E3 10: Nintendo 3DS Hands-on

June 15, 2010

We got our hands on the new three-dimensional portable. Here are our impressions!

First of all, yes, the screen works as-advertised. Everything’s very clear (though there is this faint sense of strangeness, but that’s no different from watching Avatar). The static images look great, but it really shows its capabilities in the playable demos.

One demo had us taking a picture of our faces, which it then used to make a 3D version. Then it animated it, put it on flying robots, and made us shoot our faces before they kissed us. I wish I were kidding. Still, it was fun. It used the accelerometer, gyroscope and back cameras to make us have to turn in actual space to aim and shoot these little robots. This obviously isn’t a full game concept, but it shows off some interesting mechanics.

We also played Pilotwings Resort, a game that seems much more thought out. The demo included a biplane and a rocketpack. Oh, rocketpack, how we missed you. Everything was structured like the original (and set on WuHu Island), and it looked polished enough to play now.

Of course, we also got hands on with Starfox (which the model at the booth kept calling Foxstar, but we were too busy playing to correct her). This game is the kind of thing that will shine on the new device. 3D actually helps with aiming, unlike most games, and the analog controls are great too.

Most of the demos weren’t playable, but we saw some interesting titles, including Animal Crossing, Metal Gear Solid, Resident Evil and a 3-D version of the Kid Icarus trailer. Third parties aren’t quite as used to the technology, but it looks like they can get the hang of it.

The system is also capable of taking 3D photos. It’s a cool feature, though on its own (and without a way to export them to something), it’s not incredibly useful. It’s likely, though, that games will incorporate them into special features.

The graphics are largely GameCube-level or higher, and with the small screen, it’s as much as you need. The little rocketpack guy was crisp and shiny, and Pit was amazing-looking in the foreground.

The slider is a nice feature. For longer game sessions, you’ll want to keep it lower, and different games will have different degrees of depth. The effect on the screen doesn’t require you to be right in front of the screen…the effect is slightly diminished, but still there, and you can see someone else playing just fine. (Also, for those curious, going one-eyed doesn’t ruin the view…it’s just not 3D. Still very playable.)

Simply put, we’re excited.