3DS Hands-on: System features

January 24, 2011

In addition to all the games on display, we took the 3DS’ built-in features for a spin, including the camera, Mii maker, Game Boy emulation and AR games.








The camera works as well as you’d think it would. It’s based on the DSi’s capabilities, and includes similar crazy camera effects and options. The cameras themselves are very low-resolution, so there’s not much long-term value in these photos. Clearly, though, the purpose is to take three-dimensional shots of friends and random objects. We tried it out on a random cup on a table, and it looked cool. The appeal of this will largely depend on how well sharing works, since these photos can only be experienced on a 3DS screen. 

The 3DS version of the Mii creation tool is largely just a port of the Wii one, with one big change: to start, you can take a photo of your face or someone else’s, and the system generates the closest look it can. It doesn’t pick up on eye or hair color, so you have to specify that first, and it even asks for a hairstyle. Oh, and it doesn’t generate a face that closely matches yours. Basically, you’re going to want to keep making them manually, but it was a valiant attempt.

Nintendo was only showing off one augmented reality minigame at the 3DS event, but it was an amusing one: you shot targets on objects and in settings generated on whatever surface you pointed it at. Occasionally you’d need to walk around to the other side of the object to find a target to hit, and all the while everything would stay properly oriented to the table. (Unless you stopped pointing toward the system’s AR calibration card, that is.) The boss of this game is a dragon, breathing fire at you and roaring, and you must move around, dodge the fire and hit every scale on the creature’s body. It’s an interesting introduction to the system’s capabilities, and we’d like to see a full product with this sort of concept.

Also on display were Virtual Console versions of Super Mario Land and Link’s Awakening DX. Largely the games run as they did, with simulated Game Boy tones for Super Mario Land and no 3D enhancements. The Circle Pad is supported with the games, and our tests showed them to be responsive if a bit inaccurate. The visuals weren’t entirely crisp, but… that’s forgivable. They’re Game Boy games, after all.