What we know about the Nintendo 3DS.

Nintendo is a great company for the handheld console. In 1990 (1989 for anywhere other than EU) they gave us the Game Boy bringing Gaming to our bags and pockets. They updated this marvel into the realm of colour, on the Game Boy Colour, 8 years later. The Game Boy Advance allowed these coloured graphics, not only to be improved, but also to be brought into Widescreen. The Nintendo DS pulled the portable series of handhelds away from the Game Boy name, into two screens of play (one of which being touch screen), a mic, Wi-Fi connection and wireless connections built-in. DSi added a camera to this. But now, after many generations of handhelds. We are now getting the Nintendo 3DS. Yes, we are getting glasses free 3D in our hands!

But what do we know about this fabled handheld. One that may bring us in to a totally new generation of gaming tech. Well a few days ago (January 19th) Nintendo held conferences in Amsterdam and New York to answer our questions. We, the gaming public, didn’t get all the answers we wanted, but we got a heck of a lot more than we had before hand. Let’s give it a run through.

First up let’s go over what it can do. The first and most obvious thing about the 3DS, it is the selling point, is it has glasses free 3D. This is achieved on the top, 3.53 inch, screen, which has a resolution of 800 x 240 and has the ability to show autosteroscopic 3D. The touch screen is 3.02 inches in comparison to this and shows a resolution of 320 x 240, which is still more than the older DS models.

Next up, battery life. The original DS sported a 6-10 hour battery life, which Nintendo had improved to 13-17 hours by the release of the most recent DS family member, the DSi XL. So you’d expect 3DS to be something similar right? Well, it is similar to the first DS if you are playing without 3D clocking in with 5-8 hours. But use the 3D effect Nintendo are selling it with? You’ll be playing that handheld for 3-5 hours, both of these times are dependent on your backlight levels of course.

In terms of buttons the 3DS has all of the old DS ones. A,B,X,Y,L and R are all still there with start, select and the directions. Now though the 3DS has 3 additions to the interface. There is an analog stick now, so devs have something else to start programming with. 3DS has a home button, much like the Wii’s, which will put the game in a pause state and allow you to multitask by launching various apps installed on your handheld. And the third addition?  The 3D slider. Yes the 3D in the 3DS is a great feature, but not only is it a power sink for the consoles battery, it may be more comfortable to view the 3DS in lower 3D. The 3D slider basically allows you to turn the 3D on, off or partially on to any extent between on and off. Which ever you find comfortable (or your battery has enough power to do)

Cameras now. The DSi brought the idea of camera’s to our handhelds and of course with a new 3D console, Nintendo are going to make a 3D camera. It’s only common sense. There are now two outward facing cameras on the back of the lid which act as the 3D camera. The inward facing camera has been relocated to above the top screen from the hinge, which in my opinion makes more sense for camera placement.

Inside of the 3DS, we find a 3-axis gyroscope and accelerometer. Motion controls on your handheld device? There is the internal storage you would expect for the device also, although it is unknown yet how large that is. But we do have an SD card slot, and a bundled 2GB SD card, so we know we can upgrade its storage capacity. Much like the storage size, we don’t know exactly what the Processor is like.

The stylus has a had update too. It is telescopic and can reach 4 inches, make it the second longest stylus, only beaten by the DSi XL’s 5.09 inch stylus.

3 things left. First up are the installed apps. The original DS came with 2, DSi with 7 and then another 3 added to the XL model. The 3DS comes with 3 more than that, 13 different apps. And here is a quick run through:

  • 3DS Sound
  • Mii Maker
  • PictoChat
  • StreetPass Mii Plaza
  • Face Raiders
  • Download Service
  • 3DS Camera
  • AR Games (Augmented Reality)
  • 3D Videos
  • System Transfer
  • Nintendo eShop
  • Internet Browser
  • Activity Log

These all seem interesting with some obvious and not so obvious additions to the software. The Mii’s have indeed been added to the 3DS, you can even import your Wii’s Mii to the 3DS. But not vice versa since the 3DS Mii creator is updated and includes features unavailable to the Wii’s software. Update your home console maybe Nintendo? The AR games are an interesting addition too. Packaged in the box you get a set of cards which can be used with the 3D camera to produce mini Virtual Reality worlds. AR is a great technology and is invading more and more devices. Face Raiders uses both cameras and allows you to put your face on someone elses body, interesting pictures to be made here.

Our Penultimate point before what you probably want to know most now. Region-locking. Yes the DS was region free, but DSi began the handheld region-locking process, and now the 3DS will stop you from being able to import those Japanese games before the EU release. The regions are locked as follows, Japan, America, EU and Australia. With EU and Australia being bundled together. Sorry importers either import a foreign console or wait until the launch date.

Now, what you all want to know. Price and Launch Dates. Launch Dates first. EU get the 3DS on March 25th with US getting it 2 days later on the 27th. Japan will be playing 3D on February 26th with Australia being in some, unknown date, in March. The Price? Japan has to fork out ¥25,000, US $249.99 but EU seem to have to pay what the retailer decides is best. All signs look like your 3DS will set you back £230, but this will vary depending on your retailer.

Hope you now know more about the next popular handheld. Have fun you early adopters with your new 3DS in February/March.

About Nick Duggan
I'm 19 an I study Computer Games Design at Staffordshire University. I'm a video gamer and also a Yu-Gi-Oh! collector/player. Twitter: @30DiedOnMars

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