The announcement of the new Nintendo 3DS may be the most exciting development in handheld gaming since the time when I begged my parents for a Game Boy Color — and that isn’t just the awesome getting-to-see-it-early-at-E3 talking.
Let’s look back at my handheld history. I hated the original Game Boy Advance design, and while I fell in love with my SP, I was not entirely sold on the touch screens for the DS. Sure, I grew to love each of the systems’ offerings, but I was never super excited about any of them from the start.
This can’t be said of the 3DS however. And coming from somebody who has yet to see “Avatar” and really thinks 3-D is an overrated fad to try to convince people to buy new television sets, the 3DS is sleek, impressive and has possibilities for a handheld unlike any other I have seen before it.
The biggest new feature is, of course, the implementation of stereoscopic 3-D on the top (now wide) screen on the 3DS. Not to be confused with 3-D rendered graphics that have been around in consoles for years, on the 3DS you can see around, behind and even depth — something that has never been done with much success in video games before, and has never been done without the need for 3-D glasses before, either.
And it looks really, really, really cool. Nintendo had several great games and demos lined up on the floor, including 3-D versions of “Star Fox 64,” “Paper Mario,” “Mario Kart,” “Animal Crossing,” “Metal Gear Solid” and “Resident Evil,” just to name a few. “Pilotwings Resort” even made an appearance, showing that Nintendo has been listening to what fans have been asking for; they were just waiting for the 3DS to show us how much they heard.
Oddly enough, as finished and complete as the 3DS on the floor was (I’m pretty sure it’s a final mass-produced model), there weren’t many games that you actually got to play. Most of the above mentioned were gameplay videos showing off the technology. But, then again, seeing these games in all their true 3-D glory was more important than playing them, and I can assume we can all expect the same stylus play and controls from the 3DS that we saw in the original.
However, even in the control department, the 3DS ups its older brother in one very large way: Dubbed by Nintendo as a slider, it essentially has a nub-like stick allowing for analog control of character movement. The D-pad still rests below it, but the slider feels and works great.
The only problem I can foresee is how Nintendo will manage to get people to see the 3-D effect without buying the device or knowing somebody with one. Once people see it, I have no doubt they are going to fawn over it the same way I still am. But the nature of the 3-D effects means that television commercials, online videos and the usual advertising media just aren’t going to cut it for this one.
Another interesting feature is the inclusion of two cameras on the outside of the device, allowing for the capture of 3-D images, which is pretty cool in its own right. Nintendo also touted the improved WiFi capabilities of the system, but to what extent Nintendo is going to go and improve its own relation with the Internet has yet to be seen. A sliding switch was also included, so each and every person can change the appearance of the depth of the 3-D, letting individuals have their own control over which level of 3-D works best for them.
So with improved controls, backward compatibility and a leap into true 3-D gameplay, Nintendo has managed to make a handheld that I was excited about before I owned it. They have made a device that I don’t have to be convinced that I need, like I originally felt with the DS. While we still don’t know a release date or a price point, I can feel safe saying that the 3DS looks to be another home run handheld device from Nintendo.
The 3DS is set to revolutionize the revolution (and televise it in 3-D) and I for one am going to be standing at the front of the line.
Clark is a member of the class of 2012.