The Nintedo 3DS goes on sale today in the United States and I am considering getting one.
But not today.
I got to play with the 3DS at GDC earlier in the month. I did not mention that in my GDC post. I’d like to say that I planned that in advance, holding back until the 3DS launch, but actually I just forgot.
In my 10 minutes of play I got to try out their augmented reality demo, which uses the two cameras on the back of the unit and some cards placed on a table top to create 3D images that appear to be on your table. I then had to move the unit around to target and shoot things.
As a compelling game, it wasn’t so good, but as a technological demonstration it was interesting. While everybody talks about the 3D aspect of the unit, it also has a 3D axis gyroscope and accelerometer so that the motion of the unit can be used as an aspect of game play. If you have an iPhone, this is no big news, but it does add something new to the Nintendo platform. Already one of the launch with one of the titles, Steel Diver, a submarine game, you can sit in an office chair and rotate your periscope by spinning around in the chair. I expect (and hope) that we will see more of this sort of thing. Some of it will be used as a gimmick, but somebody will find new ways to have us play games with this tech.
And there is also the expanded wireless capabilities. The Nintendo DS line has always had wireless built-in, but it has not always been exploited very well. The DSi models added in the ability to buy games for Nintendo points via a wireless connection. But the new CrossPass technology along with some very Wii-like features, such as a Mii and a Virtual Console library that will feature games from past GameBoy generations moves things another step forward.
Then there is the 3D screen, which is a beautiful 800×240 resolution unit for the upper display. The current Nintendo DS model line has a resolution of only 256×192 on both upper and lower screens.
And possibly the best thing about that new screen is that you can turn the 3D off and just have a nice big display.
Not that the 3D is bad. The augmented reality game certainly showed that 3D works well enough without glasses. And I watched the 3D trailer for the movie Rio on the 3DS. I happened to have seen that trailer in the theater in 3D already, so I was able to compare quality.
It looked VERY good on the 3DS screen.
The 3D was okay. At times the three dimensions seemed to be “near, middle, and distant,” but on good effects it blended together nicely.
But the GDC announcement that there will be a Netflix streaming client for the Nintendo 3DS this summer is what has me really excited. I could totally see watching movies on that screen.
But since that is not coming until summer, I am content to wait a bit. By then there will be some more titles available. Any problems will have been identified. And maybe they will have done something about the battery life, which is a bit short compared to my current Nintendo DS Lite.
Of course, I do have one worry.
If I get one then somebody else in our house will want one… or will want to use mine all the time.
Another reason to wait a bit.
[Addendum: See, it is this sort of thing that makes me shy away from newly released hardware.]