When Nintendo launched the DS into the market, the popular question had to be asked: was the DS a successor to the Game Boy hardware? To date the answer remains that it is not a replacement or successor, instead the hardware is viewed as a new avenue for where portable gaming can go. Through the years the DS has taken on revisions which support the mindset, slimming in size and taking on new functionality through web browsers and cameras. All of these changes have tweaked the hardware to new levels and brought standard features of modern handsets to the DS. At E3 we took at look at the 3DS, the latest evolution in the DS line, bringing the DSi foundation to a new peak.
The 3DS packs a 3.53” top screen and 3.02” bottom touch screen which keeps the system compatible with all generations of the DS. The hardware gets an upgrade with an inner lid camera and dual cameras mounted to exterior of the lid for 3D pictures. The latest evolution comes from the 3D upper screen which uses a form of stereoscopic delivery to blend the images. Whether it uses alternating progressive pictures or interlacing has yet to be seen, as we did not have enough time with the unit. We could tell at harder angles that the 3D field is separated back into two pictures, the secondary image acting as a ghost on the screen, depending on which side the 3DS leaned toward.
In practice, the delivery has better results when there is action in the screen: in Star Fox on the 3DS, we had high contrast definition as we rolled and dodged enemy fire. We could not say as much for the slower moving demo reels that ran on the screen for movies and upcoming games -- often we had to realign the 3D to make sense as our eyes strayed from the center of the screen. For gamers easily frustrated with shifting and focus, the slider on the current model 3DS allows for anyone to scale the effect as desired from nothing at all to full 3D. We did play with the variation in the textures and game play to notice that the 3D transition comes in a large lump after 30% of the slider is pushed up.
Control remains the same on the 3DS, taking a detour when we hit the analog stick that moves the d-pad down on the left side. In our demonstrations, the stick played the role of a focus adjustment for the 3D, while the rest of the control input remained close to the traditional DS layout. The placement allows the control to remain fluid as the thumb shifts between the stick and the d-pad; the flow of the stick has 360 degree coverage without blank points in the response. The development allows for a new breed of games to arrive on the platform that may have required more than the traditional pad and touch screen.
For those hoping to catch the next wave of portable gaming, the 3DS will deliver an experience unlike any other DS evolution. Instead of relying on larger screens or a revised package, the system will deliver a new experience to all who try it out. Characters and worlds will come alive thanks to the 3DS screen and the need for external glasses or aspirin will be avoided in the process. We look forward to the continued development of the platform and will bring out the latest that we get from Nintendo on it.
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