Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Nintendo 3DS: First Impressions

This. Thing. Is. Amazing. Seriously, it’s so much better than I thought it possibly could be. I had rather low expectations for this handheld at first. Who can blame me? The Nintendo 3DS has one touch screen, one 3D screen, and 3 cameras: a recipe for gimmicky B.S. However, I wanted to be fair, so I reserved judgement until I actually got my hands on one. The Nintendo 3DS blew my preconceived notions out of the water.
If you’re like me, the first thing you’re curious about is the 3D screen. How can an image appear three dimensional without glasses? The 3DS uses what’s called a “parallax barrier” display. It basically works like this:

The position of the barrier can change to allow for different intensities of the three dimensional effect. It is fully adjustable, so you can choose to view it in 2D, mild 3D, extreme 3D, or anywhere in between. This is a great feature because if you normally get headaches from 3D, you can choose a gentler setting and still enjoy three dimensional gameplay. If you are less sensitive to such headaches, you can experience a level of visual depth that puts most 3D televisions to shame. For each intensity, there is an ideal distance to hold the screen away from your face, and once you find it you’re rewarded with pure eye candy. (There are some prototype displays in the works that use cameras to detect the position of your face and adjust the barrier position automatically.)

Although the display resolution is only 400x240, the bold colors and amazing 3D make it seem much sharper than that. The OpenGL support that’s built into the GPU can create not only 3D shapes, but 3D textures as well. I also appreciate the fact that you don’t need to haul around expensive stereoscopic glasses. (This technology would be great in a phone or a laptop, and is ideal for mobile devices in general.) Most importantly, it didn’t rape my eyes or melt my brain like most movies do in theaters. (Yes Resident Evil 3D, I’m referring to you!)

The controls of the 3DS are also stellar. The analog stick felt very precise and smooth. The touch screen interface felt as polished and refined as many newer smartphones, and it has a nifty anti-glare coating that gives it a matte look. The device features multiple accelerometers and gyroscopes that felt natural to use when we demoed one of the augmented reality games.

Speaking of which, the augmented reality is pretty neat. There are two cameras on the back of the Nintendo 3DS that allow it to take three dimensional photos. It can use pictures of you and your friends as faces for enemies in games. Not only that, but it can change their facial expressions and move their mouths!

The main purpose of augmented reality is to combine the game play with your real world surroundings. The 3DS does this better than any phone I have ever tried. Phones and tablets that support augmented reality fail to truly immerse you because you are looking at a three dimensional world through a two dimensional display. When the 3D slider is just right, the depth of the three dimensional effect perfectly matches reality and the stunning level of immersion is unlike any other gaming system out there. We played a shooter game in which you had to aim the device at evil little helicopter people to shoot them down. It was definitely more of a mini game, but I think there is huge potential here for very unique first person shooters.

The Nintendo 3DS has many other features, so I won’t get into all of them, but here’s what you need to know:
  • Built in Wi-Fi
  • 3D movies
  • Video chat
  • At some point in the future there will be live 3D streaming from Netflix!
Full disclosure: as a general rule, I hate Nintendo. Passionately. The only other Nintendo I have ever wanted was the original Game Boy Advance. I want the 3DS so much more! Nintendo has created something truly special. If they can deliver innovative games that take advantage of the hardware, the 3DS could be a revolution in gaming.


Post a Comment

Design by Free WordPress Themes | Bloggerized by Lasantha - Premium Blogger Themes | Best CD Rates