Nintendo 3DS impresses at launch with great features and lots of games

By Patrick Avenell

SYDNEY, NSW: The Nintendo 3DS will be on sale for RRP $349 on 31 March 2011. This news was revealed last night in Sydney at the official unveiling of the most anticipated gaming device of the year.

With a crowd of dedicated Nintendo gamers watching on, MC Dylan Lewis introduced the new console, which enables users to play 3D games without the need for special glasses. The 3DS is also a fully functional 2D device, and is backwards compatible with previously released 2D games.

There are two colours for users to choose from: black and blue. There are also two screens: the top is the 3D screen that is used for vivid gaming action, whilst the lower is a touch controlled screen used to control the action. Further features include three cameras (one facing the user and two outward facing for 3D image capture), a music player and an internet browser (this last one requires a firmware upgrade).

At the launch party last night, Current.com.au played four games using the 3DS: Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time, Pro Evo Soccer, Star Wars Lego and the 3DS’ inbuilt Augmented Reality game.

Legend of Zelda is a real showcase of the 3DS’ power, with young Link now clearly evolved for his 2D origins on the NES. Controlling him whilst swimming was a particular highlight, with the 3D technology definitely adding more depth to the adventure. This game is the one most likely to be used to push the 3DS, with it more clearly capturing the 3D in a way that is not off-putting.

Apologies for the poor image quality (I took this shot on my BlackBerry). I was then told that journalists weren't allowed to take photos of the 3DS screen as it doesn't properly render the 3D. I managed to sneak this one of Legend of Zelda OOT, however.

Pro Evo Soccer was the worst experience of the four, though the version available at the launch was only a demo copy. The 3D added little to the game, with gameplay itself very difficult as the view is too close in on the players, rather than the broad landscape view most often used when playing football video games.

Star Wars Lego is a great example of how using 3D technology adds more realism to the classic 3D action but on a 2D screen. What also helps is that this is quite a fun game, with the 3D sucking you even more into its addictive pull. I’d never played this game before last night, but found myself monopolising it throughout the evening.

The Augmented Reality gameplay is something completely different to anything trialled before. Using one of six included AR cards, players focus on the card through the 3DS’ camera until the console locks it in, then projecting a game in 3D to the user. On my turn, the 3DS took a while to recognise the card (which is roughly the shape of standard playing card), but once it did, the card transformed into a dragon which I then had to shoot at. This feature will be especially popular with younger players.

Nintendo also announced a partial list of games to be available at launch or shortly after. These include: Super Street Fighter IV, Resident Evil: The Mercenaries, The Sims 3, Ridge Racer, Super Monkey Ball, Crush, Thor: God of Thunder, Samurai Warriors: Chronicles, Dead or Alive Dimensions, Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Shadow Wars and Combat of Giants Dinosaurs, amongst others.

Simmer on the Bay in Sydney was packed for the launch.

Nintendo director of marketing Greg Arthurton and MC Dylan Lewis discuss the 3DS.

This is the Augmented Reality screen (with the card in the top left corner). This is definitely a feature to demonstrate in store.

A young Nintendo fan already addicted to the 3DS.

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