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My Nintendo 3DS Experience

Whether you like it or not the future of gaming looks very 3D and right at the top of that three dimensional tree is the Nintendo 3DS. In this piece, I'll share with you my hands-on experience with the 3DS and how I think it will fair in the next generation of hand-held console wars.

Last weekend, Nintendo hosted a preview event for its Club Nintendo subscribers as well as a few lucky members of the public that were first to sign up via Nintendo's website. Luckily, I was amongst the few that got an awesome chance to experience the 3DS just under a month before its launch, here in the UK.

3DS

It was surreal walking into the event, as you generally wouldn't think a back alley of Brick Lane would harbour the world's latest piece of gaming technology. I walked in thinking this may not actually be a Nintendo 3DS preview but actually a lure, where I leave limb-less wearing a crude T-Shirt saying: "Nintendowned." Fortunately, my limbs stayed on my body (until I buy a 3DS of course) as I along with the rest of the group were shown into the first preview room. Before getting down with the console, we were shown some of the features to look forward to in the 3DS; first of which was Street and SpotPass.

StreetPass allows 3DS users to exchange information about themselves without the need to physically transfer data. The simple to understand example we were given explained if two people with a 3DS walked past each other with them in their bags, they would wirelessly transfer Mii (Nintendo Avatars) information, such as the games they play and where you "met" them. Even though it doesn't give away your full home address and telephone number to what could have been coined as "3DStalkers", the StreetPass concept did seem slightly needless. I'm sure it's a little more complex, but it will be interesting to see how upcoming games incorporate this feature.

Example

The similarly named SpotPass scans for Wi-Fi hotspots whilst the 3DS is idle (the same as StreetPass) and downloads data such as firmware updates, game updates and additions to the 3DS Marketplace. This is a nifty idea unless you are walking all over the place, making the 3DS unable to connect to one hotspot long enough to grab the data it needs.

After being shown Street and SpotPass we were taken into another room, where I witnessed something pretty damn awesome. Ryu vs. Ken, in real life. To celebrate and showcase Street Fighter 4 3D that will be launching alongside the 3DS, Nintendo brought along two of the best karate kids around for our entertainment pleasure. The minute or so fight was epic but over quickly.

SF4

The preview just started to get exciting and we were taken into the next oddly blank room. Out of nowhere two people appeared, both huge and both wearing full military gear; the next game showcase was upon us where we were ordered to follow them if we wanted to live. Although the actors seemed completely genuine, not a soul in the room found the experience legitimate and there was more of a "This is really, really stupid" sort of feel to the proceedings. I on the other hand went along with it. We followed orders and were chauffeured into an extremely dark room, only lit up by two flashlights atop the soldiers guns. They scanned the room, finding severed hands and gruelling zombies which had to be fought off before we continued. Can you guess the game? That's right, Resident Evil.

Resi

After that ordeal, there was certainly a popular WTF consensus in the group and we all just wanted to get to the good stuff. As we entered the next room, we were greeted by loads of great looking trailers for all the upcoming games on the 3DS; some of them launch titles and some of them not. After the run of trailers, a celebrity endorsement. Johnathon Ross pops in and tells us we are going to love the 3DS and that he also loves it, like we cared about a comedian's opinion. However, after his mug left the screen we were geared up to experience the console ourselves as we were taken into the penultimate room.

As I entered the also very dark room, I spotted what must have been around 50 3DSs, all with their own small cabinet, shining a beam of light down to where the console was perched. As I was guided to one of them, I braced myself to play the newest generation of hand-held consoles. Each 3DS had a certain game demo on it and I was lucky to get around and play three of them; first of which was: Riiiiiiiidge Raaaaacerrrrrr... 3D.

