First Hands On: Nintendo 3DSS

What's the Nintendo 3DS screen look like? It looks great. UPDATE: A longer set of gameplay impressions here.

The instant you put the 3DS in your hands, you recognize the feeling. It's a DS through and through, but maybe a touch lighter than the DSi I've been accustomed to.

In our 2-minute demo, we weren't able to actually play anything. Instead, Nintendo had the demo units (tethered to models) running through a loop of interactive 3D images of famous characters like Mario and Yoshi. Head-on, the new screen is bright, colorful and, yes, 3D. You look a bit more into the screen than the images jump out, like a window—an effect that's surprisingly natural, actually—until you view the screen from the side. Anywhere but head-on, the 3D effect fails completely and the colors wash out a bit.

First Hands On: Nintendo 3DSS


With the 3D slider cranked all the way down, the screen is basically flat 2D. (I'd say, fully 2D, actually). Increasing the 3D with this slider is extremely smooth—maybe even a little loose (I could imagine accidentally sliding more or less 3D)—and instantly noticeable gradient that's difficult to describe. Imagine a polygon-based character becoming intrinsically more corporal and easier to see—a character that just, well, pops out a bit. That's what the screen feels like.

First Hands On: Nintendo 3DSS


As for the new analog stick to the left of the screen, it has just enough resistance to pan and tilt your view with precision. I'm guessing this stick will purely be moved to tweak one's view in games, and just as the 3D screen is instantly comfortable to look at, this analog is instantly comfortable to use.

I'll hand it to Nintendo, they seem to have made 3D extremely intuitive. In our admittedly brief hands-on, we were impressed but not necessarily floored by the tech alone. The screen has a somewhat low resolution with plenty of noticeable jaggies. We're guessing if it were sharper, we'd have gotten a bit more of that "this is the future!" buzz .

Until developers really exploit the new technology, the experience is akin to the average decently made 3D movie: Neat, but not necessarily integral to the experience. Nintendo still needs an Avatar to really sell the idea...you know, to anyone but the millions upon millions of people who will already buy any new Nintendo product no matter what.

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