Gut Reactions: Nintendo 3DS - E3 2010

Nintendo's new handheld makes its debut and the GameSpot team was on hand to try it out.

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Even though the 3DS was officially announced months ago (via an incredibly brief press release that gave little to no details), E3 2010 gave Nintendo an opportunity to unveil the successor to the Nintendo DS in grand fashion. The 3DS, like its predecessor, features two screens--a touch screen on the bottom that's similar to those found in the Nintendo DS and a large widescreen at the top. That top screen is where the magic happens as it's capable of producing 3D imagery without the aid of glasses or an extra peripheral. Additionally, the 3DS has an analog stick and quite a bit more graphical horsepower than its predecessor, producing visuals that are on par with (or in some cases, easily surpassing) Sony's PSP. The GameSpot editors managed to get their hands on the 3DS at the show and took some time to share their thoughts on Nintendo's new handheld.

The 3DS in the flesh.
The 3DS in the flesh.

Sophia Tong, Associate Editor

I was skeptical when Nintendo first announced the 3DS because I just don’t really care if my games are in real “3D” or not. However, after Nintendo’s impressive press conference, I was ready to see what the fuss was about. I was able to get my hands on a few demos on the show floor, and I have to say, I really, really want one. Like right now. One of the tech demos had you take a picture of a question block that you place on a desk, which then opened a box full of targets for you to shoot. That’s right. Your 3DS camera also functions as a pellet launcher. You had to stay within 14 inches of your target, but it was cool to shoot little white pebbles at the dragon that was coming out of the desk.

The graphics have been enhanced so that you forget you’re on a DS, and once you adjust the top screen to the right angle, some images will actually appear as though they’re actually coming out of your DS. Now I know why they’re pushing the no-glasses thing because this is the kind of stuff that you normally see behind really tacky eyewear. When the images aren’t jumping out at my face, I want to reach my hand in the top screen and grab something (like the puppy I played with in the Nintendogs + Cats demo). I can’t wait to see the kind of games that will come to that handheld now. Watching the Metal Gear Solid demo of Snake crawling through the jungle was also incredible. In a first-person view, it feels like you’re exploring the foliage at the same time as he inches deeper into the trees. I’m also pleased that they made the decision to put in the 3D slider so that if you don’t want to deal with the 3D effects (because I can see it possibly giving you a headache after long periods of time), you can simply turn it off. Thanks for thinking ahead Nintendo!

Tom Mc Shea, Associate Editor

I was one Negative Nancy when Nintendo first announced the 3DS earlier this year. "3D is a gimmick!" I exclaimed. Now that I've gotten a chance to play a few games and see some real-time demos, I am blown away by this technology. It may not improve the actual gameplay, but it looks incredible and makes old experiences like Star Fox 64 feel new again. The games on display in Nintendo's booth make really smart use of this extra dimension. For instance, in the new Mario Kart game, the racers aren't given the 3D treatment, but the weapons are, so it gives those special items a bit more impact. But you're never distracted when just trying to nail a hairpin turn. The flying parts of Kid Icarus also look sweet. I could see this system revitalizing the stagnant rail shooter genre. Give me a new Panzer Dragoon, please!

I would love to toss in some negative note here, a warning sign for the future, but I don't see a downside to this system. If the 3D gets in the way, an easy-to-access slider lets you turn it off in a flash, and the extra horsepower (Animal Crossing looks a lot better than the Wii version), and smooth slide pad makes it seem like this would work great for a huge variety of game types. Now they just have to release the darn thing.

Jane Douglas, Section Editor | GameSpot UK

I took a look at Kid Icarus Uprising and the Animal Crossing and Metal Gear Solid games for 3DS at the Nintendo booth. These had non-playable demonstrations of how the 3D looks, though in the Metal Gear Solid demo, you can use the new analog pad to move the camera around as you move on rails through some jungle. I also played with Nintendogs (3D petting, adorable) and The Sims, which had a character creator demo that shows your sim in 3D as you dress it and modify the face.

The 3D is impressive straight away, much more effective than I’d expected; when you use the 3D slider next to the upper screen to shift from 2D to 3D mode on the fly, the stuff in the foreground really pops up. The illusion of depth is great--and the colours and brightness aren’t washed out from being viewed through polarized lens glasses. The viewing angle is pretty small--you get that 3D ghosting effect when you tilt the screen-- but that’s no big problem for a handheld console.

