Ever since it was first announced earlier this year the Nintendo 3DS has been the subject of much speculation and rumor – mostly centered on its ability to display games in 3D without the need for dorky eye-wear. At E3 Nintendo finally provided some concrete details for the device and actually had some demonstration units for eager hands to get a hold of. Although details as to how the 3D effect is actually achieved were still not forthcoming it was obvious to those who managed to get up close and personal that, as expected, it was thanks to parallax-barrier technology.
3D up top, touchscreen belowThe 3DS comes in the of the familiar form factor of the DS with a 3.53-inch 16:9 aspect ratio LCD display on the top and 3.02-inch LCD touchscreen on the bottom. The bottom touchscreen works with a finger or the included stylus, while a new “Slide Pad” – similar to the PSP’s analog nub – allows for 360-degree analog input. The top screen is where the 3D magic happens with the total 800x240 pixel resolution split in half to provide separate images for each eye for displaying 3D images. In his presentation company president Satoru Iwata revealed that the top screen isn’t a touchscreen because a touchscreen and a 3D screen, “do not get along very well.”
A 3D Depth Slider next to the top display allows the level of 3D effect to be adjusted for maximum 3D effect or scaled back till it is off completely. Tim Stevens from engadget got a hold of one of the demonstration units and reported that the 3D effect was compelling but, due to the limitations of parallax-barrier technology, users will need to keep the device relatively still as moving out of the sweet spot will see the 3D effect disappear. This could pose problems for any 3D games designed to make use of the motion sensor and gyro sensor that the 3DS comes equipped with.
3D cameraFurthering the device’s 3D capabilities is the inclusion of two outer cameras in addition to the one outer camera. The two outer cameras allow the 3DS to take 3D images that can be displayed on the 3D display, while the inner camera is used for head-tracking. The two outer cameras are only 640 x 480 (0.3 Mega) pixel resolution, so don’t expect anything too decent when viewing images on a larger screen.
Wireless communicationOn the wireless communication front the 3DS communicates on the 2.4 GHz band, with multiple units able to connect via a local wireless connection for playing games or communication. The 3DS can also connect to LAN access points to access the Internet and play games against others. Nintendo says the 3DS will support 802.11 (which variety isn’t revealed) with enhanced security (WPA/WPA2). The 3DS is also designed so that even when not in use, it can automatically exchange data with other Nintendo 3DS systems or receive data via the Internet while in sleep mode as well as transmitting data on games you aren’t currently playing to other 3DS devices.
The final look of the 3DS hasn’t been revealed but Satoru Iwata was showing off a two-tone metallic blue and black unit, with press photos also revealing metallic red and black and gray and black varieties.
GamesThe games used to show off the 3DS at E3 were Kid Icarus Uprising – a third person shooter/flying game – and Nintendogs and Cats. Although there are many games publishers getting behind the 3DS with a raft of games in the works including DJ Hero 3D from Vicarious Visions, Kingdom Hearts 3D and a Final Fantasy game from Square Enix, a Metal Gear Solid game from Konami, a Resident Evil game from Capcom, and Professor Layton and the Mask of Miracle from Level 5 just to name a few.
Unfortunately one of the things Nintendo didn’t reveal about the 3DS was a release date or a price. Oh well, at least the rumor mill will still have something to keep it busy.