Over the weekend, Nintendo held an event in Japan, giving the public an opportunity to get its hands on Nintendo's new handheld system, the 3DS. Nintendo also used this as an opportunity to give an initial launch schedule as well as general pricing information for upcoming 3DS games. Third-party publishers were also on hand to give demonstrations of their upcoming 3DS games. The GameSpot editors chimed in to give their thoughts on the information released at the show, what they think about the 3DS's launch lineup, and more.
Ricardo Torres | Editor-in-Chief
There weren't too many surprises in the latest batch of info Nintendo dropped this weekend. The hardware's battery life is definitely going to be a "thing" for people, but I'm not sure the company's engineers had much leeway there. The power demands of basically three screens combined with brightness will gulp down power pretty quickly. I reckon the gray market for external power supplies ought to thrive when the system is released to meet the needs of people who are looking to log in some time gaming on the go (until the inevitable second-generation version appears DS Lite-style with better battery life and a bigger screen). Personally I'm not sure how I'll wind up using it on the road. I log in a decent amount of time on planes and trains for work, so my DS and PSP have been constant fixtures in my bag, but right now, I have to say I'm a little leery of the notion of taking my 3DS along on a trip. Besides the power concern, I'd just be nervous about something horrible happening to it.
The other hot-button issue that has been making the rounds is a warning about 3D and small kids. Considering that the DS is a babysitter in some households, I can see how this is freaking some people out. But if you think about it, it's not that dramatic. I reckon the plain DS and the DSi are going to be around for a while yet, and there are plenty of kid-eyeball-friendly games to toss their way. It's possible to turn the 3D effect off on the 3DS if you want to, and you have to imagine Nintendo is going to put some parental control thing in place so mom and pops can lock it down to ensure that little Billy doesn't fry his retinas. To further complicate matters, there's conflicting information as to how "bad" 3D is for young eyes.
As far as the games go, I'm excited to try the Japanese launch titles, although I'm hoping we get more in the States when the system is released here. Obviously I'm bummed there's no Kid Icarus at launch, but I waited 50 years for the sequel, so another year isn't going to kill me (so long as the game kicks ass when it's finally released). Overall it's a solid-enough lineup, albeit thinner on some of the heavy hitters we were expecting after Nintendo's showing at the Electronic Entertainment Expo. Still, you have to figure the company's going to want to be smarter about how it funnels out titles to avoid the original DS's rocky start. Remember that? Like maybe two games worth having at launch--Super Mario 64 and Feel the Magic--and not much else to get excited about. As it stands now, the 3DS seems locked to have a stronger launch lineup and, most importantly, some solid follow-up, so overall it's not so bad. I'm hoping the games aren't as pricey as they appear to be in Japan and are more in line with DS games here in the States. An expensive portable system with expensive games could be a tough sell, even for Nintendo, if that's how it plays out. The event on the 19th ought to give us all the answers we want.
Guy Cocker | Editor | GameSpot UK
With Nintendo World 2011 happening in Japan, many of us have been cooing at new videos of 3DS games (as well as ruing our lack of ability in the Japanese language). Having played with the device a few times now, I was already pumped to get my hands on it, and new footage of Kid Icarus and Star Fox have only fueled this anticipation even more.
However, this excitement has also been tempered with some bad news for those of us who'd already saved up to buy the device. As someone who just survived a 14-hour flight on a single charge of my old DS, the meager three to five hours from the 3DS seems like a step back. Then there's the fact that the launch lineup lacks most of the games that initially got us so excited (although Nintendogs and Cats is, admittedly, adorable).
Will Nintendo's 3DS still be a day-one purchase? We'll find out next week on the 19th, when the company is sure to reveal more details on the console's Western launch.
Sophia Tong | Editor\
When I first saw the Nintendo 3DS, I was surprised how forward thinking Nintendo was by including a 3D toggle, making me think that I just might purchase the first generation instead of waiting for the next iteration, which would have obvious improvements (looking at you, Game Boy Advance, without a backlight).