RR

As I quickly skipped through all the menus to start the game, I realised just how comfortable the 3DS was to hold. Unlike the original DS, the 3DS has a flat analogue stick, similar to the PSP's but with a bigger surface area. The square console shape was very natural to hold making it possible to play for hours without it being a strain on the fingers. As the game booted up however, I wasn't too impressed with the 3D. Ridge Racer itself was just as good as it's been for many years but the 3D wasn't what I expected, very blurry in-fact. It wasn't until I tilted the screen to the correct angle that I could experience how the 3D screen was supposed to be viewed.

Stick

It worked, the glasses-free 3D really worked. Yes, it was strange to look at to start with but once your eyes adjusted it was clear to see that it was not a gimmick. My friend however, had a different view on the matter. He said, and I quote: "it looks like playing Xbox drunk." Knowing him, he may well have been drunk there and then, but however intoxicated I believed he was, he had a point. Unless you take the time for your eyes to adjust, it does seem strange at first but once you get past the initial surrealism of looking at a three dimensional image without the need for glasses, it's a great experience.

The next game I got my hands on was Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D. I hadn't played a Resident Evil game before this so that was two new experiences I has come across. By far, the 3D worked better in this than on Ridge Racer. When your view switches from 3rd to 1st person, you have a real sense of depth from the foreground (your gun) to the background (your enemies).

The final game I tested out in this room was Pro Evolution Soccer 2011 3D (starting a notice a pattern in the game names, huh?). I wouldn't class football games as best to utilise 3D but if I had to choose a game that I found it worked the greatest on, PES would be my winner. You get a great sense of depth whilst playing, making passes and shots much easier to judge. With the addition of the precise analogue stick, player movement is a lot smoother, passes are more accurate and tackles are less clumsy.

PES

After faffing around with those three games, we were invited to the final room. After this point, it was each to their own and we were allowed to stay as long as we liked. The final well-lit room was also littered with 3DSs in separate, more clearly marked areas of the room. Even though there were a large number of 3DSs, people were in no way hesitant to barge you out the way and jump on the 3DS you were standing beside, as I found out personally.

One section of this final room was dedicated to highlighting what we can expect to see on the 3DS in the near future. Sky3D looked really good on the screen of the 3DS as video playback quality was excellent, although I would rather choose to watch it on a full-size T.V. than on a 3DS myself. We also had the opportunity to see previews of Mario Kart, Paper Mario and various other titles via 3D video playback, all of which will be available to purchase not too long after the March 25th launch.

Mario

Another section of the room allowed us to try out a couple other games too. One of which was Augmented Reality (AR) Games. These games are quite literally the birth of virtual reality. To play, the player places a special playing card on a well lit table and aims the 3DS's back cameras towards it. The cameras pick up on the card, scan it and turn it into a digital object on-screen. For this instance after the card was scanned, a dragon appeared on the 3D screen of the 3DS, revealing itself from inside the card. My aim was to defeat the dragon by shooting at it and as the dragon was a 3D digital object, I literally had to walk round the table, shooting at it's weak spots. The experience was incredible and really took advantage of the technology stored inside that small piece of equipment.

One thing that remained constant throughout the tour were the Nintendo Girls. Now, many people may think "Oh, glamour girls, just there to sell a product and distract people away from it's flaws" but I had no such thoughts. No matter how many of the good looking, attractive, eye-catching, gorgeous, barely legal girls there were, they all knew what they were talking about. I had many conversations with them about the size of my interest in the 3DS, as well as them telling me how much they liked touching, holding and playing with the 3DS.

3DS

Other than the obligatory "Like us on Facebook" and "Follow us on Twitter" opportunities, there wasn't much else to the preview. As a whole, the entire event really made me change my perspective on what I thought the 3DS would be like. My opinions prior to the weekend were that the 3D would be a gimmick, much like many post-rendered 3D films, however from the games I played and the software I got a chance to take a sneak-peek at, I left satisfied that gamers around the world will be happy with what Nintendo has to offer in the 3DS. You can think what you like about 3DS but the simple fact is, you have to experience it before you dismiss it; but if I could change one thing about the day, it would be this: a goody bag, Nintendo?!

Me

TGK | 6th March, 2011

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