This weekend has seen a number of preview events for the upcoming Nintendo 3DS handheld gaming console in cities around the UK and I had the opportunity to attend one (thanks to Dom “The Hodge” Hodgson), so I went along to one of the Manchester sessions.
The Nintendo 3DS has been long-anticipated ever since it was first announced and will be the latest in the long line of handheld gaming console updates from the iconic gaming company, some of which include the Game and Watch LCD games, Gameboy(s), , DSi, DSi XL — they even had a few of these historic gaming devices on show at the start of the event.
The Preview Event
Once the live action Street Fighter and Resident Evil recreations (which were a rather cool PR novelty) and a quick showing of some game promos/trailers on a large 2D TV screen (which was nothing much more than what you could have already seen on the Internet at home), we had around 20 minutes to play with some of the Nintendo 3DS games and features.
Now admittedly this wasn’t a dedicated press event, merely a quick taster for potential customers to see what they thought and hopefully spread the word about how good it was to other people thinking of buying one, but I must say 20 minutes was a rather short amount of time to fully appreciate all the features of the new 3DS handheld console. It would perhaps have been a bit better had we had twice the playtime as I certainly didn’t get round to see all the games/features I’d have liked to.
From a social media point of view, the event provided netbooks there for people to log into and tweet / go on Facebook, although I’d have to say I’m sure how many people would be doing that there (none that I saw in our session), given the very limited hands-on time you’ve got with the Nintendo 3DS, that’s probably not the best use of time whilst there.
Anyway, onto my actual thoughts of the device itself and I should probably own up to my 3D scepticism right now and say I’m not a huge fan, or should say I have yet to be convinced by current 3D technology. Although, that said, I did go to the event with an open mind hoping to be won over by the experience.
3D Without Glasses
We’ve written quite a bit about the now regular 3D experience using glasses, but less so about 3D without glasses and this was the first time I’d experienced it.
I have to say, I was a little underwhelmed by the 3DS’s 3D effect overall, however I would have to say that much like 3D usage in films, it all depends on how it’s used and what type of film/game it is. Like I said, I didn’t get time to test all the games I’d have liked to, however the usefulness/appropriateness of a game being in 3D makes a big difference.
For instance, a side-scrolling game benefits little from it, unless you add some kind of depth perception and/or gameplay manoeuvring to it, otherwise I preferred to simply turn the 3D effect off entirely. Whereas, I found games that used 3D-like graphics such as Pro Evolution Soccer 2011 3D, Ridge Racer 3D and Pilot Wings did seem to work well and the sense of 3D did help to give depth to the gaming world, but I’m still not sure how necessary this kind of 3D is, but it is a “nice to have”.
Other 3DS Features
As well as the traditional gaming being given a 3D makeover, there’s a number of other features that the 3DS is capable of that will no doubt give owners added value. The most notable one that I tested for myself at the preview event was certainly the augmented reality gaming.
I think this was probably the most impressive use of augmented reality I’ve yet seen, rather than simply overlaying a simple image of what the camera is seeing, there are various games (some activated from special code images that reminded me of scanning QR codes on an Android mobile phone) that seem to interact with what the camera is seeing, for instance pointing your 3DS at a desk with a game code on, will start a game that pops out of the desk and also need you to interact with things that are beneath it by moving your 3DS around.
This kind of use of augmented reality gaming that uses parts of the real world around you to interact with is definitely the highlight for me and holds huge possibilities for not only gaming on the Nintendo 3DS, but also for whatever developments this might also inspire on other platforms.
Unfortunately, again I didn’t get chance to test out other features that I’d have like to, such as the 3D camera photos that it can take, but hopefully we’ll find out lots more about these other features as the Nintendo 3DS release date approaches.
Overall, from my very quick play-test session, I found the Nintendo 3DS with its glasses-free 3D effect and adjustable 3D slider control to be intriguing from a technology point of view. However from a gaming point of view, I have to admit I’m not a hard-core handheld gamer or a huge 3D fan, so I wasn’t exactly sold on it to buy one personally.
I think it’s also going to be one of those products that people either love it, hate it or just not be bothered about either way, for instance, you can see that already happening in from what the bloggers thought over at The Average Gamer with their Nintendo 3DS Hands-On First Impressions and Miss Geeky who liked her preview session at the London event.
However, I think it’s definitely a gaming device that packed with some cool technology that many people will enjoy, I’m sure it will be a success and it’ll be interesting to see how it is used by both Nintendo and third-party developers – it could well be a “3D game-changer”!
Did you go to one of the Nintendo 3DS preview events? What did you think to the experience? Let us know in the comments section below!