose your position, you can pick it back up very quickly, a big positive in my book.

The second section of the event allowed us to experience some of the more casual aspects of the console and was, in my opinion, one of the best showcases for the 3DS. The first stand I went to showed off Rabbids 3D a side scrolling platformer starring the cute furballs from the Raving Rabbids franchise. This was one of my favourite titles, as it gave a great opportunity to show of the 3Dness of the game, with random scenery appearing at different layers of depth. Another stand showed off the handheld’s camera, including taking 3D pictures. But whilst this was a neat little feature, the camera quality left a little something to be desired, particularly in the low lit environment they were showing it off in. The best part of the experience however, was the Augmented Reality games. Placing a playing card sized piece of card on the flat surface and pointing the 3DS’s camera at it, allowed us to play some crazy augmented reality game. For those who don’t know what this means, the consoles screen showed the cameras output and the game then started added elements around the card. The game we played took the form of a shooting gallery, but we had to move the 3DS around the card so that we could hit all the targets. The end segment of the camera had a huge Bowser-like dragon appear out of the table and we had to take out each segments of its body whilst avoiding its attacks. Whilst it didn’t last long, it was an impressive experience and showed us that the 3DS was about more than the 3D and we look forward to the selection of AR games that come bundled with the device.

All in all, this was a great event by Nintendo and it certainly got my excited about next months launch of the 3DS. By showing off different aspects of the handheld, Nintendo demonstrated that it wasn’t a one-trick pony and that the 3DS has plenty to offer us. Its just a shame that only a selection of the titles will be available at launch.

Andrew’s Impressions

First of all, I have to talk about my eyes. I have an uncommon set of eyes, as one of them suffers from Amblyopia. To some people this is called a lazy eye, which is also used for Strabismus, which is when the eye moves out of position. This uncommon eye trait is still part of a common thing amongst people: not perfect eyes. It boils down to one thing: 3D fails on me. Many people should relate to this and like me, they will be very keen on experiencing a 3D handheld device. I needed to experience the 3D feature first hand before I can even consider a purchase.

I’ll be brutally honest. For me, 3D worked about half of the time. Zelda, Pilotwings Resort and Resident Evil yielded the worst 3D effect, yet Street Fighter and PES 2011 managed to convince me that depth was there. The difference? Huge depth. If there was a genuine distance in the game, the 3D prevailed, otherwise, forget it. You may aswell switch the 3D off using the convenient slider. As a 3D skeptic I was only mildy convinced.

The section of the show that focuses on the non-game part of the Nintendo 3DS experience was the most interesting. It’s no secret that I’m interested in the non-3D features of the device; street pass, 3D pictures and augmented reality were showcased with mixed results. By far the winner was augmented reality. I was told that some AR cards will be shipped with the device, alongside a basic counter-part game whereby I get to aim and shoot at imaginary targets and evil-doers residing on my desk, carpet or nearby stool so be it. This feature was the most exciting, and I am definitely looking forward to what 3rd party developers can do with this technology.

The remaining features of the 3DS are so-so. 3D photography brings low resolution eye-strain, Mii creation is less simple than first advertised, and Sky’s 3D TV showcase wasn’t as fruitful as a 40’ endeavour. Any game that revolves around gyroscope use (see Monkey Ball) you’re better turning off the 3D too.

The games bring a huge improvement over the previous iterations of the handheld. Resident Evil demonstrates the best visual impact of the hardware. Bringing the Mii’s from the Wii is a great step, allowing full customisation of your own avatar and inclusion in games. Street Fighter IV: 3D was a good play, but felt simplified. Bored of doing crazy finger combinations to do dazzling special moves? Well now there’s a dedicated button on the touch screen for each of them! Now it’s very easy to do your Hadouken and Shoryuken and kick-ass quickly. Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D brought a very tasty graphics overhaul, and as I didn’t play the original, this is an excellent chance to try out Hyrule’s delights in (probably disabled) 3D.

All in all, I would recommend that everyone should try the Nintendo 3DS before purchasing. With so many features, you can concentrate on your favourites and ignore the poor ones. But when you may only favour 70% of the device’s capability, is it worth £220?

For more 3DS info, look out for next weeks podcast where Andrew and myself will be discussing even more of our experiences from the event.

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