However, learning that the 3DS has three to five hours of battery life, I think I may end up waiting until they figure out a way to extend that. It's not that I need to be able to play it for eight hours straight, but it needs another three-plus hours to charge? This will work for my daily commute, but it's not going to last on a long flight, which is usually when I like to play. Then I need another three-plus hours to charge it again?
I still think the technology is fantastic, and I'm really looking forward to the Professor Layton/Ace Attorney crossover game. The games I've seen do look great on the new DS screens, to the point where I may ignore my real dog for a bit while I play with a virtual puppy. It will be interesting to see what else developers can come up with for it, but I'm going to wait before getting my own--and hope for a price drop relatively soon or a nice bundle package. Plus, I'm sure I can just take, err, use Ricardo's when he gets it on day one and then see how badly I want it.
Mark Walton | Production Assistant | GameSpot UK
When Nintendo unveiled the 3DS at E3 this year, there were a huge number of first- and third-party games announced, so it's disappointing to see that only a small handful are going to be available at launch. Even more disappointing is that there's going to be only a single first-party game, Nintendogs and Cats. As cute as those little guys are, what I want is to treat my eyes to some Mario or Zelda in 3D. That said, the small third-party launch lineup is looking pretty strong, and it's great to see so many publishers getting on board with the system. Professor Layton and Street Fighter IV 3D edition are already looking great, and I've got a big soft spot for Puzzle Bobble--who doesn't want to pop bubbles in glorious 3D?
News on battery life and game prices has damped my enthusiasm, though. At just three to five hours of battery life for 3D games, the 3DS has significantly less life in it than the DS Lite, which can last a good 15 hours or so before it gives up the ghost. Standby figures haven't been given, but considering the shorter battery life overall, I doubt it'll match up to the days that the DS Lite lasts. And then there's the price of games. The likes of Apple's App Store and Google's Android Marketplace have changed perceptions of what a portable game should cost. When I can pick up a copy of Angry Birds for 59 pence ($0.99), Peggle for £1.79 ($2.99), or something as amazing as Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars for a mere £5.99 ($9.99) on the App Store, and get it instantly over the air, I'm left wondering whether the fact that a game is in 3D is worth a 6,090 yen ($73) premium.
Giancarlo Varanini | Editor-at-Large
It's quite possible I'm in the minority on this, but I get most use out of my handhelds when sitting on the couch at home. Therefore, the issue with 3DS battery life (reportedly three to five hours, depending on what you're playing) really isn't that big a deal for me when all I need to do is reach over and plug it back in. Still, it's a portable device, and battery life--whether it's a phone, laptop, or gaming handheld--means a lot to those who find themselves using such things frequently while away from the friendly confines of home.
What I found to be most interesting about the Nintendo World conference is that not being there forces me to take it all in without the novelty of the system's 3D effect, something that I drooled over at E3. But you know something? Even without 3D to aid in my euphoria, I'm still pretty excited about the system and its lineup. Both Resident Evil: Revelations and Resident Evil: The Mercenaries look great--not quite as detailed as, say, Resident Evil 5, but pretty darn close, and that alone is impressive. The Kid Icarus demonstration at the show has me far more excited for Pit's return than the E3 debut did, since it looks like more visual touches have been put in and we've been able to see the flying and ground sections of gameplay in greater depth. And while I probably won't be using it, I applaud Capcom for trying a new camera angle in the 3DS version of Street Fighter IV. It's not the most practical camera perspective, but it will probably do a nice job of showing off the 3D effect.
Of course, most of these games won't be available right off the bat if the Japanese launch and release calendar are anything to go by for North America, and that puts a damper on things. Even then, it seems like the system will have a pretty steady flow of games in the month following its launch, which is great since most platform launches tend to have a very slow period before releases pick up again.
Maxwell McGee | Associate Editor
Nintendo never seems at a loss for ways to feast on our nostalgia. Looking over the stream of 3DS news pouring in, I see there are 3D versions of Star Fox, Ocarina of Time, Pilot Wings, Kid Icarus, and several other classic franchises, and I question whether or not I'd be willing to drop over $300 to play these titles again--and I love me some Star Fox. These 3D effects have to be more than the gimmick of "here's the main character, and he's popping out of the screen, and oh boy isn't that crazy." Nintendo has to get out in front of this project and show developers how it's done--just like it did with the original DS and is still having to do with the Wii.
