From January 8th through 10th, Nintendo held its special Nintendo World 2011 public event at Japan’s Makuhari Messe. It was the first opportunity for the public to see and play the upcoming Nintendo 3DS handheld. TSSZ News’s Japan based reporter Danny Russell went there, and shares his experience below.
What you really want to know is what the 3DS is really like and whether it really does what it says on the tin or not. Well, yes it does. However, some games pull the effect off more successfully than others. The 3D effect is only visible to the person directly in front of the unit, and some of the games have issues with blurring if you are holding the 3DS closer than 45cm or further than 60cm away from you. If you play a bit too frantically and turn the screen even slightly away from you this can also cause the 3D effect to “split”. Nintendo staff were keen to remind everyone before playing about the 3D slider that is sometimes required to “fix” the 3D effect for the player and anyone younger than six was not permitted to play in 3D.
Let’s go over the unit itself. It is not much larger nor heavier than a DS lite. It is glossy both inside and out and therefore prone to fingerprint smudges. The stylus slots in at the back, and the headphone jack is in the front-centre. The slide (analogue) pad is soft and glides smoothly and freely around, but the directional pad is not really up to snuff with previous efforts, but neither is it as awkwardly out of place as it looks on the unit. The ABXY buttons as well as the shoulder buttons click in a similarly pleasing fashion to their predecessors, but the Select, Home and Start “buttons” are rather ghastly plasticky fake buttons that give a similar feeling to poking blister packs. The bottom, touch screen is effectively identical to its DS counterparts while the wider, 3D screen dominates it above. To the right of the 3D screen is one of the most important features – a 3D slider. I think the best way to think of this is in a similar way to the old-school monochrome Game Boy, Game Boy Pocket and Game Boy Light contrast slider. Maxing it out will create the greatest amount of 3D distance between the foreground and the background whilst turning it down reduces this distance. Turning it all the way off turns on the 2D mode which dramatically decreases the jagginess and generally improves the visual quality of most games. Above the 3D screen is a single 0.3MP camera, while behind it are two more 0.3MP cameras capable of working together to take 3D photos. The unit will be available in “Aqua Blue” and “Cosmo Black” colours upon launch next month in Japan. Aqua Blue is the better of the two. Nintendo has sadly confirmed that the 3DS will be region coded, meaning if you import a Japanese 3DS you will not be able to play Western games on it.
Super Monkey Ball 3D, Sega’s only offering at Nintendo World 2011, was only available in video form on two 3DS units fastened securely in two holes in the wall. The 3D itself was convincing enough and best employed in the games main puzzle mode. The title screen, possibly even the story mode too, is presented in a cute pop-up book style. Several sidegames were also shown – namely a full-on 3D kart racing mode and a boxing / fighting mode that takes place on a 2D plane in a similar style to Smash Bros.
I also spotted Toshihiro Nagoshi, currently known for his work on Sega’s Yakuza series, once producer and director of the Super Monkey Ball series, skulking around on the second day of the event. He had a peek over at Super Monkey Ball 3D’s presence and spent the rest of his short visit liaising with a Japanese journalist or two, Nintendo representatives and gave his signature to one very happy fan.
This post was originally written by the author for TSSZ News.