Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Nintendo 3DS; Hands on.

As you might recall from my previous post about Avatar, I struggle with seeing 3D.  Not 3D in real life, you understand - I don't wander down the street bumping into walls and dustbins, but 3D as in the form of 3d TV or cinema.  This is down to the fact that I'm very short-sighted in one eye - perfect vision in the other one but this unfortunate optic has to compensate for its lazy good-for-nothing next door neighbour.

I've been a big fan of the Gameboy since its earliest black and white (well, light green and black) incarnation - which, for all intents and purposes, might as well have had Tetris glued into the cartridge slot - and have picked up the odd model since.  The Gameboy colour, advance, DS and then DS lite - but not the last but one iteration designed for old people, ironically.  That was the bifocal model that used to shout instructions at you and ask your friends if you had sugar in your tea.

I'd been excited about the new 3DS since I'd read details about it a while back - 3D that didn't need unsightly glasses?  I'd believe when (and if) I could see it.  As later details filtered out about it, even the lacklustre release titles didn't put me off - but rather than be a typical Nintendo* fanboy and grab hold of one straight away, this was one console I needed to try for myself first before taking the plunge.

It's been out a few weeks now but HMV and Game have either not had a demo model, or the demo model they have had has been surrounded by hordes of kids - or in the case of HMV being played by a shop assistant who didn't want to let anybody else try it out.  I was in town on Friday in Argos and they had an empty demo booth with two consoles in them.  One of them had Super Street Fighter 3D but the console itself was incredibly scratched - even on full brightness the display was barely visible.  The other had Nintendogs on it, but was unscathed.  I picked it up, adjusted the 3D slider to full, followed the instructions about how far to hold it from my face and where to hold it and gave it a try.

And it worked perfectly.

If you haven't tried one yet, I heartily recommend you give one a go.  It's an incredible effect and is nothing short of a tiny miracle.  Whereas with Avatar (and any 3D telly that works) I find I have to deliberately relax my eyes for the 3D to work, which in time brings on a headache and also means that with any slight movement of my head the 3D vanishes and I have to adjust my eyes to pick it up again.

The 3D on the Nintendo 3DS simply works and doesn't seem to have any such problems.  For such a tiny screen the illusion of depth is remarkable and utterly convincing.  As they say a picture speaks a thousand words, I've used some ultra high technology to attempt to replicate its effectiveness with the scientific diagram below.

Remarkable, isn't it?

Unusually for a Gameboy it comes bundled with a fair few bits of bundled software, mostly demos of the technology it supported.  You can take 3D photographs, sample voices and mess around with them or play with some AR (Augmented Reality) cards to turn your tabletop into a golf course.  You can even spend time taking photographs of your friends and then shoot their gloating chops in the face repeatedly.

Overall, I'm incredibly impressed.  It even comes with a pedometer which you earn coins for every step you take, which might encourage our natures sport allergic youths to at least get out of the house and get them blinking out into the sunshine like evicted Murlocs.  Or at least allow them to calculate how many steps it is from the sofa to the fridge and then back again - which is at least giving them some basic mathematics skills.

And if you're lucky enough to have a 3DS already, here's my friend code: 2921-9139-2100

* Although I must admit I'm nowhere as big a Nintendo fan as I used to be.  I don't like the way they've begun marketing their consoles as a 'lifestyle choice', concentrating more of fitness and brain training as opposed to doing what they used to be so great at - making good games.  Although to be fair to them, they've had incredible success in selling themselves to people who ordinarily wouldn't consider buying a game console.

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