You and your 3rd Dimension – 3DS Released

Nintendo’s newest foray into the busy world of handheld gaming devices – the 3DS – was released this week.

This is an impressive piece of technology. The 3D effects are created without the need for glasses, which in itself is a main selling point.

The 3D effect takes some getting used to. When I first saw the display copy at Best Buy (playing Pilot Wings) it took a few moments for my eyes to adjust to what I was seeing, and afterward I was dizzy. This effect wore off as I got used to the device, but eye strain is apparently a potential problem from overuse. The manual suggests 10 minutes of rest for every half hour of play.

A lot of your experience with the 3D depends on how deep you set the 3D field and how far away you look at it. The 3D effect can be turned on and off as the player likes via a switch on the side of the screen.

Some games use it more than others. I picked up Rayman 3D and Street Fighter 4 with my copy. Rayman, being a great, albeit 10-year-old game, didn’t use the 3D to much effect. It added some depth but not much.

Street Fighter was a whole new experience. Fully 3D characters and moves added a level of depth I had no seen in a fighting game. The game also features a special “over the shoulder” camera angle that truly highlights the possibilities of the 3D.

However the gimmicks don’t end just at 3D. The device is equipped with 3 cameras – two facing out and one facing the player. Using the outward-facing cameras, the 3DS can take video and pictures of the world around you. And the handy cameras add plenty of cool gameplay that had me entranced for hours.

The first game is a little like Wii Sports. It uses little cards that came with the system that you lay flat on any surface. Point the DS at the card and a game springs to life around the card – IN YOUR ROOM!

Sorry, I got a little excited there.

You can fish on your bed or shoot pool on your kitchen table. You can walk around the cards, tilting and viewing it from all sorts of different angles, so long as the card is in plain sight of the cameras.

Another game allows you to turn your home into the playing field. Little whirring helicopter things fly in front of the 3DS in your room or home and you have to target them and destroy them.

The simple, yet effective games highlight that this is more than a cute little system. There is some serious power and ingenuity behind this thing.

Nintendo also improved on a design drawback of the original DS by including a tilt-sensitive joystick as well as the traditional D-pad, which will surely make 3D platform games easier (it definitely helps with Rayman).

The 3DS looks to be a powerful tool in Nintendo’s arsenal, however how developers utilize the capabilities in the near future will determine its staying power. If they just pay it lip service, like many of the early Wii games, the platform will just be seen as an expensive and more powerful DS. It will surely take some time for developers and for audiences to figure out just what they want from this system.


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