I expect a lot out of the 3DS--and 3D entertainment in general--but am so far unconvinced. With regard to the 3DS's technical announcements, the inclusion of a 2GB SD memory card is a nice touch; hopefully now I won't have to own a game just so I can access my save state. The three- to five-hour battery life span doesn't come as a surprise compared with the performance of Sony's PSP, plus it's rendering 3D. What really caught my eye, however, were the augmented reality demos; that's what gets me excited. It's a creative tool unique to mobile devices that I want to see developers run with. The 3DS is a Nintendo platform with some serious potential, but I imagine it'll be a while before we see games really tap into it.
Alex Sassoon Coby | Production Editor | GameSpot UK
The glut of third-party games for launch does a fairly good job of making up for the lack of a launch Mario title. Pricing also seems sensible; while the hardware cost looks likely to be quite serious, it's heartening to see that game prices are being set at the same level as normal DS games in Japan. We're yet to see confirmation of whether this will carry over to Europe and the USA, but the signs are good.
The concern yet to be answered is software availability in Europe. Nintendo has lagged behind Microsoft and Sony in harmonizing regional releases, and I am rather worried Europe is going to get the short end of the release-date stick again. Hopefully we should get something of an answer on that before the end of the month, but until that question is answered, my skeptical hat is staying quite firmly on.
Kevin VanOrd | Editor
A lot of people on my Twitter feed have been lamenting the 3DS's battery life, which I wholly understand. Nevertheless, I am not too concerned, personally; my commute is only an hour, and I rarely play games on airplanes. (Ask me why, and I will explain to you my flying terrors in more depth!) My bigger concern is the launch lineup--and beyond. It's telling that there is only one first-party launch game, Nintendogs and Cats, and even more telling that so many of them seem to be straight-up remakes. Kid Icarus is the game I am most excited about, given that it signals the return of a not-quite-forgotten mascot of yesteryear. It's too bad that Nintendo refuses to take advantage of its own system's launch with a new intellectual property. This isn't a surprise, of course: Nintendo rarely takes chances on new IPs. But as excited as I am about the 3DS, the prevalence of old games with a "3D" attached to the title is hard to miss. This is awesome new technology; is another iteration of a game we've played countless times already the best way to show off amazing new hardware?
Still, their great pedigrees ensure that Professor Layton and Nintendogs are day-one purchases for me. (I'll leave the new Samurai Warriors game in the bin, most likely.) What I most want to see is how the 3D changes how I play games, not how the games look. The DS and the Wii made enormous strides in that regard for gameplay. Of course, a new system that has beautiful games is never bad! But for me to be super-psyched, I'll need to see something more than "Hey, look, it's 3D!"
Tom Mc Shea | Associate Editor
My initial reaction to Nintendo's latest hype event is ambivalence. The launch lineup looks devoid of any interesting games to usher in the era of three dimensions with a bang. Where's Kid Icarus? Or Mario Kart? Pilot Wings Resort would be perfect as the ambassador for 3D, but it too is strangely absent. The people rushing to buy a Japanese launch system are instead stuck with a choice between housecats and dinosaurs, and either way you're stuck with an animal that's too clever for its own good. New systems are exciting because of the prospect of new play experiences, but the 3DS doesn't seem to be providing the unique thrills that would draw me to it. I can only hope the North American launch is much stronger, but there's no guarantee. From the footage Nintendo has shown, 3D looks to still be primarily a gimmick rather than a revolutionary new way to experience games. Will that stay true or will Nintendo (or some enterprising third-party studio) slap together something that justifies the leap into another dimension? Pretty graphics are sure nice, but with a preponderance of ports early on and a battery life that would give Nomand a run on power consumption, waiting for the inevitable launch of the 3DS Light is sounding more tempting by the day.