Let’s get one thing straight, Nintendo has always been the king of portable gaming. Every since that Christmas Day long ago when I received my band new Nintendo Game Boy with Tetris and Super Mario Land, I have always been an advocate for Nintendo’s dominance in the portable market. I have owned every major iteration of the Nintendo portable experience, and sometimes I just might buy some of the minor iterations as well.
During my trip to E3, I was lucky enough to experience Nintendo’s next step into the future of portable gaming, and I think that I am going to sound like a broken record in what I’m about to say. The word “disappointing” was not even uttered in the presence of the upper level of Nintendo’s E3 both by which housed the future of portable gaming.
Ladies and Gentleman, the Nintendo 3DS is the leap-frog in Nintendo’s portable gaming market that we all have been waiting for. It is a piece of hardware that chooses to inspire the game developer, not to intimidate them.
I think that Nintendo is very smart in taking the Apple strategy to creating new hardware. The 3DS is both powerful and approachable at the same time; if you’ve played a Nintendo DS then you know how to play a 3DS as well, with a few minor adjustments.
First of all, the most evident feature of the 3DS is the ability to display a 3D image without the use of glasses. At first, I was a little bit skeptical about how the 3D would look, fearing that it was some kind of cheap gimmick or some sort of arcane trickery. However, when I laid my eyes on a CGI movie trailer playing on the device for the first time, I was floored. This is it, true 3D without glasses; at that moment I realized that both TVs and even movie theaters just might one day throw away those bothersome glasses. I was not expecting that Nintendo would be the one ushering in the next era of electronic entertainment, while Microsoft and Sony would be playing catch-up to a company that one year ago was the afterthought in of the gamers’ minds.
The 3DS itself is almost of a spitting image of its predecessor, both slick and friendly. However, upon further inspection, the 3DS paves its own innovations. As you open the clamshell case you will see the standard fare of DS features including a D-Pad, X,Y,A,B,L,R buttons, and two screens. The bottom touch screen is a standard 3.02 inches, while the top 3D screen is a slightly bigger 3.53 inch screen. The unit also supports SD Cards and has its own built in memory.
In addition to these features, the 3DS also has a built in accelerometer, yes just like an iPhone/iPod Touch. Also, one of my favorite features is the newly included Slide Pad, by which feels incredible, almost like a hybrid of the PSP analog and the very nice Neo Geo Pocket D-Pad, but dare I say that it felt even better than that. Lastly, one of the smartest design decisions that were made would be the inclusion of the 3D slider, in which you control the intensity of the 3D effect itself. The 3D slider came in handy in that not everyone can enjoy 3D on the same level. Even a guy like me, who fully enjoyed the 2 1/2 hour 3D version of Avatar, some of the games that I got to test out even made my eyes strain. I quickly found out that some of the games worked fantastic with a 50% 3D level, given you the “pop” of depth while also given the eyes the comfort of a 2D plane.
A new system is nothing if it doesn’t include a nice well rounded selection of games, and judging by this year’s E3, the 3DS will have something for every gamer. The first game that I tested out was Pilot Wings, which was just amazing. I then got to play the newest Ridge Racer game, with graphics on-par with the PSP version. Lastly, I viewed a real-time trailer for the upcoming Kid Icarus game, and I can tell you that I thought that I was watching a first party Wii game.
In conclusion, if you are already a fan of Nintendo’s portable systems then picking this bad-boy up is a no brainer. However, I feel that the Nintendo 3DS will have the quickest attach ratio of any other portable gaming device in history, and will be the hottest Christmas item for multiple Christmases in a row.