Nintendo 3DS Hands-On Preview - Updated

Nintendo's 3DS is in short supply at E3, but we got our mitts on the machine.

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After unceremoniously announcing the Nintendo 3DS in March, Nintendo pulled out all the stops at E3 2010. The console took up the latter portion of the company's keynote address and essentially accounts for the multi-hour-long lines at its booth. At the moment, the company has not announced a release date or pricing for the upcoming handheld console.

Screens
The biggest change to Nintendo's handheld platform is the addition of 3D without the need for glasses. Only the upper screen will be used to display 3D visuals. The bottom touch screen was tested for use as a 3D panel but was ultimately decided against, because the touch interactivity of the screen led to smudges that interfered with the 3D visuals. Depending on the game, some of the visuals do pop out of the screen, and there's a lot of depth to the point where you're tempted to reach into the game. However, this effect works only if you're staring at the right angle; otherwise, it will look distorted. The games we saw were designed to keep you in the sweet spot, although spectating friends might not be treated to a great show.

Nintendo increased the size and resolution of the upper screen to 3.53 inches, and according to the official data sheet, the resolution of it is 800x240. If the resolution sounds odd, that's because it is. According to Nintendo, "400 pixels are allocated for each eye to enable 3D viewing." Nintendo didn't say much to explain the statement, but we speculate that there are actually two screens residing in the same spot, each visible at particular angles. As a result, each eye sees only 400 pixels of width, and doubling that gives us 800 pixels. The actual effective resolution would be 400x240, which also gives a more useful aspect ratio of 1.66, putting it between the standard 16:9 and 16:10 aspects.

The 3.02-inch touch screen on the bottom half received a bump up in resolution to 320x240 from the 256x192 LCD screen that's present on all current Nintendo DS models.

Internals
At the keynote address, Nintendo president Satoru Iwata indicated that the Nintendo 3DS would have an upgraded processor, but few details were given beyond that statement. The increased resolution of the upper screen--and if 3D rendering on the PC is to be taken as any indicator--lends further credence to the 3DS's beefier processor. Just doing the math, the Nintendo 3DS has to push 2.7 times the number of pixels as the Nintendo DS.

From our observations, the new version of Mario Kart looks particularly sharp. The karts and characters are as detailed as what you would find in Double Dash, and the 3D effect added to the items makes them pack even more of a punch. Flying around in Kid Icarus looked incredible. The clouds drift right into your eyes, and the enemies pop off the screen.

The Specifications
The Nintendo 3DS is still a work in progress, but the stats as of the moment put it at 5.3 inches wide x 2.9 inches long x .8 inches thick. By comparison, the Nintendo DSi is 5.4 inches wide x 2.95 inches long x .74 inches tall. Functionally, holding the Nintendo 3DS is pretty much the same as holding the DSi. We doubt the actual case size will change much between now and when the console launches.

Cameras
Nintendo added cameras to the DS platform when it released the Nintendo DSi. The 3DS takes the platform another step forward with the addition of two external cameras and one internal camera. Dual external cameras allow the 3DS to take 3D pictures. As with the DSi, the .3 megapixel (640x480) cameras found on the 3DS don't push the barrier in terms of overall image quality. Using the camera was dead simple, and the images it generated definitely looked like they were in 3D. The low resolution is clearly a limitation though, because the pictures looked blurry on the screen.

Controls
All the control mechanisms present on the DS made their way to the 3DS, but Nintendo also managed to add a few more along the way. New to the 3DS are motion sensors, a gyroscope, an analog stick (what Nintendo refers to as the "slide pad"), and a 3D depth slider that's used to adjust the 3D effect. The slider is there to adjust how much of a 3D effect you want to see. You can also opt to slide it to the bottom and view the screen in 2D. Nintendo also added a Home button to make getting back to the system menu easier.

The analog stick was nicely sized and made it easy to perform more subtle movements. We found it easy to make minor adjustments while playing, which translated to precision movements.

A retractable stylus is included and is much sturdier than the others that we're used to. It's made up of metal with plastic ends, so it looks like something you'd find from a Palm.

The implementation of motion controls that we saw didn't interfere with the 3D effect of the screen. Most of the demos we tried had us move the DS around in front of us, while the cameras added visuals to the graphics. We didn't see any examples of tilt-based gaming, or anything that would ruin the visuals. Face-Off, a tech demo, took a picture of us and then had us rotate the 3DS around our surroundings to shoot balloons with our faces rendered on them, all the while keeping the screens directly in front of us.

Wireless Connectivity
The Nintendo 3DS communicates wirelessly over 802.11 Wi-Fi and supports WPA and WPA2 security protocols. The big communications addition to the 3DS is more in how it communicates. Even while sleeping, the console will be able to hop onto the Internet to update rankings and quests and even download levels. Nintendo's Wii functions in a similar manner.

