I Have Seen The Future… And It’s in the Nintendo 3DS
When I think of the future, I am not going to lie… it looks not unlike Back to the Future and Star Wars had a chubby cheeked baby. Holograms and hoverboards haven’t made it here yet, but I have seen the future and I held it in the palm of my hand.
Last week Nintendo released their highly anticipated next generation in handheld gaming devices, the Nintendo 3DS, and the most buzzworthy feature of the system being their “3D without glasses” effects. With the second string hype being a soon-to-be-released feature that will allow you to stream movies from Netflix. (Meaning, imho, a certain movie that was deemed Oscar-worthy simply because of it’s technology isn’t so fancypants special anymore now, is it?)
My initial reaction to the hearing about 3D without glasses was that the 3D compatible graphics probably looked something like Castlevania circa 1986. They had to in order to be able to be rendered in 3D without those awesome Buddy Holly specs, right? Wrong.
While there has always been a fair contingent of cartoonesque aesthetics in the kid-friendly Nintendo repertoire, favorite franchises like Street Fighter IV (which has already been released for the 3DS) and Kid Icarus (which will be released soon for the 3DS) have built a loyal adult following in the Nintendo universe that is intimately co-mingled with their visual brands and characters, which to a large degree rely on their graphics. I am happy to report that, in their translation to 3D, those games and others like them did not lose a thing, instead they have been brought to the next level.
Nintendo COO Reginald Fils-Aime said at the brand ambassadors summit that the research on the affects of 3D viewing on young eyes is thus far inconclusive, but the company has taken a proactive stance. stating that those under six-years-old shouldn’t use 3D mode. He further encouraged the use of the parental controls feature in the system to protect young eyes from any unknown effects.
Fils-Aime also went on to say that Nintendo would be happy to partner with a reputable research company and provide systems to them in complete a study on the affects that their 3D without glasses technology could have on young eyes.
But for the post-kindergarten gaming crowd, a 3D depth slider moves the characters into the third dimension and increases the depth of your field of vision, with the slider giving you control over just how much 3D you experience during game play and viewing. A great feature because, as anyone who sat through the previously mentioned Oscar contender, 3D can be disorienting after an hour or more.
According to their website the 3D effects in the Nintendo 3DS are achieved because, “The left and right eyes perceive different images, creating a 3D image.” Of course they aren’t going to give away their trade secret right in their support pages, but I’ll be honest… I still just don’t get it. And like a blue hair amazed at the fact that a machine can capture moving pictures and replay them later, I stand in awe of the technology. The Nintendo 3DS lets you take your own 3D pictures fer cryin’ out loud!
Honestly, I stand amazed at the team who was even able to imagine something like this is possible, and then to actually go and develop it. Truly amazing.
While always a geek up for a true gaming experience (who lost half of her college years playing Final Fantasy or Goldeneye? Not me), I had a chance to try out several games while visiting Nintendo HQ in Seattle, but loved the augmented reality games that came preloaded in the system the best. The game Face Raiders even goes as far as to put you and your friends into the game as the objects to be conquered. The games kind of remind me of carnival or old fashioned arcade games in their simplicity, and in that simplicity the 3D features truly shine.
In what can only be a sign that Nintendo is once again asserting its self as a leader in gaming industry, the system incorporates unique social gaming features that play like those annoying Zynga games (yes, I called them annoying) in that other users are essential to game play. The games in the Mii Plaza on the Nintendo 3DS are played by collecting the Miis created by other gamers, which are passively sent and received when you are in range of another 3DS owner. Genius marketing in that to play those particular games you must keep your system on your person at all times, and it gives 10-year-olds everywhere a prompt to talk their neighbor into asking their parents for one. Again, impressed by the folks who figured that one out.
There are a few other advances in the system features improving upon previous system that have been incorporated into the Nintendo 3DS as well, such as the ability to back out of a cartridge loaded game elegantly, something that was sorely lacking in the previous systems, as well as enhanced graphics and customizations.
The system was just released on March 27, and, like most new technologies that move the market forward, it retails for a pretty penny. Two-hundred and fifty dollars worth of pennies to be more specific. While I can’t predict if the technology will come down in price (my psychic powers are being pushed to their limit trying to figure out what my 11-month-old wants), I can say that price-wise it fits pretty snugly among the typical technology investment (unless, of course. it’s an Apple). The 3D games do retail at a slightly higher price point than the games form the previous systems, but the Nintendo 3DS is backwards compatible and in a future update your previous DSWare purchases can be migrated to your new system, making this a true upgrade rather than merely a replacement system.
So, why is it worth your hard earned dollars? I saw the future, and I took a 3D photo of it.
Melody is the founder and Managing Editor of Girls Guide. A freelance writer by trade and passion, she writes for Girls Guide, STLFamilyLife.com, and on her personal blog, Mrs SmartyPants.com. You can email her at melody [at] girlsguidetothegalaxy [dot] com, and you can follow her on Twitter- @cosmosgirl.
**Disclosure – As a Nintendo brand ambassador I was provided travel and accommodations to visit Nintendo HQ, and also provided with a Nintendo 3DS system to explore. However, all opinions expressed in this entry are mine, and mine alone.**