Gadget Preview: Nintendo 3DS

February 9th, 2011

I’m still not exactly sure who sent it, but last week I got an email whether I’d be interested in attending an “exclusive” Nintendo 3DS event. So I signed up and last Saturday made my way down to Brick Lane where I got to play with the 3DS for the first time.

After arriving at the venue, we got ushered into a darkish room where we got to see a live Streetfighter fight (see photo below). And then we were rushed through an outbreak area with Claire Redfield protecting us from zombies. Yeah, it was pretty cheesy, but a fun introduction to the 3DS. We then got (I think) 15 minutes to play around with the Nintendo 3DS and some of the new games.


To be completely honest, I wasn’t expecting much at all. 3D sometimes still seems as a gimmick to me, even though by now there are some movies where the 3D does look gorgeous. But on a handheld console? For games? Yeah, gimmick, I thought. “Let’s add 3D. Nobody has done that yet. Everyone will want to buy one. Cause it’s new. And shiny. And 3D”. It’s as if 3D has become this magical thing: you add it to your product and it becomes “better”.

So how is the 3D in the Nintendo 3DS? Well, I think it depends very much on the game you’re playing. In some games it seemed as if I was looking into a little box where these awesome things were happening just beyond the screen. With other games I thought it failed miserably and barely made an impact; for me, in the worst case it looked layered, like a pop-up picture book (although some people might find that cool). It also depended per game how wide the viewing angle was. With some, I only had to move my head slightly and the image became blurry and annoying (this happened the entire time with Nintendogs for me), while with others I didn’t have any problems.

What really surprised me though was the Augmented Reality stand. I’ve blogged about AR before and I haven’t been that convinced by it for mobile phones. But for the 3DS? It’s a brilliant idea. And I can already imagine the cool things that it could be used for.

Nintendo 3DS Event

Here you had to place a piece of paper with a golden box printed out on it before you on the table and the 3DS would focus on it. After having recognized it, 6 little 3D golden boxes appeared on the screen, overlaying the real world. Clicking one of the boxes started up a mini game, where you had to shoot at targets. The cool thing was you actually had to maneuver around in the real world to get into the right position to shoot at your targets. The final level had a dragon throwing flames at you which you had to slay!

It looked great and I can’t wait to see how this will be used. Personally I think it would be awesome for Pokemon. Last year I got to see a demonstration of AR with a Pokemon card and my main complaint was that I couldn’t imagine a kid picking up a mobile phone to scan their cards. With the 3DS though it seems much more likely. I wonder also if it will actually be integrated into the game. For instance, you can only collect certain Pokemon if you scan a real life object, like a trading card or a magazine or any spin-off collectable product.

I was surprised how much I liked this first hands-on with the Nintendo 3DS. Will I buy one? Not sure yet. It depends a lot on the quality of the games coming out, but it looks better than what I was expecting.