Nintendo 3DS Hands-On, Eyes-On

by Mike Bendel June 18, 2010 @ 10:54 pm

Nintendo set expectations sky high when delivering the first press release announcing the existence of the Nintendo 3DS, touting it as the first-ever portable device with stereoscopic 3D visuals without the need for glasses. We more or less knew it would impress: after all, this is the true successor to the company’s ultra-successful portable we’re talking about. Obviously, heaps of funding has gone into research and development, there’s no chance Nintendo would pull a snafu here — right? Still, skepticism was high.

Consider expectations met — and then some. The 3DS is the future of portable gaming. While representing Nintendo’s next pillar of innovation, it opens up a new paradigm for gaming in the portable space. Despite not requiring any form of special glasses, the 3D effect works extremely well, giving a real visible perception of depth. Top-down shooters like arcade classic Xevious are instantly transformed thanks to the effect. To the naked eye, terrain now appears underneath your aircraft instead of simply layered on top of each other.

That’s not to say the 3DS is perfect. Shift your focus too far from the center of the screen and the image will distort somewhat, almost as if it split in two. Let it be clear: a slight tilt of your head or the handheld itself won’t leave your stomach in knots, or invoke a brief cross-eyed sensation. But you have to take it easy. So, with the 3D effect on, it’s really meant to be played in a fixed position. Not a huge issue, we reckon. Especially since you can toggle the intensity level of the 3D screen from high to completely off at will by moving a slider up and down near the top screen.

Another title we tested was Star Fox. A remake of the N64 original, it felt like an entirely new game. All the depth-enhancing touches to the environment immeasurably add to the experience. It’s a truly sight to behold. Granted, our words here mean next to nil until you can try it for yourself. But when you do, you’ll be floored to see how well it works.

Not to detract from the gorgeous 3D-capable top screen is the exceptional build quality of the handheld. The analog stick has a smooth tactile feel to it. Another plus is that your thumb doesn’t easily slip off during usage, thanks to the curved depression on the surface. This has been one of our lasting gripes with the PSP since its 1000 series inception.

Nintendo showed off the device at E3 in four flavors, three of which sport a glossy two toned design. The colors include jet black, turquoise-like aqua, crimson red, and metallic gold. There’s no word on which of these colors, if any, will hit store shelves when the platform makes its debut.  And on that note, Nintendo is still keeping mum on a price or release date. Official word is that it will hit sometime before March 2011.

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