Tech News on G4
3DS: The future of gaming
March 25, 2011
By John Powell - G4 Canada
In 2006, Nintendo released the "Revolution" or should I say, the Wii. The wireless gaming console with its quirky intuitive controls gave the industry a much-needed wake-up call pushing the boundaries of what interactive gaming could, would and should be.
Five years later, the visionaries at Nintendo have done it once again. Like the Wii before it, the Nintendo 3DS handheld gaming system will unquestionably alter the way games are developed but more importantly, it will change the way we play games just like its predecessor the Wii.
Using a special screen rather than those cumbersome glasses to achieve its effects, the 3D in the 3DS is not just a gimmick to generate more revenue like those money hungry movie studios do presenting films in that format which really don't deserve or need 3D.
I mean, 'Street Dance' in 3D? Come on. Who is kidding who?
The 3D in the 3DS actually makes for not only a better visual presentation providing for unparalleled depth and detailed scope, but makes for a totally new gaming experience.
In 'PilotWings Resort', it is far easier to judge the landing distance in 3D because you have other objects to guide you and use as benchmarks. There's no more relying on shadows you cast on the ground below to figure out when you have to angle down for a perfect landing. In 'Steeldiver', the submarine combat game, the 3D settings help you navigate your craft more completely and accurately through the undersea caves and crevasses. More on those two launch titles later.
Just to see traditional flat screen environments take on such depth is like looking at a sketch of a diorama and then staring into the 3D construct itself. The difference is stunning and there's no way the words or the pictures on this page can explain how well the effects really work. It is something you have to see for yourself to fully appreciate.
Just don't expect missiles or boulders to fly out of the screen at you. It isn't that kind of 3D, yet.
The drawback of the system's 3D capabilities is you cannot view them properly if you tilt the screen far too much. Also, observers looking over your shoulder will not be able to see the effects as well as you can. Just like it is better to sit in the middle of a movie theatre to really appreciate a 3D film, positioning the 3DS is key.
The 3D capabilities don't just extend to the games either. Using the two external cameras, you can take photos in 3D too. The 3D process is far more rudimentary as are the results but the function still works quite well. The 3DS is also capable of bending reality too, using 3D in a far different way. Packaged with the 3DS are a deck of special cards. When you place them on a flat surface and view them with your 3DS, you will be able to play some simple, 3D, augmented reality games.
Watching a miniature Mario bust out of a crate on your tabletop is the coolest, coolest thing.
It's me, Mario? You're not kidding.
Another preloaded game - Face Raiders - utilizes augmented reality. To play, you snap a photo of your face which the system then transforms into flying enemies. As you shoot the attackers down, whatever you are pointing the 3DS at the time becomes the background. That background blows apart when you miss and enemies fly out of the holes created. It is another uncomplicated but engaging effect that doesn't wear thin no matter how many times you play.
By means of a slider on the side of the console, you can adjust the 3D effect to the level you like. You can even turn them off, if you so desire. Regular DS games seem to play fine in 2D on the console but because 3D game cartridges are no longer square but have a notch at the top of them, you will not be able to use them in previous variations or generations of the Nintendo DS.
There are also other noticeable and long-awaited improvements from the DSi consoles. There is a new circle pad which makes playing any kind of driving game far easier than ever before. The stylus itself is now kept in the back of the machine. It is made of metal and telescopes out. There is also metal in the body of the 3DS which makes it more sturdy and durable. The sound is louder and clearer than ever before. The system supports virtual surround sound. There is a new wireless switch which allows the 3DS to communicate with wireless hotspots and LAN access points to download information, software and videos even while in sleep mode. It comes with a 2GB SD memory card.
Just as you do on the Wii, you can create your own Miis on the 3DS and the new StreetPass feature lets the 3DS exchange data automatically with other 3DS systems within range. The sound editor is still there and you can download games from the Nintendo eShop too. While we are on the topic, the DSi and or DSi XL software you have previously downloaded can be transferred to the 3DS system.
With all these improvements there are a couple of drawbacks though. The battery life isn't nearly as good as the DSi or DS variations. While those lasted approximately anywhere from 10 to 19 hours depending on the brightness setting selected, the 3DS battery only lasts 3 to 5 hours tops when playing 3D games and 5 to 8 hours when playing regular DS software.
The price of the system is steeper than any Nintendo handheld system released as well. While the DSi XL had a launch price of $189.99, the DSi $169.99 and the DS Lite $129.99, the 3DS will set you back roughly around $249.99.
Is the price worth it? That really depends on how much you value a revolutionary gaming device, which the 3DS is in so many ways. Like the Wii before it, the 3DS lives up to all the hype as a true game-changer. Once you play a 3DS, you will never look at video games the same ever again.
The Nintendo 3DS system and the launch software titles hit stores this Sunday. Look for more reviews of 3DS games in the coming weeks.
Launch Title Preview
For those who may not have played the Super Nintendo version, 'PilotWings Resort' is an aerial sport title in which you can take to the skies in a plane, a hand glider or a rocket belt. Each mode of transportation has its own unique quirks and controls. While the plane is quite smooth and fast, the hand glider coasts and drifts and the rocket belt chugs along in short bursts up, down, left or right.
Depending on the mode you pick, there are assorted challenges you can compete in. You can fly around the island, exploring and picking up collectables. You can soar through rings, land on the water, shoot targets or collect items.
The fun doesn't end on the 3DS either. Through a special feature, you can snap photos and share your experiences with friends and family.
'PilotWings' is the type of game Nintendo really excels at. It is simple and enjoyable. There just isn't too much meat to it. Once you have completed the challenges, there isn't much to do, unless you really, really, really enjoy flying.
Batten down the hatches. Dive. Dive. Dive.
I don't know why but I have a special place in my heart for submarine games. Maybe it is the sense of adventure. Maybe it is the sense of history. Maybe it is just that I like to blow up stuff REAL good.
In 'Steeldiver', you have three modes to select from: 'Missions', 'Periscope Strike' and 'Steel Commander'.
'Missions' is a throwback to the old arcade game 'Scramble' in which you steered a spaceship through caves, mountain passes defended by missiles, bombs and enemies. With falling boulders, enemy ships dropping depth charges and enemy subs firing torpedoes, water jets flaring up, gigantic sea creatures and even an exploding undersea volcano threatening to sink your sub, there are many dangers to cope with besides maneuvering through the treacherous caves and waterways.
Playing "Missions' is like peering through an actual aquarium as you play, the environments are so rich and textured.
To find the enemy ships to sink in 'Periscope Strike', you have to move your body and the 3DS around to locate them like you were operating a real periscope and surveying the surroundings. It is a neat gimmick that gives the 3DS gyro sensor a workout.
'Steel Commander' is a top-down, two-player strategy game using the 3DS wireless connection. It is kinda like Battleship but much more fun.
With all its whistles, bells and torpedoes, 'Steeldiver' is the perfect showcase for what the 3DS does very well.
About G4 in Canada
G4 Canada (formerly TechTV Canada) launched in September 2001. G4 is the one and only television station that is plugged into every dimension of games, gear, gadgets and gigabytes. Owned Rogers Media Inc., the channel airs more than 24 original series. G4 is available on digital cable and satellite. For more information, see www.g4tv.ca.