So, I tried this little guy out at PAX. A lot of the features sounded absolutely amazing. For starters, it has the usual 2 screens where the bottom one is touch, it also has the internet capabilities of the earlier DSi and there are the normal a,b,x,y,l,r and directional pad. On top of that, there are 3 separate cameras and an analog stick. The two cameras are the back are for, get this, taking 3D pictures. Now if that isn’t cool enough, it can also do this neat trick where you put a sticker on a table, lets say you use a question mark block.
That’s a really nice simple image…and you know what they can do with it? Triangulate distance and lock on to give an anchor for a 3D object in the game world that you can maneuver around by moving your 3DS. Yes, you heard me right, you can move your 3DS to avoid 3D game obstacles. There are so many ways that could be awesome. I played their demo game which consisted of doing just that to shoot targets and in the end fight a dragon. It had a learning curve to it, but it was really really fun. The cameras are aided by gyros and motion sensors and stuff so I expect games to come out that fully utilize this potential.
There are also two new features known as StreetPass and SpotPass. StreetPass lets you know if you pass another 3DS that’s on and allows you to send messages. SpotPass lets you know if you pass a wifi hotspot it can connect to. How cool is that?
And here’s the thing that makes me really excited. There are so many big name games coming out for this thing right off the bat. You’ve got Nintendogs and Cats, Kid Icarus, Super Street Fighter, Lego Star Wars, Star Fox, Resident Evil and the big one: they’re re-releasing The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time.
On to the bad stuff. So, first up, somewhere on the order of 15% of the population get headaches from viewing a 3D screen. I highly recommend trying the system before you buy, just in case. I mean, I tried it out and found out I’m part of that 15%. Sad as it is, you might be too. The other thing to watch out for is that use of a 3D screen like this can cause permanent damage to anyone who hasn’t fully developed yet. Nintendo did include a parental controls menu to disable this feature for younger audiences, but its up to the parents to police it. There’s also a switch on the side to turn the 3D off. This is helpful because even for adults, prolonged exposure to 3D images on a 2D surface can cause some eye strain and eventually enough damage to warrant glasses.
In light of both of the awesome and the terrible, the amazing and the necessary warnings, I have to award the Nintendo 3DS with a 4 out of 5 hearts. They understand the risks of their system and they’re taking steps to ensure that the public knows them as well, which is more than I can say for a lot of the companies producing 3D computer screens. Just make sure you try the system out to be sure you’re not in that 15%.