Ports
Nintendo gave the 3DS the ability to run both DS and 3DS games using a single slot. We didn't get to see what 3DS cartridges look like, but we're interested to learn how Nintendo will differentiate them to prevent consumer confusion. Like the DSi, the 3DS has an SD memory card slot. In addition to the stereo headphone jack, there's a charging cradle terminal.

Battery Life
Nintendo didn't have an official battery life estimate, but at a Q&A session, we did find out that Nintendo expects the 3DS to have battery life similar to the Nintendo DSi.

We'll have more information rolling in throughout the show, so be sure to check back. If there's anything you're curious about, leave us a note in the comments, and we'll do our best to get an answer.

Discussion

392 comments
itBit
itBit

Jesus christ, the 3DS will be the ultimate portable ... but it will be damn expensive though.

ubProGamer
ubProGamer

i have my doubts about this one for some reason...

jokers_anarchy
jokers_anarchy

franzkill it would be retarded if they put an achievment system the do nothing for the game to make it better.

KWHCoaster
KWHCoaster

@ iloveflash - "Too many DS cartridges have fallen into my toilet." You're the one that is supposed to be ejecting, not the DS.

hi-buzz
hi-buzz

@skatman8....u r a dumbass for makin' such idiotic comment on a product that gonna sell zillions wen it do comes out....the 3DS will be Awesome nd I can hardly wait to git it.......preorder n e one....

DaAlienMan
DaAlienMan

if this is as good in real life as it sounds on paper, this handheld will be the best ever.

darkwatch218
darkwatch218

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

Skatman8
Skatman8

it looks like a s h i t y piece of crap lololol

Skatman8
Skatman8

it looks like a s h i t y piece of crap lololol

BlackTargetmark
BlackTargetmark

I am curious how much it will be... 300 bucks? 400? 150?

Eyas3
Eyas3

finallyyy i can buy this one.... :)

Nosnitsttam
Nosnitsttam

i want a new castlevania, lords of shadow looks sweet but i really really want a new 2d one for this.

ProdjectAUSM
ProdjectAUSM

Anyone else think that this is a suped up PSP? Analog stick, two shoulder buttons, d-pad, four face buttons, wide screen, just with a touch screen and 3D and better graphics (Although they look in par with the PSP, that's their first game. Graphics have huge potential). But Sony is copying the Wii. I'd like to hear pricing, this looks like it has alot of potential.

Nelhew
Nelhew

I am hoping to see Monster Hunter and a new Phantasy Star Portable. Since PSP have already failed us by not implementing an online feature with the Phantasy Star Zero for the DS actually have an international online feature... I say we're even.

whitewarriar75
whitewarriar75

Wow does anyone think the screen is still way small ?? Come on a 3.02-inch touch screen and a upper screen to 3.53 inches. That's like the size of a finger. What were they thinking :-(

iloveflash
iloveflash

@Rovelius: The cartridge slot might just be for regular DS games, not necessarily 3DS. And the "dumb idea" came from the PSP and Playstation Network. Downloadable games is a novel idea. I could be wrong, but that's my take on it anyway. It would be cool to see Nintendo come up with something to compete with the PSN. Too many DS cartridges have fallen into my toilet.

fire-afro
fire-afro

is this going to have a shop channel, etc. like the dsi?

FinalDuo1886
FinalDuo1886

I'm looking forward to this. I actually think this will work, especially coming out of Nintendo (the gods of portables). Now just give me good news on the battery life, and I'm sold.

aka1704
aka1704

I kan haz 3D Mario? :3

Nitro702
Nitro702

I am really looking forward on buying this!

Franzkill
Franzkill

Also Nintendo please bring an achievement like system for the 3DS to make it absolutely sublime!

ggregd
ggregd

Sounds interesting. Obvious question: How does it work with current DS games? Letterbox or interpolated? Does the top 3D screen make old non-3D visuals look crappy? Does the processor make them run faster than intended? Dealbreaker for me if they're incompatible.

al_win
al_win

one of my most fav things about 3DS is the fact that people around me who r spectating around me wont be able to see the 3D effect and go away in dissappointment while i am having a good time! :) 3DS will be the best thing that happened to videogamers and Designers yet!

omishboy4831
omishboy4831

I'm definitely interested in the 3ds, but as far as the joystick being on one side only how will that end up effecting lefties for touch screen games?

tekken220
tekken220

I'd wait till the 3DSi or the 3DS Lite comes out.

