Gaming Column – 3DS announcement

March 20, 2010 — Leave a comment

Originally published in The Daily Toreador.

So you liked “Avatar” in 3-D, right? A lot of people did. And it’s partly for that reason many companies are doing their best to bring 3-D viewing into the living room. Most upcoming 3-D-enabled TVs seem heavily problematic, partly because of their requirement of special 3-D glasses.

What if you could have that sort of 3-D effect on a handheld gaming system, though?

Better yet, what if you didn’t need glasses to get it?

In a somewhat weird move, Nintendo is going in that direction with its upcoming Nintendo 3DS.

Announced via Japanese press release while most of us were sleeping Monday night, the 3DS, which is assumed to be a working title, is expected to launch sometime during

Nintendo’s next fiscal year, which runs from April 2010 to March 2011. It will have a display so that games may be “enjoyed with 3-D effects without the need for any special glasses.”

It will also be fully backwards compatible with the current DS games, meaning all the games you own now will work on this new system.

From this, we can obviously assume the system has two screens, and we should probably assume it will have two cameras as well, like the current DSi hardware.

It’s important to stress, however, this will be an entirely new line of Nintendo hardware.

Meaning this will not be just another DS with new features in an effort to make you spend money again (a la Apple’s iPod Nano approach of redesigning existing hardware).

The most recent reports as of this writing &- particularly coming from Nikkei.com &- also indicate the new hardware will have a “3-D joystick” (so, analog stick?) and force feedback.

There’s also a good chance it will have an accelerometer built in so the system can detect your tilts and movements, similar to the way certain Wii and iPhone games work. The system will also have better wireless capabilities and battery life.

This is important to note because Nintendo is launching a new version of the DS, dubbed the Nintendo DSi XL, in North America a mere week from now. That’s right, Nintendo is announcing the technology they’re releasing next week will likely be obsolete this time next year.

The DSi XL, which is really just a DSi with much larger screens (think Kindle DX. For some reason people still assume bigger immediately equals better), wasn’t a sell for me anyway.

Now I definitely have to advise against purchasing it, considering new hardware is on the horizon.

The fact a new generation of handheld hardware from Nintendo is coming surprises no one. We’ve been expecting such a confirmation for a while now. But there are a couple weird things about this particular announcement.

The first is the fact it uses 3-D. Nintendo has notoriously shied away from including high-definition display into their gaming hardware, even today. So it’s funny they’re deciding to emphasize the fact their new device will be 3-D. Nintendo isn’t generally known for jumping on technology bandwagons.

It does, however, harken back to Nintendo’s abysmal failure of the past &- the Virtual Boy &- which boasted amazing 3-D graphics viewed in a visor-like system. However, the device did more to burn out people’s retinas than give them a fun experience.

The second weird thing about this announcement is how minimal it was. We’re a few short months from this year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo, which is where this device will apparently make its grand debut. But Nintendo felt the need to send out a press release saying, “Our next handheld will be 3-D. Think about that for awhile, because we’re not telling you anything else.” It’s just a sort of weird move.

Some have speculated the field of depth Nintendo will offer won’t be like a 3-D movie, where images pop out at you, but rather will trick your eyes into seeing depth that goes down, into the screen rather than out of it. I guess we’ll have to wait and see exactly what Nintendo has up its sleeves. Considering these are the people behind the Wii, anything is possible.

All that said, there’s plenty of reason to start getting excited about Nintendo’s next big thing. Even with strong competition from the Sony PlayStation Portable and Apple’s iPhone, Nintendo still reigns supreme in the world of handheld gaming. I’m really excited to see what the future of portable gaming holds.

Britton Peele

Posts

Freelance video game critic for sites like GameSpot and GamesRadar. Amateur fantasy author.

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