Monday, 14 March 2011

Nintendo 3DS - Hands On

Like many gamers, I have been avidly awaiting the release of the Nintendo 3DS, the first gaming platform to boast a full 3D experience without glasses.

You will imagine my joy then as I found a full, hands-on testing centre erected in Nottingham's Old Market Square, allowing the public the opportunity to try out the device before its release on March 25th.

So what of the actual experience then? Well I must say I was pleasantly surprised. Being able to try out several of the games, utilising both the 3D and 2D versions, the 3D worked a lot better than I had ever expected it to – having been rather sceptical of the whole thing.

1st up I got hands on with Zelda: Ocarina of Time, an old favourite of mine, having owned it on both N64 and Gamecube. The game play style works nicely on a handheld, and the game looks as good on the small screen as it ever did on the television. That being said, this game was the one with which the 3D struggled most.

If you held the device at just the right angle it looked great, but if you let it slip even a centimetre or two from dead centre, the image on screen clearly split, revealing the dual layers of the picture.

Next up was Ridge Racer 3D, and this was where the 3D finally shone. Bringing to life great graphics, and a fully immersive 3D landscape, this was a racing game I literally could have played all day, despite only having a few minutes to test it in reality. The motion issues I had experienced with Zelda seemed to have completely gone away here, and the entire look and feel of the 3D experience just hit another level.

The final product I got to test was a new 3D augmented reality game, utilising the full 3D video camera on the back of the handheld. Lining up the camera to a special card on the table, a fully interactive environment is formed right there on your table top.

This was by far the coolest part of the exhibition. I’ve experienced augmented reality before, but found it to often be ineffective, and the interaction with it to be clumsy. Here it was seamless, and it really felt like Nintendo had gone the whole hog to ensure that they were bringing something very new and exciting to their next generation of console.

Walking into the exhibit, I was rather sceptical at the concept of glasses-less 3D. We have been told for a while now that for it to work on TV’s or Cinemas could be as much as a decade away, so the idea that Nintendo had cracked it on a handheld already seemed unlikely.

Was it perfect: No, and as mentioned, some games had distinct issues when viewing in 3D. Others though honestly did work, and now we have one 3D handheld using this tech, developers will no doubt work to make this better and better as the 3DS gets going for real.

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