Perd1t1on
Perd1t1on

FOR THOSE OF YOU INTERESTED IN WHAT THE 3D MAY LOOK LIKE, search for "new vision technology dinosaur" in google and look in the images. I used to have the gif that caused the effect but for some reason gifs don't work on my 'new' computer. It may work on yours. As I remember, it just vibrated 2 pictures of a dinosaur's head to cause a 3d effect without glasses. Since this handheld uses 2 pictures as well it should be similar in effect except without the vibration needed for the dinosaur example since the 3ds will display both pictures at once instead of alternating between the two. As for the graphics, the gamecube's resolution was 640x480. The resolution of this handheld is 400x240. This is 'worse' than the gamecube but keep in mind televisions are much bigger than this screen. Also, this may be obvious to most people but I don't know: the resolution is merely the size of a picture that can be supported on the screen. So a 400x240 pixel picture will show up exactly how it was made, a 800x480 pixel picture will show up with half it's pixels fused together, and a 200x120 pixel picture will show up with its pixels stretched out causing a blur effect.

Tommz7070
Tommz7070

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

funnia
funnia

Finally a decent upgrade and not just some aesthetic changes

green_panda9
green_panda9

This seems really awesome, but pricey. :| Seems like I shouldn't get a DSi, and just get this instead. :lol:

King_Boo_01
King_Boo_01

Nintendo has made the DS phat, DS Lite, DSi and DSi XL. Sony has made the PSP 1000, PSP 2000, PSP 3000 and PSP Go and people say Nintendo is making new DS's every month. The 3DS starts the new generation of handheld gaming.

Matthew-first
Matthew-first

Nintendo 3DS Ftw! xD Just can't wait to grab it. :D

King9999
King9999

@ zskrabs24: Obviously you haven't seen the screenshots of the games. They look really good, especially Metal Gear.

gespenst3
gespenst3

what do you guys think? i should buy the wii or wait for the 3DS?

Ratatoskr321
Ratatoskr321

@zskrabs24 umm... did you not watch the Kid Icarus Uprising trailer? Please tell me that looks the same as old DS games...

gespenst3
gespenst3

The 3DS look wicked, can't wait for it to hit the market, i'll even sell my psp+ps2 to help buy it :P althought i'm really considering on buying the wii just to play the new Zelda game & Goldeneye ............... decisions, decisions .............

zskrabs24
zskrabs24

where are you guys getting the ridiculous notion that the 3DS will have ps2 graphics or even wii graphics? the stronger cpu is there to generate the 3D effect, not make the graphics better. nowhere in this article does it say the graphics will be better. it's made by nintendo, the graphics are going to suck. its just a fact of life at this point.

MindwalkerX
MindwalkerX

Everything looks really nice. The only thing i would like if it was different is the fact that uses the same slot for DS and 3DS, which means that in a future pokemon game for 3DS, probably there will be no pal park, and will be harder to transfer stuff.

GunGriffin
GunGriffin

Honestly 3DS looks great, IMHO now that it has graphics equal to and with 3D option better then it's Wii counterpart. I'm tempted to say I may buy this if there is a new Metroid game from team Ninja, and a new Goldeneye, as well as The Conduit 3DS, and Mario Kart 3DS. I would buy all 3 in a heart beat! I would then have the best of all worlds. I also hope it means that the system will get more hardcore games on the platform that look good. Most DSi titles even look like PSone games at their best........... This on the other hand could have great potential for FPS games, and with the touch screen the enhanced LCD widescreen display, the new MPU that allows for Wii level graphics. (Tegra 2 chip?) Means it has better graphics then the PSP! I would so be down with that if the games took advantage of it and then we may get some titles that use the systems already killer surround sound speakers.

nate1222
nate1222

Yes, I will trade my DSlite toward a 3DS at launch. And live on ramen for a week, happily. Resident Evil Revelations, a new MGS, Super Street Fighter 4 (I've been dying for Capcom to bring a good fighter to the DS for forever), a remake of N64 Golden Eye 007 and a slew of N64 remakes... ALL HAVE ME DROOLING!

rodolfolope
rodolfolope

3ds= always nintendo wins inovate :D !

sacatash
sacatash

@Ropiplup, better... a lot of journalists who have seen the Kid Icarus demo for the 3Ds in action said that it is on par with Gamecube graphics. One journalist even observe that the Metal Gear Snake Eater(Naked Sample) tech demo on the 3Ds is better looking than the PS2 version since it is rendered in a small screen.

Carsarefood
Carsarefood

Oh man this is awesome! They finally added a analog stick. I'm glad you can just push a button to go directly to the dashboard. I was always tired of having to restart the console just to get to the dash.

Ropiplup
Ropiplup

Soo its going to have PS2 graphics with 3D??

dempa89
dempa89

Do you think Nintendo will remove the gyro-function if/when they discover that tilting the 3DS back and forth doesn't go along with the 3D effect very well?

totlot
totlot

That's interesting

Hanzoadam
Hanzoadam

I don;t want to buy another DS :cry: but I'll probably end up getting it

jackie1st
jackie1st

definitely getting this hope it comes out this year