Giancarlo Varanini, Editor-at-Large

In our previous Gut Reactions to the original 3DS announcement, I said that if it were true that Nintendo was going with Sharp's 3D screen technology, then we might be in for a surprise when Nintendo finally showed the 3DS. And while it's not entirely confirmed that Nintendo is using that technology in the 3DS, all I can say is, "Wow." It didn't disappoint at all. In fact, I'm so shocked at how good the 3D effect is that I find myself wondering why it is that no other company has picked up on this technology already. But then again, this is Nintendo--the same company that found a way to make a preexisting technology work for the Wii while other companies are scrambling to catch up. The only issues I have with it are the viewing angles (you have to be looking straight on for it to work properly) and that sometimes I feel like I'm going a bit cross-eyed after extended use.

That being said, there are so many games and demos that impressed. Paper Mario looks absolutely magnificent as does Animal Crossing, which seems like it's finally receiving the upgrade it deserves. That game is almost perfectly suited for the 3DS and what it can do. Mario Kart has some of the best "pop out at you" effects when sparks come flying off the cart or boulders come careening down the sides of the track. But the two most impressive demos, at least from a purely visual standpoint because they're not playable, are Resident Evil and Metal Gear Solid. If the 3DS is capable of producing these visuals in a real game situation, then this could easily turn into one of my most favorite handhelds ever produced.

The top screen features a slider that adjusts or turns off the 3D effect.
The top screen features a slider that adjusts or turns off the 3D effect.

Andrew Park, Managing Editor

Having been booked solid pretty much all through E3, I haven't been able to see or play the 3DS (having a full schedule doesn't go together with two-hour waiting lines), and looking at my schedule for Thursday, it's not likely I'll end up seeing it here, either. That's OK. It's all part of my plan. My plan is to not see or play the 3DS at E3. Pretty much every GameSpot editor who has played with it has talked it up as the best thing since sliced bread, and I'd prefer to resist the temptation.

This is partially because the playable E3 game lineup for the 3DS (games are the only reason I'm interested in the system) doesn't sound quite as amazing as what was shown at the E3 press conference (as much as I love Pilotwings, it's less of a draw for me these days) and partially because the 3DS sounds exactly like the sort of thing that hooks suckers like me into preordering the first-generation version of it…only to have Nintendo invariably release a second-edition version that's smaller, lighter, smells nicer, and has a longer battery life, exactly 2.734 seconds after I purchase that first one.

Hear that? I'm on to you, Nintendo. Instead of selling 90 zillion copies in preorder, you're only going to end up with 89 zillion, nine-eleventy billion and nine…Eh, who am I kidding. I'll probably preorder the thing anyway.

Justin Calvert, Senior Editor

I only managed to sneak into the 3DS area of Nintendo's booth for about five minutes, but that was more than enough to convince me that I'll be buying one at launch. Even after hearing a number of friends and colleagues rave about how good it looks, I was still skeptical until I held one in my hands and was able to see the 3D screen for myself. Not only does it work, but I think the effect of the 3D is just as good as that on the PlayStation 3, which requires an expensive TV and a pair of glasses.

Based on what we've seen for ourselves and in press releases here at E3, it certainly seems that there will be plenty of software coming for the new handheld, so I guess the only big question mark right now is the price. How much would I pay for a 3DS? I'm not sure. I'd certainly go as high as $200, maybe even $250 if the 3DS versions of Mario Kart, Pilotwings, and Zelda are everything that they should be, but anything more than that, I'd need to give some thought.

Brendan Sinclair, Associate News Editor

I only managed to see the Kid Icarus trailer on the 3DS, but I walked away fairly impressed. The experience was basically identical to the stereoscopic 3D of movies like How to Train Your Dragon, just without the glasses and on a tiny screen in front of you. On the few parts of the trailer where the 3D was obvious, it looked like there were just two screens, one on top of the other, with Pit displayed on the closer screen and everything else in the game on a screen about an inch behind him. And if the 3D ever hurts the eyes, having the option to turn it off with the slider on the side is a great idea.

The analog slide pad was really slick, and the D pad seemed identical to what’s already on the DS. However, to make room for the analog controller, the D pad seems a little low and possibly too far to the edge of the system. It shouldn’t be a problem for most games, but I could see myself having issues performing left-facing dragon punches on the pad when Super Street Fighter IV 3D Edition comes out.

Chris Watters, Associate Editor

Is it weird that I thought one of the simplest tech demos in the 3DS booth was one of the coolest? I played what could basically be described as Pong in a tunnel. I moved my translucent paddle around with the D pad and bounced the back down the tunnel toward the other paddle. It was easy to track the ball’s motion, and the tunnel walls provided a great illustration of the 3D slider (which lets you adjust the depth of field and even switch to two dimensions). While some demos, like the Kid Icarus and Resident Evil trailers, didn’t quite gel for me, the How to Train Your Dragon and Tangled trailers look really, really good. Oh, and revisiting Starfox 64 was a nostalgic kick. I did come away with a bit of eye fatigue, but man, it’s true what they say. The 3DS really does work.

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